BBQ contest team has not missed a single year of competition

(WMC-TV) - You can already smell the barbecue in the air. The Memphis in May International BBQ Cooking Contest starts Thursday, and a familiar face is competing.

It's the 35th anniversary for the competition and Woody Coleman is a part of a team whose barbecue goes down in history.

"People always say 'Who are y'all, do you have a restaurant or something?' And we always say 'Naw, we're just a bunch of rednecks trying to have fun,'" said Coleman.

They are "a bunch or rednecks" who are the only team to compete in the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest since its inception 35 years ago.

Woody Coleman is a founding member who helped establish the team name as the Redneck Express.

"In the early days we had a lot of people from Arkansas and we still do and you know they're kind of redneck over there," Coleman laughed.

They won first place in the whole-hog category in 1978.

"Best we've done since then is sixth place in 2008 and we've been all over the chart," said Coleman.

Of course the secret is in the sauce.

"We substitute some peppers with chipotle peppers and we think we hit it like we want it, it's got a little heat to it," he explained.

The Redneck Express team says after doing this for over 35 years this competition has become somewhat of a brotherhood.

"One reason it works is because we have fellowship," Coleman explained. "We have a little party a week or two before the competition when we make our rub."

Consisting of 16 to 18 members, the Rednecks say they do not want a corporate sponsor.

"We fund it ourselves, we have little annual dues and meetings and run it like a little business," he said.

Technology now allows many teams to monitor their grills overnight by computer but Coleman said they still like to keep it simple.

"We feel like barbecue should be like you do it in your backyard, people in their backyard don't have a $10,000 grill," he said.

And while winning is always nice, Coleman said cooking good food is always the priority.

"We're just here to cook good food and if we win that will be okay too," he said.

The Memphis in May International Festival brings more than $40 million into the Memphis economy. The BBQ cooking contest runs Thursday through Saturday.

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