The NHRA Wally Parks Museum celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008. The Museum has become a showcase for the history and heritage of the sport of hot rodding and drag racing. In honor of this milestone, it was decided that a STREET RODDER Road Tour to the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield would be a fitting tribute to their first decade. Beginning at the NSRA Golden State Nationals in Sacramento, the Tour route would include stops in Lake Tahoe, Reno, Yosemite National Park, Fresno, and then on to the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield.

It was a fun weekend at the NSRA Golden State Nationals. The Sacramento Vintage Ford Tour was just wrapping up its journey from Pomona to Sacramento and some of the Road Tourians from that journey were joining the trip to Bakersfield. We gathered at the STREET RODDER hospitality tent at the Cal-Expo grounds on Sunday afternoon for a drivers' meeting and participant get-together. There were twenty registered vehicles set to head out after the awards ceremonies.

The two-hour trip on Route 50 from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe was beautiful. The air was cold as we crossed over the mountains and into the Lake Tahoe area. Those of us with heaters had them cranked up, but the best way to appreciate the scenery is with the top down. We arrived at our evening destination of the Horizon Hotel and Resort as the sun was beginning to set, and our view of Lake Tahoe was fantastic.

On Monday morning we gathered in the lobby for our daily drivers' meeting. These get-togethers give us a chance to go over the routes and schedule for the day. We can also address any questions or problems that anyone may have before we head out. Our route for the day was laid out to take us around Lake Tahoe across Mount Rose Highway and on to Virginia City for lunch. We would then make the short trip to Reno and visit the National Automobile Museum.

The trip around Lake Tahoe is breathtaking, and we made a stop at Emerald Bay for some pictures. We made a quick visit to a shop that specializes in classic wooden boats. While most of the boats had been put into storage for the season we were still able to see a number of these beautiful vintage watercraft. Traveling on from the Lake Tahoe area we crossed the mountains on Mount Rose Highway. The view of Reno from that elevation is spectacular. It was then up a long climb to Virginia City for lunch. The former silver mining town was the site of the famous Comstock Lode strike in 1859. In its heyday, 25,000 people resided in this hilltop town. It really is taken right out of the pages of a western novel.

After lunch we drove back down the winding highway to our destination of Reno, Nevada.

We checked into the hotel and made the short trip to downtown Reno and visited the National Automobile Museum. The Museum includes many vehicles from the famous Harrah Collection. After a brief movie about the history of Bill Harrah's Collection, we spent about two hours enjoying the vehicles and the displays. It was great to see Ed Roth's original Beatnik Bandit and the Beatnik Bandit II that Ed had completed and donated to the Museum before he passed away in 2001.

The NHRA Wally Parks Museum Road Tour continued Tuesday in Reno as temperatures dipped to the '30s. The roadster bunch was bundled up as we set out south on Route 395 past Carson City. At Minden some folks continued south on Route 395, deciding to cross into the Yosemite National Park area via Tioga Pass. At almost 10,000 feet, there is always a chance that snow will close the road. It had been dry for two days and the pass was open. Many of us chose Route 88, which crosses into California on Kit Carson Pass at about 8,000 feet.

Both routes were beautiful. Those of us who took Route 88 proceeded south on Route 49, which at one time was known as the Chain of Gold Highway. After crossing the mountains on Route 88, Route 49 is a very winding road that heads to the Yosemite National Park area. The scenery was beautiful, but the drive involved some steep climbs that took some time and concentration. After entering the park it is actually another eighteen miles to Yosemite Village on the canyon floor. The view of El Capitan was incredible from the bottom and commands respect for all of those climbers who have scaled its face. Even in October, the park is still very busy. We made a brief stop in the Village and then headed out of the park on Route 140 toward our stop for the evening in Mariposa.

On Wednesday we rolled out of Mariposa after our 8 a.m. drivers' meeting, and everyone enjoyed the beautiful one-hour drive into the Merced area. We had been invited by Greg Swanson to visit his home in nearby Atwater to see his collection of vehicles. He even volunteered to have lunch ready for us. It was an offer we couldn't refuse.

Greg has a great collection of vehicles that include street rods, some early trucks, Indian motorcycles, and a fantastic group of Mopar Hemis. A Hemi motor that was built by Guru Dick Landy just prior to his passing powers one of the Mopars currently under construction. Also in Greg's collection is a 1923 Model T roadster that is equipped with some very early speed equipment. Lunch was served in Greg and Lynette's backyard, and we all enjoyed their wonderful hospitality. It is always very special when car folks open their homes and collections to the Road Tour.