With a long day ahead of us we were up early in Grand Junction, Colorado. The AMSOIL/Street Rodder MSRA Road Tour had us heading east toward our final destination of The Back to the 50’s Weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota. Driving on I-70 out of Grand Junction you begin to climb up into the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains. As you pass the Ski areas of Vail you continue to climb and actual get up as high as the snow line in some areas. Once you reach the summit it is a quick trip down and into the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado. From Denver we continued north east on I-76 and then onto I-80. It was a long 600 mile day as we landed in Fort Kearney, Nebraska. The Great Platte River Road Archway was closed by the time most of us rolled into Kearney but some drove out for pictures at sunset.
Wednesday morning everyone was excited as we drove two hours east to the home of Speedway Motors and the Smith Collection of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska. We have stopped many times at Speedway Motors and this time we were saddened by the fact the Speedy Bill Smith had passed away three weeks earlier. Bill had always greeted us when we stopped and enjoyed showing us both the Speedway warehouse and the amazing Smith Collection of American Speed. While Bill may be gone, the business of Speedway Motors and the Smith Collection of American Speed continue on in the very capable hands of Bill and Joyce Smiths four sons. We were greeted by Clay Smith at the warehouse and we got a look at the massive facility.
From the warehouse it was a short walk across the parking lot to the museum. Damon Lee from Speedway Motors spoke to us briefly and then we were allowed to take our time and walk through the museum at our own pace. For those of us that had been through before it was a real treat to revisit our favorite displays and see things we had missed on prior visits. After we spent about 90 minutes walking the three floors we gathered in the area known as Bill’s Garage. We had a moment of silence in honor of Speedy Bill Smith who had the vision and generosity to establish such an amazing collection that will be around for generations to enjoy. As planned we had some lunch consisting of great pizza, salad and soda. Clay Smith again spoke with us and each participant was given a goodie bag compliments of Speedway Motors. By 1PM it was time to head out. We had been invited to dinner and a tour of the collection of Larry and Carol Olson and Bowman’s Real Hot Rods both in Brandon. The Road Tour must keep on rolling.