Jeriemie Bryars doesn’t make any bones about the fact that most people consider his graffiti-covered 1974 Chevrolet pickup one of the area’s ugliest vehicles. In fact, he likes for people to think that, especially judges.
The judges for Atmore Area YMCA’s second annual Ugly Truck Contest had little problem last Saturday (July 22) in forming that same opinion. The panel chose Bryars’s tricked-out “White Trash Millionaire” as the winner of the contest’s Street-legal division for the second year in a row.
“I didn’t figure I’d win it two years in a row, but it feels good,” the Little River resident said with a grin. “Somebody’s going to have to compete with me. I think I’m going to work on this thing between now and the next one, maybe pretty it up a bit to give the other people a chance.”
Bryars, who drives his eye-catching pickup on a daily basis, said the truck gained a lot of attention earlier this year when he drove it to Gulfport, Miss. for the Cruisin’ the Coast event.
“People were hanging out of cars and trucks, videotaping it when I was driving on the interstate,” he recalled. “A bunch of bathing beauties posed for pictures with it, and most people were more interested in the truck than them.”
In the Rat Rod category, which was a separate division this year, the contest got its first female winner, as Joanie Ardis of Atmore and her 1948 Ford took first-place honors in the category.
“We found that one in Vegas, on our honeymoon,” explained the winner’s husband, Thomas Ardis. “She tied for first in the burnout category in Gulfport, and she actually won the last one of these contests we were in. She got the trophy; I got the money.”
The two winners each took home $75 cash and an engraved plaque, and each will have his or her name and photo displayed at the Y, where the 50-pound-plus contest trophy will also be on permanent display.
The trophy, which wasn’t much prettier than the contest entries, was fabricated by Ellis Beachy. Its base is a brake drum and it contains a fiber gear, two pistons, a water pump, a fuel pump and a distributor, all welded to a vertical cam shaft.
This year’s competition featured only six entries, but more people came out to see them than came to last year’s inaugural event.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Paul Chason, the local Y’s CEO. “While we didn’t have as many competitors as we would have liked, we had more people looking. We’ll keep working on it.”