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Masked cruiser column: Cruise Central is where it is at

MASKED CRUISER/SUN HERALD 
 Cruisin' The Coast staffers register cruisers at Cruise Central in Gulfport on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.
MASKED CRUISER/SUN HERALD Cruisin' The Coast staffers register cruisers at Cruise Central in Gulfport on Monday, Oct. 5, 2015.

CRUISE CENTRAL, GULFPORT -- Monday moanin' at Cruise Central. Cruisers awoke Monday to the Gulf Coast sunshine chasing the chill away. And while the sunshine was appreciated, so was the shade from Centennial Plaza's beautiful Live oaks, just as some participants of the 2015 Hot Rod Power Tour discovered when they stopped here for the first time in June.

Cruise Central is a favorite spot for Cruisers and spectators alike, as all registered cars must check in here. This year, 6,314 cars had preregistered. Steve Airhart of Lakeshore had preregistered one car, and he registered a second one, which was Cruiser No. 6,578, at 2 p.m. Monday.

"I love this event," Airhart said. "I take the whole week off."

It's always great to see families come out to enjoy the cars, and the sights and sounds of all things Cruisin'.

"We've been coming here for 10 years," said Weylin and Dara Carver as they took in the sights with their 8-year-old daughter, Sara.

Crystal and Jeffrey Polk from Florence brought family also -- niece Madison Clarke and nephew Jayden Zarate, who took advantage of the occasion to test-drive his Spider-Man costume.

Besides being the premier viewing spot, Cruise Central is also information central, with program and schedule information under the tents. The yellow-shirted staffers are eager to help with any question or concern.

Disc jockey KOTO keeps the "carburetor love" music coming and provides some great Cruise-related trivia. His show is broadcast at 100.5-FM, available in a limited area. Cruisers with AM radios can tune in to the Cruisin'-oriented station 1390-AM, WROA.

Sun Herald photographer John Fitzhugh went to the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi to video the Autocross, which is in its second year for registered cars at Cruisin' The Coast. Autocross is a type of parking-lot racing -- a tight course set up designed to test cars' and drivers' handling, braking and accelerating prowess at safer speeds. Most cars can run the course without leaving first gear. The popular event has expanded to three days. Tuesday and Wednesday, the Autocross will run from 2 to 4 p.m.

Keep those wheels turnin'!

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