By Wednesday evening the Eaton Detroit Spring Road Tour was very near the destination of The NSRA Richmond Nationals. We spent the evening in Lynchburg, Virginia and the skies actually looked like they would stay clear for awhile. Many of us took a little time Wednesday evening to yet again wash the vehicles. We all hoped it would be last vehicle cleanup we would do for awhile.
After our Thursday morning 7:30AM divers meeting we made our way across town to the shop of Sonny Leonard and the home of Sonny's Racing Engines. From his shop, Sonny Leonard and his talented crew build record setting racing engines for the drag strip, tractor pulls and high performance boats. Sonny was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and give us a personal tour of the facility. Sonny's specialty is big cubic inch General Motors engines and if you want the works it would be one of their 811 cubic inch 1700 HP hemi head monsters. Yes I did say hemi head. Sonny casts and machines hemispherical heads for big block Chevy engines. These were some serious motors we saw with some serious prices from $16,000 to $90,000. How fast do you want to go? It was a very interesting stop at Sonny's Racing Engines and we all appreciated the personal tour.
By 10AM it was time to move on down the road. I had been contacted a few months ago by two street rodders from the Virginia area that wanted us to experience some true southern hospitality. Mike Shumaker and Mike Turner had contacted Barbara and Al Moore owners of the Farmer's Caf in the small Virginia town of Blackstone mid-way between Lynchburg and Richmond. The two Mikes knew that Barbara and Al would be anxious to have our Tour stop by the Farmer's Caf for lunch. Barbara and Al even wanted to pick up the tab for all of us. That is real Southern hospitality. When we drove into Blackstone we were really given the royal treatment. Chief of Police Nick Kuzmiak and some of his officers had blocked off parking on the main street of Blackstone in anticipation of our arrival. We all enjoyed the great food at the Farmer's Caf and were overwhelmed by all the attention. Many thanks to Mike Shumaker, Mike Turner, Chief Kuzmiak and our gracious hosts Barbara and Al Moore and staff at the Farmer's Caf in Blackstone. It was one of the high points of our entire week.
By 1PM it was time to get to Richmond and the NSRA Nationals. We arrived at the Headquarters hotel and picked up our registration materials. On Friday we all set up camp in the Street Rodder tent at the event and enjoyed the shade and the company of our fellow Road Tourinans all weekend. It had been a great week on the Eaton Detroit Spring Tour. From the Woodward Dream Cruise to the great food and all the wonderful stops along the way it had all been fun. We soon forgot about the rain of earlier in the week. Sometimes it takes a little adversity to bring folks together and we had become one big family by weeks end. Many thanks to Sandy and Mike Eaton and everyone who helped make this Tour a success. It will long be remembered by all of us who took part in it.
Be sure to check out the earlier Tour blogs by clicking on the previous pages at the bottom.
After a rain soaking drive on Monday the participants on the Street Rodder/PPG Eaton Spring Road Tour were looking forward to some dry weather on Tuesday. We were still talking about the great stops at Goller's Hot Rod Shop and Brookville Roadster when we gathered for our driver's meeting at 8AM Tuesday morning. The skies were overcast and there were sprinkles in the air when we headed out from Brookville, Ohio but nothing like the previous day's deluge. On tap for Tuesday was a history lesson in the morning and then a party at the largest Harley dealership in West Virginia.
Our morning drive took us through Dayton, Ohio and across Route 35. Route 35 has just been completed as a four lane highway and the smooth roads and lack of truck traffic was a welcome relief. Our stop for the morning was at the Hopewell Culture Center in Chillicothe, Ohio. The Hopewell Indians were "Mound builders" that lived in the Ohio area thousands of years ago. This National Park has preserved some of the mounds of the Hopewell Indians. We were shown a short film on the history of the Hopewell and their mounds and then we were able to actually walk around the mound areas that have been preserved. It was a very interesting morning history lesson.
After some lunch in Chillicothe we continued our trek east. We had been invited to a party at Harley Davidson of West Virginia and the Golden Oldies Street Rod Association of Charleston helped organize the event. When we arrived there were parking spots set up for our cars and the Golden Oldies were waiting to great us. Harley Davidson of West Virginia is the largest dealership in the state and we all enjoyed the tour of their facilities. Dinner for the evening was provided by Quaker Steak and Lube of Charleston. Previous Road Tours have visited Quaker Steak and Lubes around the country and it is always a treat to enjoy there wings after a long day on the road. The local media turned out to film a segment for the local news and members of the NRA Safety Inspection Team were on hand to provide safety inspections for anyone who was interested. After our evening at the Harley dealership we made our way to our hotel in South Charleston. The rainy drive had really gotten our cars dirty so many us spent some time washing up our rides.
Wednesday morning in Charleston was overcast and rain was in the air but by this time we were veterans of driving in the moisture so it didn't bother us. There was some beautiful scenery ahead of us. Sandy and Mike Eaton lead the way in their sedan delivery as we drove along Route 60 which winds along the river toward Virginia. We stopped at a scenic viewing area called Hawks' Nest and enjoyed a look over the New River. It was a very enjoyable morning as we traveled together in this beautiful area. As we crossed the border into Virginia on Route 64 we actually saw the sun for the first time in a number of days. It was a welcome sight. We stopped for some lunch in Lexington, Virginia and then decided to check out the Natural Bridge. This natural rock formation has been a popular tourist destination for years and was at one time owned by Thomas Jefferson. W all enjoyed the beauty of the area and the history it offered.
By 6PM we arrived at our destination for the evening in Lynchburg, Virginia, It had been a good day on the Eaton Detroit Spring Tour. The weather improved and we saw a number of interesting sights. We were getting close but we still had a few more places to stop before we arrive in Richmond. Check back here and get an update as we visit a racing engine build shop and a town in Virginia rolls out the red carpet to greet the Road Tour. Click on the previous pages at the bottom of this page to see earlier reports on our travels.
The Eaton Detroit Spring Road Tour got off to a fantastic start with beautiful weather and a great location to enjoy the 13th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Sandy and Mike Eaton are our hosts for the entire week's activities as we travel from Detroit to the NSRA Nationals in Richmond, Virginia. Saturday's Dream Cruise lived up to its reputation as the largest single day automotive event on the planet. From our vantage point at the special Eaton Spring hospitality lot between 13 and 14 Mile roads on Woodward, the Road Tourians were at ground zero for this unbelievable event. We had gathered at the Hampton Inn by 7:30 AM Saturday and made the short trip to our special viewing area by 8. Our day on Woodward was a great way for all of the Road Tour participants to get to know each other. The grill was fired up about noon and we were all treated to burgers, brats and corn on the cob. Our location was perfect and many Road Tourians made a pass or two up and down Woodward Avenue. While traffic was heavy as usual, this year it seemed to flow much smoother than in previous years. It was a fun start to the Eaton Detroit Spring Road Tour from the Woodward Dream Cruise to the NSRA Richmond Nationals.
Sunday morning many of us gathered at the hotel to make the trip to the Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn. The beautiful weather had turned very wet and it was a perfect day to spend some time inside a soak up a little history and culture. The special display at the Henry Ford was " Star's Cars and Guitars" and it was a very cool exhibit. We had a special tie-in with a number of the vehicles. Fellow Road Tourian Jimmie Vaughn had his Cadillac on display along with a number of his guitars. The Tom McMullen Tub that was featured in some Van Halen videos was also part of the exhibit. If you haven't checked out the Henry Ford, be sure to do so the next time you are in Detroit. There is lots to see.
Sunday evening we were all invited to the home of Betty and Fred Birchard. Betty and Fred are members of the Holy Cross Classic Cruisers car club and they along with 10 other members were registered to be part of the Eaton Tour. The club had put together a picnic for Sunday evening. With the weather still on the wet side, it was moved indoors and we all enjoyed sloppy joes, potato salad, baked beans and plenty of ice cream for dessert. It was a wonderful evening at Betty and Fred's beautiful home. Thanks so much to all the Classic Cruisers.
Monday morning it was time to head out on our journey. Unfortunately it was still raining very hard. All 21 registered vehicles met at the Hampton at 8AM. No one was going to let some rain spoil the excitement and at 8:45 we rolled out into the storm. It was a short trip to our first stop at Goller's Hot Rod Shop in Defiance ,Ohio. Unfortunately the short trip was made a little more difficult with downpours and rising water along the Maumee River. We all made it but it was not a good way to start our journey. Phil Goller greeted us and we got a look at his facility. Phil has been a good friend of mine for quite a while and a fantastic street rod builder even longer. He recently took over the line of flathead engine parts that had been marketed by Mark Kirby of Motor City Flatheads. Mark was responsible for the beautiful flathead motor in this year's Tour Coupe. Mark was on hand at Goller's when we stopped. He and Paul Rebman did a great job of doing the cooking the hot dogs and delicious hamburger for all of us to enjoy.
After lunch we headed south again. Still traveling in a downpour, our destination for the evening was Brookville, Ohio and the Brookville Roadster shop. Ray and Kenny Golahan greeted us with great pizza and we all got to go behind the scenes and see how the steel Brookville Roadster and Coupe bodies are produced. It was an eye opening experience to see how over 200 individual pieces go into the 32 Ford Coupe body that I have been driving all summer. It had been a long and tiring but fun first day on the road with the Eaton (or Eatin' Tour as we now call it). As we went to sleep we all hoped the weather would begin to cooperate on Tuesday.
Check back, I'll keep you posted.