Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Car Collector Chronicles

It's time once again for my friend's monthly exploration into all things "old car." The Car Collector Chronicles is always a fun read and Dave Yaros always has interesting and fun content. This month, among articles about making a road trip to North Carolina, the end of the Plymouth, and the upcoming anniversary celebration of Jeep, among others, he passes on a story I told about literally breaking the winning car at the Indy 500 one year. Oh well, despite that last one this is a fantastic issue and well worth checking out.

You can find this issue and all of his past posts here: https://www.scribd.com/user/7936333/Dave-Yaros

Cruise for the Cure

Lauren Hill was an energetic young woman attending Mount Saint Joseph College. It had been her dream to play college basketball and she was so close. Only one thing stood in her way: pediatric brain cancer. Lauren's battle against this disease and her being able to not only play in a college basketball game but to score made national headlines. Sadly Lauren lost her battle with cancer but she sparked an awareness of this malady that continues today.

Recently the Cruise for the Cure was held at historic Coney Island will all proceeds benefiting The Cure Starts Now Foundation, an organization Lauren backed which raises funding to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer.

Hosted by Cincy Custom Street Machines well over 300 cars rolled onto the grass at Coney. Hundreds more people showed up just to admire the rides and to support Lauren Hill one more time. Among the cars on display was a 1932 Ford, a customized pick-up, a Ford Galaxy convertible, an early Chevy Bel Air, a Mustang, a Nova SS, a Continental, an Oldsmobile, and a first generation Thunderbird.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Born to Be Wild

I was approached not too long ago by the fine folks at Turo, a peer to peer car rental company unlike anything else out there. According to Emma, it's like car-sharing, but better. She asked if I would be willing to create a blog post about one of the cars in my life and tell about some experiences. She called it an "Auto-biography" and said they were going to try to get something similar from their users.

Rather than write about one of my current cars I thought I would re-post an article I published in Cincinnati Profile Magazine two years ago. It is a story I recounted to my youngest son as we were driving home from a weekend of cars and fun to celebrate his birthday in Indianapolis. It is a story of when I was young, right out of college and taking the ride of my life. It is a story that convinced me that all young men are Born to Be Wild.

            A couple of weeks ago my youngest son, Josh, and I took a road trip up to Indianapolis. Indy is a great city with lots to do. We enjoyed wandering through the Indianapolis Museum of Art and took in a soggy Indianapolis Indians (http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t484) baseball game.
            While these were well worth the trip, the real reason we were there, though, was because of cars. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway had created a great weekend for motoring enthusiasts. The premier event was the Indianapolis Grand Prix (take a look at how these cars run) which, if you have never been, is actually a whole series of races leading up to the main event.
            The grand prix may have been the featured event but also as part of the weekend was the Celebration of Automobiles, a Councours event that featured over 100 classic cars ranging from the early Brass Era up into the muscle cars of the 1960s. If you’re interested, you can see posts on my daily classic car blog ofthis event beginning here.
            Also while we were there we wandered through the IMS Hall of Fame Museum which not only has dozens of actual winners of the 500 on display but a lot of other amazing cars as well. We were told that at any time there are over 75 cars on display in the museum. While we were there they were having a special exhibit on the Turbine Era of the Indy 500. I will eventually be posting pictures and stories of the museum on my daily blog.
            In all this was a fun road trip weekend and a great opportunity to spend time with my son. On the ride back as we talked about a variety of things, Josh said that someday he would like to pack up and take a road trip across the country. As we talked about that memories of my various cross country drives began to flood back.
            Get your motor running.
            I was recently out of college and one of my old film professors had called my parents’ house looking for me. It seems he and a couple of friends had gotten a grant to shoot a documentary about dolphin research. Back in college I had helped my professor work on another documentary and as that production moved forward I began taking on more roles and doing more and more work. Ultimately I had even helped to write the script, did some of the photography, did a lot of lighting and sound and even helped him in the editing room. So when he and his partners were looking for someone to help them they gave me a call.
            Since they had given me some advance notice before shooting was to begin I decided to take a leisurely drive across the country and see some of the places I had never visited. I loaded up my 1977 European built Mercury Capri and I went over maps, since this was way before Google Earth, plotting my path with care.
            My brother and his wife lived just outside of Denver, they still do, and so it would have been logical for me to take the I-70 route straight across the country. Unfortunately they would be gone when I would travel through the Mile High City so I decided to head a little bit south so I could visit a friend who was in Oklahoma City at the time. I would take I-74 to Indy then head west on I-70 but only until I got to St. Louis. There I would hit I-44 into Oklahoma City.
            There my plan was to take I-40 through the Texas panhandle and Albuquerque and much of Arizona before leaving the Interstate system and heading north to spend a day or two in Las Vegas. Then it was I-15 on to the spaghetti of blacktop that is LA.
            Head out on the highway.
            The trip started well and I made it to Oklahoma City in about 14 hours with stops for gas, food and, well, various other necessities. I had left early in the morning and with the change in time zones arrived at my friend’s house just in time for us to go out and get something to eat. And drink.
Yes, we were 20 somethings and so after we had dinner we went around the corner to a bar that featured a real live Texas bred country band. If you have ever seen the movie The Blues Brothers there is a scene in which the band plays a bar where the people like both kinds of music, country and Western. I think this was the place where the filmmakers got their inspiration.  It may sound unbelievable but I swear that 20 minutes wouldn’t go by that the band wasn’t playing The Eyes of Texas. What made it worse is that everybody in the place, except me, knew the secret clapping rhythms needed to accompany the band. It was a strange night.
The next day, notice I didn’t say morning, my friend showed me around Oklahoma City. It was a nice city, not at all what I expected. In our studies of U. S. history back in high school and college we learned about the rush to settle the land but the incident that etched onto everyone’s memory was the Dust Bowl. This is what I was expecting but not what I saw in Oklahoma City. I saw a city much like Cincinnati in many ways. Instead of it being flat it rests in what is known as the Sandstone Hills region of central Oklahoma. This was about as far west as I had ever driven and I was greeted with my first pleasant surprise.
After seeing the city and resting up a bit I headed out I-40 West for what should have been about an eight hour trip to my next planned stop, Albuquerque, NM. The trip, I thought, would be pretty boring as my route was to take me through western Oklahoma and across the panhandle of Texas. This was the real infamous dust bowl region and I could see why it had suffered that plight back in the 1930s.
But instead of it being arid and windblown, I ran into snow. Sure, it was January but I hadn’t expected snow to fall in the Texas panhandle. But snow it did. It wasn’t a blizzard by any sense of the imagination but it was sticking to not only the grass but also the road, accumulating perhaps two inches. It brought traffic to a crawl.
This wasn’t my first trip to Texas. I had flown to Houston my senior year in college as part of the Society for Collegiate Journalists conference. I hadn’t liked Houston, too industrial, too dirty. I would later visit Dallas (stay out of the airport), San Antonio and Austin, parts of the state I do like. But none of these other cities were like the panhandle, especially in snow.
People who don’t regularly drive in snow have no idea how to handle it. Remember, this part of the country was flat enough on which to play a game of pool with the only elevations being the overpasses of the highway. On those overpasses, though, the Texans who were on the road were skidding and sliding around. I, in my little rear wheel drive Capri, weighed down with my life in the hatch, easily went in and out between them as I managed the obstacle course created by their automotive incompetence.
The snow added a couple of hours to my trip and also added unneeded anxiety as I had to remain on edge against a sliding Texans. Eventually I worked my way out of the snow and continued toward my destination.
As I crossed into New Mexico the sun was setting and the sky was moonless and clear. It seemed for a while as if I was the only person on the road and eventually my bladder was thankful of that. Having to relieve myself I just pulled off to the side of the road rather than wait for an exit. I put on my blinker and walked away from the car to do my business. That’s when I finally looked up.
Though there was no moon the sky was exploding with light from billions of stars. Growing up in the suburbs, even going camping as a kid, I had never seen anything like this. It was one of the most spectacular things I’d ever seen and wish I could today find the slides I took with my camera. They’re packed away in boxes like the rest of the photos from this trip, now no more than crated memories.
I got back in the car with renewed energy and sped the rest of the way toward my destination. I became aware that I had been climbing for a while and soon in the distance saw at glow coming from over the horizon. As I got closer I realized what I was seeing was the very life of Albuquerque shining in the moonless night.
Topping a crest I began descending into the city, tired and hungry. Through the help of the American Automotive Association, better known as AAA, I had gotten books which told me of the best places to stop and the best things to see. I had pinpointed a hotel that they said was both good and affordable and since it was right off the highway I had chosen it for my night’s rest.
After I checked in and took my overnight bag into the room, I returned to the desk to ask the clerk, a nice, kindly grandmother of a woman, if there was someplace within walking distance where I could grab a beer and a burger. She directed me to a joint right across the street.
I accepted her referral and without even looking at the name on the fa├žade, I soon found myself sipping a cold beer at the bar while waiting for my burger. Suddenly the lights dimmed and the music got loud. Just as my burger was served I saw several pair of shapely legs wearing stiletto heels parading along the bar top. I managed to pull my food and drink out of harm’s way and watched as about a dozen strippers started flashing their wares. Yes, the nice, kindly grandmother had sent me to a strip club.
I have to admit that the burger was pretty darn delicious.
The next day I hung out in Albuquerque, exploring the city. I loved it. I had never seen anything like this place. Though my brother and his wife lived just outside of Denver, in the mountains within tasting distance of the Coors Brewery, the landscape of this place was very, very different.
It made me wonder why certain people famously passed through this wonderful city. Perhaps the first of those was the legendary motion picture director Cecil B. DeMille. DeMille, who, along with his co-director, Oscar Apfel, and the cast and crew were heading west to shoot the Western TheSquaw Man in 1914. Prior to that movie Westerns were shot in New Jersey and occasionally as far west as Kentucky. But legend has it that DeMille’s producer, Jesse L. Lasky, wanted to shoot in an actual Western town. He chose Albuquerque since it had been featured in a number of dime novels.
Supposedly when the train stopped in Albuquerque there was snow on the ground. A quick decision was made to stay on the train and head as far west as the line ran. It stopped in a quiet little burg called Hollywood.
Perhaps the most famous person to skip past this city wasn’t a person at all but a cartoon rabbit named Buggs. I’ll tell you this much, I was glad I didn’t take a left turn at Albuquerque.
Looking for adventure.
After exploring the city and, of course, checking out the Rio Grande, I had another good meal at that quaint little diner across the street from my hotel and got a good night’s rest. My next planned stop as I traveled along I-40 was only about five hours away in Flagstaff, AZ. Why there and not on to Las Vegas or even LA? Well there was method to my madness.
I got up early and had an enjoyable drive into Flagstaff where I once again checked into an AAA recommended hotel. I then began exploring, not only the city but the surrounding region. I drove up US 190 through the Navaho reservation and picked up State Route 64. My goal was to drive up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
While stopping at a small store, one of the locals asked me where I was heading. When I told them they laughed and said my car would never make it. One older gentleman offered to drive me up and show me the south rim. We hopped into his ancient Ford pickup truck and proceeded up through roads that became rutted until we reached that spectacular, breathtaking natural phenomenon. Since the tourist sites were set up on the north rim, this was a sight few people got to see.
My new Navaho friend told me all about the land and his people. I was fascinated. I took half a dozen rolls of Kodak Ektachrome and two rolls of Kodak Plus-X film. I was like a kid in a candy shop. As it got later the gentleman returned me to my car and invited me to join him in the back of the store for dinner. I don’t know if it was an authentic Navaho meal but it sure wasn’t Cincinnati chili.
I rose early the next day because I wanted to be on my way to my next stop, Las Vegas, where I planned to spend a couple of days. I drove west on I-40 until I got to Kingman, AZ where I turned north onto US 93. This took me through the high desert on a clear, bright day, toward the Colorado River.
Along the way I experienced something very strange. I’m not a UFO freak or a conspiracy theorist in any way but I saw something in the sky that totally baffled me. It was flying in the endless blue sky at a good pace like any jet but then I blinked and it was suddenly gone. I blinked again and it returned. This occurred several times until I finally lost track of it. My only guess, now looking back at it, was that I saw an early experimental stealth aircraft. Either that or E.T. was returning to Roswell.
For me, the highlight of this leg of the journey wasn’t arriving in Vegas with all of its glitz and kitsch, it was doing something that is no longer possible: driving over Hoover Dam. Considered one of the greatest engineering marvels not only in this country but in the world, Hoover Dam, originally known as Boulder Dam, took five years to construct and created the nation’s largest volume reservoir, Lake Mead.
After taking the tour and seeing the river that created the Grand Canyon having been harnessed, I continued north through Henderson and finally into Las Vegas. I checked into the wackiest of Vegas hotels, Circus Circus. It was everything that I had hoped for and more. So was Vegas. This wasn’t my first trip to Vegas as I had attended the National Association of Broadcaster’s convention my senior year in college.
At that convention I managed to hit a lucky slot machine for a couple hundred bucks and then multiplied it at the black jack table when I went on an amazing string of good draws. Hoping to repeat that I had a few bucks set aside to gamble and, believe it or not, won a bit more before quitting.
Vegas then isn’t the same as Vegas today (the carpet at Circus Circus back then was inlaid with faces of clowns – talk about scary) and I managed to get coupons and feast on as many of the cheap buffets and one dollar shrimp cocktails as I could handle. I also checked out a bunch of the different casinos (though I didn’t gamble beyond that first night) and some of the museums around town. But after my two days, I was ready to go.
In whatever comes our way.
The drive from Vegas to LA is a pretty straight four or so hour shot south on I-15 to I-10 west. I had traveled cross country (at least the 2200 or so miles from Cincinnati to LA) at a leisurely pace. No, I hadn’t done what Sewell J. Crocker had done in his Model T Ford back in 1903 but I had made the trip and seen many parts of the country I had never seen before.
I managed to make that trek several more times before returning permanently to Cincinnati to get married and raise a family. With each of those journeys I took my time and followed some fun routes, seeing some magnificent country. The first trip back I took the route down the middle of the country along I-70 to spend a couple of days with my brother. That trip was interesting because I had decided to drive straight through from Denver to Cincinnati but ended up stopping in Kansas City when I heard the Royals were in town. It was my first and only visit to their baseball stadium.
One trip back to LA I decided to follow one of the longest stretches of road in the country, US 50. Beginning in Dover, MD, this highway travels through Cincinnati and into St. Louis where it picks up much of the path of what was once the Pony Express. Today much of this route runs in conjunction with I-70 though there are some lengthy places where it splits. I didn’t take all of those and sadly ended up missing Dodge City but I did drive a good chunk of this iconic road to its end in Sacramento, CA.
Another route was the now gone but never forgotten Route 66 which officially ceased to be in 1986. Dubbed the Will Rogers Highway, this stretch of over 2400 miles of highway ran from Chicago all the way to the ocean in Santa Monica.
There is the southern route, along I-10 through Phoenix and along the Gulf Coast. There is the northern route, best taken in summer, on I-94 to Billings, MN and switching to I-90 into Seattle, then down I-5.
As my son Josh and I drove home from Indianapolis, I remembered and shared these stories and more. He thought my stop in Albuquerque was pretty funny and my meeting the old Navaho gentleman was one of the coolest things I had ever told him. As we pulled into the driveway I could see the wheels in his head turning, how he was plotting and planning a way to drive the country and see many of the sights and appreciate all of the different cultures.
It really is amazing how large our country is. I once mapped it out and figured that the distance I drove on that first trip was about the same as if I had driven from Moscow, Russia to Lisbon in Portugal. If you calculate the trip from New York you would have to do another 600 miles east. And if you were to go from the Northeast part of the country, say Portland, ME, to the Southwest, say San Diego, you would travel over 3100 miles. And to paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “Oh the places you would see.”
You do not have to travel across the country to find adventure in your car. There are lots of places near us where you can go. Or you can just hop in, aim in a direction and drive just to see where you end up.
Yes, there is adventure to be found driving through this country of ours. I’ve done it and was glad I did. I have a feeling Josh might actually do it. Why not, he, like his father, was Born to be Wild.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Celebrity Cars

Another infographic that I was sent deals with celebrities and their crazy cars. Take a look for some fun. https://www.selectcarleasing.co.uk/news/crazy-celebrity-cars.html

Formula 1 Fun

I got sent a link to an infographic about some Formula 1 drivers that I thought I'd pass along for those of you who are fans. http://carleasingmadesimple.com/infographic/f1-match-ups/

Friday, May 27, 2016

Wrapping Up This Random Week

Today I'm wrapping up a full week of random cars that I've stumbled across. They are in the order that I saw them so you can have an idea of that it was like to wander around the show. In today's group I have a stunning Lincoln, a 1958 Chevy Bel Air, a Chevy Impala, a fabulous looking Jaguar, a Ford Falcon Sprint, a Buick, a VW Beetle, and a Malibu station wagon.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Another Random Collection

For today's post I have happened upon a Dodge Challenger, a Chevy low rider pick-up, an AMC Spirit, a 1967 Chevy Nova SS, a Chevy II, a Buick Grand National, a lovely customized Ford V 8, and a Dodge RAM pick-up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today's Collection

Today's collection includes a fabulous looking Ford Mustang, a beautiful black Chevy Camaro, a couple of somewhat customized gems, a Buick Riviera, a C 3 Corvette, a 1957 Bel Air, and a 1965 Mustang.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Another Interesting Random Collection

I often like to post pictures of the cars as I've seen them at a show. It's often fun to see how they are grouped or end up grouping themselves. In this random batch, similar to yesterday, all of the cars but one is from General Motors with most bearing the Chevy label. And just like yesterday, they represent a great collection. Included are a 1957 Bel Air, a Jeep, a Chevy pick up, a GMC, a Firebird, a 1941 Chevy coup, and a sharp looking Corvair.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Random Posts

Here are some random cars that actually looked good together. With one exception, they all happened to be Chevys. Sometimes karma is good. Included are a 1957 Bel Air, an old Chevy van, a 1954 Bel Air, an old Chevy that made the Peking to Paris Run, a very clean Cutlass S, a 1964 Impala, and a C 3 Vette.