Motor Tour 2014 Recap - Through the Eyes of Participants

Here it is - the official recap for our 25th annual Motor Tour! Some participants were kind enough to share their memories and photos of this exciting event that took place June 13-15, 2014. Read on to experience your very own Motor Tour adventure through their words and images!

The Friedrich Family

By Josh Friedrich

On Friday, June 13, after I got off work, we piled into the van and made our way to Edwardsville for their Route 66 Festival and the kick off to the 25th Annual motor tour. I was looking forward to seeing all our 66 friends and making some new ones this weekend. The downtown was full of people, vendors, and sweet and savory smells. We picked up our tour packet from Cathie and Marty, said hello to John Weiss, and then made our way over to see two of our favorite authors. Joe Sonderman and Chery Eichar Jett just released their new Arcadia book, Route 66 In Illinois, and Joe released a new hardback, Postcards From Route 66. I picked up each and promptly had them personally autographed. Now it was time to find some dinner and we chose a food truck called Pickerill's Pick'n 'N' Grinn'n BBQ. We had a dirty, filthy dog, a dirty dog, and BBQ cheese fries. Everything was great!

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Dirty Filthy Dog, Edwardsville Rt 66 Festival, photo courtesy Josh Friedrich

After that we checked out all the different artisan booths and their interesting wares. We stopped at Dean Kennedy's booth to say hello and see his Route 66 Wine Corks and More. We picked up a trio of flowers made from Mountain Dew, Wild Cherry Pepsi, and Barq's Root Beer soda cans for some unique home decor. I also picked up some printing press blocks to spell "RT 66." We headed to the hotel to sleep for the night. It was a great way to kick off the tour and start the weekend.

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Crossing Chain of Rocks Bridge, photo courtesy Don Johnsen

Saturday morning brought us to one of my favorite places on 66, the Old Chain Of Rocks Bridge. We had the pleasure of crossing the bridge by vehicle, as opposed the the more current accepted mode either on foot or bicycle. I liked the giant birthday cake sculpture celebrating the 250th anniversary of St. Louis found on the Missouri side. We received a nice print of the bridge by Bob Waldmire as a gift from the association. There were a lot of cool vehicles to see, but one in particular caught everyone's attention. It was an orange truck that appeared to be upside down that went by the name of FLIPOVR. After we crossed the bridge I stopped off at the Luna Cafe to snap a Polaroid of the signage. We moseyed on over to Hamel at Route 66 Ridez to pick up a cool goodie bag in purple and black. After that it was onward to Staunton and Henry's Ra66it Ranch. Since we were graced with beautiful weather, Rich had most of the rabbits in their outdoor pens. The kids and adults alike were pleasantly greeted by these furry ambassadors of Route 66. We said hello to Rich, who barely had time to breathe when the Motor Tour participants descended upon his place. The kids made their way to the fiberglass bunny for a picture. It was funny to see all the looks the upside down truck got as we followed it North along America's Main Street.

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Charlie at Henry's Ra66it Ranch, photo courtesy Josh Friedrich

Next on the tour was Mount Olive to visit Soulsby's Station and the Mother Jones Memorial. Stopping at the memorial was a first for us and we noticed one of the original individuals involved in it being built may have been an ancestor of Wendy's. By now it was time for lunch so we scooted over to Litchfield and Stacey's Restaurant since we had not been there before. Prior to entering the town we were greeted and passed through a welcome archway. We enjoyed our time at the Litchfield museum and continued onward to the beautiful town square in Carlinville. With the gorgeous weather who could resist taking a stroll and photos of the wonderful buildings and gazebo? We walked by the original location of The Ariston. Everyone was at Doc's Soda Fountain for a tasty beverage or ice cream treat. It was fun to go in search of the turkey tracks as well.

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Welcome archway in Litchfield, IL, photo courtesy Elaine Stonich

We then headed to Auburn in search of the Scooby Doo Gang's Mystery Machine. We found it at the car show downtown. I think I thought it was cooler than the kids did. However, they were asking where Scooby was. Now it was onward to the unique red brick road in Chatham. We attempted to get a decent picture with a large stand up photo op scene at Becky's Barn, but none of us were looking up at the same time. We then perused the interesting items for sale. Now that we were back in our stomping grounds we dropped the kids off with the grandparents so they could go swimming, grill out for dinner, watch a movie and spend the night.

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Banquet surprise - Tropics neon sign! photo courtesy Cathie Stevanovich

To cap off our day on 66, we made our way to Lincoln and the Hall of Fame Banquet. Marty Blitstein had been telling me all day long that there was going to be a "BIG" surprise at the banquet. So when I went in I immediately asked him what the surprise was because the suspense was killing me. Of course, my luck was that it wasn't there when we arrived. We then stopped to chat with Chery Eichar and Joe Sonderman at their book table. I always love crossing paths with these two wonderful authors. We had the privilege to sit with the Fawns family: J R, Sharon, and Anna Mae whom were inducted last year for the service stations the family ran in Williamsville and Sherman. The people and food were great. I was pleasantly surprised with Henry Nelch & Sons of Springfield being inducted. I have always liked the vintage neon sign for the business on North 9th Street and learned something new about the business. We even won a gift basket during the drawing from the town of Lincoln which was a cherry on top of another great day on old 66.

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Anniversary cake at Hall of Fame dinner, photo courtesy Cathie Stevanovich

Sunday began a bit windy but overall good weather. We started out with a special open house of the New Lincoln Heritage Museum. We had been to the old Lincoln Heritage Museum before and the new one was an impressive upgrade. I see similarities to the original museum and also the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield. I highly recommend anyone interested in Honest Abe or history to visit this wonderful museum. After filling our heads with knowledge we were now ready to visit Funks Grove for a tasty sweet treat of ice cream and sirup for our bellies. The kids always enjoy a visit to Funks Grove and today was not an exception. Upon leaving we took the old alignment through the Maple Grove, it is such a picturesque place.

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Lincoln statue at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, photo courtesy Tony Melone

We drove onward to Towanda to drool over Joe's Garage and its amazing contents housed in a former Masonic Hall. We decided to have lunch at the Chenoa Family Restaurant. The food was good and the place was very busy since it was Father's day. The kids enjoyed a plate of Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes. The next town on the agenda was Pontiac and its many museums. First up was the Hall of Fame and the gift shop so Wendy could pick up charm for her bracelet. We then went over to the Creative Nook for an ice cream sundae.The kids were getting tired and we stopped briefly at the Odell Station before making our way to Wilmington and the Milltown Mall. I saw an air conditioner unit for the mall that was manufactured by Friedrich, our surname. The cake looked good and tasted good too. We then made our way through the antique booths and picked up a vintage Polaroid pack film camera and Trivial Pursuit game. The kids got a toy and stuffed animal for themselves. Now we headed over to the gazebo for our goody bag and started our journey home. It was a family fun-filled motor tour and I hope to see you on the road again.

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Route 66 mural, Pontiac, IL, photo courtesy Don Johnsen

Marcia and Bruce Gascho

By Marcia Gascho

Bruce and I had visited Illinois Route 66 many times but we had never done a Motor Tour before. When I found out that this was the 25th anniversary, and we could drive across the Chain of Rocks Bridge, I was excited to sign up!

Bruce had a commitment on Friday so we couldn’t leave until that afternoon. We arrived in Edwardsville that evening. We found the Mother Road Fest in the City Park and the Motor Tour Booth was still open.

The next morning we got up bright and early to meet the group on the Missouri side of the Chain of Rocks Bridge. It was cool to see the classic and unusual cars that people were driving. We had walked on the bridge a couple of times in the past but it was really cool to drive across it. It was a slow procession that gave us ample time to enjoy the scenery and take photos along the way. We followed a yellow car off the bridge and soon realized they were lost and so were we! After some backtracking, we were able to get back on the tour route again.

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Marcia at Doc's, photo courtesy Marcia Gascho

Later, we saw the same yellow car and vowed not to follow it again! We had never driven on the other alignment of Route 66 before. Carlinville’s Million Dollar Courthouse and Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard were really neat places. We found out the Blue Carpet Corridor will visit those places next year and we plan to check it out. That evening we enjoyed the Hall of Fame banquet. There were some interesting people at our table, including a new Hall of Fame inductee.

We didn’t have time to make many stops on the tour the next day, but we had to go to Funks Grove. It was great to see the Funk family serving ice cream with maple sirup. It was so tasty that we have continued the tradition at home all summer. We also walked around on some paths at the beautiful Sugar Grove Nature Center. After eating lunch at the Polk-a-Dot in Braidwood, we headed home.

It was fun to see some old and new places on the Motor Tour. It’s great to hang out with a group of people who really appreciate The Mother Road.

The Kowaczek Family

By Jenny Kowaczek

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Dilana directing traffic, photo courtesy Jenny & Tom Kowaczek

Our daughter, Dilana (5), loved the Turkey Tracks and directing traffic right to them. My husband Tom and I were married at the Odell gas station in 2008. This year he got the tattoo.

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Tom & his tattoo at Odell Station, photo courtesy Jenny & Tom Kowaczek

The Melones

By Tony Melone

My wife Kathy and I were on the 2014 Motor Tour this year and had a GREAT time. Since our ’55 Buick has been on the cover on the Illinois Rt 66 Tourism guide, we had A LOT of attention everywhere that we stopped on the tour. All of the shop owners came out and took a picture of “the car that's on the magazine" as well as a lot of the people that were on the tour. At the Soulsby's Shell Station, I had a line of 6 people that were waiting for me to sign a copy of their magazine, including Nelson, the caretaker of the station.

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Ethyl at Soulsby's Station, photo courtesy Tony Melone

We really enjoyed visiting every place along the way and can't wait until next years' tour. I have many more pictures that I keep in the car to show people that there still is some life on Illinois Route 66, and getting better as more people come to appreciate this living museum.

Joe Razumich

Saturday, June 14 - There were about a hundred cars assembled at the bridge. Most were modern vehicles, but there were a few gems mixed in. Several convertibles, mostly represented by Mustangs, a 1946 Plymouth, and a 1961 Buick were standouts. This one guy had a home built truck that looked like it was upside down. But the "Best of Show" was an absolutely immaculate 1955 Buick Super sedan. The tour started pretty much on time, with all of us driving across the Chain of Rocks bridge, which was closed to regular traffic some time in the 1960s.

Everyone in the tour gets this "Passport" book. It has names and directions to various small town locations or merchants that have joined The Association. We stop at these various places, whenever we get there, shop around, and get a stamp. Then we head down the road to the next place in the next town. The idea is to bring commerce to the small towns along the various routings of The Road who lost most of their business when Route 66 was decomissioned. Thus, some of the seemingly obvious locations to visit in the big cities were not mentioned. These folks all like the old small town USA feeling, and that's just fine with me. All these years I have been doing this sort of thing and I thought I was the only one.

The day's driving ended in Lincoln, which is a fair sized town between Springfield and Bloomington. The weather was absolutely perfect. Bright sunshine and between 72-75 degrees all the way up till 4:30. You could not ask for a better convertible day. There was a nice banquet in the evening. Everyone was friendly. Just a bunch of folks who like to go for a drive in the country.

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Hall of Fame Banquet, photo courtesy Cathie Stevanovich

Sunday, June 15 - Today was another day in paradise. It was a bit more humid, and it was supposed to rain, but it never did. So I spent the day meandering northward up the old highway, running in to the same folks at each town stop, getting my passport stamps, and spending a little money at each stop. I got acquainted with a few of the other club members. We took pictures for each other and just enjoyed the day. The rest of the drive was pure splendor. I didn’t even get lost in Bloomington; that was a first!

Joining this Illinois Route 66 Association club was an excellent idea. I’ll look forward to doing this again next year.

Rick Sullivan

By Dave Sullivan

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Rick Sullivan's upside down truck crossing the Chain of Rocks Bridge, photo courtesy Dave Sullivan

Rick Sullivan drove his truck across the Chair of Rocks bridge this year on its first trip outside of Clinton, Illinois where he built the machine over the past five months. With him in the truck is Mary Jo Sullivan his sister-in-law.

Click on this slideshow for many more Motor Tour photos generously contributed by participants!

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