On to the Golden State Nationals
After our great day of cruising the coastline and some fun stops at Sanderson Headers and Roy Brizio's shop, Road Tour #6 continued its trek to the NSRA Golden State Nationals in Sacramento. Wednesday we began with a brief cruise through a section of Golden Gate Park. We then crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge and made a stop at the vista area at the north end of the bridge. From this vantage point the entire skyline of San Francisco is in front of you across the bay and the Golden gate bridge is to your right. What a view!
From the vista view we caravanned through the main street of nearby Sausalito and then north to Napa Valley and the Sears Point Raceway, now known as Infineon Raceway. It was a great opportunity for a photo shoot as we pulled the PPG Lion's Mane Gold Tour Coupe into the winner's circle and all the Road Tourians posed on the reviewing stand. Doug Walker and his son Bruce had been part of our group since the start in Pomona, traveling in their white1939 Ford Coupe. They are from Danville and have friends with a vineyard. After a quick a phone call, we were all invited to stop by the Viansa Winery and Italian Market Place. We were given a personal tour by Josh Haberman and enjoyed a nice lunch.
By 1:30 we were on our way again, this time heading south to Danville where we made a stop at the fantastic Blackhawk Museum. I had heard of the Blackhawk Museum for many years, but nothing can prepare you for the classic cars that are on display. We were asked if we wanted to park our cars in front of the museum and then we were treated to an hour tour of the collection. The cars on display were one-of-a-kind hand-built beauties that were restored to perfect condition. It is a must-see stop for any car buff that gets close to the San Francisco area. Wednesday had been yet another fantastic day on Tour #6.
Thursday morning we were getting closer to Sacramento, but had one more stop to make; Leonard Lopez at Dominator Street Rods in Brentwood, California invited us to stop by his shop. Leonard and his craftsmen are in the process of building next years Road Tour Brookville 1932 Coupe. It was fun to be able to take a look at the progress on my 2007 office. Things are moving right along and we should be ready to debut the Coupe at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona in January. Our '32 was by no means the only project underway at Dominator as the shop was filled with high quality cars in various stages of assembly. From Dominator we decided to take the two-lane river road to Sacramento. We arrived in the Old Sacramento downtown area around 12:30 and enjoyed many of cool shops and restaurants. We had some good food and then rolled to the NSRA Headquarters' Hotel for registration.
It was a wild weekend at the Golden State Nationals and all the Road Tourians made the Street Rodder Magazine tent their headquarters. We even had a Saturday afternoon cookout with the help of PPG and their gas grill. Tour # 6 was a blast for me, and everybody who traveled along. We saw some incredible places and things, the scenery was breathtaking, and the camaraderie was fantastic.
Stay tuned. We are very close to announcing next year's Road Tour schedule. You will see it here on our website first. We have some great trips planned and fun things to do and see. Make plans to join us. Ask anyone who came along for the ride this year and I can almost guarantee you they had the time of their life.
Tuesday morning in Pacific Grove was very relaxing. I actually gave the Road Tourians a little free time to sight-see and enjoy the beautiful scenery that the Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove area has to offer. Some chose shopping, others the Monterey Aquarium, and many folks took the opportunity to clean up their cars. It was nice to have a few moments to catch our breath.
By 11 AM I was again cracking the whip and we rolled out. The accommodations in Pacific Grove were great and it was hard to leave but we had some appointments to keep later in the day. We made the short drive up the coast on Highway one and arrived in Santa Cruz around lunchtime .We got through the busy downtown area of Santa Cruz fairly easily and arrived at the famous Santa Cruz pier in good shape. The next hour was spent enjoying the sights, sounds and food that was offered at the pier area. It was also a great opportunity to get the cars together for a photo shot with the classic Santa Cruz amusement park in the background.
From Santa Cruz we pressed onward up the rugged coastline to our destination of Pacific Grove. After checking in at our oceanside hotel we made the short trip to our evening's destinations of Sanderson Headers and Roy Brizio's Street Rods in nearby South San Francisco. Our gracious hosts for the evening were Donna Smith from Sanderson and Roy Brizio. Donna gave us a tour of their header manufacturing facility and surprised everyone by handing out very cool Sanderson Header souvenir metal signs as a token of appreciation for our visit. Roy Brizio gave us a personal guided tour of his fantastic shop and took the time to talk about each and every project that was in progress. Roy and Donna were wonderful hosts and we'd like to thank them for the delicious pizza.
It was a perfect day on the Road Tour. Good weather, beautiful scenery, and visits to two great facilities owned by some very cool folks. We are not done yet. Tomorrow should be fun with a visit to Golden Gate Park, a trip across a little bridge, and on to yet another fantastic automobile museum before heading to Sacramento and the NSRA Golden State Nationals.
Check back and follow along as the Road Tourians live it up "West Coast style."
Be sure to check out the previous pages listed below to see more fun from previous legs of the Road Tour 2006.
The route for the PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour #6 reads like an excerpt from a California tour guide. It doesn't get much more beautiful than the Pacific Coast Highway. And we have some great stops planned along the way.
Our week started out Sunday morning in Pomona at the NHRA Museum at the Fairplex. New museum director Tony Thacker greeted us at 7:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts. We were treated to a look at the fantastic facility that tells the history of hot rodding and drag racing in America. The museum is filled with cars and memorabilia that give visitors a feel for where our hobby has come from in over 60 years. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
From Pomona, we headed north and west on I-210 and then on to Route 101 to Oxnard and the Vintage Museum, which houses an incredible collection of classic cars and motorcycles amassed by Otis Chandler, the late owner of the Los Angeles Times. Bob Mosher, who has been involved with the museum from the beginning and was Chandler's good friend, gave us a tour of the mind-boggling collection of rare and one-off classic cars and motorcycles. Chandler passed away earlier this year, so the collection is to be auctioned off later this month, as was his wish. It was a rare treat for our Road Tour group to be some of the last folks to see this amazing collection all together. Thanks to Bob and the museum staff for welcoming us on a Sunday morning.
From Oxnard we headed north on 101, and then the unimaginable happened! It started to rain. What? In Southern California? What about that song? No problem. The Road Tourians are a tough bunch and we kept right on rolling, roadsters and all. We stopped in Solvang for lunch and then on to the beautiful beach town of Cambria for the evening. Our hotel was right on the beach and we were treated to a classic California sunset, which more than made up for the rain earlier in the day.
Monday morning, 16 street rods with 23 passengers made a stop at a little home on the coast called the Hearst Castle. Words cannot describe this mansion that was William Randolph Hearst's dream. It is a required stop for anyone traveling up the coast of California. We took an hour tour and came away with a small sense of what it must have been like to be American royalty in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.
The next two hours took us along what is considered by many to be the most beautiful drive in America, if not the world. Highway 1 took us up the rugged California coast from Cambria to Monterey. We stopped at a restaurant just south of Big Sur and enjoyed lunch with a breathtaking view. It was then on to our evening stop in Pacific Grove, just south of Monterey.
Tour #6 is just getting started and we have many more stops to make before we reach our weekend destination of Sacramento and the NSRA Golden State Nationals. Check back here soon, and I will keep you informed on the travels of the Road Tourians.
Be sure to click on the page numbers listed below to see some of our previous Road Tour travels.
Don't forget to click on the page numbers below for previous Road Tour events.
With all the fun of the previous day in Detroit and the great time at Duggan's Pub still fresh in our minds, it was back to the business at hand. Our mission when we set out five days and four states ago was to get to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals North in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was Thursday, and that was the day we were to arrive in K-Zoo, but we did have a few more stops along the way.
Earlier in the spring when we had announced our tour schedules for this year, I received a call from a fellow named Mike Atkins. Mike introduced himself as a street rodder who worked at a shop that builds race cars. He and some of his fellow street rodding co-workers wondered if we would like to stop by the shop where they work; Pratt & Miller Engineering & Fabrication is located in a Detroit suburb. My first response was that we were on a pretty tight schedule at that point in our trip, but we would see if we could work it into our plans. Not really knowing what to expect, I asked Mike to send me some pictures of the shop. Well, he did and when I realized where he worked and what race cars they worked on, there was no doubt that we would make time to stop. Pratt & Miller Engineering & Fabrication designs, develops, builds, and races the C6R Corvette, Cadillac CTS-V, and Pontiac GTO that compete and win races such as the 24 Hours of Lemans and the 24 Hours of Daytona, just to name a few. They compete and win on a regular basis.
The shop blew all of us away. I will spare you all the "eat off the floor" cliches. This was without a doubt the most professional and organized automotive build shop of any kind that I have ever had a chance to visit. The folks at Pratt & Miller greeted us, treated us to donuts and coffee, and gave us a tour of their fantastic facility. They even chose five of the Road Tour participants' vehicles and awarded them die-cast models of some of the vehicles they build. Many thanks to Mike Atkins and the folks at Pratt & Miller for raising the bar for Road Tour shop tours!
After our morning at Pratt & Miller, it was only about a two-hour drive to Kalamazoo. We stopped in Battle Creek and took a short tour at Cereal City USA operated by Kellogg's. It was a fun place to have some lunch and get a look at the cereal manufacturing process. The Road Tourians were polite, but it is hard to get excited about cornflakes after seeing million-dollar Corvette race cars.
We made it to registration in Kalamazoo by 3 p.m. and then we headed to Rutter's Rod Shop where we enjoyed another fine meal with street rod friends.
It was a great weekend at the Nationals North. The trip from Pigeon Forge was about as fun-filled as you could ask for. By the reaction of all the participants, it was a great tour. I know I sure had fun!
With one more tour to go, I know the route for Tour #6 is going to be beautiful. We will be traveling from Pomona and the NHRA Museum and heading up the Pacific Coast Highway with stops in Cambria, Monterey, Sanderson Headers, Roy Brizio's Shop, the Blackhawk Museum, and then on to the NSRA Golden State Nationals in Sacramento. Check back here and get all the news from the road as Jerry Gump and the Road Tourians "do" the Pacific Coast Highway and take one of the prettiest drives in America.
Don't forget to click on the page numbers below for previous Road Tour events.
Road Tour #5 Wednesday in Mowtown
After our wet and wild Tuesday in Ohio, it was time to continue onward toward our destination of the NSRA Nationals North. The rain of the previous day had subsided, but it was still overcast as we rolled out of the Hampton Inn parking lot in Berea, Ohio. Our route on Wednesday took us west on the Ohio Turnpike, and then north on I-75 at Toledo. We crossed into Michigan just north of Toledo and it was only 30 more minutes to our first stop at ASC in Southgate, about 15 miles south on Detroit. Mark Trostle, president of creative services, greeted us at ASC along with Kevin McLoughlin, project coordinator for American Speed Company's bold new '33 Ford roadster project. ASC has a long history of creative automotive design and has helped in the prototype, design, and production work on the GM SSR pickup truck and the '32 Dearborn Deuce steel roadster body. They are in the prototype stages of the American Speed Company's new '33 Ford steel roadster body that will incorporate all of the techniques that were developed in earlier projects. It is sure to be a hit with its retractable convertible top. Stay tuned to the pages of STREET RODDER as we follow the development of this program.
After our interesting visit at ASC, we trekked on to downtown Detroit where we had a lunch date with good friends Sandy and Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring. Mike is the third generation of spring manufacturers at the same location in the shadow of the old Detroit Tigers baseball stadium. The Road Tourians enjoyed a great lunch of hot dogs and brats cooked on the bed of a restored vintage VW pickup truck. After lunch, Sandy and Mike gave us a tour of the facilities. We were shown how the traditional spring manufacturing process has withstood the test of time and keeps Eaton the leader in the street rod and restoration spring business.
It was a short trip across the downtown area of Detroit for our afternoon appointment at GM Headquarters at the Renaissance Center. We were greeted by Kim Rusinow, who had arranged a special tour of this massive complex that houses not only GM's world headquarters, but also the command center for OnStar. It was a very interesting two hours as we learned about the background of the facility and what goes on daily in this city within a city. The view of Detroit from the 72nd floor took our breath away, but it also showed us that some very dark clouds loomed on horizon. With an evening cruise and party planned at the famous Duggan's Pub on Woodward, we didn't want any more rain on our Road Tour parade.
The trip to Duggan's showed us that while we missed the actual storm, the aftermath was very apparent. Portions of I-75 and Woodward Avenue were actually shut down to traffic. By this time, the Road Tourians had become a resourceful bunch, and we all managed to find our way to Duggan's in Royal Oak. We were greeted at Duggan's by the Shifters Auto Club, who had turned out in force to lend a hand with parking and logistics. The Shifters have been a part of the famous and prestigious Michigan Hot Rod Association since 1955. Their help was appreciated, and we enjoyed our evening on Woodward Avenue sharing stories with our new and old Motown friends. MHRA even had their Rod Repair Shop on hand for any problems with our cars.
Wednesday had been a jam-packed day on the tour. I am beginning to feel like Forrest Gump as I lead our roving band of rodders across the country. We managed make it to all of our planned stops and we all agreed that it was a great day on the tour. We are not to the Zoo yet, but we are close. Check back, as we have one more morning on the road before we roll to Kalamazoo.
Click on the page numbers below to check out more fun stuff from the 2006 Road Tour.
Tuesday Road Tour #5 -- The Perfect Storm
The thunder we heard early Tuesday morning was a bad omen. As we rolled out of the Hampton Inn in Cincinnati, we were in the middle of a major rainstorm. Many times while traveling we've driven out of the bad weather. Unfortunately this was not the case. As we drove up I-71 in Ohio on this rainy Tuesday morning the rain came down even harder. It's no fun driving in the rain in a late model, much less a street rod, so it proved to be a long morning on the Road Tour. Finally, after a trying two hours of constant rain, it started to clear up as we got north of the Columbus area.
Our lunch destination Tuesday was the Akron headquarters of Gear Star Transmissions. This years' Road Tour coupe is fitted with a Gear Star transmission package and has performed flawlessly for 12,000 miles so far this summer. Gear Star's owner, Zack Farah invited us to stop by and have some lunch as well as have a look at their facility. After lunch and a shop tour, all on the Road Tour where given Gear Star t-shirts - a nice gesture by a class company.
Next on our tour of northern Ohio was Lobeck's Hot Rod Shop in nearby Cleveland. Owners Ginny and Barry Lobeck greeted us with some fresh coffee and cookies and we got a chance to take a look at some of their current projects. One of the rods they are working on is my own 1927 Retro T project. It was fun to show the group my own car. Lobeck's built the 1996 Tour Coupe that Debbie Walls is driving on this tour, and it's the first time the since named "Blue Skunk" has been back to visit the folks at Lobeck's.
From Lobeck's it was a 40-minute drive across the southern suburbs of Cleveland to the evening destination of Flaming River Products in Berea, Ohio. The folks at Flaming River have been major supporters of the Road Tour over the past few years and their facility is fantastic. PPG from nearby Strongsville, Ohio brought over their wild big display rig and we all enjoyed an evening of fun and food with our good friends in Northern Ohio.
What started out as a miserable rainy day, turned out to be one of the most enjoyable of the Road Tour.
Next up is Kalamazoo and the National North with some stops in Detroit. Check back soon as the 2006 PPG Street Rodder Road Tour #5 rolls on. I'm sure there are some more fun days ahead.
PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour #5From Shades to the Zoo
After a few weeks of R&R back in Ohio, it's again time to get back to the task at hand--leading street rodders around the country from event to event, having fun, and stopping at interesting places along the way. Tour #5 was starting at the Shades of the Past event in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and then heading to the NSRA Nationals North in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
From my home in Youngstown, Ohio, it is just a nine-hour drive to Pigeon Forge, but I decided to stop and see friends Carol and Wade Hughes in Cincinnati on the way. Wade is the master and originator of the Ohio Hot Rod Flames technique of heating up the graphics on all types of vehicles. I stayed Wednesday evening at Carol and Wade's, and we headed south on Thursday morning. Wade was driving his recently completed '32 roadster and I was in the Coddington-built '34 Chevy. It was a sunny day and a fun drive to Pigeon Forge, just southeast of Knoxville.
After 15 years of traveling around the country attending street rod events, this was actually my first trip to Shades, as it is known in the hobby. It has become one of the more prestigious events in the country, and yes, it is actually held in a field! It's quite a sight to see some of the finest street rods, customs, and musclecars gathered together in the Tennessee countryside--it is a cross between Woodstock and "A Field of Dreams."
Since Shades is a Friday and Saturday event, Tour #5 actually began on Sunday morning. The Road Tourians gathered at the Music Road Inn in Pigeon Forge and headed to the Floyd Garrett Muscle Car Museum in nearby Sevierville, Tennessee. We were treated to an incredible collection of high-performance cars from the '60s, '70s, and '80s. In addition to the cars, there were also some great automobilia and nostalgia items on display.
From the Muscle Car Museum, we headed south through Gatlinburg and into the heart of the Smoky Mountains. Our one-hour drive included a stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was definitely a great way to spend some time on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Tennessee.
After crossing into North Carolina, we stopped in Maggie Valley at the Wheels Through Time Transportation Museum. I have been to a lot of museums and seen a lot of collections over the years, but it would be hard pressed to top what we saw at that museum. Dale Walksler has assembled a collection of over 300 American-made motorcycles from all eras. What makes the collection fantastic is that most of the motorcycles are in original condition, and incredibly, over 90 percent of them run! We got a personal tour from Dale himself, and it was great to see a man with such passion and love of his hobby enjoying it and sharing it with others. If you get close to Wheels Through Time, you have to stop and see it for yourself.
We were all invited Sunday evening to Lokar Performance Products for dinner. Lokar is the official sponsor of Tour #5, and owner Debbie Walls was traveling with us to Kalamazoo in the Blue Skunk, the 1933 Ford coupe I drove on the very first Road Tour in 1996. Everything Lokar does is first class, and the dinner was no exception, as a chef prepared steak and chicken for us to enjoy. It was a great day and a great way to kick off the tour.
Monday morning, we headed north on I-75 toward our evening's destination of Cincinnati. We ran into some rain in Lexington and had to cut our stop short at the Kentucky Horse Park. West of Cincinnati, we stopped for a visit at SoffSeal. Owner Gary Anderson has been a longtime friend, and his staff gave us a tour of the facility and we got some insight into what goes into their quality rubber seals and rubber products. We also got a look at Gary's collection of automobila and nostalgia. Gary is another big boy who loves his toys. From SoffSeal, we made a quick stop at Dynamic Motorsports, one of the largest dealers for Superformance Cobra replicars in the United States.
Our hosts for Monday evening's activities were the folks at Dynamat. Dynamat has become the most widely used insulating and sound-deadening product in the street rod industry. This year's coupe has Dynamat throughout and it has made my summer much more enjoyable as I spend so many miles on the road. Scott Whitaker and Beth Maranda rolled out the red carpet for us as we enjoyed pizza and lasagna. The local hot rod folks from the Cincy area turned out to join in the fun and it was great to see so many familiar faces.
Wow! All that in just two days. Stay turned, Tour #5 is just getting started. We have stops to make in Akron, Cleveland, and Detroit before we get to our destination of Kalamazoo. As I type this on Tuesday morning, it is thundering outside and the rain is pouring down. It should be an interesting drive today. Check back--I'll let you know how it went.
Detroit Dreamin' and Cruisin' on the Road Tour
What started 12 years ago as a one-day tribute to the famous Detroit cruising scene of the '50s and '60s has turned into a weeklong automotive festival covering 15 miles of Woodward Avenue, involving thousands of cars and over one million people. From my home in Youngstown, Ohio, it is a short four-hour drive to Detroit, and since it was a weekend off from the official Road Tour, I had to check it all out.
On Wednesday, I made a stop at ASC Corp. in Southgate, Michigan. Since the mid '60s, the folks at ASC have been some of the leaders in the special vehicle market, as they were innovators in the development of the OEM sunroof market and most recently were instrumental in the design and production of the Chevrolet SSR pickup. Their latest project is the development of a steel bodied 1933 Ford roadster with a retractable top. They have tweaked Henry's design with today's street rodder in mind. Watch the pages of STREET RODDER magazine for progress on this bold project.
I was invited by the folks at GM Performance Parts Division to display this year's 1934 Chevy Coupe at their employee car show. The folks at GM Performance have been major supporters of this year's Road Tour and the Ramjet 350 engine under the hood has been performing flawlessly all summer. Also on hand at the show were NASCAR drivers Kevin Harvick and Clint Boyer, and team owner, Richard Childress.
On Thursday evening I was invited to a special open house at the GM Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan near the GM Tech Center. This 80,000 square foot facility is filled with the 100 years of GM's automotive history. There are over 150 vehicles on display and the archives contain hundreds of thousands of documents and artifacts. While this facility is not open to the public on a regular basis it is available for meetings and special receptions.
While the cruising on Woodward had been going on all week, the official Dream Cruise takes place on Saturday. It was raining in the morning, but the skies cleared and it was bumper to bumper all afternoon. My good friends Sandy and Mike Eaton from Eaton Springs invited me to park the Tour Coupe in a lot they had lined up for the afternoon. It was a great day, as I got a chance to talk to lots of folks and enjoy all the activities of the 2006 Woodward Dream Cruise.
In a few weeks, Road Tour #5 gets started in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at the famous Shades of the Past event and travels north to the NSRA Nationals North in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We will be making stops in Knoxville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Detroit on our way to the 'Zoo. Check out the itinerary here on our Web site and think about joining us on the Road Tour.
Between The Tours
The general consensus is that I have the best job in the world. When this point is brought up to me, I usually try to explain how much work is involved in planning the tours and then all the responsibilities that go with it. I am typically met with very little sympathy, and I must admit that it is a pretty incredible way to spend the summer. One of the many bonuses I enjoy is that I have a very cool street rod to drive all summer, even when I am off the road.
Though I am usually away from my home in Youngstown, Ohio, when I am in town, I try to stop in at some of the local cruises and see my local street rod friends. It gives them a chance to see this year's car, and it gives me a chance to again hear what a great job I have. For many years, the local Friday night cruise spot has been the A&W in Boardman. I dropped by after my long trip to the Roadster Show, and everyone was impressed with this year's Coddington-built Outlaw bodied '34 Chevy. It was a nice summer evening, and I was able to see some old friends.
Over the Fourth of July holiday I went to nearby New Castle, Pennsylvania, and attended the Back to the '50s Weekend event, which celebrated its 20th anniversary. My good friend Chuck Lombardo of California Street Rods puts on this run. Chuck grew up in New Castle and comes home every summer to organize this 1,300-car event.
I was invited to show the coupe at the Grand Opening of the newest Quaker Steak and Lube in Austintown, just around the corner from where I live. This growing chain is becoming well-known for its hot wings and cold beverages. The automotive theme is carried throughout the entire restaurant, and the neon is spectacular at night.
I am heading to Detroit tomorrow to have the coupe on display at the GM Performance Parts employee car show in Flint, Michigan. GM Performance is one of the Road Tour's biggest supporters and the Ramjet 350 motor has been getting me down the road for 9,000 trouble-free miles so far this summer. From Flint, I will make the short drive south to Detroit to attend one of the wildest spectacles in our hobby--the Woodward Dream Cruise. Combine one million people and thousands and thousands of collector and special interest cars on 15 miles of one of the most famous cruising areas in America, and it is an automotive three-ring circus. Check back here and I will give you a full report.
At the Nationals a few weeks ago, we had a reunion of sorts with some of the folks who have traveled with me over the first four tours. On Saturday morning, we got together for a group photo and Street Rodder's Eric Geisert was there to capture the Kodak moment.
Stay tuned to this site for an update on the fun in Detroit and all the preparations for Road Tours #5 & #6, as we travel from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and the Shades of the Past event, to the NSRA Nationals North. Then it is going to be a beautiful drive as Tour #6 wraps up the season and we travel from Los Angeles to Sacramento on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Tour #4 Continues on to the Nationals
It was rise and shine on Tuesday morning, the second day of Road Tour #4. After the open house at Brookville Roadsters the night before, we stayed the night in Brookville, Ohio before heading on to Indianapolis. A few of us got up a bit earlier than the rest and ran back over to the shop to see "Big Burtha" and the other machines in action. Seeing a piece of equipment exert 600 tons of pressure is a pretty amazing sight.
As we headed west on I-70 it turned into another hot day. The trip from Brookville to the Indy Speedway Museum took about 90 minutes. It is a very cool sight to drive into the tunnel and come out in the infield of the most famous racetrack in the world. In front of us was the Speedway Museum and all around us were activities in anticipation of the Brickyard 400, which was being run on Sunday. The museum is a great place to visit. We spent about an hour and a half inside. Another highlight of the visit was when several of us took a bus trip around the track. It was a fun two hours on hallowed ground.
From Indy we headed south and stopped for lunch at a Steak and Shake just outside town. We spent the next three hours traveling on some of the most beautiful country roads southern Indiana has to offer.
Our final stop of the day was Jasper, Indiana. Our hosts for the evening were the fine folks at Air Ride Technologies. Owner Bret Voelkel and crew really showed us some southern hospitality, Indiana style. After a great meal Bret gave us an up close and personal tour of their facility. It was a very informative and interesting evening with folks who know their product and their market.
On Wednesday morning it was time to get to the Nationals. We were only about 90 miles away so we had time to take in one of Louisville's most famous attractions beforehand, the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory. The tour takes about an hour and is very interesting. The Tour #4 group surprised me with a personalized baseball bat. It will be a great remembrance of a fun trip with a great group of folks. After lunch we headed to the fairgrounds and registration. Our PPG/Street Rodder Road Tour #4 was wrapping up but the NSRA Street Rod Nationals were just getting started.
Check back here for news and notes about Tours #5 and #6. For those who couldn't make the tour this year think about coming along for the ride next year. I guarantee you will have a fun time with great folks and their cars.
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,