The Kool Classic Cruise continues to rumble

1: The photo taken in front of Frank Jones’ residence Aug. 27 resembled a used car lot in the 1950s. Jones has a passion for restoring vehicles from the era in which he grew up. To date he has restored 36 cars. 2: The Classic Car Cruise to Deadwood Nights in South Dakota was led by this vintage suad car right out of American Graffiti. It was driven by a mock sheriff and his mock prisoner who was his partner in crime for the weekend. 3: Frank Jones is pictured in one of his son Eric’s most-favorite cars that Frank restored. He leads his Classic Car Caravan each year to participate in the Kool Deadwood Nights celebrations in South Dakota.

WHEATLAND – Once again as the classic Chevrolets headed out of Wheatland, the Classic Cars Caravan would make history traveling with one of the biggest caravans that would travel to South Dakota.

The view on Sunset Drive Aug. 26 with the golf course in the background looked like something out of car collector’s magazine, and Wheatland has the ultimate car collection owned by Frank Jones.

Jones, who with his partner Amy Grasmick-Bates put together a cruise to Deadwood, South Dakota, each year for the Kool Deadwood Nights. This year was the 28th anniversary for Kool Deadwood Nights and according to their website, “Kool Deadwood Nites brings car lovers together for five days full of classic cars, classic music and classic fun. It’s a ‘50s and ‘60s sock hop – Deadwood style. Enjoy a parade, show and shine and FREE concerts on Main Street featuring the biggest names in rock ‘n roll history.”

The event ran from Aug. 24 – 28 with pretty much nonstop activity.

“It was an adventure growing up with this,” said Frank Jones’ son Eric. “A lot of these cars came from Montana. I can remember back in ’92 or ’93 going up and taking vacation from my job in Denver to move the cars down here in car trailers. Then he would just restore them and we’d take them on trips. He’s been taking these trips for decades. He always has fun.”

Eric Jones who used to work with his father working on cars as a kid is continuing the tradition with his son, Parker Jones.

“Parker and I just started,” he said. “We just did an engine and I have a pickup that it’ll go on to and it will be done this fall. It’s a 1955 Chevrolet side-step. My favorite that dad has is the ’56 red and white convertible. That’s the one that Kristen and I were taken to our wedding in, and it’s the one we typically drive when we go on this trip.”

The caravan of Jones’ cars go up each year and as his son, Jones says, he only brings a portion of “the fleet.”

This is Jones’ 27th year traveling to Deadwood and Bates’ 18th year. With each year friends of the couple help drive the classic cars to and from the venue and spend the weekend together as the huge faction from Wheatland. It’s pretty much a parade in itself as they come rolling into town.

“There were four of us that went the first year,” Frank Jones said. “Now there’s only me, but the rest of them are still alive but I think they gave up. We primarily collect $30 for our poker run and for the booze and all. Most of the people have to introduce themselves at this event, but this year we have a couple here cruising with us from Kentucky.”

Although the drivers are utilized by Jones to get his fleet to Deadwood each year, there is a lot of work that goes into such a venture.

“Getting ready is a lot of work for Frank, just getting all the cars in prime running condition,” Bates said. “We try to always maintain them, but this is a lot of cars. It also takes some time to wash and clean them, but the final result is so much fun. It’s just a really great trip, and worth every ounce of energy that goes into it.”

Bates mentioned there are many people who come from many different places from all over the United States.

“An old friend of mine, Al Kinnison got me into this and we always let him bring his Ford, though he’s a Chevy man,” Jones said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and it is always a great time with friends and cars.”

Jones has a passion for the 1950s and has restored 32 cars from that era said, “Someone said I’d better quit restoring cars because I’m running out of friends to drive them to Deadwood.”

 “You can see on the license plate each car has a “TEC” and then a number,” Jones said. “The T, the E and the C are the first letters of my kid’s names, Tammy, Eric and Cathy and the number represents the order in which I restore them. For instance, you will know the 16th restoration by the No. 16 on the plate.”

He utilizes his friends and family to help drive to Deadwood each year, which he says is about a five hour trip and that trip comes with a lot of onlookers and admirers.

“I restore one each year, and this is just a portion of the cars I have restored,” Jones said.

The first car that Jones restored was a 1956 Chevrolet 150. He says that over the years he has had a lot of restoration guys who were very good with the process. It shows as there are no dings or dents and for the most part, look pristine.

The cars parked on Sunset Drive at Jones’ residence were parked side by side up and down the street and resembled a 1950s new car lot.

Jones just recently won the Wyoming Pioneer Association’s 2021 Historic Restoration Award.

His influence came at a time when he grew up in the ‘50s and graduated from Glendo High School in 1959. He lived in an era of good music and souped-up cars. Speed, power, passion and romance were cornerstones of the decade. He didn’t actually begin restoring his first car until 1980 when he found the ’56 Chevy in a Meeteetse calving shed. He’s been restoring them ever since.

As Jones addressed the crowd this year, he gave some tips that he offered for old classic cars as far as troubleshooting.

“I was told by one of the drivers that there is a noise in the back end,” Jones said. “My advice is as always. Reach down and turn the radio nob up. If your music is loud, you won’t hear any rear end noise. And remember if it starts conkin’ out on you on the way up, but pull her over. We’ll get to it.”

Jones is a lawyer by trade and in 1967 opened his law office in Wheatland. His office is at 710 10th Street.

1: The photo taken in front of Frank Jones’ residence Aug. 27 resembled a used car lot in the 1950s. Jones has a passion for restoring vehicles from the era in which he grew up. To date he has restored 36 cars. 2: The Classic Car Cruise to Deadwood Nights in South Dakota was led by this vintage suad car right out of American Graffiti. It was driven by a mock sheriff and his mock prisoner who was his partner in crime for the weekend. 3: Frank Jones is pictured in one of his son Eric’s most-favorite cars that Frank restored. He leads his Classic Car Caravan each year to participate in the Kool Deadwood Nights celebrations in South Dakota.

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