For many years the official fuel systems sponsor of the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour has been and still is Aeromotive. Their background originated in the drag racing and high-performance end of our automotive hobby. With the growth in popularity of street rods and street machines, Aeromotive took their years of experience on the track and applied that knowledge to that new and growing market.

With the Vintage Air Road Tour ending at the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and the huge Back to the 50’s event in St. Paul, Minnesota, the following weekend, Aeromotive suggested we have a Road Tour through the Kansas City area on our way to St. Paul. Their headquarters in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa, Kansas, was the perfect place to hold a big get-together and with that the Aeromotive Road Tour was set.

The Aeromotive Tour got off to a great start on the Sunday following the Hot Rod Reunion. There were almost 40 vehicles registered for the second leg of the AMSOIL/ STREET RODDER series. Our first drivers’ meeting of the week took place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bowling Green. It was then a short drive to the National Corvette Museum. The museum has gone through a recent expansion and pays tribute to the history and heritage of that popular marquee. Significant Corvettes from the past are featured and the Hall of Fame salutes the people who were instrumental in the history of the Corvette. It was a good way to kick off a week on the road as we traveled to the Back to the 50’s event in St. Paul.

By 10 a.m. we were headed to our lunch stop in Evansville, Indiana. We were greeted at the Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant in Evansville by members of the Road Knights Car Club. Arrangements had been made with club President Norris Grey to have a welcoming party meet us at the restaurant. The club members helped us with parking and we were all given dash plaques from their monthly cruise that is held at the restaurant on the first Sunday of every month. Many thanks to Norris and the members of the Road Knights for the great greeting in Evansville.

It was a three-hour drive to our evening destination of St Charles, Missouri. After checking in to our hotel on the banks of the Missouri River some folks cleaned their cars and others walked down to the casino on the river to enjoy some dinner and to try their luck.

It was a great start for day two on the Aeromotive Road Tour. After our daily drivers’ meeting we drove a short distance to our first history lesson. In 1804 Lewis and Clark and their men set out from the banks of the Missouri River in St. Charles to begin one of the greatest adventures in our nation’s history. They crossed unexplored territory as they traveled to the Pacific Ocean. It’s an amazing story and it was told very well at the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center. Everyone enjoyed learning more about the Lewis and Clark saga.

By 10 a.m. it was time for us to head west. The folks at Aeromotive were planning a big get-together at their headquarters in Lenexa, and we were going to be guests of honor. It was a very windy four-hour drive across I-70 and we arrived at our hotel with just enough time to check in and head to Aeromotive in nearby Lenexa.

We arrived at 4 p.m. and there were already folks parked in anticipation of the show. There were tents set up and barbecue was on the grill. By 6 p.m. there were over 350 vehicles filling all of the parking areas and along the streets leading to the Aeromotive offices. The food was great, the country music was fantastic, and everyone had a great time. The folks at Aeromotive went out of their way to make everyone feel welcome at the party. Door prizes were given out at 8 p.m. and day two of the Aeromotive Road Tour was in the history books. Our thanks to everyone at Aeromotive who made this a wonderful evening.

After a great evening at Aeromotive Monday our Tuesday morning drivers’ meeting came early at 7:30 a.m. We went over our plans for the day and we all headed north on I-29 to our destination of Lincoln, Nebraska, the home of Speedway Motors and the Smith Collection of American Speed.

It was another windy drive on the interstate and we rolled into Speedway Motors at about 11:30 a.m. We were greeted by Damon Lee and Clay Smith of Speedway Motors and the Smith Collection of American Speed staff. We spent about an hour on the first floor of the four-floor museum. It was then time for some lunch. Surf City Garage, the official car care sponsor of this year’s AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour made arrangements to buy pizza for all 70 people on the Aeromotive Tour. The folks at Speedway Motors provided the beverages and it was a great lunch. Thanks to Surf City Garage and Speedway Motors for a great lunch and a cool place to enjoy it.

It was then time to explore the rest of the amazing museum. To try to convey the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed to someone who has never been there is next to impossible. We have been fortunate enough to have visited a number of times on past Road Tours but it still overwhelms us every time we visit. The extent of the collection is incredible. From vintage race cars, speed equipment, pedal cars, and Model T accessories to the most exotic high-performance engines anywhere, it is sensory overload wherever you look. We were divided into three groups and the museum staff gave all of us real insight into the stories behind the items on display.

After touring the second, third, and fourth floors we walked back down the steps to the first floor and the real highlight of the entire visit at the Smith Collection occurred. At the bottom of the steps was Bill Smith himself, and he greeted everyone with a handshake and a hello. Every time we have stopped at the Smith Collection on any of our Road Tours, Bill Smith has gone out of his way to personally make us feel welcome. It was an amazing wrap up to an amazing afternoon at the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed.

From the museum we took a short walk across the parking lot to the Speedway Motors retail store and warehouse. There we got a real behind-the-scenes look at the entire warehouse operations of America’s oldest speed shop. Many, many thanks go out to Bill Smith, son, Clay, Damon Lee, and all of the staff of Speedway Motors and the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed. It was a Road Tour afternoon to remember.

After checking into our hotel we all made the short drive to a Culver’s Restaurant just down the street. Jim McNeil and members of the Rebels Auto Club had put out the word and we were welcomed to Lincoln by about 50 local car enthusiasts. After some burgers and shakes we spent time talking with the local folks in attendance. It was the perfect ending to a dream day.

It was a windy and cloudy morning on Thursday in Lincoln. The wonderful memories of our visit to the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed were still fresh in everyone’s minds. After taking a picture for the Road Tour Gallery, which appears on the STREET RODDER website, we headed north toward Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the headquarters of Dakota Digital. It rained briefly during the three-and-a-half-hour drive but things were dry when we pulled into Dakota Digital. We were greeted by President Ross Ortman and his staff. Sub sandwiches were ready and we enjoyed lunch and tours of the modern Dakota Digital facility. Dakota Digital is again this season the official gauge sponsor of the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour. Their new VHX series combines digital accuracy with analog looks and they are the perfect complement to our tour vehicles. Thanks to everyone at Dakota Digital for the great welcome on Thursday afternoon.

It was a short drive to our destination of Brandon, South Dakota. After checking in at our hotel a major rainstorm hit. It brought the temperature down about 20 degrees in 10 minutes. It soon passed through and we headed as a group to see the car collection of Larry and Carol Olson. Larry and Carol have welcomed us on previous Road Tours. Their fantastic collection includes award-winning hot rods and muscle cars. We got one of the first looks at Larry’s just-completed ’40 Ford coupe that was built by the team at Bowman’s Real Hot Rods, which is right around the corner from Larry’s facility. After spending time looking at all of the cars on display we were treated to a fantastic meal at the Olsons, which was prepared by Kevin Bowman’s wife, Edane.

From Larry’s collection we drove two blocks to Bowman’s Real Hot Rods. Kevin had offered assistance to anyone on the tour who was in need of some repairs on their vehicles. There were some minor adjustments made on a few Road Tour participants’ vehicles. By about 9 p.m. things started to wind down. It was a great afternoon and evening in the Sioux Falls/Brandon area. Thanks to everyone who made it another great day on the Aeromotive Road Tour.

We were up and rolling by 8 a.m. on Thursday. It was time to get to St. Paul and the Back to the 50’s Weekend. It was a great four-hour drive from Brandon, South Dakota, to the Twin Cities. The rain of the previous day had dropped the temperature considerably. When we arrived at the registration headquarters the car show and parking lot party had already begun. Once inside, the Minnesota Street Rod Association folks helped the registration process go very smoothly. It was then off to our hotel to check in and get ready for our plans for the evening. We had been invited to be special guests at a picnic put on by the Scavengers Car Club.

The picnic is an annual pre–Back to the 50’s get-together. It was great to meet the members of the Scavengers. All of the Road Tourians really enjoyed the food and the hospitality of a club that represents what true car clubs are all about. Thanks to all the Scavengers who made us feel so welcome on Thursday evening.

Friday we were all up early and headed to the fairgrounds. The Minnesota Street Rod Association was ready at the grounds and we all rolled onto the grounds quickly, considering that by noon there were probably over 10,000 vehicles in attendance. Friday’s weather was perfect and the great cars, good food, and friendly folks were everywhere on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. While Friday was a very busy day, Saturday was bound to be even bigger.

By Saturday afternoon the vehicle count at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds had swelled to over 11,000 registered vehicles. The grounds were wall to wall with participants and spectators and a walk along the tree-lined streets proved that everyone was having a great time. The 39th edition of the NSRA Back to the 50’s Weekend wrapped up on Sunday afternoon. It was another huge success. Next year is the 40th Back to the 50’s Weekend and the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour will very likely be back again in 2013 to help them celebrate. For more pictures and expanded coverage of the Aeromotive Road Tour, go to www.streetrodder.com.

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