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A Trip on Route 66

by Mike "Doc" Cobine
............................................................Procrastination Racing

Must See Items

These are a few of the many sites you should visit on your trip along Route 66. I didn't make it to them on this trip but I have visited most at one time or another. Many are not right on Route 66, since it was a major highway, and you will have to sidetrack a few blocks or so.

Corvettes and Route 66

Route 66 has been around longer than any Corvette, but the two have become one and the same, mainly due to a TV series in the early 1960s. Tod and Buzz drove their blue `61 Corvette ( a red Corvette filmed as black on black and white TV so blue was used) all over the country, having one adventure after another as they sought to discover themselves and what life was all about. Several years later, people doing about the same would be condemned for their disdain of the Establishment, due to their lifestyle as Hippies. But during the time of the series "Route 66", none of this was part of the American lifestyle.

Many years later, in 1993, four pilot episodes for a new Route 66 series were broadcast but the series was not continued. Many of the things so common in the original did not translate into the lifestyle of the `90s. Hitchhiking, strangers, getting involved in others business, odd jobs, and more are things that are avoided, where they were once accepted.

But many Corvette clubs have grown to accept Route 66 as "their road" and many feel that part of owning a Corvette is not complete without a trip on Route 66. Many Corvette clubs hold organized Route 66 tours each year, traveling part or all of its length.

Part of this no doubt was helped with the Corvette plant being not far from Route 66 in St. Louis and then THE Corvette Show to go to, the Bloomington Corvette Show (now Bloomington Gold) was located at the McLean County Fairgrounds a half block from Route 66 in Bloomington, Illinois. So for years, many miles of Corvettes could be seen "pilgrimaging" to Bloomington up Route 66 the last weekend of June. They then traveled to the Bloomington Gold show at Springfield right on the old Route 66 in the Illinois State Fairgrounds. The show ran there from 1993 to 1997.

Now Bloomington Gold has returned to Bloomington in 1998, but not to Route 66. It is located west of town on Hwy. 9 just off of I-55.

There is another Corvette Show on Route 66 now, called the Route 66 Corvette Show. This one is located at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. This show was started by some of the previous owners of Bloomington Gold.

My Trip

I had many trips on 66 but most were short, a couple hundred miles or less. In 1964 and 1971, I went to LA by car. In March, 1982, I picked up Route 66 in Tulsa on my return trip from Texas by motorcycle, but this was still only a small 400 mile segment. In July of 1991, I packed my bags and headed out on the old road for California. This was the result of an old dream, to head down Route 66 to California, alone with the open road. I have made several other trips on Route 66, family vacations, work trips, and so on before, but this was the natural end to watching Easy Rider so many years before.

At the time, there were not a lot of books out on Route 66, so I gathered up a collection of old maps, some dating to the '30s, and headed out to find the old road. I ended up with some mid '70s maps for the trip, since they showed Route 66 officially (it was still a highway then) and the new Interstates. Unfortunately, many sections had transferred to the new interstate but often the old highway is renumbered as a state highway and can be easily determined.

The downfall of this is the sections through towns, as most maps do not have the detail required and do not list Route 66 through the town. In these instances, I had to rely on a "sixth sense" to read the road, the neighborhood, and find the route on my own.

Fortunately, this was sharpened by practice in areas I had been before and knew the way, so that by careful observation of known old highway routes, I could pick out the unknown.

In the open country, there are many areas where this also came in handy as the old route would make turns and twists that are no longer marked or shown on the maps. Such is the area around Staunton, Illinois.

Historic Route 66 signs are up in several places now in Illinois and Missouri, making travel easier. Since the old route is being marked, some sections are actually being repaved! The signs are nice to see but many times they do not nearly mark the route well enough in the towns. Practice "reading" the road before you make a trip, if you want to follow each section of old pavement.

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