The Dynamat Tour kicked off a week on the road with a get-together at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals Plus in Louisville, Kentucky. The participants on the tour gathered at the STREET RODDER display in the exhibit building on Saturday at noon to pose for a group picture with all of the Road Tourians who were in attendance. This Road Tour reunion has become an anticipated annual event at Louisville. After the large group shot, the Dynamat participants posed for a picture together. The itineraries, goodie bags, and T-shirts were distributed to the anxious participants. Dynamat President Scott Whitaker greeted the group and spoke briefly about our upcoming trip to Speed Week at the Salt Flats. We were then all given a goodie bag that contained a Dynamat baseball cap and sunglasses, which both came in handy at the Salt Flats.

On Sunday afternoon after the awards ceremony we headed north and arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the evening. Everyone in the group got a chance to meet and greet each other and check out the vehicles that would be traveling on the tour. There were 35 cars registered and 50 people making the trip. The group was mixed with folks from across the country, including two groups from Australia. Cars ranged from traditional street rods to some later model street machines. Also joining us on the trip to Bonneville was STREET RODDER Feature Editor Tim Bernsau who was piloting the '09 Road Tour '52 Chevy.

Monday morning's drivers' meeting was held at 8 a.m. where we went over the schedule for the week and some of the logistics of traveling on a Road Tour. It was then time to head northeast for the two-hour drive to Manteno, Illinois, and the shop of Rad Rides by Troy. Upon arrival we were greeted by Troy Trepanier and the crew. For the last 20 years Troy and his staff of incredible craftsmen have built some of the finest street rods and street machines on the planet. From the "Sniper" to the Ridler-winning "First Love," the cars have captured awards and accolades at every major car show and event in the nation. We were given a tour and got an up-close look at all of their latest projects. It was then time for some great Mexican food for lunch as everyone enjoyed the tacos from a local restaurant. By 1 p.m. we all headed out. We knew that between us and our evening stop in Racine, Wisconsin, were some very busy freeways around Chicago.

As it turned out the freeway was running fairly smooth for a change and we actually made it to our destination of the Radisson Hotel on the Harbor in Racine by about 4 p.m. The hotel was located right on the water and the view was fantastic. At 5 p.m. we all gathered in the hotel lobby and walked about four blocks to the Yardarm Pub for dinner. Road Tourian Tim Caffery's wife, Lisa, and her sister, Lauri, own the Yardarm and had graciously invited us to enjoy a special meal in the banquet room of the restaurant. There were over 40 hungry Road Tourians who really appreciated the meal and the hospitality.

Tuesday we were up and rolling after our 8 a.m. drivers' meeting. Our destination was the new Harley-Davidson Museum about 45 minutes north in Milwaukee. We arrived by 9 a.m. and were greeted by Beth from the museum staff. The museum was amazing, with an incredible number of motorcycles and displays that told the history of the Harley-Davidson Company. The three floors were filled with bikes and memorabilia. We all had a great time at the museum and strongly recommend that you stop if you are in the Milwaukee area. It was then a five-hour drive across Wisconsin to LaCrosse and then north along the Mississippi River on the Minnesota side. It was a beautiful late-afternoon drive. We arrived at the Treasure Island Resort and Casino about one hour ahead of some strong thunderstorms. We were in for the evening and there was plenty to do inside.

There was a hard rain most of the night but the skies had cleared by Wednesday morning. Some street rodders came down from the Twin Cities to greet us on Wednesday morning as we headed out for our destination of the small Minnesota town of Northfield. This pretty little town was thrust into the history books back in 1876 when Jesse James, his brother, Frank, and the Younger gang came to rob the bank. The townsfolk of Northfield would have no part of that and they foiled the robbery attempt in a battle that is legendary to this day. The drive to Northfield was beautiful and we visited the bank where the robbery attempt occurred. By 11 a.m. it was time for the Road Tourians to make their getaway and we headed out for a lunch stop in Mankato, Minnesota. I learned about Culvers Restaurants on a Road Tour to Back to the 50's a few years ago and thought that some burgers and their famous cement mixer milk shakes would be the perfect nourishment for the afternoon. We were greeted at Culvers by a contingent of street rodders from the Mankato area. There was also a reporter on hand from the local newspaper. It was a brief stop in Mankato but between the good food and the great welcome it was worth the effort.

Wednesday afternoon's destination was the town of Brandon, South Dakota. We had been invited by car enthusiast Larry Olson and his wife, Carol, to stop by and see their fantastic collection of vehicles and they even offered to feed us. That sealed the deal and we all arrived at Larry's beautiful facility by 5 p.m. Larry's taste in cars ranges from traditional, high-end street rods to potent muscle cars with some exotics included in the mix. The barbecue was great and the hospitality was genuine. Also on hand and helping with our visit were Kevin Bowman and the crew from Bowman's Real Hot Rods shop, which is just around the corner from Larry's facility. Kevin and his craftsman are responsible for many of Larry's beautiful hot rods and there are more in progress that will soon be added to Larry's stable. The Bowman Bunch went out of their way to help some of the Road Tourians who had some car issues and made sure that everyone and everything was in good shape before we left for our hotel. Many thanks to Larry and Carol Olson and everyone at Bowman's Real Hot Rods for making it a great evening in Brandon.

Thursday morning we were up and rolling again. Just down the highway from Brandon are Sioux Falls and the facility of Dakota Digital. We have used Dakota Digital gauges on some of our previous Road Tour cars. In 2011 we are excited to have Dakota Digital on board with the just-announced VHX line of gauges that mate's digital technology with a traditional look. The VHX Dakota gauges will be right at home in our '55 Chevy Road Tour car for 2011. Sales Manager Scott Johnson greeted us and we broke into two groups for a real behind-the-scenes look at the work and detail that goes into the gauges and taillight assemblies. It was a very interesting morning at Dakota Digital. Owner and President Ross Ortman joined us on Friday at Larry Ruth's Rod Shop in Spearfish. Ross and many of the Dakota Digital staff were in the Black Hills area promoting the company's motorcycle products during Bike Week.

From Sioux Falls it was a short drive to Mitchell, South Dakota, and the world-famous Corn Palace. Built over 100 years ago, this huge auditorium is decorated inside and out; corn takes on a very striking and different look, as murals are added and changed each year. It is unusual to say the least. We also took time to grab a bite to eat in Mitchell before continuing west to our evening destination of Pierre, South Dakota. Because of the huge crowds in the Black Hills for Bike Week we decided that we would stay in Pierre on Thursday evening, visit Spearfish and Spearfish Street Rods Friday afternoon, and continue onto Douglas, Wyoming, for Friday evening.

A few weeks ago I had received a phone call from Dan Adams. Dan told me that he had about 50 vehicles ranging from classics of the '50s and '60s to street rods and old drag cars. He wondered if we would like to stop by while we were in Pierre. When we arrived at Dan's place we found three buildings filled with some real treasures. He has been collecting for about 30 years and the cars and trucks were really in decent condition. He said most were in operating order and at some point in the future he was going to have an auction. It was a fun way to spend a few hours in Pierre. We also got a chance to drive over Oahe Dam, the second largest earthen dam in the United States.

The Dynamat Tour rolled out of Pierre, on Friday. It was a 90-minute drive that took us across the flatlands of South Dakota to the Black Hills. After topping off with gas at Wall, home of the famous Wall Drug Store, we soon saw that the party had already started in the entire area. It was Bike Week in Sturgis and that meant that there were over a half million motorcycles in the general area. Our lunch stop in the Black Hills was at Larry Ruth's Hot Rods of Spearfish and Larry Ruth Engineering. Larry and his wife, Gail, greeted us and we got a look at their very complete full service facility. Larry relocated from Southern California to Deadwood then Spearfish in 2007. Over the years Larry has built many street rods and in 2003 built the Grand National Roadster Show AMBR winner owned by Charlie and Stella Lambetecchio. Lunch arrived by noon and we all enjoyed the hospitality shown by Larry, Gail, and the crew. By 1 p.m. it was time to head to some famous spots in the Black Hills: Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The Road Tourians ventured on and I stayed at Hot Rods of Spearfish while they did some routine maintenance our Road Tour pickup. With 16,000 miles on the odometer since our first tour back in May it was time for some bolt tightening and Larry and crew were the perfect folks to handle the task.

From the visit at Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial it was a three-hour drive to Douglas, Wyoming. Upon arrival at the Holiday Inn Express in Douglas, the group was greeted not only by the hotel management and staff but also by hot dogs and beverages for the Road Tourians. It was a surprise that was an effort of the folks at the hotel and some local Wyoming street rodders. It was unexpected and very much appreciated. Saturday was a long day of driving and our destination of Salt Lake City was a 500-mile trek. Almost everyone arrived by dinner time and the evening was spent bench racing and cleaning the vehicles in anticipation of our arrival at the Salt Flats the next morning.

A few hardy souls were up way before dawn and made the 90-mile run to Bonneville in order to experience sunrise on the Salt Flats. Another group of us left at 6:30 a.m. and others followed shortly after. For the first-timers the drive onto the salt is one that is never forgotten. You drive right onto the pages of all those magazines that you have seen for so many years. The white salt is almost blinding and yes, the mountains do float in the distance. Various vehicles are staged and take their turn on runs down the course. Hot rods are everywhere and it is definitely that place to see and be seen. The teams are very serious in their quest for the records but while safety is always a primary concern the atmosphere is amazingly laid back. When a team feels that their vehicle is ready then they make their way to the starting lanes. It is then off on a run that goes five to seven miles in the distance. You just have to be there to experience the thrill.

At noon on Sunday all the Dynamat Tour participants gathered with their cars on the salt near the end of the asphalt for a group picture. It had been a great tour and once again friendships were formed that will last a lifetime. Some Road Tourians stayed in Wendover to experience the evening get-togethers at the hotels and watering holes. Others headed home to tell their friends about their week on the Dynamat Road Tour.

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