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Cow Bop gets its kicks August 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.
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The western swing and jazz collective Cow Bop recently completed another edition of its Route 66 music tour, this one called the Linear Music Festival.

You can follow what they did here with blog posts, audio and a lot of other goodies. But here’s a performance of Bobby Troup’s “Route 66″ at Cars on the Route in Galena, Kansas.

And, for good measure, here’s a performance of “Route 66″ spliced together of people they met along the Mother Road during the tour.

A video from Project LiveWire’s Route 66 tour August 13, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motorcycles, Road trips.
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A few weeks ago, Harley-Davidson motorcycles took a Route 66 tour to introduce riders to its Project LiveWire prototype electric motorcycle.

Alex Chacon of Modern Motorcycle Diaries produced this video about the electric bike and the tour. You’ll see a few Route 66 landmarks in Arizona and California, including plenty of motorcycle geekery.

(Image courtesy of Harley Davidson)

“The Mother Road” August 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.
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Country-music singer Jess McEntire, who’s spent the last few years using his music to promote Route 66, apparently has produced a new video for one of his songs, “The Mother Road.”

McEntire will be at the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona, on Aug. 14-16. Later this year, he’s also selling raffle tickets for a giveaway for  a custom Route 66 guitar autographed by Loretta Lynn.

Sales of his Route 66-themed double album, “Man on a Mission,” go to Project Route 66, which aims to promote the road by erecting billboards.

A message from our sponsor … August 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Motorcycles, Movies, Road trips.
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A few years ago, Julian Audic of France took a Route 66 trip to produce a documentary for French television.

His efforts to get the film broadcast are ongoing. If television doesn’t work out, Audic says he’ll make the documentary available via video-on-demand on the Internet.

In the meantime, Audic was able to use a bit of the footage for a commercial for a travel agency, All Ways on Wheels. Audic also received help from Nicolas Grendena with visual effects, plus a drone — which are becoming increasingly common in such usage — for aerial footage.

ALL WAYS ON WHEELS from Julian Audic on Vimeo.

Disclosure: I was interviewed by Audic for his documentary. It didn’t make the cut for the commercial.

The coming Chinese invasion (continued) July 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television, Vehicles.
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Noting demographic and economic trends, I predicted in 2011 that Route 66 would see a growing influx of Chinese tourists.

Here’s the latest sign. This week, the Shanghai General Motors Tour of Route 66 began in Amarillo and will continue to Santa Monica. The tour, organized by Open Road Productions of Brighton, Michigan, features Chinese Cadillac owners and dealers driving Cadillac SRXs or Escalades. Simultaneously, another group of Chinese tourists is traveling east from Santa Monica to Amarillo.

From the news release by Rick Thomas at Open Road:

“We provide participants a chance to see how Americans traveled during the heyday of Route 66, the 1950s, but from the perspective of today,” Thomas added.

The Chinese economy has been booming for many years, and there is a growing number of young, wealthy citizens with large amounts of discretionary income. “More than 30,000 Cadillacs were sold in China in 2013, and many of these new owners crave the chance to explore like we do in the US,” Thomas said. [...]

General Motors recently invested US$1.3 billion in a new manufacturing plant in China, and has committed considerable resources toward promoting the brand. Its current ad campaign centers on Route 66 and is called Operation Freedom. “This tour complements Cadillac’s campaign wonderfully. Being able to experience Route 66 in a Cadillac is the pinnacle of their car owning experience,” Thomas reported.

Thomas isn’t exaggerating about the Route 66 influence on Chinese Cadillac owners. A number of videos hawking Cadillacs to the Chinese market are floating around on YouTube, including this one.

Also, I’ve been told by several sources on the road that Chinese television channel ICN now is shooting a documentary or reality show on Route 66. The show was announced in February. Here’s a teaser video from the network, requesting “partners” for the production:

It’s predicted the number of Chinese tourists in the U.S. will reach 100 million a year by 2020. These campaigns probably make Route 66 a big beneficiary of those numbers.

UPDATE: The Amarillo Globe-News this week had a few more details about the ICN television project, including the fact a live episode will be filmed Thursday at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo.

(Hat tip: Nick Gerlich; image of Chinese tourists at Roy’s in Amboy, California, in 2011 by jstdadd via Flickr)

‘Top Gear’ begins Route 66 trip this week July 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Publications, Road trips, Television, Vehicles.
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“Top Gear,” the popular British television series about driving cars, began a 2,400-mile road trip this week on Route 66 in a Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse — a convertible version of what is considered the fastest sports car in history.

From the first day of the show’s Route 66 diary:

You want numbers? 1200bhp of quad-turbo, W16 engine, over 1100 torques, four-wheel drive and a top speed of 260mph. Enough, it’s safe to say, to keep up with American traffic. Oh, and an asking price somewhere north of two million quid, which makes dicing with traffic in Chicago’s rush hour something of a puckering experience.

No one has ever done anything like this with a Veyron before. And they won’t again. With Veyron production ending next year before Bugatti opens a new chapter in its Going Faster history, this is it: the last, the ultimate Veyron road trip.

Which is why it had to be Route 66, the Illinois-to-California highway John Steinbeck christened ‘The Mother Road’.

The crew apparently went from Chicago to St. Louis on the first day, although details about that leg are scant, save for a few photos.

During Day Two, the crew took the Bugatti from St. Louis to Oklahoma City.

I don’t care how fast the car is — 500 miles on an old road makes for a long day.

In the coming days, “Top Gear” says it will reveal the publication date of the sale of its “Adventures” issue of its magazine that will feature Route 66. In the meantime, it will post new roadtrip photos daily on its website.

UPDATE 7/16/2014: Top Gear magazine, featuring an article about the Route 66 trip, is on sale worldwide today. The promotional story about the issue notes the Bugatti required 840 gallons of fuel. That’s less than three miles per gallon. Oy.

(Screen shot of “Top Gear’s” Bugatti at the 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri)

You’ll flip over this custom pickup truck July 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Vehicles.
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A few weeks ago, I noticed a very odd sight in a YouTube video shot during the recent Illinois Route 66 Motor Tour. Alas, the video contained no information, and I’ve been unable to track down that clip again.

However, this popped up on YouTube in recent days. You’ll just have to see it:

The truck has gained attention all over central Illinois and the Internet worldwide. This week, the Bloomington Pantagraph tracked down its owner — it’s Rick Sullivan, who owns Kathy’s Collision in Clinton, Illinois.

Sullivan told the newspaper he got the idea after receiving a call to transport a Ford Ranger pickup that had overturned.

In its simplest form, “this one” is a 1991 Ford Ranger pickup truck with a 1995 F-150 pickup truck body placed over the top — upside down — complete with spinning tires. At first glance, it looks like a red and white Ford pickup on its roof.

“I’ve seen it a couple of times now, and saw a picture of it online,” said Clinton resident Tim Hudson. “But I never get tired of staring at it. It feels like your brain is trying to play tricks on you.”

Sullivan said it took about six months and help from two employees to put it together. And, yes, it’s street-legal.

News of the truck went viral after its appearance at the Route 66 motor tour:

Three days later, someone called him.

“They said I needed to Google ‘upside down Ford F-150 pickup truck,’ ” he said. “I did and found that an Australian newspaper ran an article featuring a picture and information about the truck through some Australian tourists that had seen it.”

It didn’t take long for the truck to become a hit on social media; it’s received more than 111,000 “likes” on the Facebook page of Stacey David, the host of the TV series, GearZ on MavTV.

Naturally, the truck gets all sorts of attention wherever it goes, and wins trophies at car shows, to boot.

It’s not Sullivan’s first crazy custom job. He also built a large, driveable Radio Flyer wagon.

Sullivan says he has another project he’s working on, but is keeping it a secret for now.

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