Friday, October 19, 2007

Dukes Cruise: Tom Sarmento

The fifth and final part of a full week's worth of coverage of the 2007 Hillbilly Woodstick 2 Dukes of Hazzard Cruise, which culminated this past weekend in Covington, Georgia ...

Whew-weeeee, it's been a great week on the BRBTV News Blog, reporting on last week's Dukes Cruise. And of all the fun celebs and interesting "Dukes of Hazzard" stories we've talked about here on the blog, there's a reason we had to leave the show's lead mechanic Tom Sarmento for last. Actually, make that two reasons. The first reason is that Tom Sarmento hereby earns the award we bestow on a celebrity guest for every event we attend and cover, the Most Congenial in Show Award. (Though Byron Cherry was such a strong contender this time around, he did just win the award in August for the Hair Dare Dukes Days!) And the second reason? Well, the second reason is that we just had to give Tom the Friday slot and the long weekend runtime because we just have to know the answer to one simple question.

On which dad-gum episode were the barrels of molasses????????????????

It's a bit of an inside joke, you see, springing from the Friday autograph session with the star guests, and we're more than happy to let you in on it. BRB got Tom a-talkin', askin' him which "Dukes" episode he remembered the most, or which one he had a funny reminiscing for. He began to tell us about an episode where everything seemed to go wrong, though he couldn't remember the title of that episode! All he remembered is that it was probably either right before or right after the Coy and Vance time (but not during) and that it involved some wayward barrels of molasses.

"You knew that was going to be a bad episode right away," he mused. A truck of molasses was brought in the night before filming and parked at what was thought to be a good place. But, he said, the truck moved from its position during the night and the molasses spilled all over the place.

Then the cows came from the nearby hillside.

"And where there's cows, there's cow pies!" he laughed. He said the mess destroyed a couple million bucks worth of equipment, including two Panavision cameras. An expensive episode, to say the least.

But the question remains ... just which episode was it? What was the scenario for which this sticky prop was used? A typical cop chase, mayhaps? We racked our brains. "Dukes" fans, we're relying on you. Meanwhile ....

"This brings back memories," Sarmento said as he paged through BRB's "Them Dukes! Them Dukes!" Sarmento turned in seven good years on "The Dukes," making sure things went as smoothly as possible with the show's vehicles.

"We did a lot of stuff," he told the group gathered for the Friday afternoon talk at the Super 8 Motel in Covington. "We did a lot of changes, etc. We had like 317 of those Chargers; we had over a thousand of those police cars."

He continued, "All these guys that we had on the show -- they're all directors, production coordinators now." Stunt guru Paul Baxley, father of stunt coordinator Craig Baxley and uncle of fellow stunt coordinator, Gary Baxley, was instrumental in that, he said. "The man made people's careers. A lot of people didn't like Paul, but he made the show what it came to be."

Sarmento represented the Hazzard County Stunt Team at this event. You've seen these guys and their daring deeds at DukesFest and other events. When Sarmento settled into the antiques mall on Friday with the Stunt Team's display, he showed BRB the particular General Lee he had with him -- the General Lee used in the reunion jump in Covington a couple years ago.

He says that after the jump the car needed a whole new front end, but the rest pretty much stayed the same. In addition to this blazin' orange beauty, the Stunt Team's display included lots of Hazzard County goodies: T-shirts, decals, lanyards, hats and beautiful 8-by-10 color photos of various "Dukes" jumps.

For his kindness and cordiality during the event, Sarmento earns BRBTV's Most Congenial in Show Award for the Hillbilly Woodstick 2 Dukes of Hazzard Cruise. But we still wanna hear which episode had the molasses!

Photos by Billie Rae Bates / BRBTV

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