A couple of cool old muscle cars, some good tunes, and the empty countryside.
Does it get any more American?
For the first of my drives week stories, I tagged along with my dad and brother for a trip through the San Joaquin Valley from Fresno to Dos Palos. Our destination would be an old airstrip known as Eagle Field, where an informal drag event was being held.
The two chariots embarking on this journey would be my dad's '70 GTO and his '69 Hurst/Olds (442). I'd be riding shot with pops in the Olds, while my younger brother Scott would pilot the Goat.
The first stop was at a gas station just outside of Fresno, where we met up with a couple of my dad's friends who were also heading out to the drags.
The first leg of the trip was a couple miles on Highway 99, the lifeline of the Central Valley that stretches from Bakersfield to Sacramento and beyond.
Then it was off the highway and westbound onto a road known simply as Avenue 7.
The entire valley is full of these lonely two-lane roads that cut right through endless farms and vineyards.
It's the perfect habitat for a group of muscle cars really.
Occasionally you come up on an intersection with a gas station, a small store and not much else.
I dig the palm trees along the roadside here. Making sure you don't forget you're in California.
That's because for the most part, the Central Valley shares more the Midwest than it does with its LA and Bay Area neighbors.
About 20 or 30 minutes down the road, and we hit the town of Firebaugh.
The valley is full of small towns like this, where agriculture still dominates the economy. You known you're in an ag town when 90% of the vehicles in stock at local dealers are heavy duty pickup trucks.
I love seeing small towns like that still have that old school Americana feeling. Not a Starbucks to be found anywhere…
Out of the bustling metropolis and further west, with the hills of the Coast Ranges popping up on the horizon.
Finally, we arrive at Eagle Field to find this huge line of racers waiting to get into the place.
What a scene. The event was an awesome no-frills drag race show on an old airfield. More on that in another post though.
After a quick tech inspection, both of the cars were staged and ready for some action.
Seeing a dusty '70 GTO at the drags feels just like the scene in Two Lane Blacktop when the GTO and the '55 Chevy head to a drag strip in Tennessee.
It was a father vs. son battle as the two 455's lined up. Instead of taking the race seriously, my brother decided to roast one tire for most of the track. The crowd loved it, but I think somebody needs to upgrade to a posi rear end!
After the grudge match, the were a ton of cars waiting to race, so we decided to return the pits and watch the action from the sidelines.
The weather was perfect…except for the wind. Dust got all over the place, but it sort of added to the road movie vibe.
After a couple hours of enjoying the action, we jumped in the cars and headed back to Fresno. Surely Linhbergh would approve of these clouds!
A quick view out the back of the Olds as we cruise the open countryside.
Cubic inches on the roam.
Soon enough, it was back into the modern world, AKA the mean streets of Fresno.
After this. it was a short trip back home where the cars were put back into the garage until the next outing.
I think the point of all this is to say, the cars should be driven. What good is having a cool car if it just sits in the garage all day, these are vehicles, not decorations.
I've been riding in both the shotgun (and later the driver's seat) of cars like this for a long time, and the feeling never gets old.