A little rain fell, but it...
A little rain fell, but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm for the Road Tour or the Coker Tire open house.
The fifth leg of the 2008 PPG/Street Rodder Road Tour had the makings to be a good one. It would begin at Coker Tire in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and take us through some of the most scenic and historic parts of the country with a number of interesting stops on the way to our final destination, the Syracuse Nationals in New York.
Our tour officially kicked off Saturday, July 12, with an open house at Coker Tire and the neighboring Honest Charley Speed Shop. Although the sky looked threatening and it rained midday, a surprising number of local enthusiasts turned out in their rides to see what was going on.
While all the Road Tour legs are great fun and have plenty to offer those who want to see the country through the windshield of a street rod, the Coker Tire Tour included a fundraiser for the Victory Junction Gang Camp for children with physical disabilities. Located in Randleman, North Carolina, the camp was started by Kyle and Pattie Petty in memory of their son Adam. According to tour leader Jerry Dixey, $2,500 was raised through the auction and donations, enough to pay for a child's stay at the camp. Our thanks to those who donated items to be auctioned: Holley, AMSOIL, Weiand, Grant Steering Wheels, The Right Coast Association, Edelbrock, Street Rodder, Classic Automobilia, Hooker Headers, Honest Charley, California Car Cover, and Hot Rod.
Part of the Coker tour included...
Part of the Coker tour included the newly refurbished area that houses the car and motorcycle collection. The building's original concrete floor has been ground smooth and polished.
On Sunday morning John Barkley, SR's associate, publisher and I jumped in the '34 phaeton that had served me so well on the Vintage Air tour and headed to Knoxville. While the weather report called for showers, we were confident that we'd stay dry thanks to the tub's top; that might have been the case if the showers hadn't turned to a three-hour equivalent of driving through a car wash. By the time John and I arrived at our stop at Barillaro's Speed Shop the only damages were blown headlight bulbs on the tub due to leaky lenses and our complete loss of dignity after being forced to wear trash bags as raincoats. A couple of halogen lamps fixed the '34 and we got the chance to dry out while enjoying the hospitality of the Barillaros, a tour of their shop, and some great barbeque chicken.
When we pulled into Mooresville, North Carolina, that evening a few more Road Tourians joined our group, then it was off to an impromptu after-hours private tour Jerry arranged with Alex Beam, the owner of the nearby Memory Lane Antique Auto Museum. Alex has rounded up a huge collection of racecars, antiques, and specialty vehicles and has them on display.
On Monday morning our first stop was at the recently relocated Detroit Speed and Engineering in Mooresville. Stacy and Kyle Tucker specialize in early Camaros and Chevelles and to validate their credentials all we can say is their customer roster includes Dale Earnhart Jr., Kyle Busch, and Rick Hendricks. The qualities of the cars they build rival the finest street rods, and they have a complete line of suspension components for homebuilders. At this point in the trip I lost my rider. It wasn't clear if it was due to business or the threat of more rain, but John got on a plane and headed home.
Next the tour headed for Randleman, North Carolina. After a stop at the Richard Petty Museum and lunch at the nearby Randleman Caf (highly recommended by the SR staff), we pulled into the Victory Junction Gang Camp facilities. There we were given the unique opportunity to tour the impressive facility that was built on land donated by the Petty family. After presenting the money that had been raised for the camp we were off to that night's stop in Charlottesville, Virginia.