Back in the day, John Sullivan and Joe Engleking could really turn heads driving their cars around in downtown Seymour.
At just 21 years of age, Sullivan had purchased a brand-new 1962 Roman red Chevrolet Corvette from “Hawkeye” Speckner at the Chevrolet dealership in Brownstown.
“The guy was a state representative,” Sullivan said of Speckner.
He still has the original bill of sale for $5,252.30. Sounds like quite a steal compared to today’s prices, but back then, it was considered a lot of money for a young man to pay for an automobile.
Sullivan said he waited three years to buy it.
“I worked at Cummins on night shift until I had most of the money,” he said. “I didn’t want to borrow $5,000 back then.”
Engleking was 22 years old when he paid $3,471.75 for his 1965 Nightwatch blue Pontiac Le Mans GTO. He also bought his car new but had to go to the Liddie Pontiac dealership in New Albany.
“They wouldn’t sell me what I wanted,” he said.
Both men still have those cars today and plan to bring them out for the sixth annual Scoop the Loop event Saturday in downtown Seymour.
Sullivan and Engleking were no strangers when it came to hanging out downtown and “scooping the loop” in the 1960s.
“We’d sit right down there on the bank corner,” Sullivan said. “There were three flat parking spots right next to Jackson County Bank. We’d sit there and wave at the girls when they went by.
“If they liked what they saw, they’d pull in. If they didn’t, they kept a going,” he added. “Most of the time, they kept going.”
Sullivan’s car was more than just a pretty ride, though. It was fast — fast enough to enter in drag races at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He reached a documented speed of 105.14 mph during one race. He spent two years racing until he got drafted into the U.S. Army.
“Uncle Sam said your scoop the loop days are over,” Sullivan said.
He ended up taking the car with him to Texas, where it sat out in the sun for a year and a half.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.
Last year, the two friends revisited the past by participating in the fifth annual Scoop the Loop. The Friday and Saturday night right of passage was brought back in 2011 and reinvented into a one-night event for all ages with live music and even a drive-through area where people can pull up and get root beer and Big Red floats.
“It wasn’t the same as back in the ’60s because it wasn’t as big back then,” Sullivan said. “There would be a dozen or so of us sitting, and a few would be scooping. If you had gas money, you were scooping. If you didn’t, you were sitting.”
Back then, no one thought anything of “scooping the loop,” he said.
“If you didn’t have a date on a Friday or Saturday night, you went up there and looked for one,” Sullivan said.
Engleking said what he liked about scooping in the old days was getting to see his friends’ cars, what they had bought and what they were working on.
“Back then, kids worked on their cars,” Sullivan said. “Now, they work on their video games. It’s just a different time and different situation.”
When they were done scooping, many of the kids would head out past Rok-Sey Roller Rink to drag race. It was nicknamed Weasner’s drag racing strip because the Weasners lived in the only house on the road.
“We’d race to see who had the fastest car,” Sullivan said.
Although they don’t drag race or spend much time hanging out downtown anymore, the two still like to show off their cars and plan to participate in Redeemer Lutheran Church’s car show Saturday before Scoop the Loop.
Sullivan’s car was even somewhat of a legend in Seymour, said Tom Gray with the Seymour Area Cruisers car club.
He first heard about it in the late 1970s.
“For years, I thought his car didn’t exist. Everybody talked about it,” Gray said. “But the guy had it stashed away, and I didn’t know him. So the first time I met him, I was like, ‘This is the mythical Vette.'”
To this day, people still ask Sullivan about his car.
“Everybody I run into from back in the ’60s will ask, ‘Still got the Vette?'” he said. “They don’t believe it when I say yes.”
Sullivan said he’s glad people continue to experience Scoop the Loop, even if it is just one night a year.
“I hope it keeps up, kind of like the Oktoberfest,” he said. “I love it. You see people there you only see once a year. It’s nice to see the old crowd come out and for the young crowd to see what we did back then.”
It’s estimated around 5,000 people from Jackson County and even from out of town and out of state come out for Scoop the Loop.
Sullivan said it surprises him how many people show up but said it’s good for Seymour.
“It’s great for the town,” he said.