Roadway>>just Color Me Gone Baby

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.

-Mike Garrett

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25 comments

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2

Wow, your family has some wicked cars mike!!



what a great drag meet!

3

When I saw the GTO and the open highway I was instantly drawn to memories of watching Two Lane Blacktop for the first time.



Enjoyable write up!

4

Cool man! Central Valley ftw! I grew up near Bakersfield. I love those open orange grove roads. :)

5

two lane blacktop in tennessee!!!!

6

I know that orange Camaro...I think its rocking a 454...

7

Outstanding feature that has captured the highway ambience of Central California to perfection. Reminds me of my time in college in CA. Thanks for posting.

8

Like from some old film:D

9

Minus a bad ass '55 Chevy, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, these pics totally reminded me of Two Lane Blacktop.

10

lol when i saw the clouds i was thinking of linhbergh

11

awesome post

12

Thats great! Muscle cars being driven the way they should! Not being kept in a garage all their life to never see the light of day!



great pics too Mike! Would love some desktops ;)

13

Great story Michael

14

thaat right there is the pinicale of motoring!

15

that orange camaro is just too intense

16

I really enjoyed this story, it was almost like you guys drove back in time, to a dusty dragstrip, and then back to reality afterwards.



and props for driving a classic to the drags taking it down the track and driving home....... sure beats an 8 second trailer queen any day of the week. This is what true motorsports is all about........

17

So sweet. Your dad has some awesome cars Mike!

18

Nice cars Mike and belive me i do appreciate them, but the GTO is just so ugly, and what were GM thinking by putting a 455 chev in it with an open-diff?!

19

Great feature for Father's Day, Mike. Going to share w/my muscle car buds. My dad's family is/was from San Francisco and we traveled California's 'Route 66' (only we turned it upside down and it was '99') for many years. When dad went to work @ his friend's dealership in San Jose (Carl Chevrolet) and they moved there, I would go up many weekends for mom's cooking after my last class at Cal State Long Beach on Fridays. But by this time I-5 was completed and my second-hand 455 c.i. Buick Riviera got me there in 5 hrs. w/o beating me up.

20

I agree with what you say about driving the cars you own, My friend has a '78 Trans Am with a 400. It's his daily driver int he summer, he put over 20 thousand kms on it last year.

21

Now this is a great post! Awesome!

22

What a great adventure and a cool story. Thanks for sharing!

23

The Judge can be bought!

24

Enjoy the story very much, bold classic, amazing trip

25

Ahh man. I miss those days at Famoso. That was back when I lived in Hanford and use to drive to Delano all the time. Great story Mike!!!!! I know most of those roads too.

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