The Eaton Detroit Spring leg of the 2007 STREET RODDER / PPG Road Tour started off fantastically with beautiful weather and a great location to enjoy the 13th annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Sandy and Mike Eaton were our hosts for the entire week's activities as we traveled from Detroit to the NSRA Nationals in Richmond, Virginia. Saturday's Dream Cruise lived up to its reputation as the largest single-day automotive event on the planet.

From our vantage point at the special Eaton Detroit Spring hospitality lot on Saturday morning, the Road Tourians were at the very center of this unbelievable event, and it also made for a prime location for all the participants to meet and get to know each other. The grill was fired up around noon and we were all treated to burgers, "brats," and corn on the cob. Many Road Tourians made a pass or two up and down Woodward Avenue, and while traffic was heavy as usual, this year it seemed to flow much smoother than in previous years. It was a fun start to the Eaton Detroit Spring leg from the Woodward Dream Cruise to the NSRA Richmond Nationals.

Sunday morning, many of us gathered at the hotel to make the trip to The Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn, Michigan. The beautiful weather had turned very wet and it was a perfect day to spend some time inside to soak up a little history and culture. The special display at The Henry Ford was "Rock Stars' Cars & Guitars," and it was a very cool exhibit, especially since we had a special tie-in with a number of the vehicles. Fellow Road Tourian Jimmie Vaughn had his Cadillac on display, along with a number of his guitars, and the Tom McMullen Tub featured in an old Van Halen video was also part of the exhibit. If you have not checked out The Henry Ford, be sure to do so the next time you are in Detroit because there is a lot to see.

Sunday evening, we were all invited to the home of Betty and Fred Birchard, who are members of the Holy Cross Classic Cruisers car club; they, along with 10 other members, were registered to be part of the Eaton leg of the Road Tour.

After a great, improvised indoor picnic at the Birchards due to the weather, along with a good night's rest, it was time to head out on our journey Monday morning. Unfortunately, it was still raining very hard when all 21 registered vehicles met at the Hampton at 8 a.m., but no one was going to let some rain spoil the excitement. It was thankfully a short trip to our first stop at Goller's Hot Rod Shop in Defiance, Ohio, since driving was made a little more difficult with downpours and rising water along the Maumee River. We all made it, but it was not exactly a good way to start our journey. Phil Goller-who has been a good friend for quite a while and a fantastic street rod builder even longer-greeted us and we got a look at his facility. Phil recently took over the line of Flathead engine parts previously marketed by Mark Kirby of Motor City Flatheads. Mark was responsible for the beautiful Flathead motor in this year's Road Tour coupe, and he was on hand at Goller's when we stopped by, helping to cook up some hot dogs and delicious hamburgers with Paul Rebman for all of us to enjoy.

We headed south again after lunch; still traveling in a downpour, our destination for the evening was Brookville, Ohio, and the Brookville Roadster shop. Ray and Kenny Golahan greeted us with great pizza, and we all got to go behind the scenes and see how the steel Brookville Roadster and coupe bodies are produced. It was an eye-opening experience to see how more than 200 individual pieces go into the '32 Ford coupe body I have been driving all summer.

After a rain-soaked drive on Monday, the participants on the Eaton Detroit Spring leg of the Road Tour were looking forward to some dry weather on Tuesday. We were still talking about the great stops at Goller's Hot Rod Shop and Brookville Roadster when we gathered for our driver's meeting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The skies were overcast and there were sprinkles in the air when we headed out from Brookville, but it was nothing like the previous day's deluge. On tap for Tuesday was a history lesson in the morning and then a party at the largest Harley dealership in West Virginia.

Our morning drive took us through Dayton, Ohio, and across Route 35. Route 35 has just been completed as a four-lane highway and the smooth roads and lack of truck traffic were definitely a welcome relief. Our stop for the morning was at the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park in Chillicothe, Ohio. The Hopewell people were Native American "mound builders" who lived in the Ohio area thousands of years ago, and this national park has preserved some of the mounds built for religious and/or spiritual purposes. We were shown a short film on the history of the Hopewell and the mounds they created, and then we were actually able to walk around the preserved mound areas.

After some lunch in Chillicothe, we continued our trek east for a party at Harley-Davidson of West Virginia in South Charleston. The Golden Oldies Street Rod Association of Charleston helped organize the event, and members were waiting to greet us when we arrived. Harley-Davidson of West Virginia is the largest dealership in the state, and we all enjoyed the tour of the company's facilities, and then dinner provided by Quaker Steak & Lube of Charleston. Previous Road Tour routes have come across Quaker Steak & Lubes around the country, and it is always a treat to enjoy their wings after a long day on the road. The local news media turned out to film a segment, and members of the NSRA safety inspection team were on hand to provide safety inspections for anyone who was interested.

Wednesday morning in Charleston was overcast and rain was in the air, but by then we were veterans of driving in the moisture, so it didn't bother us and we were eager for the beautiful scenery ahead of us. Sandy and Mike Eaton led the way in their sedan delivery as we drove along Route 60, which winds along the river toward Virginia. We stopped to catch the scenic view at Hawks Nest State Park and enjoyed a look over the New River. It was a very enjoyable morning as we traveled together in this beautiful area, and we actually saw the sun for the first time in a number of days as we crossed the border into Virginia on Route 64. We stopped for some lunch in Lexington, Virginia, and then decided to check out the Natural Bridge, a natural rock formation that has been a popular tourist destination for years and was at one time owned by Thomas Jefferson.

By Wednesday evening, the Eaton Detroit Spring leg was very near to the NSRA Richmond Nationals as we made it to our evening destination of Lynchburg, Virginia. After our Thursday morning 7:30 a.m. driver's meeting, we made our way across town to the shop of Sonny Leonard and the home of Sonny's Racing Engines. Sonny and his talented crew build record-setting racing engines for the dragstrip, tractor pulls, and high-performance boats, and he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give us a personal tour of the facility. Sonny's specialty is big cubic-inch General Motors engines, and if you want the works it would be one of their 811ci, 1,700hp Hemi head monsters. Yes, I did say Hemi head-Sonny casts and machines hemispherical heads for big-block Chevy engines. We saw some serious motors with some serious prices from $16,000 to $90,000. It all depends on how fast you want to go!

It was time to move on down the road by 10 a.m. I had been contacted a few months prior by two street rodders from the Virginia area, Mike Shumaker and Mike Turner, who wanted us to experience some true Southern hospitality, and they had also contacted Barbara and Al Moore-owners of the Farmer's Caf in the small Virginia town of Blackstone midway between Lynchburg and Richmond. The two Mikes knew Barbara and Al would be anxious to have our tour stop by the Farmer's Caf for lunch, and the Moores even wanted to pick up the tab for all of us. Now that is real Southern hospitality! We were given the royal treatment when we drove into Blackstone, as Chief of Police Nick Kuzmiak and some of his officers had blocked off parking on the main street of Blackstone in anticipation of our arrival. We all enjoyed the great food at the Farmer's Caf and were overwhelmed by all the attention. Many thanks to Mike Shumaker, Mike Turner, Chief Kuzmiak, our gracious hosts, Barbara and Al, and the staff at the Farmer's Caf in Blackstone. It was one of the high points of our entire week.

It was then time to get to Richmond and the NSRA Nationals, where we arrived and picked up our registration materials at the headquarters hotel. On Friday, we all set up camp in the STREET RODDER tent and enjoyed the shade and the company of our fellow Road Tourians all weekend. The NSRA Richmond Nationals was one of the first NSRA events to open registration to vehicles 30 years and older. The grounds of the Richmond International Raceway were filled with street rods, customs, and musclecars all weekend.

It had been a wild week on the Eaton Detroit Spring leg of the Road Tour. From the Woodward Dream Cruise to the great food and all the wonderful stops along the way, it had all been fun. We soon forgot about the rain earlier in the week; sometimes it takes a little adversity to bring folks together, and we had become one big family by week's end. Many thanks to Sandy and Mike Eaton and everyone who helped make this tour a success.