Morrison Enterprises was the starting point for the NHRA Museum Road Tour. Morrison fabric
The NHRA Wally Parks Museum is known for its incredible collection of hot rod artifacts that tell the story of the history of our hobby. A visit to the facility on the grounds of the Fairplex in Pomona gives visitors a look at hot rodding's roots and the men and women who pioneered what has become a passion for so many of us.
On display in the museum are vehicles and memorabilia that show what things were like in the early days, when hot rodding was in its infancy and drag racing was born. The NHRA Wally Parks Museum is more than just a shrine to our past. Each year the museum organizes two events that showcase the cars and the activities that helped shape the hobby. In June at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and in October at Fomoso Raceway near Bakersfield, California, the Hot Rod Reunion events feature vintage drag racing and attract race cars and hot rods from those early years.
In June, the Vintage Air Road Tour traveled again to the Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was, once again, a fantastic event. We'd already made plans to attend this year's California Hot Rod Reunion in October. Our starting point for the NHRA Museum Road Tour was to be the Pacific Northwest. Always a hot bed of hot rod activity, this marks the first time that we have been in the Pacific Northwest since our "come along for the ride" program was instituted four years ago.
The fellow on the right has spent some time behind the wheel of high-performance vehicles.
The Seattle area is home to Morrison Enterprises, located in the suburb of Fife. The folks at Morrison fabricated the chassis and front suspension on the '52 Chevy hardtop, and after 22,000 miles of smooth travels the Morrison chassis still makes each and every day on the tours very comfortable. Morrison Enterprises was the perfect place to begin the NHRA Museum Road Tour to the California Hot Rod Reunion.
Waiting for us at Morrison Enterprises on Saturday evening were owners Art and son Craig Morrison and their crew of craftsmen. Burgers and hot dogs were already on the grill, and we were given a tour of the facilities. It was interesting to see the wide range of chassis applications that are available from Morrison Enterprises and the engineering and craftsmanship that go into each product. The Road Tour participants had plenty of questions for Art, Craig, and the crew and it was an educational evening at Morrison Enterprises. Craig's talents extend to the barbecue grill and the great food was appreciated by everyone in attendance.
Sunday morning we decided to make a stop at the LeMay Auto Museum in nearby Tacoma, Washington. Harold LeMay's love affair began at an early age. He began collecting all things automotive about the same time that he began his refuse and waste services business when he returned form World War II. His auto collection grew as rapidly as his business and his success helped him continue to build his collection of autos and auto-related items. It is an understatement to say that Harold LeMay had a collection of vehicles. At the time of his passing some years ago he had accumulated 3,500 vehicles of all makes and models from every era of automotive history. His family has continued LeMay's dream and with the help of dedicated volunteers many of the vehicles from LeMay's collection are on display in Tacoma. Plans are in the works to break ground this year for what is projected to be the largest auto museum in the world and LeMay's collection will be the centerpiece of America's Auto Museum in Tacoma.
Sunday morning we visited part of the Harold LeMay car collection in Tacoma. At one time t
It was a two-hour drive south from Tacoma to the headquarters of Chevs of the 40's in Vanc
Owners Rob Logsdon (front left) and Ron Wade (front right) greeted us at Chevs of the 40's
Our first stop on Monday morning was at Steve's Auto Restoration in Portland. We were give
From Steve's Auto Restoration it was a short drive to Eagle Creek and the beautiful home a
From the Portland area we headed west to the Oregon coastline. The scenery as we traveled
Sunday afternoon the tour made its way two hours south to Vancouver, Washington, and the showroom and warehouse of Chevs of the 40's. Chevs of the 40's specializes in parts and products for Chevrolet cars and trucks from 1936-54. We used many of their products on this year's Road Tour Chevy. We were greeted at Chevs by owners Rob Logsdon and Ron Wade. Logsdon and Wade are both serious car guys and their showroom, build shop, and restoration facilities are very impressive. As Logsdon gave us a look at the retail end of things at Chevs of the 40's and their sister company Street Rod Headquarters, Wade took folks on a tour of the shop area and we got an up-close look at the projects that he has in the works. After our visit at Chevs Logsdon and Wade took us all out to dinner at a great local restaurant where we had a good time enjoying the food and the camaraderie of fellow car folks. Many thanks to Rob Logsdon, Ron Wade, and all the folks at Chevs of the 40's and the Street Rod Headquarters for a great Sunday evening in Vancouver.
On Tuesday our luck with the weather ran out. We spent the day battling the remnants of a
After our Monday morning driver's meeting it was a short drive to Steve's Auto Restoration in Portland, Oregon. Owner Steve Frisbie and staff were waiting with coffee and doughnuts when we arrived. Steve's Auto Restoration has been known for their high-quality craftsmanship for many years. Their projects have won many awards and their field of expertise ranges from high-end concourse work to more recently their '34 Ford roadster and coupe reproduction steel bodies. It was interesting to see such a wide range of projects under way. The metalwork that is done at Steve's is of incredible high quality. We were also given a demonstration of the work that can be done on the huge two-headed vintage power hammer. These tools are very rare and finding craftsman who can put them to good use is even rarer. Steve's is lucky enough to have both.
From Steve's Auto Restorations we drove 30 minutes southeast to the home and private shop of Wendy and Bill Jabs in Eagle Creek. Wendy and Bill have been car enthusiasts for many years and have put together a very eclectic collection of special interest vehicles. The common denominator in the Jabs collection is the high quality of workmanship in each vehicle. Ranging from the large classic cars of the '20s and '30s to high-performance Corvairs, Australian Utes, award-winning street rods, and some very rare sports cars, each and every car is finished to concourse quality. Even though they had just arrived back from the huge Hershey Swap Meet in Pennsylvania the day before, Wendy and Bill went out of their way to answer all the questions that the curious Road Tour participants had about their fine collection. Thanks to Wendy and Bill for welcoming us to their beautiful residence and giving us a chance to see their impressive group of vehicles.
There is nothing quite as beautiful as the coastline of Oregon. From Eagle Creek we set out on a six-hour drive to our destination for the evening of Gold Beach on the southern Oregon coastline. It was a beautiful drive as we made our way west across the mountains, on to Florence, and then south on Highway 101 to Gold Beach. We were joined on this leg of the tour by Rob and Carrie Logsdon and Ron Wade from Chevs of the '40s. Wade was driving the beautiful Chevs' '47 Chevy pickup and Logsdon decided to take his '61 T-bird. It was a beautiful drive but storm clouds were gathering on the horizon. The weather report called for very heavy winds and rain for Tuesday as the remnants of the typhoon that had caused severe damage in the Philippines the previous week had its gun sights set on the southern Oregon and northern California coastline; exactly where we were traveling on Tuesday.
We were able to stop briefly in the Redwoods National Forest near Crescent City. An area c
By late Tuesday afternoon we had all weathered the storm and arrived at Zane Cullen's Cota
Wednesday morning the skies had cleared and we headed east from the Santa Rosa area. The w
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.
Our destination for Wednesday morning was the home and incredible private shop of Dick Lon
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.
This is the official NHRA Museum Road Tour group photo. By this point in the week we were
Cindy's Diner was yet another section of Long's beautiful home and garage complex. This ar
From Napa Valley we traveled around San Francisco and on to the Monterey Bay area. After s
Without a doubt this has to be one of the most scenic stretches of highway in the United S
By noon the skies were clear, the sun was out, and we were headed for Pacific Grove in the Monterey Bay area of the coastline. The memory of the previous day's storms was fading fast. When we arrived at the hotel in Pacific Grove we were given one more reminder that we had been in the worst early season storm that the Northern California coastline had seen in 50 years. The hotel where we were booked to stay had no electricity! What had been planned as a leisurely day in the Monterey and Carmel area turned into decision time for the Typhoon Tour Road Tourians. We discussed the options with the management at the Light House Inn where we were booked. They gave us an option. They offered to upgrade all of our rooms to suites with a fireplace in each room, wine and cheese was set out for our enjoyment, and they put together a barbecue with plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers. There was hot water in the rooms and we were given candles. Sounded like fun so we settled in to do a little high-end camping at a resort in Pacific Grove. It all worked out fine. By midnight the electricity had been restored and in the morning we were served a delicious breakfast in the beautiful dining area. All's well that ends well!
The NHRA Museum Road Tour hospitality tent was our headquarters for the weekend at Famoso
Thursday's route took us on one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Pacific Coast Highway follows the coastline from Monterey to Los Angeles. The views are breathtaking and the road is winding and sometimes a bit challenging for the faint of heart. We all made the two-hour drive just fine and many folks stopped for lunch in Cambria near Hearst Castle. The time had come to get to Bakersfield. It is a long straight drive from the coast inland to Bakersfield. We passed the intersection were James Dean met his untimely death in his Porsche in the '50s and arrived at our hotel in Bakersfield by late afternoon. It had been a wild week on the road and we were ready to be in one place for three days.
The California Hot Rod Reunion was fantastic. Vintage race cars were everywhere at Famoso Raceway; it was like the pages of early hot rod magazines came to life. Our Road Tour hospitality tent was in the Grove area at the end of the strip and we had a great weekend checking out the sights and sounds and recounting our week on the NHRA Wally Parks Museum Road Tour. Thanks to Tony Thacker and the museum staff for again putting together a great weekend for us. By Sunday the NHRA Museum Tour was over and the '09 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour had come to an end. It has been a wild and wonderful summer. The '52 Chevy hardtop kept me safe and comfortable.
We are now fine-tuning our '10 schedule and will be making the details public very soon. Check out www.streetrodderweb.com, the pages of STREET RODDER, or call our Road Tour hotline at (800) 664-1362 to get all the info. Make plans to join us next season, as everyone is invited to "come along for the drive."
The NHRA Hot Rod Reunion brings together hundreds of nostalgic dragsters from the early da
It is not only the race vehicles that are a throwback to an earlier era, the traditional h
Many of the participants at the California Hot Rod Reunion completely recreate the era of