Travelers in 49 states must...
Travelers in 49 states must have been scratching their heads when Dave's roadster drove past, covered with the names of his many sponsors. If they visited the website promoted on the 'rails, their questions were answered.
Dave's '32 had made a lot of road trips, but never one like this, and would need preparation that went beyond the basic fluid change, belts and hoses, and tire inflation road trip checklist. He put 10,000 miles on the Edelbrock engine to make sure it was up to the task. Then it was back to Brizio's for new U-joints, axle bearings, brakes, and some upgrades specific to this trip, including cruise control and heavyweight racing oil that could withstand 16-18 hours of non-stop daily duty. The rear gears were changed to 2.55s. BFGoodrich contributed a new set of tires, Vintage Air donated a heater. The windshield was replaced and a small, hand-operated wiper was installed. Sid Chavers, who had done the interior, reupholstered the seat, and PIAA driving lights were added. Dave bought a couple of GPS navigation devices and had extra 12-volt power ports wired into the roadster.
In addition to mechanical preparations, Dave started preparing himself. He walked 30 miles a week, watched his diet, lost weight, and weaned himself off of coffee and other stimulants. He accustomed himself to sleeping less until he could function on five or six hours of sleep.
As the trip approached, he started spending extended periods of time in the small cockpit. After accompanying Roy and Andy Brizio on a cross-country run to the Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, Dave continued to the Atlantic, then headed west on a three-day endurance trip through Florida, on up toward Oklahoma City and back to California. "Those three days gave me a taste of what this nine-day adventure would be. I was pretty confident."
The roadster was built at...
The roadster was built at Roy Brizio Street Rods, and went back to get some upgrades and to prepare it for the nine 18-hour days that lay ahead. The only mechanical problem Dave encountered was a burned out tallight bulb on Day 1 in Oklahoma, which he fixed in a rainstorm.
On September 9, 2009, the timer started ticking on Dave's cross-country, beat-the-clock ride. Leaving Needles, California, he clipped the southern tip of Nevada, then U-turned down into Arizona. Three states down, 46 to go.
At night, he occupied himself by listening to music and exercising, using dumbbells, and turning on cruise control so he could move his legs around. With no time for restaurants, Dave consumed beef jerky, energy bars, trail mix, fruit, and lots of water, throughout the day. He said he never felt hungry and he never felt sleep-deprived.
Dave reserved daylight hours for plotting his course, setting the GPS for his next stop. His progress was logged with gas and food receipts, and occasionally by photos taken by himself or by people he met. He sent daily emails to his wife Carol and to John Drummond from Goodguys, who posted his updates on the www.49in9.com website.
A SPOT real-time GPS tracking device posted location updates to the web every several minutes, so that people all over the country could monitor his progress. "It fact," Dave laughed, "we almost blew up the system." Some people used the information to encourage Dave in person, such as one fan in Nebraska. "I was in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles from the nearest town. Coming around a corner, I saw a late-model T-Bird convertible with the top down and a lady standing on the seats holding a big sign that said Go Dave!"
Success in the Cities
Vic Edelbrock donated this...
Vic Edelbrock donated this Edelbrock Performer Hi-Torq small-block Chevy crate engine. This engine, a Turbo 350 automatic, and a 2.55:1 rearend were a successful combination, providing good mileage, driveability, and durability.
Knowing that traffic congestion and toll roads along the crowded Eastern Seaboard could gobble up time, Dave planned those miles for the weekend. As it turned out, this was one of the smoothest portions of the trip, thanks in part to a police escort and in part to a donated electronic transponder, which automatically deducted tolls from a prepaid account. Despite a Boston traffic jam that forced Dave to backtrack, and added an unanticipated 56 miles to his trip total, he made it through New England three hours ahead of schedule-cause for celebration "The jubilation I got from kicking New England's butt was so wonderful that when I got to Bennington, Vermont, I actually went out to dinner, then soaked in the tub for an hour. The next morning I was heading west on familiar roads."