The Benedict Castle Concours Car Show is excited to announce that our 2023 Grand Marshal is none other than industry legend and all around amazing person Corky Coker! Corky has attended the Benedict Castle Concours in the past and believes in the mission of Teen Challenge. Corky will be honored at the Saturday Night Gala and on the day of the show. Be sure to stop by, say “hi”, and get an autograph!
Joseph “Corky” Coker delights in seeing people happy. He is passionate about his family, friends and businesses. He is energetic and ambitious, compassionate and caring. And he was born to be in the automotive specialty-equipment industry.
His father Harold opened the Coker Tire Company in 1958, and Coker remembers sweeping floors and cleaning wide whitewalls as his earliest jobs. But even though he was nicknamed after a character in the old “Gasoline Alley” comic strip, he was not enthralled about working at a tire company. In addition to the time spent at his father’s business, Coker grew up among livestock on the family farm. He liked the animals more than the rubber and planned to become a veterinarian until a too-carefree attitude at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga put an end to that plan. As he recalled it: “I made all Bs in college—banjos, beer and babes—so I was not quite the student it took to become a vet.”
Instead, he discovered that he actually enjoyed working at the tire store when he returned there and split his time between the business and school in Chattanooga. When he ultimately went full-time, his father directed him to take on the small antique-tire niche, which was then less than 5% of the company.