East Coast Tour: Following the Sun on America's Back Roads

Americruise is back. The road trip Rod & Custom invented in 1993 had a phenomenal return this past summer after a year away. The fun started with one group of hot rodders leaving from the West Coast and another group leaving from the East Coast, both bound for Lincoln, Nebraska, right in the middle.

I decided to indulge my Eastern roots by cruising with the East Coast Tour, led and sponsored by Air Ride Technologies (thanks, Peggy!). Brent Van Dervort at Fatman Fabrications filled us with barbecue on the night before our departure. In the five days that followed, we covered more than 1,300 miles through eight states, with approximately 30 high-mileage, hard-driven hot rods and customs.

We avoided the interstate highways as much as possible. By keeping to the ambling, two-lane state routes, we managed to enjoy the ride-and see a lot more America-along the way.

We took our time, stopping at Air Ride Technologies in Jasper, Indiana; Jerry Bickel Race Cars in Moscow Mills, Missouri; Linville Caverns in Marion, North Carolina; the Pony Express Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri; and at rural gas stations, small-town restaurants, cruising spots, and (a few times) auto parts stores all across the Eastern half of the United States. We made friends with people we'd never met before, traveled to places we'd never been, and saw things we'd never seen. And you know what it felt like? Being home.

We're doing it again next year. Keep checking the magazine and the Web site for info on Americruise 2007-and sign up to be part of the fun.