Tuesday afternoon and evening on the Merrill Lynch Jones Group Road Tour there was a huge gathering at the Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant in Austintown, Ohio near Youngstown. Kurt Allen, Sid Jones and the Jones Group team had invited many of their clients to The Lube for the evening to see the Road Tour cars and meet the Road Tourians. Many of the local rodders also brought their vehicles out and everyone in attendance enjoyed the cars and the beautiful weather. The Quaker Steak and Lube in Austintown is right off of Interstate 80 and every Sunday evening during the summer has over 500 cars at their weekly cruise. It was another fun evening with cars and car folks on the Jones Group Tour.

Wednesday got started early with a driver's meeting at 7:30AM. Our first stop of the day was the diner themed offices of Classic Automobilia in Youngstown. It was fun for me to show all of the Road Tour folks what keeps me busy during the winter months. The Classic Automobilia line of pedal cars has been very popular as Christmas gifts for the young rodders. We introduced the Classic '34 Hot Rod pedal car to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of that icoic year in hot rod styling. The complete line of Classic pedal cars can be seen at www.classicautomobiliaUSA.com. From the Classic showroom it was a short drive to Champion, Ohio and the Patti and Fred Warren's collection of some of the finest street rods in the world. In one building we were able to see the famous Smoothster, winner of the 1995 America's Most Beautiful Roadster award, Shockwave, the '33 Ford that won the 50th Anniversary AMBR award, the Ridler Award winning Aero Coupe and other rods in Patti and Fred's beautiful collection. Fred spent time describing each of the cars and we were all interested in the history and background of the cars.

From Patti and Fred Warren's collection we headed east into Pennsylvania. Leaving the interstate we traveled into the hills of western PA and visited the Drake Well and Museum in Titusville. The Drake Well was the first commercial oil well in the United States. The original site has been restored and we all enjoyed the museum display and the grounds that showed the history of the early days of the oil industry. We all gained a new appreciation for the hard work that was involved in the birth of the oil industry in America. It was a beautiful afternoon drive from Titusville, PA through parts of the Allegany Forest, past the Kinsu Dam and on to our evening destination of Painted Post, New York in the Finger Lakes region.

It was a short drive Thursday morning to the world famous Watkins Glen International Race Course. The setting for the track is beautiful with the rolling tree covered hills of the Finger Lakes Region all around the facility. We were able to get a look at a high performance driving school that was being held during our morning visit at the track. The course is over three miles long with many elevation changes and tight corners. While most of us began the short drive to Syracuse before noon, Road Tourian Ron Hickman stayed behind to take a turn out on the track during the performance school's lunch break. According to Ron it was the experience of a lifetime as he put his 1932 Ford coupe through its paces at the Glen.

By Thursday afternoon we had arrived at our destination for the weekend, the huge Syracuse Nationals. There was over 7,000 participating vehicles this year and the New York State Fairgrounds was again covered with 1980 and earlier special interest vehicle of all types. The AMSOIL/ Street Rodder Rodder Tour hospitality tent was the center of activity of all the Merrill Lynch Jones Group Road Tourians. There were also many folks who stopped by to get a close up look at the '52 Road Tour Chevy we parked at the tent. It was a great week on the Jones Group Road Tour and a great weekend at the Syracuse Nationals. We have completed four of the eight Road Tours for 2009. There are still four more to go. Check your calendar and see about joining us as we travel to Bonneville from the NSRA Street Rod National in August, from Kalamazoo to Burlington in September and then out west as we go from San Diego to Sacramento and wrap up the 2009 season with a trip from the Seattle area to the California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield in October. Watch the website or call the Road Tour Hotline at 1-800-664-1362 for all the latest updates. I hope to see you on a Road Tour this summer.

Jerry Dixey

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