Jerry Elijah Rushing (September 1, 1937 - July 23, 2017; Monroe, North Carolina) is an American best known for his years as a bootlegger or "moonrunner" (moonshine runner).
Rushing was born into a family business making illegal whiskey. As a young man he became a delivery driver, a job requiring late-night high-speed driving, often without headlights; for this he used a modified 1958 Chrysler 300D capable of 140 mph (225 km/h) speeds, easily more than most police vehicles, which he nicknamed Traveler (one L), after Robert E. Lee's favorite horse Traveller (two Ls). The car was eventually abandoned when it ran out of gas during a chase, sold from a police impound into the private collector's market, and has since been restored by Laurence Wolfel.
Rushing eventually turned to a career in stockcar racing. Among the drivers he raced were Junior Johnson, himself a former moonrunner, and Wendell Scott. Rushing allegedly invented or perfected maneuvers known to stunt drivers today such as the "bootleg" or "180", which requires defeating the emergency brake ratchets in order to lock the wheels for a spin.
Early in his career Rushing performed stunt work.
Rushing owns and operates a wild boar hunting preserve near Taylorsville, NC. The preserve is called the Chestnut Hunting Lodge, and is open for hunting year round. He retired from the business in 2013.
Moonrunners (1975) and The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985)
- Uncredited Bodyguard from Moonrunners Film (1975)
- Ace Parker from The Dukes of Hazzard TV Series, Season 1, Episode 4: Repo Men
Doing research for a movie, producer Gy Waldron obtained an oral history from Rushing. Waldron would later use these interviews, along with his own experiences growing up in Kentucky, as material for the 1975 B-movie Moonrunners, and then as the basis for the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. Rushing was not credited for the biographical details he claims were recreated in both works, and sued for royalties, receiving an undisclosed settlement.
Rushing claims thirteen characters from the film or series were modeled on himself or people he knew, including:
- He was the inspiration for Bo Duke
- His Uncle Worley was the inspiration for Uncle Jesse Duke / Jesse Hagg
- His car Traveler was the inspiration for the Traveller / General Lee
- Rushing appeared uncredited as Jake Rainey's bodyguard in Moonrunners.
- He also had a cameo in an early episode of the TV series, as crooked used car salesman Ace Parker in the episode "Repo Men".
- Rushing had wanted the character to become recurring, but it was the only time the character was ever seen. This appearance led to a career as a minor character actor, mainly playing rednecks, sheriffs, and truckers. With the release of the Dukes of Hazzard movie, Rushing has stepped up marketing for a self-produced documentary called Traveler.
The Dukes of Hazzard: The Unofficial Companion ISBN 1-58063-038-3 covers the Waldron/Rushing feud in detail