After just two weeks of rest and relaxation following the National Street Rod Association East Coast Nationals, it was time for the 10th anniversary PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour to continue. The direction this time was west 2,000 miles to Pueblo, Colorado, and the National Street Rod Associa-tion Rocky Mountain Nationals. My regular route to this late-June event is usually across Missouri and Kansas on I-70. Since I had a little extra time this year, I decided to take a different course so I could stop and visit some friends (includ-ing one of our hobby's most innovative manufacturers), a premiere car builder, four former presidents, and a famous indian chief. This year's northern route would be through Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, and then south to Colorado.
I will not bore you with my I-80 Gary-Chicago construction ranting. Let's just say it is not done yet. By Tuesday afternoon, I was breezing along the cornfields of Iowa. The sun was shining and the skies were blue. The '36 Road Tour coupe was cruising down the road just fine, but with the beautiful weather, I did somewhat miss last year's roadster. Then in the distance I saw a familiar sight for this part of the country: a very large, black cloud rolling in from the north. I had been to one of these parties before, and here in the flatlands, the storms come fast and furious.
About 10 minutes later, my path and the storm's path crossed. Heavy rains hit with winds at about 50 mph and I just smiled. The windows were rolled up, the Vintage Air was working, and I was listening to the XM radio, cruising down the road. At that point I realized that coupes are really cool, too!
I stopped briefly that evening in Rockwell City, Iowa, a small town about an hour northwest of Des Moines that calls itself the "Golden Buckle of Iowa's Corn Belt." Well, the street rod world would know it better as the home of builder Roger Burman and his Lakeside Rods and Rides shop. Roger has built some of the finest rods and customs of the last decade from this small shop. Roger gave me a peek at a project rod that will be on the floor in Detroit's Cobo Hall next year contending for the Ridler award.
0The next morning I made a stop at the beautiful new Dakota Digital facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Owner Ross Ortman has been very supportive of the Road Tour over the past 10 years, and Dakota Digital's gauges and instruments have helped me monitor the vital signs of many of the Road Tour cars. Their new facility is state-of-the-art and Ross gave me a personal tour of the processes that produce some of the slickest instrumentation in our hobby.
After my morning visit at Dakota Digital, I continued my trek west on I-90. At the end of a three-hour drive across South Dakota lay the Black Hills and the historic towns of Deadwood and Sturgis. I spent the evening in Deadwood, the town made famous by the shooting of Wild Bill Hitchcock and his famous "Aces and Eights" poker hand he was holding when he was shot. It is now being made more infamous by the "HBO" series of the same name.
The next morning I made the beautiful 45-minute trip through the Black Hills to one of the most recognizable sights in our country: Mount Rushmore. I made Road Tour stops here in 1996 and 2001, but the images on that mountain still take my breath away. I also stopped for the first time at the Crazy Horse Memorial just 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. This incredible undertaking is beginning to take shape and, while completion is in the very distant future, it is well worth the stop.
From the Black Hills, it is a 200-mile drive across the grasslands of Wyoming to get to the I-25 north of Cheyenne. The route between the memorials and I-25 is a good two-lane road with little traffic and the trip went by quickly. Traveling south on I-25, I made a quick stop in Longmont, Colorado, at the home of National Street Rod Association's Connie and Jerry Kennedy. They had invited a few folks to stop by for a get-together on the way to Pueblo. After some great food and some visiting with friends, I was on my way. I rolled into Pueblo at 11 p.m. on Wed-nesday evening. It had been a fun trip filled with some great sightseeing.
The weekend at the Rocky Mountain Nationals went by quickly. This 2,000-rod event is always fun, and the Rocky Mountains make a great backdrop. I pointed the coupe east and rolled out of the Colorado State fairgrounds Sunday at 3 p.m. I was in Hays, Kansas, by 10 p.m. that evening. The following day was very hot and very long across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois, and then onto India-napolis.
The temperatures hovered around 100 degrees all day. Thanks to Vintage Air and Walker Radiator, both the coupe and I stayed cool. The following day I headed north on I-69 toward Michigan. I made a stop at Mr. Gasket / Accel Digital Fuel Injection division to say hello and to let them know how well things were working. I was on my way home by 5 p.m. and in my driveway in Ohio by 8:30 p.m. It was a good Western swing. The car is very comfortable to drive and I have realized that you just have to roll the windows down if you want wind in your hair.
I'll be home for two weeks and then on to the new National Street Rod Associat-ion Milwaukee Nationals, the huge Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Experimental Aircraft Fly-in, and then the Street Rod Nationals in Louisville.See you on the Road Tour.
Builder Roger Burman's Lakeside...
Builder Roger Burman's Lakeside Rods and Rides shop sits in the Iowa Corn Belt town of Rockwell City. The next time you see this '35 Ford it will be on the floor of the Detroit Autorama competing for the prestigious Ridler award.
Dakota Digital has recently...
Dakota Digital has recently moved into new facilities in Sioux Falls, SD. Dakota Digital gauges have ridden along with me in many of the Road Tour cars.
Dakota Digital's owner and...
Dakota Digital's owner and president, Ross Ortman, knows the value of state-of-the-art manufacturing procedures. The move to the new facility included the addition of new, high-tech equipment.
I made a stop at the Mr. Gasket...
I made a stop at the Mr. Gasket / Accel Digital Fuel Injection division in Wixom, MI. Manager Joe Alameddine (left), technician Mike Hartsell, and the entire staff greeted me. Their system is performing great, providing fuel to our Roush Performance engine.
The Black Hills mining town...
The Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, SD, has a colorful history. While gold was its lifeblood in the early days, casinos are the main source of revenue now.