Sep 19

Planes, Trains and Street Rods!

street RodFirst the Street Rods! Car Aficionados don’t need any explanation … but for those of you who are not “into” cars, here’s a definition: an automobile specially built or altered for fast acceleration and increased speed.

According to Wikipedia Hot_Rod “The term seems first to have appeared in the late 1930s in southern California where people would race their modified cars on the vast, empty dry lake beds northeast of Los Angeles …”

According to Bill Parke: Street machines were at their height in the mid 60’s to mid 70’s on Woodward Avenue in Northwest Detroit. Since there were no dry lake beds in the area, he and his car buddies used white paint on the little used streets to mark off a quarter mile. They would go to a drive-in restaurant with exhaust pipes open, call out the hottest looking car to race on the marked out street.

According to one of Bill’s friends, Fast Eddie, whose Plymouth was named “Runaway”, this was called “Two by Two and the Loser sits out”! Flagmen were positioned to monitor the race and alert the presence of cops!

chrysler logo

Other friends, John and Hank, also Chrysler product fans, competed in the events. Those were the days, my friend!

We reserved a site at “Grandma’s Campground” about 16 miles south of the Convention Center where the event was being held. Most campgrounds want your credit card information before you arrive and have penalties for any changes you make. But Grandma (or maybe it was Grandpa who answered the phone!) didn’t seem to mind at all. We delayed a day and when we arrived we found a family member sitting in a rocking chair on the office porch! He told us to find a spot and come back and pay him!The Street Rod Nationals held in Louisville attracted around 12,000 – 15,000 cars and we had to be there!

DonkeyThe campground filled up quickly after we arrived and they were, for the most part, large, fancy 5th Wheels and Motorhomes, making us look like a midget tucked in between them! The majority of the people were here for the Car show, as Vendors or showing their cars.

Our new friend in Franklin had told us we should get to the Convention Center early in the morning and set up chairs on the side of the road to see the street rods arriving in the only entrance to the Show. When the flow of cars subsided we should go inside (Senior Citizen rate $12 each) take a trolley ride around the extensive grounds and then explore on foot. We decided to drive to the Convention Center after we set up in the campground in order to figure out how to get there, check on parking, etc. It was good that we did this. We found an excellent parking lot close to the entrance and learned they opened at 8:00am.

Taking pictures of Hot RodsThe next day we were there at 8:00am, parked in our chosen lot, walked across the road, set up our chairs and there we stayed – with several other people – for over 2 hours until the stream of cars subsided.

Click here to see

Street Rod Video

Bill could hardly contain himself! Almost every car that drove in merited an “Oh – look at that!” or “What a beauty!”… it was either the make, the year, the color, the sound, the engine! He absorbed it all and kept saying he’d never seen anything like this in his life before! In fact, at times he became quite emotional … tears in his eyes. Only a car nut would understand. He took videos, stills and at times just stood there (with his mouth open) and took it all in! His heart was beating fast and the adrenal flowing as he remembered the days when he and his friends tuned up their cars and raced Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

From Priscilla’s perspective, it was an amazing sight – beautiful works of art, lovingly restored to bring back memories of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Every shape and size imaginable. And the noise … you just had to experience it!Street Rod on Display

About 10:30am most of the cars had arrived and were parked inside the gates. We walked the grounds, the swap meet and the Vendor area; had lunch in the air-conditioned Convention Center, walked some more until, around 3:30pm we realized we needed to go back to the campground and try to absorb the scene that we had witnessed. Words cannot describe the cars that we saw, nor the love, time, effort and money that the owners had lavished on their prize possessions. You have to be a “car nut” to appreciate it all! We hope the photos will do it justice.

ups PlaneNow for the planes! Our campground was situated a few miles south of the Louisville Airport. At around 4.00am Priscilla (who doesn’t sleep well most nights) heard planes taking off. Turns out, Louisville is a UPS Hub and the sound she heard was UPS planes bringing packages to our doors! What we take for granted!! It was interesting – and saddening – to see in the press a short while later, that a UPS plane had crashed in Florida, resulting in the death of the crew. That plane probably lifted off from Louisville Airport. From this crash so many people’s lives are changed forever and we send them our love and prayers.

thomas Thomas the Tank TrainOh … and the Trains! Well, they were just a background noise in the night … nothing to keep you awake but we found it soothing and it reminded us of the times we’ve traveled on trains across America on The American Orient Express, and the high speed trains of Europe. Our plan was for Bill to return to the event the next day on his own but he got a little side-tracked by a huge … and we mean HUGE … flea market just a few yards from the campground. We started out going for a walk and that was a BIG mistake! Bill spent the entire morning browsing the outdoor and indoor vendor stalls. Of course he returned with several “must have” items … along with stories about the people he spoke with and the other items he would have liked to buy, had we not been traveling in an RV Trailer!

Flea Market

Back at the campground in the afternoon, he was soon ensconced in a chair under a nearby awning, beer in hand, learning about the lives and travels of our neighbors! That’s what RVing is all about!

Next morning it was on to our next Auto destination … Indianapolis, just a few hours up the road.


Photos:  http://goo.gl/cjZ3M1


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