It seemed like an easy plan: get to Kansas City, Missouri; pick up a Prowler; and head east towards The Paddock in Knightstown, Indiana, and the Mopar Nationals taking place just east of Columbus.
Then the doorbell rang at the less-than-godly hour of 6:30 a.m. on Sunday-five full days before the 'Nats. While I was ready to go, my companion Chuck West of The Paddock was far more ready. He hefted my luggage in the back of The Paddock's Suburban like an over-enthusiastic skycap-but without his hand-out for a tip-at my Lakeland, Florida, home and we were on the road heading north by 6:45.
Chuck had long wanted to bring his '71 440-6 'Cuda to the 'Nats, and with The Paddock's sponsorship of the OE Certified competition, Chuck's Lemon Twist E-Body would look great next to the best the Mopar hobby had to offer. However, myself and David Shepherd-also from The Paddock-knew we were definitely in for a hilarious trek with nonstop humor, caffeine, and creatine.
Fortunately, the trip to The Paddock was uneventful-except for Chuck's high-speed driving antics for which he is known from last year's caravan, and a flat tire on the rental trailer which necessitated an hour delay while a guy dubbed Bubba sweated alot and replaced the wheel and tire just outside Knoxville on I-75.
When we arrived in Knightstown on Monday afternoon-tires still smokin'-we made plans for my plane trip to Kansas City. Central Indiana is where The Paddock's Tom Eddy would join me as we flew from Indy to KC. Tom proved to be a great traveling partner, as Chuck West would stay behind in Knightstown to take care of some pressing business.
Upon arrival in Kansas City, Dick Drake delivered us the Prowler and loaded up our luggage in his van. We certainly could have used the optional Prowler trailer, but that wasn't going to happen. From the airport, we headed to our hotel in Blue Springs, Missouri, to ready for the next day's departure with the caravan participants.
Approximately half-a-dozen Mopars were on hand for our departure from the Sleep Inn at Exit 20 on I-70 in Missouri. Joining us were Stan McGuire in his '69 Road Runner, Ed West in his Hemi Orange '96 Ram from Nebraska, Ted Orr of Ames, Iowa, in his '88 Dodge D-250 4x4, Todd Meyers in a rental Sebring convertible, and Kevin Kyle towing a '74 Roadrunner to the 'Nats to meet a buyer.
With the complexities of getting to the caravan behind us, Tom and I took in the sights along I-70-what sights there are along I-70. Along the way, we met up with Tom and Mary Carr and Steve Leonardozzi in their pair of matching Sublime Superbees. The twin Mopars would lead us on a bypass that would alter our directions but avoid afternoon congestion in St. Louis. After crossing into Illinois in the early afternoon, we high-tailed it into Effingham, Illinois, for our overnight stay.
The next morning we nearly doubled our caravan in size and made the trek to The Paddock, arriving at exactly noon, where Wes Watts and the entire gang were anxiously waiting for us. Goody bags were distributed all around and everyone in the caravan had the opportunity to win door prizes and have lunch. In the meantime, I pulled Ed West aside to take some photographs of his Hemi Orange Ram truck parked in front of Trump's Texaco Museum in Knightstown, Indiana.
We pulled out of The Paddock at 1:30 p.m. and, despite some heavy traffic along I-70 near the Ohio border, our caravan remained smooth and without any major problems. With Brice Road in our crosshairs, the goal now was a weekend of Mopar fun.