Click on thumbnails to see full size images and captions

Topless Trek To The LA Roadster Show - Part 2 of 2 • 2007

story and photos by Dennis Sammon

Part One’s installment in last month’s issue followed the trip all the way from Florida to California, stopping at memorable places along the way. This month’s coverage includes the LA Roadster Show itself, which took place on June 15 & 17, 2007, plus the equally interesting trip back home. So fasten your seat belts, as we dive into some more adventures!

Saturday, June 16th. Show day! Not so fast guys and gals. I know we drove a long way for this, but we have to attend the Donut Derelicts first thing Saturday morning. When I say first thing, I’m not kidding. We were up at 4:30am for the trek an hour south to Huntington Beach, California for the every Saturday meeting of the Donut Derelicts. What started out as a few hot rod buddies getting together for donuts and coffee, after 10 years or so has now turned into an incredible meeting of anything trick or cool. Like former Overhaulin’ cars, to Saleen prototypes, to a wicked Baja Bug with an LS1 stuffed in the rear of it. You just never know. Officially it starts at 6:00am and only runs until 9:00am when everyone leaves the plaza to free up the 400+ parking spots for local business’. Crazy, huh? You bet, but the Adams Avenue Donut Shop has started a cult everyone enjoys, and it is well worth the trip.

OK, we’ve had our fill of donuts, and more donuts, so now it’s time to head to the roadster show! We arrive a bit later than the Black Dog Garage guys but timing is everything, and as we arrive in the striking yellow Tub, the officials pull us aside and request us to park in “special” parking near the Edelbrock display store. Score! A quick clean job made the Tub worthy of parking there, although we made sure to leave the collection of bugs in the grill.

There is so much to see and experience, it’s hard to fit it all in. Like, we were just steps away from the NHRA Museum and forgot to go to it. How the heck do you miss that? I don’t know, maybe the 1,000+ roadsters, thousands of vendors, and the cars and trucks in the other parking lot? The sights and smells of high octane may have blurred us a bit.

Later towards the end of the day we got a call from Al Washburn requesting all of the Florida cars to meet up with them in one spot for an interview with Barry Meguiar and his film crew from Car Crazy. We’re really diggin’ this show now. The interview goes well and we had a great time meeting Barry and talking cars and how crazy they thought we were for traveling all that way. He got a kick out of my tattered but trusty AAA Road Atlas. Look for us on TV between September and December.

The swap meet is truly something to see as well. Cool cars and parts galore. Like the last Hemi that Dandy Dick Landy built which was stuffed in a ‘33 Tub, an original ‘32 3-Window body for 30K, and the best...ZZ Top’s own Billy Gibbons was cruising the parts section where we got to meet him and get a photo of us with him. And yes, he had the same strange green shower cap he always has on. We promised our bearded hero to keep the rock ‘n roll alive. Double bonus!

By the time Sunday rolls around, we have special parking near the vendor area for all of the Florida cars. Not much shade, but the exposure of a different kind was neat.

The Florida 7, as we are known as, were trying to see everything. New parts to look at, stuff to buy, socialize and ogle over Hollywood Hot Rods latest roadster creation. Hemi’s to the left, Hemi’s to the right. They were everywhere. It warmed my hemispherical valved heart to see such a support group.

We had heard the Wisconsin boys were in town and finally ran into them. Talk about hard core cruisers, F L A Roadsters members Glen Heflin and John Roetzer from the frozen tundra of Racine, Wisconsin and their traveling buddy Todd had just drove 3,700 miles through Canada, Seattle, etc. to get to California to visit John’s brother for a few days. They came to the roadster show just on Sunday, and were ready to drive home on Monday. After collaborating with them, Carlos and I decided to run up the Pacific Coast Highway then on to Bonneville. A trip that the Wisconsin boys were more than willing to take with us. Those guys are so easy.

The rest of the Florida cars were in a hurry to get back to the sunshine state, so we parted ways Monday morning after breakfast. Unfortunately, on their way home they ran into some very serious storms through Texas, and had several problems. They had split into traveling pairs. A little worse for wear and a little bent here and there, they eventually managed to make it home safe, thank goodness.

The PCH runs through some great scenery like Big Sur, Hearst Castle, beautiful Pacific ocean sights and even Elephant Seal Beach, where you can smell them from a mile away.

Ragged Point Resort officially had the most expensive gas at $4.59 a gallon. But it was the only gas station for a million miles. They did include a beautiful sight with every purchase. A great stop. A very needed stop. We made it to Carmel and Monterey, then off east to Reno. The Tub, John’s primered small block ‘46 Ford Coupe, and Todd’s beautiful red ‘34 Ford Cabriolet all looked great cruising the scenic highways and byways of northern California. I can honestly say I can’t remember the trip from Monterey to Reno. Anticlimactic? Road weary? Who knows. It was at night, and it was all a blur until we got to the biggest little city of Reno. Maybe we had blinders on looking forward to seeing Bonneville. The cars were doing fine and ready for more desert from Reno to Wendover, Utah.

Crap! More desert. That’s the entire state of Nevada if you’ve ever noticed. I believe it is simply called the Desert State. I thought we went through desert to the south. Now we have to go through it in the north now? Ugh.

That day seemed like a blur as well. I bet the oasis’ we saw really weren’t there, but we were on a mission. Bonneville. Home of hot rod flat out racing....and salt. Lots and lots of salt. Coming into Wendover, it was the coolest sight ever - maybe not Grand Canyon cool, but let me tell ya, you come over a ridge of mountains and here it is. THE Salt Lake. White, pure and as far as you can see, it was one impressive sight against the awesome blue sky. We managed to run straight to the “Flats” while it was still light out and not quite so blazing hot. All of the cars looked great out there. It has the consistency of rock salt. It was actually a little wet when we were driving on it. It also has a tendency to rain and flood the entire region. You wouldn’t think it, being in the desert, but I’ve seen pictures.

There wasn’t anything going on other than Todd blasting the ‘34 straight out towards the timing area, while we basically cruised around just off the pavement and took some photos to prove we made it to the land of speed and all things good.

First things first. Car wash! Salt was everywhere - we even had it in our ears. The stuff flies everywhere. One thing we didn’t need is rust. Afterwards I was ready for a pool and a nice cold refreshment. That evening we made our way to the Salt Flats Cafe, a few miles east of town where the only thing around is a few gas pumps. It was the only place for dinner, with excellent chips and salsa to go with our burgers.

The next morning was an early one, as we had to tackle the salt flats across Utah to Salt Lake City. Did I mention there was salt out there? 150 miles of nothing but road and salt. It made you thirsty just looking at it, cause there wasn’t anything else to look at....really.

Salt Lake City was a real nice town, what we saw of it. The first gas stop gave us the opportunity to chow on our to-go breakfast burrito from the Cafe. The trip through Utah was nice, and very scenic once you got off the salt. It was very neat to see. I would go back again.

We took the scenic route through the state to get to Price, Utah, then on to I-70 east. Those Wisconsin Boys were still following us! We figured they were wanted by the law in Cheeseville, so that’s why they didn’t want to go home. We were more than happy to cruise with them, even if they wanted to follow us to Florida.

We had our rolling big ‘n’ littles pointed east towards Grand Junction, Colorado. We busted off from the Wisconsin Boys about the time we hit Highway 50 towards Pueblo, as they opted for a more southern scenic route and we wanted to head more east. I’m not sure how much more scenic you could get than Highway 50. Holy moly, what a great ride - the best yet of the trip. Blue Mesa Lake, greenery, the Rockies, even a few snow spots in the higher elevations, and cruising beside the Arkansas River. A must see.

Note: I understand Harley-Davidson has Highway 50 listed as a cross country ride, which runs from Sacramento all the way to Washington DC. And I guarantee the best part is through Colorado.

We were close to Pueblo, but running out of light, so we stayed in Canyon City where we stopped for dinner at the White Water Bar & Grill, a plus when traveling through. It’s near the Royal Gorge. We didn’t stop to see the Gorge the next day, but something tells me we should have. By this time we were road weary and ready for home. We had seen more than our share of great sights throughout this great land and we at least had to save something for the next trip.

Pueblo was hosting the NSRA Rocky Mountain Nationals this weekend coming up. We drove through on Thursday, the day before the show started. We just couldn’t spend an extra day waiting, as we had a ton of miles to cover before we got home, so we just put the hammer down and motored. There were storms brewing all around us, but they never got us.

A quick trip into New Mexico, and then into the panhandle of Texas and we were on I-40 once again. The area we had come into on I-40 placed us a little further east and we missed our usual stop at Hooters in Amarillo. Dang it, man!

It’s funny how things work out. Instead we found the Red River Steakhouse in McLean, Texas just in time for dinner. Dirt lot, rustic, and the best meal of the trip! An all you can eat rib special and the world’s best cobbler was on the menu. Of course we ate too much, as we didn’t know when we’d find another rib special again!

In case you haven’t heard of McLean, Texas, it is the town on Route 66 that houses the very first Phillips 66 station built in Texas around 1920, and is restored just for us Route 66 fans. We stumbled on it by accident after searching the dried up town for gas. Stop n Go filled our tank, and on our way back to the highway we found it. One of those great stops we never would have found if not for fate....or the rib special, hmmmm.

We boogies towards OK City, again. We stayed on the outskirts of the city where our Garmin GPS placed us. A bit of a shady area for a screaming yellow hot rod, but it was comfortable. It was a cross country shootout between my road map and Carlos’ Garmin. I didn’t have much faith in her, especially past the Mississippi she was inconsistent. She kept yelling at us to turn around for no reason. My AAA Road Atlas always got me in the right direction.

We got up the next morning and found the car was still there. Another bonus. Next stop, Dallas and I-20. We went through downtown Dallas because we weren’t sure about the state of destruction in Gainesville, Texas, our original route going. We should have found another route. Dallas traffic was just as I remember. A nightmare, in June, in an open Tub.

We managed our way out of it on our way through Louisiana to Mississippi, where I thought we could get a room. Instead we found that the entire state had a softball tournament....everywhere we stopped. By this time we were weary to say the least, traveling through MS wasn’t fun at 10 o’clock at night with no signs of a place to stay. We finally weaseled our way into a high dollar Hattiesburg hotel by taking a “no shows” room. At $165 a night it was the most expensive of the trip. The only room available in the entire state of Mississippi. Remind me never to go that way again during softball season.

By this time we were already close to Mobile so our home was in sight. We knew we could do it in a day, but again the trip through Mobile to Tallahassee was brutal. By dinner time we made it to Hooters in our state’s capitol and we didn’t want to leave. The A/C and cold drinks were too much to pass up, so we stayed until sundown. The rest of the trip home was fine - a lot better after the blazing southern sun sets.

All in all we had a fantastic trip. We made it home safe. We were very fortunate the car did so well, with no problems (other than the construction barrel that blew into us while I was behind the wheel in Utah). And of course it was a blessing the weather held out for us.

We ended up covering 6,500+ miles, used $1,360 in gas at the 37 stops we made, and 2 quarts of SPF 36. The sun screen really didn’t do much good with the wind whackin’ ya. We were still dried up like a potato chip, and just as crispy.

I’d like to thank Carlos for everything, and the means to get to LA in his awesome Tub. We had so much space it was like driving a living room. I think he enjoyed the trip as much as me. I’d also like to thank all of the folks that we traveled with - it made it so much fun and they were a blast to share the road with.

Thanks for reading. Be road ready and rolling safe!   -Dennis Sammon