I'll be honest, I like to think of myself as a "the glass is half full" kinda guy, but when the call came three days before I was supposed to fly into the Twin Cities to lead that leg of the tour, I had a real hard time seeing it as anything but empty.
This year we relied on friends and aftermarket companies to get us from points A to B. Unfortunately, three days before I was to pick up my borrowed wheels in Minnesota, the car got stranded in California and there was no way to get it up north.
And actually, I'm glad. The solution to my transportation dilemma was bumming rides with different participants on the tour all the way from Minnesota to Columbus. I rode in a pair of hard-topped E-Bodies, a closed 340 Dart, and three drop-tops: a Belvedere, a Coronet 500 and a Canadian 'Cuda. I'd say I had the most enviable ride of the staff!
Departing from MAS Racing in St. Paul, Minnesota, we headed for John Balow's Muscle Car Restorations and Brats Shop in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, for lunch, and then went on to Naperville, Illinois, to finish the first day. The following morning we left from Koller Dodge and headed East to The Paddock's Knightstown, Indiana, store where we were supposed to meet Chuck James and the Kansas City contingent for lunch, and then travel on to Brice. Unfortunately, our group got split right out of Naperville, and the lead vehicles drove about 15 miles per hour under the speed limit for an hour or so, hoping the stragglers would catch us. As a result, we rolled into Knightstown 15 minutes after the K.C. tour left. The kicker was when the stragglers rolled in twenty minutes after us-they'd decided not to deal with waiting in traffic and took a "quicker" route that took them through every small-town stop light between Naperville and Knightstown.
Editor Schleppers: (from left...
Editor Schleppers: (from left to right) Bob Eberhahn, Mark Walsh, Rick Walsh and Rick's '69 Coronet 500; Canadians Sid Gagne and Allan Oger and Allan's '71 Cuda; Peter Meyer and his '71 383 'Cuda; Russ Carlson and Diana Rhodes with Russ's '73 Challenger. Top: Canadian Terry Plester and his '70 Dart logged over 1300 miles before hauling me and my gear from MAS in Minnesota to Muscle Car Restorations. Inset: Steve Landon and his younger brother in Steve's '66 Belvedere. They helped get me to Naperville.
While riding in the cars was cool (the biggest thrill for me was when Rick Walsh asked if I'd like to drive his Coronet the last 60 miles into Columbus), the best part was riding with the participants, getting to know them, and bench racing for two days.
The upshot is that unless my '61 Plymouth station wagon is able to make the journey from Florida to Columbus under its own power next year, I'm planning on thumbing it again. It's definitely not the destination-it's the journey. Thanks to all who schlepped me and my gear from Minnesota to Columbus! -Brad Ocock
It's always great to meet up with old friends and make new ones. This year our caravan started out from Weld Wheel Industries in Kansas City, Missouri, where we were met by Gregory Smith, Director of Marketing, and given a tour of the facilities. After our drivers meeting, I was accompanied by Tom Eddy of The Paddock as we led the group out of downtown Kansas City behind the wheel of Borla's Fire Rescue 4x4 Dakota. Heading east on I-70, we were aiming for our first night's stop: the HoJo in Effingham, Illinois. If we only knew what was in store for us that day! I've never seen so much road construction in my life! It's amazing that our caravan stayed together with all the merging we had to do. At one point after St. Louis, it took us about an hour to get through one construction zone where two major Interstates merged down to a single lane. Despite all of this, we made it through, arriving in Effingham around 6 p.m. Hungry and tired of dealing with traffic, Tom and I met up with Ed and Ruth West and enjoyed an excellent dinner at Niemerg's Family Restaurant. If you're ever in Effingham, this is the place to eat.
After getting a good night's rest, we were once again on our way, aiming to be at The Paddock in Knightstown, Indiana, by noon, where we were going to meet up with Brad and the Minnesota tour. Making excellent time, we pulled into The Paddock at noon. After a group photo in front of the building, we headed back to the food tent where we indulged in some good barbecue.
Don and Sue Kettinger wowed...
Don and Sue Kettinger wowed me with their 72,000-mile survivor Charger. They fired it up, drove it on the cruise and had a good time with it. You've got to respect that!
MAS Racing in St. Paul, Minnesota,...
MAS Racing in St. Paul, Minnesota, provided us with coffee, donuts, pop, fresh fruit and other essentials to get us on our way. At 9 a.m., a decent crowd departed for Columbus.
Kansas City MO to Columbus:...
Kansas City MO to Columbus: Road Destruction in the MidwestFrom lathe turning and welding to polishing the wheels, we were amazed to see how much work is still being done by hand at Weld!
They come from the Nort'....
They come from the Nort'. Koller Dodge in Naperville rolled out the carpet for us on Thursday morning. Viking ad sales goddess Susan Clark and Koller's Keith Johnson share a Finnish ancestry, and draped this Finnish flag over the Prowler in a proud display of Finn/Mopar heritage.