Detroit blocks ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ stunt at car show over Confederate flag license plate: Report

February 19, 2019 GMT

Confederate imagery has complicated plans for kickstarting an annual car show in Detroit, Michigan, where the city council voted Tuesday against letting the event’s organizers recreate a scene from the film “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Autorama organizers had planned to open next month’s event by staging a stunt jump in downtown Detroit using a replica of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am driven in the movie by late actor Burt Reynolds, but local leaders rejected the proposal on account of the Confederate flag featured on the car’s front license plate, The Detroit News reported.

More precisely, the license plate depicted on the iconic Trans Am in the 1977movie was the Georgia state flag of the time, which combined the Confederate battle flag with the state seal. That flag design was retired in 2001.


Scott Benson, a Democratic council member who led efforts opposing the request, recalled that Autorama organizers staged a similar stunt in 2017 with a replica of the General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger featured in “The Dukes of Hazzard” television series. The General Lee featured a Confederate battle flag painted on the car’s roof.

“Autorama, which has a history in the city of Detroit, also has a history of supporting imagery and symbols of racism, oppression and white supremacy as well as American, home-bred terrorism right here in the United States,” Mr. Benson said during a city council meeting, the newspaper reported.

“The Confederate flag which has been a symbol of all of those items 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,” Mr. Benson added, the report said. “Come to find out they actually displayed that symbol and that can be seen in YouTube video jumps they did on Atwater Street.”

Eight members of the city council voted against Autorama’s request or otherwise expressed their disapproval, the report said.

A spokesperson for Autorama said they would try to resolve the issue, the report said.

Entering its 67th year, the Annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama is expected to attract upwards of 175,000 attendees to the Cobo Center between March 1 and 3, The Detroit Free Press reported.

Reynolds, a native of nearby Lansing, died in September at the age of 82.