In June of 2019, Adam and I jumped in the Challenger for a ride back in time. Our favorite movie is Smokey and the Bandit, so we decided to make a run through Georgia and visit some of the movie locations. While the movie follows Bandit and Snowman from Atlanta to Texarkana and back again, very little of the actual filming was done outside of Georgia. Much like Buford and Junior did 42 years ago, Adam and I just wanted to have some father and son time while chasing down some memories.
Since we were coming in from Tennessee, we tried to route the stops down through the middle of Atlanta, then looped back around the east side and up to Northern Georgia. We also made most of the city stops on Sunday, as traffic was lighter and photo opportunities would be easier to snag. As we tell the story of the trip, we’ll list each stop in order.
Lakewood Fairgrounds – 175 Lakewood Way SW, Atlanta, GA 30315
The first stop on the journey was at the former site of the Lakewood Fairgrounds just south of Atlanta. This was the scene of many images from Smokey and the Bandit, including the truck roadeo at the beginning of the film, and the race at the end. It was also the scene of the roller coaster demolition in Smokey 2. Unfortunately, much has changed at the property, and it is now the home of a movie studio. We attempted to talk our way through the security station, but had no luck. Within the grounds, the grandstand next to where Buford and Bandit had their CB radio exchange at the end of the movie is still on site, although crumbling and grown over. While we couldn’t see that, we could see the expo buildings from the road outside the gate. After a couple of pictures, it was off to the next stop.
Daddy, The Top Came Off – 7690 N Main Street, Jonesboro, GA 30236
The next stop was the site of the scene where Buford and Junior lost the roof of their car to an unfortunate encounter with a tractor trailer. This one took a bit of research to track down on the internet, but the road contours are the same, and some of the background buildings are recognizable.
Horn Stuck – 7748 N Main Street, Jonesboro, GA 30236
The next stop was just down the street, the site where Buford’s horn got stuck as he was trying to get through traffic, and had a memorable encounter with a police officer who didn’t seem too impressed with Buford or his car.
Texarkana, TX – 104 N Main Street, Jonesboro, GA 30236
Next up was downtown Jonesboro, the stand in for Texarkana. The street has changed a bit, as some years ago the level of the street was raised up a bit, and certainly some businesses have changed, but the area is very recognizable. The train station that had the Texarkana sign in the movie is now a ‘Road to Tara’ museum of all things Gone With The Wind. We parked the car and walked around a bit, and were able to get some pretty good photos. As an added bonus, we took a matching photo of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first album cover.
Bridge Jump – 365 Flint River Road, Jonesboro, GA 30238
Next up was the site of the bridge jump. Some years ago there was a fire from what we have learned, that burned up most of what had been left from the bridge. Today, the only thing that remains are a few of the pilings. Access to the direct path of the bridge was not possible, but you can pull to the side of Flint River Road and get a picture of the pilings just upstream.
Fred’s Swim – 9550 Fayetteville Road, Jonesboro, GA 30238
From the bridge, we travelled to the site of the pond that Fred decided to take a swim in, and Snowman had to retrieve him from. Other than some road construction right at the site, this looked almost exactly as it did in the film, and was instantly recognizable as not much has changed at all. Due to the construction, we had a good place to pull over in gravel, but this site would have been challenging to find a pull off once construction was completed.
Breaking the 4th Wall – 20 Keys Ferry Street, McDonough, GA 30253
After several stops in the Jonesboro area, we headed over to McDonough to the town square. This was a really interesting area, so we spent some time just strolling through the square. This was the site early in the movie where Bandit runs from a cop and hides the Trans Am behind a small building in the square. He then rolls the car forward, looks up at the camera and smiles, breaking the 4th wall. Sadly the building and the tree are both gone, but you can easily make the spot out by the buildings around the outer perimeter of the square.
Fred Don’t Like Grease – 336 Macon Street, McDonough, GA 30253
From the square, we travelled out to the site of the gas station and restaurant where Snowman had a less than stellar fight with some bikers, before exacting some revenge with his Kenworth on their hogs.
Funeral Procession – 1914 S Stone Mountain Lithonia Road, Lithonia, GA 30058
From there we travelled to Lithonia to the site of Buford and Junior getting stuck in a funeral procession. The school in the background still remains largely unchanged, and even the name is still the same. We couldn’t resist filming a recreation of the scene where Buford wished that a cremation would have occurred, maybe we’ll post that on the YouTube channel someday. UPDATE: As mentioned above, we went ahead and uploaded this to youtube! https://youtu.be/wrpYjDOKHpo
I’m Gonna BBQ Your *** in Molasses – 11976 GA-75, Helen, GA 30545
For the last stop, we travelled to the north Georgia mountains, to a site where many things happened. Police had set a roadblock for Bandit, he had to drive through the river, cop cars crashed, and finally Buford rolled up on the scene only to have his driver door knocked off by a car hauler. This sets the scene for many memorable quotes including ‘I’m gonna BBQ your *** in molasses’, and the ‘I’m gonna punch your momma in the mouth’ speech to Junior.
We certainly didn’t stop at every site that exists, but these 10 stops were some of our favorite scenes in the movie. If you are interested in more information on these stops, feel free to reach out. I’m also including a link below to a Google maps file which will take you to these stops, starting at the Lakewood Fairgrounds, and ending in Helen, GA. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this update. Next week will be a second update from this trip, covering filming sites of other movies and TV shows.
GOOGLE MAP FILE: