After lunch it was time to continue south toward our destination of the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion. Our stop for Wednesday afternoon was in Fresno for a visit to Lawson Motorsports and the private car collection and shop of John Lawson. John is a successful businessman in the trucking industry with a passion for 1932 Fords. His collection includes twenty-eight 1932 Fords that are all absolutely stunning. To see the quality of his vehicles on display in one area literally takes your breath away.

Mixed in with the `32s were a number of '33-34 Fords and a '40 or two. The cars we saw were a part of John's collection of sixty-five vehicles. The best part was the fact that every vehicle was ready to be started and driven to wherever John decided to head at a moment's notice. Later this year, John is opening a huge museum in Fresno so folks can enjoy his vehicles and see how passionate he is about our hobby.

On Thursday morning in Fresno the Road Tourians were still buzzing about the incredible car collections of Greg Swanson and John Lawson. After our daily morning drivers' meeting, we made the short drive across town to the offices and manufacturing facilities of Wheel Vintiques. Wheel Vintiques has been a major sponsor and supporter of the Road Tour since 2001. Owners Sherrie and Mike Stallings invited the Road Tour folks to get a personal tour of the facilities in Fresno before we headed south to Bakersfield.

We were greeted at Wheel Vintiques by the entire staff with coffee and pastries ready and waiting. Mike Stallings gave us a personal tour of the facilities and it was very interesting to see the work involved in manufacturing Wheel Vintiques' extensive line of wheels. Mike makes every effort to do as much of the manufacturing processes right on site in their plant in Fresno. Their new in-house powdercoating equipment has streamlined their steel wheel production and helped to reduce cost.

It was interesting to hear Mike explain that they are continually looking at ways to reduce production costs so they can continue to offer products that are made in America. With streamlined production techniques and inventory controls, efficiency has been increased at Wheel Vintiques, and they will be able to continue as leaders in the street rod and specialty wheel market for many years to come.

After our morning at Wheel Vintiques we made a short drive to downtown Fresno and the upholstery and auto parts facilities of Dick Baskin. Dick's grandfather and father operated an auto parts store and wrecking yard in the present location for decades. Dick himself has worked in this same location since he was 11 years old--over 50 years ago. He and his son operate an upholstery business in the building and do a great business working on classic cars and street rods. They both have a number of vintage '32 Ford street rods that were built in the 1950's and are still in great shape today.

Entering the basement at Baskin's Upholstery can only be compared to entering King Tut's Tomb. Wooden racks are filled with auto parts of all kinds dating back as far as the 1930s. Wheels, mufflers, bumpers, grilles, and fenders are everywhere. One shelf has a stack of '32 grille inserts. Two rows over, a N.O.S. 1962 Corvette 4.11 Positraction cluster is still in the original GM box. Beside it were two deck lids for late '50s Corvettes. Most of the items are for sale, and while Dick is very knowledgeable about current pricing, he is also very realistic in his dealings. It was quite a morning for everyone on the Road Tour.

Bakersfield was a short 90-minute drive down Route 99. While the Road Tourians checked in at our hotel for the weekend, I made a brief stop at Famoso Raceway fifteen miles north of town. The NHRA Wally Park's Museum was not only the sponsor for the week's Tour; it was also presenting the weekend's NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion. Museum Director Tony Thacker and the entire Museum staff really rolled out the red carpet for the Road Tour. Our hospitality tent was set up in the "Grove" car show area directly behind the bleachers at the finish line. Everything was ready and the show was set to open on Friday morning.

The Road Tourians had a special invitation for dinner on Thursday evening in Bakersfield. I had received a call earlier in the week from Jim Antt. Jim and his wife Fawn had spent a week on one of the Road Tours last year as we traveled from the NSRA Mid-America Nationals in Springfield, Missouri, to the NSRA East Coast Nationals in York, Pennsylvania. Fawn and Jim invited us for a barbeque at their beautiful home and we had a great evening looking at their fantastic collection of vehicles and enjoying some wonderful food. It was a perfect example of how friendships that are formed on the Road Tours last a lifetime. Thanks so much to Fawn and Jim for a fantastic evening.

The weekend at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion was filled with classic drag racing and some of the most famous racecars in drag racing history. The weather was perfect and the crowds were huge. The car show that went along with the racing featured hundreds of traditional hot rods and customs. The Cacklefest on Saturday evening filled the air with the sounds of 60 nitro-burning engines that lit up the night with fire. It was a fantastic weekend at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion.

By Sunday the Road Tourians began their journeys home. I headed south over the Grapevine hill and on to our offices in Southern California. It was not only the end of the NHRA Wally Parks Museum Tour, but it was also the end of the 2008 Road Tour season. It had been a heck of a summer. We traveled to so many cool events over the summer and had so many great times. The friendships formed and the memories made this summer will last a lifetime.

Our thoughts now turn to 2009. The plans are already in the works. Very soon we will formally announce the schedule, but I can say that our travels will take us back to Bonneville. We will again visit both of the Hot Rod Reunions and four NSRA events, just to name a few. Check in at our website www.streetrodderweb.com often for all the latest updates. We have the schedule for 2009 listed and we invite everyone to join us on a Road Tour. I hope to see you next season--you will have the time of your life.