Some Autorama fans will be disappointed. Others not so much.
According to The Detroit Free Press, the Detroit City Council voted earlier this week to reject a proposed "Smokey and the Bandit” tribute jump for this summer’s Autorama in honor of recently deceased actor Burt Reynolds. The reason?
The iconic Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am from the 1977 movie displayed the now former Georgia state flag in its front license plate holder. A portion of that flag had the Confederate flag, which according to one city councilman "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.” Reynolds was born in Lansing, Michigan.
The original idea was to have the jump take place outside of Detroit’s Cobo Center, near the same spot where only two years ago a stunt group called the Northeast Ohio Dukes recreated the famous "Dukes of Hazzard” jump in a 1969 Dodge Charger. A video of the stunt taking place can be seen above. The car looked identical to the show car, complete with the Confederate flag painted on the roof. Needless to say, there was some backlash. That stunt group was also planning the "Smokey” jump.
However, the group posted on its Facebook page that its replica Smokey Trans Am does not have the license plate featured, nor did it ever. "This is the world we now live in, just because the movie had the Georgia state flag on the front of the car. The Detroit city council has jumped to conclusions,” the group said. "We have been filming a documentary about the build of the Bandit Jump car and it proves that the car does not feature the Georgia state flag of that era.” Supposedly, the Detroit City Council asked the group to remove the Charger’s Confederate flag for 2017’s jump, but the group disputes this.
"We were never told to take the flag off of the General Lee back in 2017, that is a downright lie,” the group added. "If we were told to take the flag off the General Lee we would have never even went to Detroit. We’re just children of the 70s and 80s that want to jump a car to honor a great man and now politics and racist people have taken that away from all of us. We have always strongly and publicly denounced any white supremacy or hate groups and any type of misrepresentation of the battle flag.”
Despite the controversy, the 2019 Autorama is scheduled to take place from March 1-3 at Cobo Center.