My family and I just returned from a two week long, 4800 mile Airstream-tugging road trip that took us across 13 states, and returning to the West Coast primarily on Route 66. The loose goal was to stop at every town or spot along the way that help inspire the movie ‘Cars’ in a significant way. We jumped on the ‘Mother Road’ around Lebanon, Mo. after visiting with some family there, and then tried to stick to the original road as much as possible, diverting onto Interstate 44 or 40 West only when required. Sure, I’ve criss-crossed the US on major highways many times, but pulling a 27 foot travel trailer along two lumpy lane roads with frequent stops for photos and souvenirs was a new one for me.
But do you know what we found? Really kind, fascinating people who love their communities, and fight daily to keep Route 66 vibrant and alive, even in the midst of a pandemic. I also found TONS of old cars scattered everywhere, without even going out of my way to find them
Context is everything, right? For modern traffic, Route 66 is a slow, constricted highway, especially when compared to the interstate highway system. For a 1929 Model A, Route 66 is just the right speed.
Just as time and technology ditched the horse for the horseless carriage, those forces eventually bypassed Route 66 for interstate highways. Communities built along the highway withered while the traffic flow was diverted sometimes hundreds of miles away to newly-built freeways. Priorities for infrastructure had changed and no longer supported aging mining towns and farming communities; instead, Eisenhower and his administration sought to funnel the masses and their goods between metropolises with military efficiency.
Among the forsaken, recession-plagued byways of America, Route 66 became a martyr. Its meandering pavement is synonymous with the mystique of the open road, drawing those who crave an unpredictable journey and delight in driving for driving’s sake. One such scenic traveler is Ryan Tebo, who has been rattling and rumbling across from coast to coast in his 1929 Ford Model A for the past two weeks.
National Park Service officials who have worked on the federal grant program dedicated to preserving what’s left of Route 66 say they will continue to support the program with limited services despite the fact that it came to an end last year. However, they warn that their efforts cannot continue indefinitely without any input from Congress.
“It’s really going to be a fiscal year by fiscal year kind of thing,” said Kaisa Barthuli, a program manager for the National Park Service who had helped administer the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. “Right now, we have some funding (under the umbrella of the National Historic Trails office) for this year, but we’re not sure about next year.”
The 10-year preservation program, which was approved in 1999 but not funded until 2001, promised matching grants for preservation projects focused on “the special places and stories of the historic highway,” according to the National Park Service’s website for the program. Congress reauthorized the program for another 10 years in 2009.
There’s a lot to glean from this half-hour film that the American Roadbuilders Association produced in 1957 to help smooth the road, so to say, for the coming Interstate Highway System. While the traffic scenes early on would make for good carspotting images and the explanation of how the interstates would be laid out–particularly the use of computers to help plan it all–was interesting, it’s what we now know about the highways that reveals the real obstacles the American Roadbuilders Association envisioned in the way of the interstate system’s construction and how it derived Americans’ consent to build the highways.
As pointed out in this Vox video exploring what made Route 66 America’s favorite road, the highway has essentially been defunct for twice as long as it was an active part of American transportation routes. So why, then, do we keep featuring stories related to the Mother Road?
Is Dan planning a Route 66 trip of his own? Is he being paid off by the Route 66 lobby? Is it just because Route 66 stories play well to this audience? Well, no, no, and partly.
Only a month remains before Chevrolet pulls back the curtain on its long-awaited mid-engine Corvette. It will mark the first time since the Corvette’s 1953 debut that it was anything but a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-seater, even if the mid-engine design has been in the workssince Zora Arkus-Duntov began testing the first layout of the design in the late-’50s. For everyone who cares about Corvettes, this is a big deal.
To celebrate the last of these glorious high-tech fossils, I set out on a journey across another of America’s bygone icons: historic Route 66. Behind the wheel of a 2019 Corvette Grand Sport, I motored from Chicago to L.A. on a road that doesn’t really exist anymore, in a car that almost doesn’t.
The Legend Lives Tour II will start off in Chicago on Saturday May 26th and arrive in Chino Hills on Thursday May 31st. It will be followed by attendance at the Friends of Steve McQueen Car Show at Boys Republic on June 2nd
When would you ever have the opportunity to run Route 66 with so many participating in a Bullitt movie tribute? — Hoondog Performance Group
To sweeten the pot, Ford is supplying two preproduction 2019 Mustang Bullitts that will participate in the tour and be put on display at the various stops along the route, which runs from May 25 to June 3, 2018. Those stops include meet ’n greet cookouts in Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as cruise-ins at car dealers in Missouri, Arizona, and Nevada. The tour wraps up at the Santa Monica Pier just ahead of the annual Steve McQueen show held on June 2.
Article from Teresa Mathew on Filmmaker and photographer Phil Donohue shooting scenes along the famed U.S. highway to explore what we long for and leave behind, very much reminds me of our trip on Route 66 a few years back, read the article here
If you are going to take the trip make sure you do your research in advance, plenty of great stuff out there but also some real dark stuff, it wasn’t all the way Nat described it!