The fourth leg of the PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour kicked off in style at the Blue Suede Cruise this past weekend in Norwalk, Ohio. Norwalk Raceway Park was the site, and street rods, customs, and musclecars combined with nostalgia drag racing and rock 'n' roll made for a wild weekend. King of the drag racers "Big Daddy" Don Garlits was on hand with an early Swamp Rat rail to wow the crowd with some exhibition passes and autograph signing all three days. Sponsored by PPG, the Blue Suede Cruise is in its fifth year and getting bigger and better every time.

The PPG / STREET RODDER tent was the center of activity for everyone registered for the fourth Road Tour of the season. On Monday morning, everyone gathered at a McDonald's just north of the Ohio Turnpike on Route 250 for an 8 a.m. departure time. Our first stop was nearby Milan, Ohio, the birthplace of Thomas Edison. After a quick photo opportunity, it was south on Route 6 through some beautiful Ohio farmland. The temperature was hovering at about 90 degrees; it was a hot one, but the scenery was great with field after field of corn standing about 6 feet tall.

At Route 30 (the original Lincoln Highway), we headed west and on to I-75. Our destination for lunch was Hagan Street Rod Necessities at their new home in New Bremen, Ohio, about 70 miles north of Dayton. About six months ago, Pete Hagan moved his family and business from their home in Carson City, Nevada, to the farmland of western Ohio. Long famous for their metal products, such as gas doors, hoods, and headlights, Pete gave us a tour of the new facilities and a sneak peek at the Coopster, a project that has been in the works for a number of years. The Coopster will be an all-steel 1933 Ford roadster with an electric retractable top that folds automatically and stows behind the seat. The concept and quality craftsmanship on the prototype is incredible. After a great lunch, it was back on the highway, south to the National Museum of the Air Force for our history lesson of the day. If you haven't been to this fantastic facility in Dayton near the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, you do need to make a day of it the next time you are close.

The two hours we spent at the Air Force Museum was not enough time to even scratch the surface of the mammoth exhibit buildings, but we had an invitation for dinner in nearby Brookville, Ohio, at the Brookville Roadster facility. Kenny and Ray Gollahon were our hosts for the evening, and after yet another great meal, we were given a tour of the complete facility. It was amazing to see what these folks are producing. They have been pioneers in the steel street rod body market for almost three decades, starting with their Model A roadster body and then turning the street rod hobby upside down with the introduction of their '32 all-steel roadster body a few years ago. Their latest addition to their line of bodies is the amazing '32 Ford three-window coupe all-steel body they debuted last year. This body is one our hobby has been waiting for, with a two-year backlog of orders. It was a great evening with some of the most talented metal men in street rodding.

It was a long day on the Road Tour, but we saw some amazing things, learned a lot, and sure ate well. Tomorrow is another day of street rod fun as we head to Indianapolis for a tour at the speedway and a visit to the museum. Then we'll head south to Jasper, Indiana, for a visit with our friends at Air Ride Technologies. It's time to get some rest. There is a ways to go before we get to Louisville and the Street Rod Nationals.

Check back here, I'll keep you posted,

Jerry