Cars and Coffee provides ‘escape’ for people in challenging time

At a time when many are looking for a vehicle to bridge divisions, Cars and Coffee drives a diverse audience to a refreshing escape.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Life’s reflection has been stressful enough in recent months. The pandemic, politics and social unrest weigh heavy on the hearts of everyone. But in our area an event called Cars and Coffee has offered an escape and a vehicle to bridge the divide.

“It’s a stress relief to be out here to just take a second to just enjoy some nice cars,” said Jermaine White.

The free events are posted on social media. Louisville Cars and Coffee typically hosts their events on the fourth Saturday of each month. Lexington Cars and Coffee has begun holding them on the third Sunday of the month. Car owners and clubs gather at parks and parking lots. Car lovers gawk, drool and snap thousands of pictures to share online.

This car culture is a culture of diversity unlike you see at most events.

Jo Haas attends the Louisville events with her 14-year-old son who writes the 502 Cars blog. “It’s outside and there’s enough space where you can kind of move around but still feel part of community, which is great,” Jo said.

Vance Ray with Mopar Savages Car Club said, “We try to get out in the community and show how diverse our car club really is because we have people from different backgrounds and, the way the current climate is right now, we kind of need to see that reflection to show that everybody can really work together.”

Shane Wohlschlegel began organizing the Louisville Cars and Coffee events when he was in college. The events have drawn crowds for the last four years. 

“Everybody kind of melts away from everything that’s going on and in really challenging times it’s nice to be able to just step away and enjoy going to something that you’re passionate about.”

The passion has spread across the Commonwealth. The Lexington event drew hundreds of people to a shopping center on August 16.

Jasmine Lopez is one of those drawn to the cars. We saw her taking dozens of pictures of cars during the Lexington event.

“I really can’t describe it,” she said about why she takes so many pictures. “Just the feeling I get inside when I see them. Excitement. Happy. It’s my happy place.”

In Louisville, Vance Ray had a similar comment about being in a “happy place.”

“I call it the neutral zone,” explained Ray. “The neutral zone is where we talk about cars, cars only. That’s it. And that’s what brings us together and that’s our happy place.”

We all need a happy place right now, especially as many feel burned out by the world. Chad Fletcher explained why the events are so important to him.

“It’s refreshing to have a break. Refreshing. A lot of people are just stuck in the house and it’s just refreshing to be able to come out and enjoy an event like this,” Fletcher said.

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