The route for the PPG / STREET RODDER Road Tour #6, sponsored by Mancebo Creations, reads like an excerpt from a California tour guide. It does not get much more beautiful than the Pacific Coast Highway, and we had some great stops planned along the way.
Our week started out Sunday morning in Pomona at the NHRA Museum at the Pomona Fairplex. New museum director Tony Thacker greeted us at 7:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts, and we were treated to a look at the fantastic facility that tells the history of hot rodding and drag racing in America. The museum is filled with cars and memorabilia that give visitors a feel for how our hobby has evolved over the past 60 years. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
From Pomona, we headed north and west on I-210 and then Route 101 to Oxnard, California, and the Vintage Museum, which houses an incredible collection of classic cars and motorcycles amassed by Otis Chandler, the late owner of the Los Angeles Times. Bob Mosier, who was involved with the museum from the beginning and was Chandler's good friend, gave us a wonderful tour. The collection of rare and one-off classic cars and motorcycles is mind-boggling. Due to Chandler's passing earlier in 2006, the collection was to be auctioned off, as was his wish. It was a rare treat for our Road Tour group to be some of the last folks to see this amazing collection together. Thanks to Bob and the museum staff for welcoming us on a Sunday morning.
From Oxnard, we headed north on the 101. Then, the unimaginable happened: It started to rain! What? In Southern California? What about that song? No problem. The Road Tourians are a tough bunch and we kept right on rolling, roadsters and all. We stopped in Solvang for lunch and then went on to the beautiful beach town of Cambria for the evening. Our hotel was right on the beach and we were treated to a classic California sunset, which more than made up for the rain earlier in the day.
Monday morning, 16 street rods with 23 passengers made a stop at a little home on the coast called the Hearst Castle. Words cannot describe this mansion that was William Randolph Hearst's dream. It is a required stop for anyone traveling up the coast of California. We took an hour tour and came away with a small sense of what it must have been like to be American royalty in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.
The next two hours took us along what is considered by many to be the most beautiful drive in America, if not the world: Highway 1, which follows the rugged California coast from Cambria to Monterey. We stopped at a restaurant just south of Big Sur and enjoyed a lunch with a breathtaking view, and it was then on to our evening stop in Pacific Grove, just south of Monterey.
Tuesday morning in Pacific Grove was very relaxing. I actually gave the Road Tourians a little free time to sightsee and enjoy the beautiful scenery that the Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove area has to offer. Some chose shopping, others the Monterey Aquarium, and many folks took the opportunity to clean up their cars. It was nice to have a few moments to catch our breath.
By 11 a.m., I was cracking the whip again, and we rolled out. The accommodations in Pacific Grove were great and it was hard to leave, but we had some appointments to keep later in the day. We made the short drive up the coast on Highway 1 and arrived in Santa Cruz around lunchtime. We got through the busy downtown area of Santa Cruz fairly easily and arrived in good shape at the famous Santa Cruz Pier. The next hour was spent enjoying the sights, sounds, and food the pier area had to offer. It was also a great opportunity to get the cars together for a photo shoot with the classic Santa Cruz amusement park in the background.
From Santa Cruz, we pressed onward up the rugged coastline to our destination of Pacific Grove. After checking in at our ocean-side hotel, we made the short trip to our evening's festivities at Sanderson Headers and Roy Brizio's Street Rods in nearby South San Francisco. Donna Smith from Sanderson Headers and Roy Brizio were our gracious hosts for the evening. Donna gave us a tour of Sanderson's manufacturing facility and surprised everyone by handing out very cool Sanderson Header metal signs as a souvenir of our visit. Roy gave us a personal guided tour of his fantastic shop and took the time to talk about each and every project that was in progress. Roy and Donna were wonderful hosts, and the great pizza was on Sanderson and Brizio's. It was a perfect day on the Road Tour-good weather, beautiful scenery, and visits to two great facilities owned by some very cool folks.
After our great day of cruising the coastline and some fun stops at the aforementioned shops, Road Tour #6 continued its trek to the NSRA Golden State Nationals in Sacramento. Wednesday began with a brief cruise through a section of the Golden Gate Park. We then crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge and made a stop at the vista area at the north end of the bridge. From this vantage point, the entire skyline of San Francisco was in front of us across the bay, with the Golden Gate Bridge to the right. What a view!
From the vista view, we caravanned through the main street of nearby Sausalito and then north to Napa Valley and the Sears Point Raceway, now known as Infineon Raceway. It was a great opportunity for a photo shoot as we pulled the PPG Lion's Mane Gold Tour coupe into the winner's circle and all the Road Tourians posed on the reviewing stand. Doug Walker and his son Bruce had been part of our group since the start in Pomona, traveling in their white 1939 Ford coupe. They are from Danville and have friends with a vineyard, so, after a phone call, we were all invited to stop at the nearby Viansa Winery and Italian Market Place. Josh Haberman gave us a personal tour and we enjoyed a nice lunch.
We were on our way again by 1:30 p.m., this time heading south to Danville and the fantastic Blackhawk Museum. I had heard of the Blackhawk Museum for many years, but nothing can prepare you for the classic cars on display. We were treated to an hourlong tour of the collection of cars on display, which were one-of-a-kind, handbuilt beauties that were restored to perfect condition. It is a must-see stop for any car buff who gets close to the San Francisco area. Wednesday had been yet another fantastic day on Tour #6.
We were getting closer to Sacramento by Thursday morning, but we had one more stop to make. Leonard Lopez at Dominator Street Rods in Brentwood, California, invited us to stop by his shop. Leonard and his craftsmen are in the process of building next year's Road Tour Brookville 1932 coupe. It was fun to be able to take a look at the progress on my 2007 office. Things are moving right along, and we should be ready to debut the coupe at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona in January. Our '32 was by no means the only project underway at Dominator. The shop was filled with high-quality cars in various stages of assembly. From Dominator, we decided to take the two-lane river road to Sacramento, and we arrived in the Old Sacramento downtown area of cool shops and restaurants at 12:30 p.m. We had some good food and then rolled to the NSRA Headquarters Hotel for registration.
It was a wild weekend at the Golden State Nationals, and all the Road Tourians made the STREET RODDER tent their headquarters. We even had a Saturday afternoon cookout with the help of PPG and its gas grill. Tour #6 was a blast for me and for everybody who traveled along, and we saw some incredible places and things. The scenery was breathtaking and the camaraderie was fantastic.