With the Shades of the Past Road Tour wrapped up on Saturday in Pigeon Forge it was onto the second leg of the Steele Rubber Products Triple Crown Challenge. The Drive-by-Lokar Road Tour took us from Lokar's headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee, to the NSRA Nationals North Plus in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Sunday was an open day and many of us decided to make a trip across the beautiful Smoky Mountains to Maggie Valley, North Carolina. In 2006, the AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour had made a stop at the Wheels Through Time Museum dedicated to vintage motorcycles. It is an amazing display of Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior, Crocker, Henderson, and much more that range from the turn-of-the-century to racing motorcycles from recent years. Owner Dale Walksler again greeted us at the door and spent time explaining the collection and answering questions about the motorcycles. If you have any interest at all in American-made motorcycles you must put the Wheels Through Time Museum on your "gotta see" list.

Monday morning it was a short drive from our Knoxville hotel to Lokar's headquarters. We were greeted by Brian Downard and the Lokar staff. We enjoyed a great hot breakfast and got a tour of how all of the quality Lokar products are proudly manufactured in the United States. After a group photo we were all given Lokar T-shirts and goodie bags. Lokar is the only company that has had their products on every Road Tour car for the entire 17 years of the series. We appreciate the continued support from Lokar and depend on their products every year.

From Lokar we headed north on I-75. It was a four-hour drive to Erlanger, Kentucky, and the C. Cook Enterprises facility. We were greeted by Clay Cook and Melissa Seniora along with a large group of rodders who had stopped by to say hello. C. Cook Enterprises specializes in metal shaping and amazing aluminum billet products. In 2010 our Shadow Rods–bodied '27 T roadster featured a Clay Cook fabricated track nose and hood. This year our '40 Ford has C. Cook Enterprises valve covers on our Ford Coyote motor along with their very cool injector stacks and filters. Everyone received a C. Cook Enterprise T-shirt and we all enjoyed some snacks and beverages.

We checked in at our hotel and made the short drive to Woody's Hot Rodz in Bright, Indiana. Chris Sondles and his team built our 2009 '51 Chevy and also last year's flamed '55 Chevy. After a quick visit at their original shop we took a short drive to West Harrison, Indiana, to see the new Woody's Tri-Five Showroom. Finishing touches are being put on what will be a store where a customer can come in and order a brand-new Tri-Five Chevy on the chassis of their choice. Real Deal Steel bodies, Art Morrison chassis, and Woody's own Gasser chassis were all on display when we visited. A walk through the facility and hot dogs and soda wrapped up a great day on the Drive-by-Lokar Road Tour.

Our Tuesday morning drivers' meeting kicked off on a somber note as we remembered the victims of the September 11 tragedy of 11 years ago. By 8:45 a.m. it was time to head north. Our first stop was at Butch's Cool Stuff in Tipp City, Ohio. We were greeted by owners Sandy and Terry Keplinger and Cool Butch Bunn himself. Butch retired a number of years ago and Sandy and Terry decided to bring back the name and the line of products that Butch's was originally famous for: frenched headlight rings, lower blocks, and their newest line of tube grilles. Sharing a building with a large antique shop and art gallery, it was a popular morning stop for everyone on the tour. Two TV stations from Dayton also stopped by to interview some of the Road Tourians and to take video of their vehicles. Our lunch stop was in Plain City, Ohio, at a traditional Amish restaurant. It was then a three-hour drive to our Tuesday evening destination of my hometown, Youngstown, Ohio.

After checking in at the hotel the first stop in Youngstown was to the original retail store of Classic Automobilia. Everyone enjoyed the displays of pedal cars, vintage toys, and soapbox derby items. From the classic showroom it was a short drive to my home and a great evening of relaxing with good food and good friends. I had invited some of my hot rod friends to bring their cars. Combined with the 17 cars on the Drive-by-Lokar Tour there were about 30 very cool rods in my backyard. I introduced my wife Mary Ann, my mom, and my brother, Jack, to the crowd. Mary Ann and Dawn Damron had put together goodie bags for all the Road Tourians. The food they had prepared was delicious and it was a very relaxing evening at our home. Thanks to Pete Mazar, Dawn, and Mary Ann for all their hard work to help make the evening a huge success.

Our first stop on Wednesday was at the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio. Opened 13 years ago on the 100th anniversary of the first Packard motor car, the museum celebrates the history of the Packard with cars and informative displays. Their latest exhibit deals with "small cars". It is a great museum that has the help of many passionate volunteers.

Just around the corner from the Packard Museum is the amazing street rod collection of Patty and Fred Warren. To walk into a room and see the 1994 Ridler winner and both the 1995 and the 1999 AMBR winners is pretty amazing. Fred's latest coupe project has been featured recently in STREET RODDER. Fred answered everyone's questions and it was great to see these fantastic pieces of street rod art up close.

Our lunch stop was just an hour away at Precision Hot Rods and Fabrication in Macedonia, Ohio. Local hot rodders were on hand when we arrived. Shop owners Danny Tesar and Larry Brunkola greeted us when we arrived and some great food was served to everyone on hand. Precision is a full service shop that already has a full house of hot rods in progress for folks from all over the country. Thanks to the welcome party and to Dan and Larry and their wives for a great lunch stop on Wednesday. It was a short drive west on the Ohio Turnpike to the facilities of Flaming River in Berea, Ohio. We were greeted by owner Jeanette Ladina and the entire Flaming River team. We were divided into two large groups and given a complete tour of the manufacturing facility. After the informative tour we were treated to refreshments before we headed on our way to Milan, Ohio. It had been a good day on the Drive-by-Lokar Tour.

By Thursday morning it was time for our final push to Kalamazoo and the NSRA Nationals North Plus. Our day started with the drivers' meeting and then the Drive-by-Lokar Road Tour Gallery. Everyone got a chance to pose with their vehicles. (These pictures are then posted to streetrodder.com. Just click on the Road Tour section, then the Drive-by-Lokar Tour to view the gallery.)

Our first stop of the day was just around the corner in Milan, the birthplace of Thomas Edison. It was then a three-hour drive to Auburn, Indiana. In Auburn we visited the newly opened Early Ford V8 Museum. Flathead Ford fans will be in paradise when they visit this museum. From the V8 Museum it is a short drive to the amazing Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. We have stopped here before and each time we stop we discover new things to see. The building is the original Auburn Automobile Company facility and showroom. The autos are breathtaking and so are the displays. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum is a must-see for any car enthusiast. By late afternoon we were all in Kalamazoo and excited about the Nationals North Plus that was to begin on Friday morning.

The three days of the NSRA Nationals North Plus were fantastic. Bright sunny blue skies and temperatures in the '70s delighted the huge crowd of over 2,400 registered vehicles and throngs of spectators. The swap meet at the Nats North has become one of the largest on the entire NSRA schedule. The Streets of Rods were a hit on Friday and Saturday. The event marked the final days of the Drive-by-Lokar Road Tour but the beginning of the Megaspeed Car Show Road Tour. It also marked the beginning of the final leg of the Steele Rubber Products Triple Crown Challenge. All six vehicles that set out with us in the beginning in Indy were still rolling right along.

The 2013 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour schedule is now set. Registration forms can be found at streetrodder.com. Try to join us on one of the eight great tours we have planned for the summer.