Fighting Autism with Automobiles & Music

Odd Collections, People
on June 30, 2009

Joe Elmore is known for celebrating hometowns and hot rods on the two TV shows that he hosts each week, Nashville Public Television's Tennessee Crossroads and Horsepower on the Spike network.

Elmore, 64, grew up in Paragould, Ark., and moved to Tennessee a few decades ago to pursue his passion for music, which he spotlights on a new CD, Gearheads, a rollicking collection of classic songs about cars.

But a much greater passion, helping people understand autism, is driving Elmore's latest venture. About $1 from the sale of each $12.99 CD will go to the Autism Foundation.

"My son Bobby, who's 13, is autistic," says Elmore, taking a break from a Horsepower taping that today has him swapping out fuel injectors for a carburetor.

 "A lot of people don't understand autism. I'm hoping this will help raise awareness."

The album—designated "Volume One" out of optimism that a second collection will be forthcoming—is filled with Elmore's takes on car-themed tunes like Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place to Go" and The Beach Boys' "Fun Fun Fun."

But there are also a couple of Elmore originals, including "My Old Bel Air," a love letter to his first automobile.

"It was a '57, blue and white," he says, recalling the day he bought it. "They wanted $750, but they settled for $700. It ran real well for the first 20 miles. Eventually traded it in on a '65 Galaxy."

Perhaps he'll sing about his adventures in the Galaxy in "Volume Two."