It was a very wet Monday afternoon in Detroit. The Road Tourians survived what turned out to be the heaviest rainfall in Detroit in 100 years. While we will be drying out carpeting and contents of the cars for a while there was not any major damage to any of our vehicles. It worked out very well that we were scheduled to spend the entire day on Tuesday in the nearby town of Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was a short 30 minute drive from our hotel in Dearborn and we all arrived at Kalitta Motorsport by 9AM.
There are not many drag racers more famous than Connie Kalitta and very few teams that have been as successful as his. We were given a tour of the huge race shop and were present as the team rigs were being loaded to head out to Minnesota to compete in the NHRA event at Brainerd. It was an up-close look at one of the best teams in professional drag racing and insight into what it takes to be successful in the sport.
From Kalitta Motorsport it was a short drive to the Willow Run Airport and the Yankee Air Museum. The museum tells many stories from aviation history but goes in depth in telling the story of the Willow Run Assembly Plant that was built by Ford Motor Company and was one of the major airplane manufacturing facilities of World War II. Also on display are military aircraft from many conflicts including an F-15 and a Huey helicopter from the Vietnam War. Our guide at the museum was very knowledgeable about everything on display.
Still in Ypsilanti we drove to the Depot section of town where we had a great lunch at the Sidetrack Bar and Grille. It was then a very short walk across the railroad tracks to the Automotive Heritage Museum. Part of the museum was actually a Hudson dealership and with recent expansion it is a very well rounded automotive museum. The museum centers on vehicles that were built in and around Ypsilanti. The Hudson, Kaiser-Frasier and the products of the Willow Run Plant which over the years was home to Kaiser-Frasier production, GM autos including the Chevy II, the Corvair and eventually the home of the GM Turbo Hydromatic transmission were all part of Ypsilanti auto history. Ypsilanti was also the home of Preston Tucker of the Tucker automobile fame. It was a very educational day at the American Heritage Museum.
Our day in Ypsilanti wound up at the Michigan Firehouse Museum just up the street from the Automotive Heritage Museum. Inside the restored vintage firehouse visitors get to see firefighting apparatus from the earliest times up to present times. One of the most interesting areas is the section that shows life in a firehouse at the turn of the century when horsepower meant just that and fighting fires was a real challenge for men and equipment. The Michigan Firehouse is education and interesting and certainly worth a visit.
We are just halfway through our Autopalooza.org AMSOIL Street Rodder Road Tour. The excitement is building as the gigantic Woodward Dream Cruise looms on the horizon. Stay tuned for the latest updates about our Week on Woodward.