By car, the only way into, or out of, Hyder, Alaska, is a road that starts in British Columbia, Canada. Hyder is the only town on that road, which is why Dave Schaub laughed when he got to the border, crossing from the United States into Canada, one day after coming the other way.
"I have some questions," the checkpoint agent announced. "Are you carrying any firearms?" Dave said no. "Do you have any bear spray?" Again, no. Then she smiled and asked, "Where have you been?"
The reason Dave laughed is partly because there is only one place he could have been on that road, and partly because his route to Hyder had been almost 10,000 miles long, through every state of the continental United States.
He'd been everywhere.
Dave's wife Carol photographed him all smiles as he pulled into their driveway at the end
On Your Mark
Dave's idea originated with some friendly bragging between himself and another hot rodder about driving a reliability run to put their cars to the test. Dave came up with a route that covered most of the United States, to be completed in 10 days. To his friend, it seemed like an unrealistically ambitious challenge. To Dave it seemed like a realistically ambitious one. He was familiar with the long-distance motorcycle rides undertaken by the Iron Butt Association and figured that what could be done on a bike could be done in a hot rod. Soon, the concept had become an actual plan, the trip had changed to "49 in 9" days, and the motivation had evolved from testing his own endurance and that of his '32 into doing something significant for a worthy cause.
The Ronald McDonald House at Stanford is a quarter of a mile from Schaub's Meat Fish & Poultry, the butcher shop Dave owns in Palo Alto, California. Like other Ronald McDonald Houses around the world, this one provides housing for families of children being treated at a nearby hospital. Turning his cross-country cruise into a fundraising effort gave the trip a purpose and gave Dave a chance to help out.
Sponsorship started to pick up at the L.A. Roadster Show in June.
The plan drew supporters early on, including Gary Meadors from Goodguys and Roy Brizio, who had originally built the car for Dave. When Brizio contacted Edelbrock about getting a set of Street Rod shocks for the roadster, Vic Edelbrock insisted on contributing a brand-new small-block. As the word got out about what Dave was up to, more sponsors began showing interest.
"As sponsors lined up, a buddy of mine said, 'You should sell space on the car like NASCAR does.' The next day Chuck Browne from Golden State Foods [a fast food restaurant supplier] called me and said they'd heard about what I was doing and wanted to make a large contribution. I said, 'You just bought two doors on the car!'"
When Dave ran out of sheetmetal real estate, he sold louver space.
Dave divided up the rest of the roadster sheetmetal and came up with a fair price to charge for spots. Most sold for $1,000; some went for $500. When Dave displayed the car at the L.A. Roadster Show last June, he encountered even more interest. "We were selling spots like crazy," he remembers. "When we ran out of room, I sold louvers for $100. We sold all 148." There was no turning back now.
"The concensus was that I'd bitten off more than I could chew." If Dave was going to cover 49 states in 9 days, he needed a plan.
An efficient 49-state route, calculated at 9,800 miles, meant a daily average of approximately 1,100 miles-or eighteen hours of driving at an average of 62 mph. Food stops would be five minutes. Gas stops would be eight minutes. With a custom 35-gallon tank, and by moving the filler from the trunk to the outside, he could save valuable seconds. In the weeks prior to the trip, Dave practiced making these pit stops as quickly as possible. He would travel at night, when traffic was lighter and temperatures cooler-and if the car broke down, it'd be better if it happened at the beginning of the day than at the end. Days typically ended in the afternoon, when he'd arrive at his hotel destination for five or six hours of sleep, waking at the next midnight to get back on the road and keep going.