The winter went by so fast! It seems that I was just in Tampa dodging a hurricane, but that was six months ago. The Road Tour 2000 season is here and it is time to roll to all the NSRA events.

With work being completed on the M-2000 Roadster at Lobeck's Hot Rod Shop in Cleveland, we decided that I should travel with an old friend for the first few events: the McMullen Roadster clone that I had driven 17,000 miles in 1997. That was the year we celebrated STREET RODDER Magazine's twenty-fifth anniversary. That year the give-away rod was the Hercules Woodie. The McMullen Roadster has been resting comfortably at the editorial offices for the past few years, and after a quick check-over it was ready for a few more miles of rod run fun.

I arrived at the McMullen-Argus offices from my home in Ohio rested and ready for the tour to begin. Our goal--as it has been over the past five years--is to attend all 11 of the NSRA events around the country. The NSRA schedule changed a little this season with Bakersfield and the Western Nationals as the first event and the Southern Nationals in Knoxville second on the schedule.

The thing that makes this schedule change interesting is that the events are on back-to-back weekends and more than 2,000 miles apart! There are a number of vendors who attend all the NSRA events. With tear down on Sunday afternoon in Bakersfield and set up in Knoxville on Wednesday, this schedule created a cross-country boogie of epic proportions (which I will discuss later!).

Again this season we are holding Road Show open houses at rod shops and manufacturers on our way to each event. This year we kicked our Road Show season off with a get-together on Wednesday evening at the California Car Cover Company.

As I left the STREET RODDER offices in Placentia and made the 1-1/2-hour trip to Chatsworth, home of California Car Cover, I quickly remembered what makes roadster rodding so unique. The sun, wind, noise, heat, and visibility all add up to sheer excitement - and I love it! It was later that day that I remembered that you are supposed to use sunblock.

I was traveling to Chatsworth with Jon Stroud in his '37 coupe and with Tim Foss, both from the McMullen-Argus staff. We made a quick stop in Simi Valley at the offices of StreetScene Magazine, the monthly publication of the National Street Rod Association. The cooperation and support of the NSRA has made the Road Tour Series the success that it has become. Editor Joe Mayall and Jerry Johnson greeted us and we were happy to see a number of NSRA officials from their Memphis headquarters who had stopped at the same time. After a quick visit it was on to California Car Cover.

Street rods had already begun to arrive at the company's headquarters in Chatsworth. The weather was California beautiful: warm and sunny and perfect for the roadsters that were in attendance. Owner Jim DeFrank and his staff greeted us when we arrived. Jim started marketing car covers in 1974 and began California Car Cover Company in 1989. His line quickly expanded into car care products, apparel, tools, and automobiles. Recently CCC has turned its showroom into a showcase for its products--all set into a gas station theme. If you are ever in the area, definitely check it out!

The food and fun lasted into the evening and the STREET RODDER staff gave out door prizes. Jim DeFrank gave us all a tour of the facility, including their new SUV conversion and installation area. We also got to see the new Jim DeFrank and Sons Racing semi-hauler. Drag racing has been a large part of Jim's life for years and recently his sons Jimmy and Tony became nationally ranked super-stock drivers. Jimmy won the national championship in both 1997 and 1999. It was a great evening with gracious hosts!

I spent Wednesday night at the home of Steve Firestein, one of Jim DeFrank's right-hand guys at California Car Cover. Cruising Ventura Boulevard in the McMullen Roadster was really exciting.

I was up and rolling on Thursday morning. I was only about two hours from Bakersfield and did not need to get there early, so I decided to make the hour trip west to the ocean. I had breakfast on the beach in Ventura and then headed up and over the "The Grapevine." This section of I-5 north of Los Angeles offers some spectacular views. When I arrived in Bakersfield in the afternoon, vendors had already begun to set up at the Kern County Fairgrounds. It was good to see all of my Road Tour and NSRA friends. Over the past five years they have really become my summer family.

It was a great West Coast Nationals weekend with record attendance and excellent weather. It was all over by Sunday afternoon and we had three days to get to Knoxville.

Tune in next month as we all make the cross-country "bonsai" to Knoxville. It involves a Road Tour first and a view of the country that I had never seen before.

See you next month!