Detroit grounds ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ Autorama jump stunt over Confederate flag

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A planned jump of a Smokey and the Bandit replica at the upcoming Autorama show was blocked by Detroit officials citing concerns about a Confederate flag on the vehicle's license plate. | Facebook photo
A planned jump of a Smokey and the Bandit replica at the upcoming Autorama show was blocked by Detroit officials citing concerns about a Confederate flag on the vehicle's license plate, though the likely vehicle (pictured) bore no signs of the controversial flag. | Facebook photo

The Detroit City Council will not allow a Smokey and the Bandit replica Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to jump outside of the upcoming Autorama car show because the car likely bears a Confederate flag on its license plate.

Organizers for the March 1-3 event intended the jump as a tribute to the film’s star, Burt Reynolds, who died in September. However, council members said the Georgia license plate seen in the film — which bears the Confederate battle flag — is a non-starter.

Councilman Scott Benson said the car “still proudly flies a Confederate flag, which is a symbol of oppression, slavery, as well as home-bred American terrorism. So this body said we are not going to support that type of symbolism nor the audacity to support that type of activity in the city of Detroit,” reported the Detroit News.

Benson was one of eight council members to either vote against the stunt or express disapproval. He called it a “slap in the face” to a city where most of the residents are African-America.

It’s unclear if the stunt car would actually bear the Georgia license plate from the film. The Facebook page of Northeast Ohio Dukes, the group behind the stunt, does not portray any Confederate imagery — including in photos of the presumed jump vehicle. However, two years ago, the group jumped a replica of the Dodge Charger from the Dukes of Hazzard that featured a Confederate flag painted on the roof.

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“The Confederate flag … was proudly displayed within the last two years during an Autorama car jump when they came and expressly said they would not display that symbol during the jump,” Benson told the newspaper. “Come to find out they actually displayed that symbol, and that can be seen in YouTube video jumps they did on Atwater Street.”

Neither the Northeast Ohio Dukes nor Autorama responded to a Detroit News request for comment. However, an Autorama official did say the event was working with the city to resolve the issue.

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Councilman Scott Benson said the car “still proudly flies a Confederate flag, which is a symbol of oppression, slavery, as well as home-bred American terrorism." Sounds to me like a damned liberal snowflake demorat ! With so many killings, rapes, abortions, riots, etc in his crappy city, he is worried about a license plate ? God help his constituants, as they are doomed (just ask NYC when AOC threw a monkey wrench into the "Amazon no-deal" !

  2. Gee, sensitivity over the Confederate battle flag? After all these years? I have news for you: the Confederacy still exists, so why shouldn’t they be able to show their flag? Something on the order of 25% of all the War Memorial statues in the old Confederacy (and elsewhere) mark that war. Why is it wrong now all of a sudden. Just because they, well, lost? That hasn’t been a problem before!

  3. I really don’t understand why people can’t just move on from complaining about everything! The last thing you think about when you look at the Smokey and the Bandit T/A with the front GA plate is racism. Same goes for the General Lee Charger! We must learn to put things in their proper perspective. I am Hispanic and have both cars and I am not racist. But now that I have these cars for over 20 years, all of sudden I am perceived as a racist! I don’t think so! Let these icons of our childhood that gave so many people pure enjoyment stay original to their original configuration. it really silly arguing over a license plate.

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