The event itself may have had a new name borrowed from another historic driving event, but Tom's Fun Run ran like a well-oiled machine thanks to some careful planning, great tour leaders, and the great shops that hosted tours along its long and winding route. With five starting points across the country, Tom's Fun Run had one final destination: the Goodguys Hot Rod Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. The various legs of the cruise started out according to how long it would take to get to Columbus, meeting along the way and joining forces as the week of cruising progressed.
The Mooneyes tour, led by Chico, set out from California eight days before the event and was the first leg of TFR to get their motors running. They would eventually meet up with the Vintage Air tour in Texas and pick up TFR's unofficial tour leader, Rick Love, in his flamed '39 Ford coupe. Together the growing group motored across the country until meeting up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum with the Heidt's tour, led by Gary Heidt. The final group to join the growing procession of hot rods was the Fatman Fabrication tour, led by Brent Vandvort. The Borgeson tour made their own route and met everyone in Columbus.
Drivers and tour leaders got together each morning to discuss the day's route and any last-minute changes before hitting the road. Most people stayed together, but some ventured out on their own. Both methods were equally enjoyable.
All the careful planning paid off when the entire group rolled into Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday afternoon, exactly as scheduled, to enjoy the weekend at the Goodguys event. A huge thanks from the R&C staff goes out to our tour leaders: Mooneyes, Vintage Air, Heidt's Hot Rod Shop, Fatman Fabrication, and Borgeson. This event wouldn't be possible without the support of these companies and the people behind them.
Plans for next year's event are already being made to make the L.A. Roadster show in Pomona, California, the final destination. So far it looks like we'll have a tour coming out of Texas lead by Vintage Air, one out of Washington lead by Art Morrison Enterprises, and maybe one leaving from the Goodguys Indy event. Stay tuned for further details and Tom's Fun Run announcements.
Day 1 After months of anticipation, we gathered early at Mooneyes in Santa Fe Springs with a group of spirited drivers and copilots, and after a briefing by tour leader Chico, we set off out of L.A. and rolled toward Arizona. Chico braved the heat and open road in Dean Moon's original shop truck, which had only a couple hundred miles on the fresh 410ci FE under the hood. Some cooling issues turned up in the 110-plus-degree Arizona heat but were worked out along the way. Our first stop was to check out the Hall of Flame museum in Phoenix, where we saw many amazing examples of early firefighting apparatus, both horse-drawn and motorized. We finished up the day with a stop at SO-CAL of Arizona to see what they had cooking. First day down and already the benefits of air conditioning and a good cooling system have been deeply noted in the Arizona heat (yeah, but at least it's dry heat just like my oven-KL).
Day 2 The second day started with a visit to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson. Beyond hangers full of planes and memorabilia, there were unique and historic planes spread over 70 acres, including every kind of winged machine from early one-manned experimentals to fighters and even the heaviest bombers the military has ever put in service. After a great history lesson, we headed out to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a great Mexican dinner in its old town and a night's rest.
Day 3 The day began looking out across the white sands of New Mexico as we approached the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo. The full story of man's "race for space" all the way back to the 17th century is told inside this museum. Early unmanned missions to trips with dogs, monkeys, and eventually human flights are documented with artifacts and photographs. After a few hours there, the hot rods rumbled along without a problem into Big Springs, Texas. The charm of these cities that have not been forced to modernize themselves to death is a real treat. The small towns are home to lots of interesting buildings and even more interesting people.
Day 4 Our fourth day began crossing the big state of Texas for a visit to Painless Wiring. The mission of the day was for the Mooneyes tour to meet up with the Vintage Air tour out of San Antonio. After a trip through the Painless Wiring facility to see where the looms in so many hot rods are born, and being treated to some lunch, both tours headed out together as one, with Vintage Air's Rick Love leading the way toward McAlester, Oklahoma, for the night stop. After a few days on the road, we came to the conclusion that there's no shortage of '50s-era GM pickups. Seemed as if every farm and field housed at least one in various stages of decomposition.
Day 5 We woke up with dark skies and some heavy rain this morning (only really bad weather of the whole trip), but luckily it cleared after about a half hour on the road. We paid a visit to the USS Batfish WWII submarine and memorial, fittingly patriotic for the first stop on the Fourth of July. It's a shock to see a huge submarine sitting on a well-groomed grass field (it's the most land-locked sub on display), but inside this excellently preserved submarine you really get the feel for what it was like for so many Navy officers and crewmen to spend months in the ocean waters around the world. After a look around and some reflection, we were back in the cars pressing on until dinner, which was hosted by Wolfert's Tool & Machine in St. James, Missouri. Jack Chisenhall's reputation must have preceded him because, in addition to some chicken, they also had gallons of ice cream (Jack even left some for the rest of us). The local Lion's Club carnival was the last stop of the night for those on the tour who wanted to brave the funnel cake line and some Fourth of July fireworks.
Day 6 The day after our country's birthday continued on a patriotic theme with a trip to the St. Louis Gateway Arch. This historic piece of architecture is much more than a shiny piece of metal in the sky; it's a true symbol of American ingenuity and determination. A brief tour of the surrounding area, thanks to some unexpected closed off-ramps, provided a glimpse at some interesting old-although somewhat rundown-buildings. We acted like tourists and rode to the top of the arch like sardines crammed in a can for a bird's eye view of St. Louis. After we had our fill, we finished the day with a tour of Air Ride Technologies impressive facility and some of the best food of the trip. Thanks, Bret!
Day 7 We met up with the Heidt's leg at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. After lunch in the same caf racing legends have eaten in for decades, our rapidly growing group toured the Indy museum for an opportunity to soak up some of motorsports' greatest machines and accomplishments. So many advancements used in our daily transportation were developed in the racers that have roared around the "Brickyard."
Meanwhile, over on the Borgeson tour, we learned right away that Borgeson head honcho Gerry Zordan doesn't miss a chance for an adventure. So even though he was in the middle of moving his company to a newer, larger facility, he was eager to move a small but enthusiastic band of rodders from Torrington, Connecticut, to Columbus. It was only a couple hours into the trip, however, that all movement came to an abrupt halt. Billy O'Connell's '48 Merc, piloted by Gerry, ran over a piece of road debris just inside the Pennsylvania border, causing the radiator mount to bust up the bottom of the radiator. Luckily, a local rodder-Jim McNeil of the Orange City Roadsters-was located through the NSRA Fellow Pages and helped locate a shop where the Merc could be stored until it could be towed back to Torrington. Gerry caught a ride in Billy O's '32 roadster.
Day 8 Bright and early on the final day, the Mooneyes/Vintage Air/Heidt's tour headed over to the Brookville Roadster headquarters and met up with the Fatman Fabrications tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the pieces of many adult children's dreams are made. Careful planning by Brookville Roadster has never seen one of their great products go out of production in over 30 years of constant production and product development. After wishing for one of everything, we moved onto the U.S. Air Force's incredible Wright-Patterson Museum. We'd been to a lot of museums throughout the week, but this one definitely topped the list, not only for its colossal size, but also for the amazing artifacts inside. The final stop before we headed into Columbus was the Dayton Wire Wheel facility for a tour and some grub. As we were reminded throughout the week of tours, it was again obvious that great American products are still made by great American hands.
On the Borgeson leg, Summit Racing had coffee and donuts waiting when they got to their store in Tallmadge, Ohio. It's more like a center for car clubs and enthusiasts, with historic race cars on display, bulletin boards tacked with ads and event announcements, and aisle after aisle of products.