For the last three years the PPG/Street Rodder Road Tour Series has taken on a whole new meaning as we have invited our readers to join us on the road to events around America. For all three of these years, the largest Tour of the season has been the Vintage Air Tour. Vintage Air's owner Jack Chistenhall is a long time hot rodder and enjoys nothing more than jumping in one of his cars and setting out to attend a car show. His main man at Vintage Air, Rick Love has developed a knack for planning and organizing some great Tours and has a huge following of folks from the Lone Star State who will pack up their street rods and set out with Rick and Jack to wherever they decide might be a fun place to go. In 2006 and 2007 it was the LA Roadster's Father's Day Show that was the destination of the Vintage Air Tour. This year it was decided that we should mix it up a bit and the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky was the place we wanted to be in June.
The first order of business on a Vintage Air Tour is the Saturday evening weenie roast and get together at the Vintage Air facility in San Antonio. It gives everyone a chance to get to know each other and gives Rick a chance to go over the route and itinerary for the week. This year Vintage Air's National Sales Manager George Packard served as roast master and put the heat to the hot dogs and then served double duty as he gave folks a Tour of the very impressive Vintage Air facility. By dusk all in attendance had been fed and informed. It was time to get some sleep and wait till dawn to head on out.
Our destination for Sunday lunch was Hatfield Restoration in Canton, Texas. For almost 20 years Gary Hatfield has been restoring classic cars and building some fantastic street rods and muscle cars. His facility and crew are all very impressive. Projects of all types filled the buildings on the well manicured grounds at Hatfield's. We were joined at Hatfield's by a large contingent of Tour participants from Dallas-Fort Worth, Plano and surrounding areas. After a Mexican feast supplied by Hatfield Restorations it was time to move on down the road and continue our trek to the Hot Rod Reunion. The Vintage Air Tour was at full strength and rolling east. Our stop for Sunday evening was the Boomtown Casino in Boosier City the sister city to Shreveport, Louisiana. We rolled in by supper time and folks enjoyed the food, the spirits and for some the action of the games of chance. Of few of the Roadtourians even had some luck.
Monday morning we had our usual driver's meeting in the lobby. Goodie bags, maps, hats and T-shirts that are always an important part of any Road Tour were distributed. By 9am we were rolling down I-20 toward our first stop of Gibsland, Louisina the site of the ambush of the famed Bonnie and Clyde and the home of the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush museum. We were greeted at the museum by its director "Boots" Hinton a colorful man who's father was one of the lawmen that were involved in the May 1934 ambush of the notorious outlaws. The museum is very interesting and filled with memorabilia pertaining to the incident and countless newspaper accounts and clipping that have propelled the notoriety of infamous couple. Everyone enjoyed the hour we spent at the Ambush Museum.
Our journey continued on as we had our sights set on the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg is the location of one of the pivotal battles of the Civil War as Northern and Southern armies waged a struggle for control of the Mississippi River that raged for over 30 days. The battlefield and Memorial cover hundreds of acres and tell the story of the men that fought so gallantly for their respective causes. It was an afternoon of solemn history as we spent hours on the grounds and learned about the fight that eventually turned the tide in the war between the states. Monday evening was a time to clean the cars, kick back ,relax and recount the days activities. It also gave some folks a chance to do some work on their rides. As is the case on all the Road Tours, things happen to vehicles and everyone pitches in to help get things fixed. Some repairs are minor and some are a bit more extensive but everybody lends a hand to help keep the cars and fellow Roadtourians rolling.
Next up is a lunch stop at Comp Cams in Memphis and then a special evening with George Poteet at his farm in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Besides being an all-around great guy, George has an incredible collection of street rods and muscle cars. He has invited us to a barbeque and we are looking forward to it. Check back, I will give you all the details as the Vintage Air Road Tour rolls to the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion.