Sometimes, the best stories take a while to discover.
This one took me six years.
Scrolling through Twitter last week, I came across a story about a Madison man and his coworker who recreated the 1977 "Smokey and The Bandit" beer run to and from Texarkana … except with New Glarus’ Spotted Cow.
I had to learn more, and not just because I, myself, dressed up as The Bandit for Halloween last year.
Chris Chandre, an IT consultant in his mid 40s, got the idea back in May of 2013 after introducing his Kansas City clients to the beloved Wisconsin beer, which isn’t available for purchase outside the state. "They were a great client, and of course, they got addicted to Spotted Cow," he says.
Having been raised on "Smokey and the Bandit," he felt the inspiration to deliver 25 cases of Spotted Cow to these clients. If you need a refresher on the movie, it’s a very silly plot to pick up and return 400 cases of Coors to Atlanta. Hijinks ensue.
So naturally, Chandre decided to deliver the Spotted Cow dressed up as Burt Reynolds’ iconic character. Instead of a Trans Am, he took a Honda Element.
"We didn't have a basset hound or anything like that," says Chandre. "But it was a great trip."
The pair amped themselves up by watching the movie and listening to the soundtrack as they hit the road, finding inspiration from Jerry Reed’s "Eastbound and Down." The Element didn’t provide them the speed or the handling of "BAN ONE," but Chandre says they sped southwest as quickly as they could.
"It was an embarrassment of a car, like driving a milk cart," he says. "The faster we got there the better."
Along the way, they stopped at the world’s largest truck stop on I-80 and loaded up on tacky wolf T-shirts. "The more wolves we could get on a T-shirt, the better," he says.
One mile from their destination, they found themselves accidentally recreating another scene from the movie.
"A motorcycle cop clocked us, and I saw him put his radar gun in his cycle bag and get on his hog," says Chandre. "I took the first exit, whipped ass down the road and hid behind a Burger King. I’m a f*cking 45-year-old IT consultant, but why not?"
Chandre says his clients were delighted when they arrived with the beer (he got permission from his bosses at Nordic Consulting to make this beer run). "Just don’t sell it," they said.
So why did this story take six years to get out?
Chandre says that he didn’t make a big deal of it on social media back then, but he’s down for more crazy stunts in the future. "I list it on my resume," he says.
"We’re IT guys who don’t take ourselves too seriously. When we went to work, we were like Santa Claus, handing out cases of beer."
Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.