The second leg of the AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour 2014 season wrapped up on Sunday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The huge Sunday swap meet wound down quickly as the rain hit about noon. The MSRA Back to the 50's Weekend Road Tour had been a fantastic week on the road from Pomona to St. Paul. It was now time to set out on the Aeromotive Road Tour which was the final leg of the Roadtrippers.com Triple Crown Challenge. Our final destination at the end of the week is the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals Plus in Pueblo, Colorado.
Our destination for Sunday evening was two hours and thirty minutes south of St. Paul. While the town of Clear Lake, Iowa has been a famous resort regionally since the 1930s, it was on the night of February 3, 1959 that the name of Clear Lake, Iowa became known word wide. On that evening legend Buddy Holly played his last concert in Clear Lake's Surf Ballroom and later died in a plane crash along with Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson. The horrible tragedy became the basis for Don McLean's hit American Pie and the date February 3, 1959 became known as the day the music died.
Two weeks earlier on the Vintage Air Tour we had visited Clovis, New Mexico and the recording studio of Norman Petty. It was at the Norman Petty Studio that Buddy Holly had recorded his early hits in 1957 and 1958. Visiting Clear Lake, the crash site and the Surf Ballroom took us full circle in the life and legend of Buddy Holly. It was fitting that the AMSOIL Street Rodder Road Tour car this year is a 1959 Chevy. I had gotten the directions to the memorial in the corn field north of town from the Roadtrippers.com website. Exiting I-35 just north of Clear Lake we drove on gravel roads for a short time and reached an intersection where there was a very large metal pair of Buddy Holly glasses mounted on two posts. Getting out of the Impala and walked down a path along a fence in a corn field we reached the memorial at the crash site in about ten minutes. The was a metal plaque that listed the names of the musicians and a smaller plaque that listed the pilot. Visitors had left small mementos including a few CDs, guitar picks and coins. It was a solemn and respectful tribute to some very iconic and influential young musicians and the pilot who died with them.
After checking in at the hotel we all gathered in the parking lot and made the short drive to the Surf Ballroom. There was a big band concert and dance scheduled for the evening we were in Clear Lake and it was the perfect opportunity to visit the Ballroom and museum and see for ourselves the musical venue that will forever be known in the history of rock and roll. The Surf Ballroom exceeded any of our expectations. It has been restored to the grandeur of its 1948 period and it was truly a step back in time. The walls are covered with memorabilia from the early days of the Ballroom and the number of talented musicians who had played at the Surf was amazing. In the dressing room to the left of the stage musicians and bands have signed the walls and ceiling. There are rows of booths that surrounded the large dance floor. There were murals on the wall and of course there were images of Buddy Holly everywhere throughout the building. There were folks there that evening whom had traveled from all over the area to enjoy the music and the dancing and we enjoyed talking with the other guests in attendance. It was an amazing day and evening in Clear Lake, Iowa. It proved yet again that there is much more to our hobby than just vehicles. It is a lifestyle and there is nothing more interesting than learning more about its history. The Aeromotive Tour is just beginning. Check back here again as we travel to the Rocky Mountain Nationals Plus in Pueblo, Colorado.