Gage appearance is highlight of September Cruise

Sep. 25—Even when conditions in Somerset are just fine, it helps to have things line up just right across the regional map to have a big Somernites Cruise.

With 834 total classic and custom vehicles in attendance and 240 Chevy Corvettes, the featured car for September, the numbers were down a little for what this month usually brings.

But while skies in Somerset were a bit cloudy but ultimately dry with a pleasant cool temperature during Saturday afternoon, that wasn't always the case, noted Cruise Executive Director Keith Floyd.

"It's gone well, we had a good spectator crowd," said Floyd during the downtown show on Saturday afternoon. "The car count is down a little bit. The rain this morning hurt us a little. ... It was raining in northern Tennessee earlier in the morning, so we basically lost the Tennessee crowd, and that cost us a couple hundred cars.

"But it's been a good day. Everybody's had a good time," he added. "Everybody's loved seeing the prototype Camaro. It's had a crowd around it all day long."

But while the very first Chevrolet Camaro might have taken some thunder away from its Chevy sibling the Corvette, the biggest star of the day was Dennis Gage, who was a "big hit," said Floyd. Gage is the host of "My Classic Car," which airs on the Motor Trend television channel.

Gage is instantly recognizable with his distinctive look, driver's cap on head and handlebar mustache twirling around the edges, and dedicates his airtime to exploring — you guessed it — classic cars and the people who own them.

He took time on Saturday to sign autographs and meet fans on the Fountain Square in front of the Pulaski County Courthouse. It wasn't his first time at Somernites, but he was happy to be back, after originally being scheduled to return last year before circumstances forced the Cruise to scratch the appearance.

"I came down to Somernites Cruise the first time in 2017, came down and shot it for an episode of the TV show," he said. "It was a real nice show, well-attended, nice layout. Made a great episode. When (Floyd) called me up and asked me to come back down for a meet-and-greet type of thing, I said sure. Another good day."

Gage said when asked talking to fans like he did Saturday, "It's what I do." He says he's interested in people and he's interested in cars.

"That's what's kept my show on for 28 years," he said. "It's just a fun hobby. It's a whole family hobby, and it's just clean fun."

Fun, yes, but the love of classic cars goes much deeper than that for Gage and most other people, he noted.

"I think in the U.S. in particular, it's an emotional attachment," he said. "They're not just inanimate objects. Everybody's got a story. Like, 'My granddad used to have one of those,' or 'Me and Betty Sue dated in one back in high school.' But everybody's got a story and an emotional connection, and they change when they tell that. Their voices changes, their eyes change. It's real right-brained. It's something you can't teach somebody, you have to feel it."

Read more about this month's Somernites Cruise in Tuesday's Commonwealth Journal.