They say, "The third time's the charm." This was our second annual "Return to Brice Road," and it promised to be better than the first. Things are naturally going to go smoother each consecutive time as you discover obstacles and ways to overcome them. Last year's Atlanta tour was hosted by Year One, and was perhaps the smoothest tour of the bunch. We took what we learned last year from Year One's Pat Staton, and applied it to all of the tours this year, and things went lots smoother. But Pat had his own list of "Things that needed fixing," and, as a result, this year's cruise from Atlanta was even smoother. Pat, and the whole Year One staff, deserve praise for their efforts in making the Atlanta tour a breeze. With the tips garnered from this year's Atlanta tour, our third annual cruise is going to go off without a hitch!
Participants leaving from Year One's parking lot received a continental breakfast, goody bag from Year One, plus a travel itinerary listing predetermined fuel and rest stops in 100-mile increments-from Atlanta all the way to Columbus. But the final touch was the police escort from the parking lot to the outskirts of Atlanta, allowing us to get through Atlanta's streets and freeways together as a group.
DaimlerChrysler supplied Prowlers to lead the caravans from all the other cities, but we scored a couple of customized Dodge trucks from Tom and Diane O'Toole of Starcoach, a custom conversion company located north of Atlanta in Bowersville, Georgia. The Prowlers are fun, but driving the supercharged Durango and Club Cab Ram-bunctious was much more fun. Both of the trucks were plenty powerful enough to keep up with any of the musclecars on our leg, and with the full leather interior and cargo space galore, we had the envy of the five Prowler pilots.
Fortunately for the Atlanta tour, the midway point between Atlanta and Columbus is Sevierville, Tennessee, home of Floyd Garrett's Muscle Car Museum. This was my first time at Floyd's, but not the last. His museum features a rotating inventory of some of the rarest musclecars ever manufactured, and all we can say is it was a treat to be able to see them.
If you've never been through it, you have to go. And because many of the cars are on a rotating and "on-loan" basis, even if you've been through it once before, it won't be the same the next time.
Another great feature of the Atlanta tour was the lack of trailers. Everyone drove their muscle, with the lone exception being Bart Lundy's customized '56 Plymouth Plaza, which was suffering ignition troubles before he left home. He threw it on his trailer and towed it with his Ram, and had it running the next night well enough to make the drive from Sevierville over to Pigeon Forge to check out the Lead Sled show being held there.
The only mechanical ill of the tour occurred, sadly, to us. Tom had the trucks dialed in and gone over with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that they would perform flawlessly for us on the tour. That included having the front end of the Ram-bunctious truck aligned the day before we left. Unfortunately, the alignment shop didn't bother to torque down the upper control arm bolts, resulting in a camber misadjustment that started small and progressed throughout the trip. At a gas stop midway between Sevierville and Columbus we noticed the outer edge of the front tire had worn down to the cords. Tom prepared for such an emergency by packing all the necessary tools, but neither of us stopped to consider that the custom wheels had flat shouldered lug nuts, while the stock spare needed tapered nuts, which we hadn't packed. Fortunately, we had hooked up with the Memphis tour by that time, and Robert Long proved to be our savior-he had packed an extra set of lug nuts and gave them to us, getting us back on the road. Then it was on to Columbus and Brice Road for three days and nights of non-stop Mopars.