The Back to the '50s Weekend was the starting point for the Golden RODtronics Tour. After
The Classic Automobilia Tour from the Hot Rod Reunion to Back to the '50s had been a huge success, but it was time to begin the third leg of what we had called the Road Tour Triple Crown. The Golden RODtronics Tour was heading to the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals in Pueblo, Colorado.
It was decided to get a little jump on our trip to Pueblo, and we made the 100-mile drive to Mankato, Minnesota, on Sunday afternoon. This got us out of the Twin Cities traffic and gave us a little time to rest and relax before our long trek west. Some folks washed their rides and did some minor repairs. The Road Tour convertible was running fine, and the American Speed33 body, with its easy up and down top, was perfect for the great weather we had been experiencing.
On Monday morning the participants on the Golden RODtronics Tour gathered in the hotel parking lot in Mankato to begin the trip to Colorado. Dave Kopser, the owner of Golden RODtronics, joined us. He had been set up all weekend at Back to the 50's and was going to travel along with us in his vintage company truck at least for the first few days. We rolled out at 8 a.m. and began our journey. Our first stop was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and the facilities of Dakota Digital. Ross Ortman, the owner of Dakota Digital, had invited us for lunch on Monday and the burgers were cooking when we pulled into the parking lot. Already famous for their instruments and remotes, Dakota Digital has grown tremendously over the past few years and has expanded their line to included LED taillight assemblies. We got a look at their production facilities and their building expansion, which is just being completed. By 1 p.m. it was time to journey onward. Our destination for Monday evening was Lincoln, Nebraska, and we rolled into town around 5 p.m.
Sunday evening we stayed in Mankato, MN about an hour southwest of St. Paul. Our destinati
We had been very lucky with the weather so far on the Tours. That was about to change. Around 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning we were awakened with thunder and lightning as a major Nebraska storm blew through Lincoln. While it woke many of us up a bit too early, the timing was perfect because Tuesday morning we were scheduled to get a tour of one of the coolest places on earth: The Smith Collection Museum of American Speed at Speedway Motors. Joyce and Bill Smith have been in the speed equipment mail order business for well over fifty years, and in that time have managed to collect an incredible number of historic vehicles, vintage accessories, collectible pedal cars, toys, and all those things that make any hot rodder's heart beat faster. About six years ago they moved their collection into a huge three-story facility on the grounds of Speedway Motors. It is hard to relate how massive the collection is and how incredibly all the items are displayed. It was the perfect way to spend a rainy morning in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was the first visit to the museum for many folks on the Golden RODtronics Tour, and it was fun to watch their faces as we walked from room to room and saw all the items on display. The highlight of the Tour was when Bill Smith himself dropped by to personally greet our group. Everyone came away with a real feel for how great the Smith Collection is, and how much time and effort went in to the undertaking. Many thanks to Damon Lee of Speedway Motors for helping put our tour of the museum together.
After our visit at Speedway we headed west on Interstate 80 across Nebraska. We drove through a few more brief showers before the skies cleared and the weather got back to Road Tour beautiful. Many of us stopped in Kearny, Nebraska, and visited the Great Platte River Road Archway that is actually built over the interstate. It documents the early settler's route to the west as it passed through Nebraska and on to all that laid ahead of the hearty souls that set out in the mid-1800s. It was very well done and worth a stop if you are traveling across I-80 in Nebraska. It was time to continue on our own journey as we were going to be guests of honor at a car cruise in Hays, Kansas, that evening. Hays resident Harold Bettis and his pals in the Hays Outlaws put together a special poker run for us, and it was lots of fun. Harold and his wife Margaret had been traveling with us all week and were great hosts for the evening of fun and food.
We gathered at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday for our daily driver's meeting. Everyone was still buzzing about our visit to Speedway Motors and the incredible Smith Collection of American Racing Museum. We had all also enjoyed the previous evening's cruise and poker run in Hays. There are so many similar evenings spent around the country each summer and it really gave us all a little feeling of home. Thanks again to everyone in Hays who made us feel so welcome.
The Road Tour participants were joined at Dakota Digital by some local rodders. At many of
On tap for Wednesday morning was something that almost every car guy and gal loves to do: We headed for an old wrecking yard. Wagoner and Sons Colby wrecking yard was started in 1939 by Chuck, Dave, and Paul Wagoner's father. My wife Mary Ann and I had spotted it in 1997 when we were traveling to Pueblo in the McMullen eoadster clone. It had been closed when we stopped over ten years ago but I had always remembered the rolling hillsides covered with cars. When the Golden RODtronics Tour route was laid out and I realized that we would be near Colby, Kansas, I decided to check into getting a look at the yard. Harold Bettis, our new Road Tourian friend from Hays, had seen co-owner Chuck Wagoner at a rod run earlier in May. Harold spoke to Chuck about the possibility of a Road Tour stop in Colby. Chuck, who owns among many other vehicles two very sharp Cadillac street rods, said "sure" we could visit the yard, and the plan was set in motion. The short 90-minute run from Hays to Colby was a perfect morning drive. The road was smooth, the temps were still bearable and the sun was rising to our back. Combine all that with the anticipation of a 60-acre wrecking yard and we were all smiling ear to ear.
Some of the local street rodders had already arrived when we We arrived at the Colby Wrecking yard and were greeted by Chuck, Paul, and Dave Wagoner. They appreciated our street rods and had made some special provisions for our visit. Waiting for us were four pickup trucks, and we all climbed into the beds and began a one-hour tour that was unbelievable. As we drove through the yard we looked like tourists on an African safari, pointing and calling out the names of the cars as we passed by row after row of cars from the '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s. These cars and bodies were very solid. Not the rusted hulks that we find back in the Midwest but vehicles that had traveled on salt free Kansas roads before finding their resting place in Colby. It was truly amazing. The folks at Wagoners and Sons were great. Before you jump in your flatbed truck and head to Colby, please keep a few things in mind. Yes, the cars are for sale. Yes, the brothers are fully aware of the treasures they have and the current market values. They do not sell pieces and parts off these vehicles. They sell only complete cars. The yard is open for business but not as a tourist attraction. Due to insurance regulations they do not permit folks to wander around the hillsides. If you are looking for a specific year and make they have an incredible knowledge of what is in the yard. By the way, the majority of the cars were from the '40s and no, there are not any '32, '33 and '34 Ford bodies lying around. Thanks so very much to the folks at Wagoner and Sons for sharing their part of heaven with all of us on the Road Tour.
After some lunch in Colby we set out for our evening's destination of Golden, Colorado, and the facilities of our Tour sponsor Golden RODtronics. Owner Dave Kopser had traveling with us earlier in the week and had gone ahead to prepare for an evening of food and fun at Golden RODtronics. It was a great time with excellent BBQ and a look at the products that GoldenRODtronics provides our hobby, including their famous W.I.D.E. contacts and remote systems. Rain threatened us a little, but apart from a very brief sprinkle and some major claps of thunder it was a great evening at Golden RODtronics. Thanks to Dave for supporting the Road Tour and being such a gracious host.
We experienced the first wet weather of the trip on Tuesday morning in Lincoln, NE. It wor
On Thursday morning we stopped in Colorado Springs for some shopping in the Old Colorado City area and a group lunch at Meadow Muffins restaurant. Many folks spent some time at the beautiful Garden of the Gods Park and viewed the incredible rock formations. By mid-afternoon we had arrived at our final destination of the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals in Pueblo. The weather was warm and the sky was clear. The Street Rodder Road Tour hospitality tent was the center of activity all weekend at the fairgrounds. We recounted the adventures of the previous week with each other and shared our stories with all who stopped by to chat.
It was a great week on the Golden RODtronics Tour from the Back to the 50's Weekend in St. Paul to the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals in Pueblo, Colorado. All of us have some great stories and memories of our trip, besides the fellow Road Tourians we have come to know.
For me it is a solo trip back to Ohio. Next up is the Coker Tour to the Syracuse Nationals. I am looking forward to about ten days at home with Mary Ann and some time at my favorite spot on the planet: my own backyard.
Check back, the 2008 edition is only half over. There are lots more Road Tour adventures to cover.
The Tour participants posed for a group photo with Golden RODtronics owner Dave Kopser (kn
Doughnuts and juice were served in the meeting room at the Smith Collection. We were given
The emphasis at the Museum is racing and its history in America. Almost all of the vehicle
The highlight of our tour was a personal greeting from Bill Smith. The breadth of the coll
Tuesday evening we were guests at a cruise and poker run in Hays, KS. It was a fun evening
Golden RODtronics owner Dave Kopser had traveled ahead of the group so that he could greet
The skies cleared after our morning visit at the Smith Collection. Some folks stopped in
Wagoner and Sons Wrecking Yard was established in 1939. They solid vintage tin covered the
We were joined at Golden RODtronics by some local rodders. A brief Colorado shower did not
Thursday morning we stopped in the Old Colorado section of Colorado Springs. The Road Tour
The Meadow Muffins restaurant in Old Colorado was the perfect place to enjoy a meal togeth
The tree-lined streets of the Colorado State Fairgrounds were covered with street rods all
The Street Rodder hospitality tent was the center of activity for the Golden RODtronics To