Tuesday morning arrived and the morning driver's meeting was a little more somber than most mornings. We headed out at 7:45 a.m. to see if the weatherman was correct in the predictions. Unfortunately in this case he was. We drove for about eight hours in very high winds and pouring rain. Those of us in closed cars managed to stay somewhat dry but Bill Story, Jules Engoren, and Ray Fawcett had to tough it out in open cars. It was quite a day as we tried to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the coastline but we were preoccupied with the driving conditions. The redwoods were beautiful and many of us did take a side trip down the Avenue of the Giants for a quick look at those amazing trees.
We arrived at Cotati Speed Shop in Santa Rosa just a little behind schedule but considering that we had just driven in the worst storm in 40 years for that area, we were in good shape. It helped that owner Zane Cullen and his crew has some great tri-tip roast and chicken waiting for us on the grill. Cullen gave us a project-by-project walk through the Cotati Speed Shop facility. The level of craftsmanship is amazing. We also got a sneak peak at the '10 XL27 T Road Tour roadster pickup that I will be driving next season. The Shadow Rods XL27 T body will be comfortable with its enlarged size but it will be a departure from this year's '52 Chevy hardtop to say the least. I am excited about next year's car and, after seeing the quality of work being done at Cotati Speed Shop, I am sure it will be fantastic. We were a very tired group by Tuesday evening when it was finally time to rest our heads. There is plenty more to see and do on the NHRA Wally Parks Museum Road Tour.
Wednesday morning dawned with much better weather although the memories of the previous day's trip down the coastline were still very fresh in our minds. Everyone had managed to get dried out, as there was quite a bit of money spent at the clothes dryers in the hotel, but we made it. The skies were a little overcast but the weather report called for clearing during the day. That sounded just fine to all of us.
Our morning visit took us to the beautiful Napa Valley area, about an hour from Santa Rosa. It was a very pretty drive. As we reached the shop and home of Dick Long, we were greeted by Long and his shop manager Barry Gates. While Long's shop is just used to work on his personal collection of vehicles, it is as well equipped and organized as any commercial street rod facility I have seen. The shop was spotless and there were things to see at every turn. Gates has a complete machine shop available and keeps busy working on projects and maintaining the extensive collection. The huge murals on the wall are great with scenes that we could all relate to from our past. Most of the vehicles depicted in the murals are actually in Long's collection.
From the shop it was a short drive up to the garage next to Long's beautiful home. Cindy's Diner, named after his wife, is filled with even more beautiful cars and some great neon signs and automobilia. Long's collection and taste in vehicles ranges from Corvettes to street rods, muscle cars, and everything in between. Every vehicle is professionally built and the fit and finish on all of them is gorgeous. Zane Cullen and the Cotati Speed Shop crew are responsible for the buildup of many of the vehicles in Long's stable. Thanks to Dick and Cindy Long and Barry Gates for letting us enjoy a truly amazing collection.