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9/12/2013 3:00:00 PM
Mickey Ray and his 1955 Bel-Air ready for the 'On the River' Car Show Saturday

When the "On the River" Car Show kicks off in the Paul Ogle Riverfront Park this Saturday, all types of classic vehicles from all around the area will assemble on the riverbank.

Many visitors will enjoy the cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but for the people who own the vehicles on display, their entry is more than a motor and paint.

For many, they represent years of work.

For Mickey Ray, his 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air fits into that category.

"I bought the car in June or July of 1974," Mickey Ray said. "It didn't have any wheels or tires on it or nothing. It was sitting on the ground."

Mickey Ray bought the car from Rick McKenzie, and the story goes that Bubby Browning bought the car while out in California and drove it back to Switzerland County.

Mickey Ray admits to "always being a car guy."

"I've had a lot of them over the years, but this is the first one that I've ever kept," he laughed.

His first car that he ever owned was a 1955 Ford; and over the years he's tinkered with all sorts of vehicles. The list of vehicles through the years reads like a list of classic cars.

"I had a Lotus Ford at one time. I've had three 1955 Chevys and I had a 55 Ford and a 56 Ford and a 53 Ford," He lists. "I've had a lot of them."

He even admits that this is the third time that he's fixed up this 1955 Chevy.

"This time I did a whole frame-off restoration with everything brand new when I put it back together," Mickey Ray said.

So over the years he's worked on different aspects of the vehicle. He said that the car hasn't had license plates on it since 1986; and when asked about how long his restoration has taken, he laughs and says "36 years."

He says that the current Chevy has had two different motors in it, saying that it was originally a six-cylinder car with a three-speed transmission.

"When I got it, it had a 327 in it," he says. "I took that out and put a 305 in it."

Now he shows on the vehicle in shows, noting that this Saturday will be his fourth show with the vehicle. He also displayed the car in this year's Bicentennial Swiss Wine Festival Grand Festival parade.

And as he prepares to display the vehicle this Saturday, he notes that his wife, Direnda Ray, gets a lot of credit for the car looking like it does today.

"She's the reason I went ahead and done it (restored the Chevy), because she said, 'Either fix that thing up or get rid of it. We can't have that sitting around no longer'." Mickey Ray said. "She kinda wished she hadn't said that after a while!"

In August of 2008 Mickey Ray began the total restoration by tearing down the vehicle; and the work was completed when he did his first car show in September of 2011.

Over those three years, a lot of work was done.

The work was handled in the same vein as the old Johnny Cash song, "One piece at a time."

"I had another guy shoot the paint for me, but I took it all apart and took the frame to him and he painted it," Mickey Ray said. "When he said, 'okay, it's ready' I went and got it and brought it home. Then I took the body to it and he sprayed it. We did one fender at a time, one door at a time, the hood, the trunk lid. I'd just run back and forth and pick things up as he got it done, then brought it home and assembled it."

So on Saturday at the 'On the River' car show, take a moment and wander past Mickey Ray's 1955 Chevy. When you do, remember that there's much more than a wash and wax on display.

It's a labor of love.


This is the sixth annual "On the River" Car Show and Cruise-in.

The event will begin tomorrow (Friday), with a Cruise-in at the Ogle Park from 6-9:30 p.m. A parade will also be held beginning at 6:30 p.m., which will go down Main Street and then return to the park.

Owners of old cars, trucks, tractors, semis, and motorcycles are all welcome to participate.

The Cruise-in and parade tomorrow will also feature the Kentucky Speedway pace car, along with the Grand Marshal from the speedway, Tonya Hornsby.

The band, "Slick River Rockets", will also be performing at the riverfront. The band will begin playing at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night following the parade.

On Saturday, the car show will kick off with registration from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.; and there is an entry fee of $20. Over 150 trophies will be awarded during the event.

In addition to all of the vehicles on display, Fire and Rescue vehicles and a PHI Air Medical Helicopter from Lexington, Kentucky will also be on display.

Sea planes will be available for rides; and food and drinks will be provided by Jeff-Craig Fire Department and Kiwanis Club. Music will be provided by C&C Promotions, TC Fairlane, and Rockin Renee. All auto-related vendors are welcome to attend.

Giveaways include a Hot Rod Grill, Tool Box Fridge, Pedal Car, and lots more. Drawings for prizes will begin at 4 p.m. and you must be present to win.

There will be a Kentucky Speedway booth during the event.

The 'On the River' Car Show and Cruise-in is presented by the Jeff-Craig Fire Department and hosted by Mike Bear and Lewis Fritter.

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