The PPG/Street Rodder Road...
The PPG/Street Rodder Road Tour hospitality tent was the center of activity all weekend at the NSRA Golden State Nationals in Sacramento. Everyone was interested in checking out the Road Tour roadster and finding out how it held up all summer long.
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.
It was a short two-hour drive...
It was a short two-hour drive on Sunday afternoon from Sacramento to our evening stay in Lake Tahoe. Route 50 winds across some beautiful mountain passes before it descends into the Lake Tahoe area.
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.
The trip around Lake Tahoe...
The trip around Lake Tahoe took almost two hours as we made a number of stops. The tall pines and mountaintops in the distance provided some fantastic scenery.
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.
Our first stop on our morning...
Our first stop on our morning cruise around Lake Tahoe was at Emerald Bay for a group photo. It was a beautiful morning with sunny skies and a crisp breeze.
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 made the long, winding...
We made the long, winding trip up the mountain road to the historic town of Virginia City. We had lunch and walked around the town that was at the center of the silver and gold rushes of the 1800s.
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.
The drive down the mountain...
The drive down the mountain from Virginia City provided some spectacular views. The city of Reno can be seen in the distance. It was our destination for Monday evening.
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.
Road Tour: Leg 8In Reno we...
Road Tour: Leg 8In Reno we visited the National Automobile Museum. The Museum contains many of the vehicles that originally made up the famous Harrah's auto collection. There were a number of Ed Roth vehicles on display including the original Beatnik Bandit.
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.
Greg Swanson invited us to...
Greg Swanson invited us to stop and visit his home in Atwater, CA. What we found was a great car collection and a gracious host who had lunch all ready when we pulled in the drive.
The trip from Reno took us...
The trip from Reno took us across the mountains and we crested at Kit Carson Pass. Our destination for the evening was Mariposa, CA, with a quick drive through Yosemite National Park. (Photo by Bill Story)
Wednesday afternoon in Fresno...
Wednesday afternoon in Fresno we visited one of the most amazing collections of street rods in the United States. To say that John Lawson likes '32, '33-34 Ford hot rods is quite an understatement.
Mike Stallings gave us a personal...
Mike Stallings gave us a personal tour of the huge Wheel Vintiques (a major supporter of the Road Tour since 2001) manufacturing facility. Mike and the crew are very proud of the fact that most of their wheels are made in the United States.
Baskin Auto Supply and Upholstery...
Baskin Auto Supply and Upholstery has been in business in Fresno for over 50 years. Owner Dick Baskin invited the Road Tourians to stop by and take a close look at an auto parts store that is straight out of the '50s.
Fawn and Jim Antt from Bakersfield...
Fawn and Jim Antt from Bakersfield traveled on a Road Tour in 2007. They invited us all to stop by their beautiful home for a tri-tip barbecue on Thursday evening. Once a Road Tourian, always a Road Tourian!
At the California Hot Rod...
At the California Hot Rod Reunion, the Road Tour hospitality tent was set up at a prominent spot in the Grove area of Famoso Raceway. The pits were behind us and the grandstands were in front. We were right in the middle of all the action.
Everything at the reunion...
Everything at the reunion was vintage. This '50s rear-engine T was push-started by an equally period perfect shoebox Ford.
Beautiful racecars from days...
Beautiful racecars from days gone by were everywhere at the California Hot Rod Reunion. The Burkholder Brothers and Mandello & Matsubara were veterans of the fuel wars of the 1960s.
This has to have been one...
This has to have been one of the most recognizable racecars of all times. We had seen T.V. Tommy Ivo's Showboat dragster on display at the Wally Parks Museum just two weeks earlier.