The Sherm's Custom Plating Tour kicked off with the first driver’s meeting of the week at 4 PM on Saturday at our hotel in Sacramento. With over 30 vehicles registered for the Road Tour to the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, the lobby was filled with excited participants. The itinerary for the week was thick as a number of stops and visits were planned each day during the five days that we would be spending on the road traveling to Bakersfield.
First up on the schedule was a visit to the sponsor of the Tour, Sherm’s Custom Plating. At Sherm’s we were greeted by President Gary Matranga, partner Dave Dougherty and Sales and Service coordinator Kelly Wiley. Co-owner Art Holman was out of town during our visit. Dave took the large group through the shop at Sherm’s explaining the chrome plating process and describing in detail what goes into the quality chrome that Sherm’s is known for. All of the Tour participants received a Sherm’s T-shirt. The Tour goodie bags and participant credentials were also handed out during our visit. After some pictures in front of the building it was time to make the short drive to see the vehicle collection of Sherm’s President Gary Matranga.
Gary has been deeply involved with all types of auto and motorcycle racing endeavors for many years. Gary has raced top fuel cars, funny cars, sprint cars and is a member of the 200 MPH Club at Bonneville. His current passion is racing some very potent Ducati motorcycles at road courses on the West Coast. Besides his passion for going fast, he is also an avid builder and collector of hot rods. His extensive collection of 32 and 40 Fords is amazing to see and all of the participants could appreciate the quality of Gary’s cars. It was a great kick-off evening on the Sherm’s Custom Plating Tour.
Sunday morning the weather was beautiful in Sacramento. Our driver’s meeting was at 8AM and we discussed the activities that were on the schedule for the day. We had been invited by the Napa Valley Cruisers car club to meet them at the Marie Callenders restaurant in Napa and travel along to Sebastopol and visit the home and studio of artist and sculptor Michael Cooper. It was an hour drive to Napa and the Napa Valley folks were already there when we arrived. It was a good turnout of about 25 cars from their club and when we added our 25 vehicles it was a long parade for the 90 minute drive to Sebastopol. Our route took us through the beautiful wine country of the Napa Valley. With tree covered hills and vineyards on each side of the highway it was a very picturesque scene. Many thanks to Barry Gates and the entire Napa Valley Cruisers for inviting us along for the gorgeous drive.
Upon arriving we were greeted by Michael Cooper and given a personal tour of his studio. Many readers may remember the Tubester pick-up truck with its unique header system and wooden insert in the bed. Michael built that truck in 2001. His real passion and main focus is very unique works of art that combine creative wood carvings, laminates and metal crafting to become amazing visual statements. Each has its own story and Michael was good enough to spend time and give us some background on each piece. It was definitely sensory over load and everyone enjoyed the stop at Michael Cooper’s studio.
From Sebastopol it was a short drive to Cotati Speed Shop in Santa Rosa. Zane Cullen and the crew at Cotati were the folks who built this year’s Road Tour pick up. Formerly know as Creative Concepts, these folks have been turning out award winning vehicles for a decade. Zane was recently inducted into the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame and is one of it’s youngest members. There were many projects in the works at Cotati and crew were very helpful in answering questions about each of the vehicles in the shop. The 23,000 miles on the odometer of this years Road Tour vehicle is a tetement to the fact that Zane and the Catoti crew can build vehicle sthat can go as well as show.
It had been a fun filled day on the Sherm’s Custom Plating Tour and it was just the beginning of our week on the road. Monday we are scheduled to visit Steve Castelli and see his amazing collection of automobilia. After Steve’s we will see the car collection of Al Engel in Richmond, California and end our Monday at the shop of Steve Moal in Oakland. Check back here for all of the updates as the Sherm’s Custom Plating Tour makes it’s way to the HNRA California Hot Rod Reunion.