After our initial 4,700-mile shakedown cruise to Bakersfield, California, and back to Knoxville, Tennessee, I enjoyed a week off while the Road Tour '36 Chevy spent some time at Hot Rod Flames (Wade Hughes shop) in Cincinnati. With the exception of the rear axle bearing that we had replaced on the road, the car had performed excellently on our West Coast swing. Wade and his crew wanted to give the '36 a thorough going-over before I headed back out. Remember that we had headed west with just 46 miles on the odometer!

Wade reported to me that everything was fine and the calendar showed that it was time for me to get back to work. The next event was the NSRA Mid-America Nationals in Springfield, Missouri. The folks at Competition Cams in Memphis, Tennessee, had invited us to stop by their facility for a Road Tour Road Show open house on the way to Springfield. I had a few places I wanted to visit, so on Monday morning before the Mid-America Nationals I headed south.

I dropped off Wade's '34 Chevy sedan that he had graciously loaned me and got back behind the wheel of the Road Tour '36 Chevy. The skies were very overcast as I crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky. Yet, overcast soon turned into a downpour. It rained so hard that I had to stop at a rest area for a while for the storm to pass through. Do I miss the roadster? Sure, but not on that particular afternoon. The rain eventually cleared and I got off the main highway to make a personal pilgrimage.

The small town of Campbellsville, Kentucky, is about 50 miles from any interstate. My grandmother was born there, my mother spent much of her youth there, and I had made the trip to Grandma's many times in the back of a '55 black and red Pontiac station wagon as a youngster. It was a fun side trip for me as I navigated the two lanes into rural Kentucky. The sun came out and I spent about an hour driving around town.

Monday evening I stayed in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the home of the National Corvette Museum and the Corvette manufacturing facility. As usual, my schedule did not allow me to take the tour, but I have heard from many folks that it is worth a visit to both. Tuesday I did have some tourist time so I made a stop in Nashville, Tennessee. The west side of Nashville is where the new Country Music Hall of Fame is located. I also visited the Ryman Theater, which was the home of the Grand Ole Opry for many, many years.

By afternoon it was time to head to Memphis. On Tuesday evening I was the guest of Laura and Cusey Ray. These great folks have become part of my Road Tour family over the years. Laura has been associated with street rodding her entire life. Her father, the late Gilbert Bugg, was the vice-president of the National Street Rod Association. Cusey and Laura both take an active part in the NSRA. Cusey's smiling face can be seen supervising the NSRA merchandise booth at every event. After a tour of their beautiful home and very cool garage, it was time for some famous Memphis ribs at Corky's.

We were all up early. Laura and Cusey were headed to Springfield for the weekend's event, so I had some time to do some visiting in Memphis before our Road Show open house at Competition Cams. My first stop was to say "hello" to everyone at the National Street Rod Association headquarters. These behind-the-scenes folks keep the workings of the organization running smoothly. From there I made a stop at Walker Radiator. The folks at Walker have been building street rod radiators for years and years. Many of our Road Tour cars (including this year's '36 Chevy) have been equipped with a Walker.

Located on the same block as Walker's is the original Sun Records recording studio, the birthplace of rock and roll. After lunch on Beale Street, I had time for one more tourist attraction. It does not get much more famous than Graceland. I had never been there before and jumped at the opportunity to take the tour. It was an interesting afternoon and the Elvis memorabilia is incredible.

Competition Cams was the site of the Wednesday night Road Show. We had stopped at Comp Cams in 1998 and it was great to see our Memphis friends again. We had a good street rod turnout. Technical Consultant, Jay Adams, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility (with help from Hadley Owens and Jason Carrington). To our tour guides and Tammy Holland from Comp Cams, thanks for an entertaining and educational evening!

I spent Wednesday evening in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and on Thursday I arrived at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri. It had been a good trip, and I saw some very interesting sights on the way. The '36 is running fine. It is a real smooth cruiser and when the winning entry is drawn at the end of the season, someone is going to wind up with a great ride!

It was a perfect Memorial Day weekend in Springfield. The weather was beautiful and a new record of over 2,000 street rods was set. The NSRA Mid-America Nationals has become one of the fastest growing events of the summer season with good reason. The Mid-America Nationals also saw the debut of Kobalt Tools as the major sponsor of the Road Tour. Be sure to stop by the STREET RODDER booth and check out the great Kobalt 52-inch tool chest that is the grand prize in a Road Tour summer-long sweepstakes.

Sunday afternoon came and it was time to head east. For the second time this season we have two events back-to-back and (luckily for me) my home was halfway to York. I made it to Effingham, Illinois, Sunday night and rolled out early to get home on Memorial Day afternoon.

We had been invited back to TP Tools for a Road Tour Road Show open house on Wednesday evening. Once again, there was a huge turnout! More than 300 street rods, customs, and street machines turned out for the event which started at 1 p.m. and rocked until 8 p.m. Complete with a DJ and door prizes, the folks at TP Tools know how to throw a party. The rodding community of Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania knows the place to be on the Wednesday before York and the East Coast Nationals!

On Thursday it was time to head to York. My wife, Mary Ann, and I piloted the Classic Transportation van while the Road Tour '36 Chevy was driven by a West Coast "ace," who had flown in just for the job. Advertising Sales Manager Janeen Webb had piloted the McMullen roadster to York last year and said the '36 was a piece of cake for her! Joining her for the six-hour trip across the Pennsylvania Turnpike was Fred Warren in his steel Deuce coupe, Josh Shaw (my co-pilot from the Bakersfield run) in his "ratical" Deuce sedan, and Chuck Lombardo from California Street Rods.

It was a quick trip under blue skies as we headed for the biggest of the big NSRA regional events. The East Coast Nats in York was again huge with more than 5,300 vehicles in attendance.

On Monday it was time to head home. Mary Ann drove the van and I drove the '36 with Steve Firestein from California Car Cover Co. riding shotgun. Following behind was Jim DeFrank, Jr. and Davey Allison in the California Car Cover big-rig. We were all headed to my house for a little party: on that Monday, June 4th, I turned 50!

Next up: Pueblo, Colorado, and Oklahoma City. I can't wait to use my new AARP card! See you on the Road Tour.