On its 80th Birthday, Woodrow Proves You Can't Keep a Vintage Shelby Out of the Lead

20090425_Michels_Wodrow80thParade_0563.jpg
Patrick Michels
Woodrow cheerleaders trail Burton Gilliam, class of '56, who rode a Smart car back to school Saturday.
See our slideshow for more photos from Woodrow's 80th.

Out in front of Woodrow Wilson High School Saturday morning, Tom Hopkins sat on the back of his '57 Corvette, watching the parade roll in. The 1968 graduate had the look of someone well trained in the art of leaning on his car, quietly judging anybody else's ride that rolls past.

He started to get up when I asked to take his picture. "No, you were fine right there," I told him. "You know, it looked almost like--"

"Like James Dean," he said. So maybe the thought had already occurred to him once or twice before.

The classic black car seemed a little dusty alongside the shiny new Mustangs pulling in beside it, but Hopkins figured he could still outrun most of them, in the car he bought for $550 his junior year. He saved up to buy it, earning 90 cents an hour at Tom Thumb, and though his parents urged him to get something cheaper, he remembers there was no doubt in his mind. "I thought, man, if I get this, I was gonna get laid," he says.

During the week he'd take it to school to impress the girls, and on the weekends he'd race his Corvette around Dallas. Hopkins recalls one day at Green Valley Raceway when he took on a field including racing great Carroll Shelby, Class of '40 -- and killed his transmission along the way.

Saturday morning, Shelby again took the lead, riding up front in Woodrow's 80th anniversary parade from Lakewood Shopping Plaza back to the school.

Dozens of Shelby Mustangs, Corvettes, gleaming old classics and even a tiny Smart car carried some of Woodrow's most notable alums, including Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower and screenwriter of The Siege.

Along the way, members of the 1969 Wildcats football squad tossed a ball around in the street while other alums waved signs on the sidewalk. On the landmark building's front lawn, ballerina Marjorie Hardwick Schramel, Class of '82, gave some tips to a trio of pom-pom-toting girls in red, while WWII veteran Phil Johnson, Class of '43, chatted and posed for photos.

As Robert pointed out late last week, you'll find the full list of this year's Woodrow Hall of Fame inductees (didn't spot Steve Miller in the parade) right here.
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