HomeCar CultureRoute 66 Motor Tour begins

Route 66 Motor Tour begins


Photos by Larry Nutson

The inaugural Route 66 Motor Tour is on the road. On October 9, under slightly hazy skies and mid-50 temperatures, approximately 25 vehicles departed Joliet, Illinois on their trek south and west.

Following the Illinois Historic Route 66 signs along with the aid of a map and route instructions handed out at the morning driver’s meeting, the first overnight stop was Litchfield, Illinois. That’s about a 240-mile drive that the “Route 66-ers” have all day to complete.

Along the way they’ll pass the Blues Brothers car, Gemini Giant in Wilmington, the Polk A Dot Drive In, as well as a very historic Texaco gas station. The Pontiac-Oakland Museum is a must stop as well as the Cozy Dog Drive-in in Springfield, home of the corn dog.

Craig Parrish provides updates at morning drivers' meeting | Larry Nutson
Craig Parrish provides updates at morning drivers’ meeting | Larry Nutson

Event organizer Craig Parrish says that about 80 cars have preregistered, of which 40 or so plan to drive the entire route. Many cars will join along the route; the total number is an unknown. Leaving Joliet were cars from Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Florida.

Steve Wild of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and his mother Ruthann are driving Ruthann’s 1961 Chevy Impala that she bought new. Steve and his mom were looking forward to the drive in their “survivor” with an expression of hope that they encounter no car troubles.

Brothers Tom and Wally Bailey of Lansing, Michigan, are driving their 1953 International Harvester Travelall that’s powered by a 403-cubic-inch Oldsmobile engine. Jan Miller of Ovid, Michigan, is driving her customized peach colored ’47 Olds convertible. Jan’s husband passed away four years ago and she is now doing the driving, as he would want her to, she said.

Two sisters, Pearl Cooper of Orland Park, Illinois, and Bonnie Stump from Florida are Thunderbird collectors. Bonnie has a ’56, ’62 and a ’65. Pearl has a ’56 and they are driving her turquoise green ’02. She recently sold her ’65. Pearl’s T-bird love started with her now -eceased husband. Bonnie says she has a following of about 100 folks that she will be e-mailing a daily travel log.

Jerry Mattson and his wife are driving their tribute dirt track racer. It’s a ’39 Plymouth body mounted on a ’56 Chevy pickup chassis and powered by a 350 Chevy small block. The car has no heater, no A/C and Jerry just put in a blower to help defog the windshield instead of his wife wiping it with a towel.

John Weiss is the director Of preservation for the Illinois Route 66 Association and the author of a three books on the Illinois section of the “mother road.” He is along for the trip and will be providing lots of insight and history on the world famous Route 66.

Day one was planned to end with a visit to the Sky View Drive-In for a two hour cruise and then viewing “American Graffiti” on the big screen.


Larry Nutson
Larry Nutson
Larry Nutson is an auto industry veteran, a mechanical engineer by education and an automobile enthusiast at heart. His diverse automotive career includes a youthful stint in semi-pro drag racing, twenty-five years working for Volkswagen of America, three years of Chevrolet strategy planning at Campbell-Ewald Advertising, and a position as founding member of the Detroit-based Individual Communicators Network (ICN). He is a past chairperson of the SAE International Public Affairs Committee, has provided public relations services for SAE Congress and Formula SAE and was a consultant and sponsorship representative for the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit. Larry is the Chicago Bureau Chief for The Auto Channel and resides in Chicago.
  1. Love that peach colored olds.The only cars my grandpa drove were Olds.The first car I drove was his 56 olds with a later 455 rocket.

  2. We will hook up with the group in Williams, Arizona Thursday and continue to California. We are Looking forward to the drive.

  3. I’m following you by blog, but I would love to contact Larry or someone when you come thru Albuquerque, down Route 66 on Central Avenue downtown. This could be an annual stopping place and we could include our own annual NEON CRUISE, so get back to me please….

    Garry Wolf [email protected], or mobile phone #505-263-3625

  4. I’m from Chicago and I’ve been a car nut since I was a kid. Hopefully I should have my ’69 Ford woody wagon and custom matching trailer done by next year’s event. Hot rods are made to be driven, not just looked at. Me and the wife would love to cruise along for the first few hundred miles with you at the very least. Though being from Chicago, we will start at the very beginning. FYI, Rt. 66 actually starts in downtown Chicago at the lakefront on Lake Shore Dr. and Jackson Blvd. but Joliet is a car town, especially now with the Rt. 66 racetrack being built about 10 years ago so most hot rodders think it actually starts there. Old Rt. 66 actually runs down Ogden Av (Rt. 34). thru Chicago, Cicero, Brookfield, Lyons and Countryside, IL. and a brief run along Joliet Rd. before you actually get to Joliet. .

    • Mr Craig Parrish, the event director knows exactly where Route 66 starts, but stated he did not want the tour participants to get into all the downtown Chicago traffic at the very start of the tour. He chose Joliet as a very close starting point and this would eliminate the downtown Chicago traffic situation without ruining the tour. Respectfully Ray Riley

      • Well Ray, Respectfully, You need to lay off the Java, LOL !!! Relax !!! Sorry, if I offended you in some odd way. That wasn’t my intention. I wasn’t insulting anyone’s intelligence I don’t think it would ruin the tour either, At least not for me and that’s where I will start out at with a few photos of my ride with Lake Michigan as the background.. I’m sure Craig knows where it starts too. I was just stating a fact and mentioning it to anyone else who might want to start at the very beginning in Chicago that Rt. 66 actually starts at the lakefront and not in Joliet like most people think. There’s only a few blocks of it thru downtown Chicago then you’re cruisin’ in the burbs going straight down Ogden Av. with no challenging turns or leaps and bounds. Still being a free country, (at least for the time being) Anyone can start or stop the trip anywhere they want along the route whether in Chicago, Joliet, Santa Monica or anywhere in between. Being from the southside of Chicago I guess I’m used to the downtown type traffic and like most Chicagoans it doesn’t bother me a bit to drive my car down there either. It’s a piece of cake. I’ve even driven a 53′ semi-truck downtown on many occasions with no traffic problems.. I’ve also driven thru downtown Joliet many times too and it can be just as challenging with all their turns along Rt. 30 and one-way streets and multiple bridges and stoplights. The Chicago lakefront is very picturesque and an excellent background for starting out photos of the trip. But hey, to each his own. I’ve driven to California before and I’m sure Santa Monica traffic might be just as bad if not worse for someone who doesn’t live there and isn’t used to California driving. The Santa Monica 05 freeway reminded me of the Indy 500 last time I was there… Kenny..

Recent Posts