Big Bend National Park, Prada Marfa and Del Mar

Monday morning after the Goodguys Lone Star Shootout at the Texas Motor Speedway I hit the road headed to the Goodguys Duel in Del Mar show in Southern California.
From No Limit, Texas I meandered through Breckenridge and onto Albany where I found this old Magnolia gas station.

Then, right around the corner I came across this old Sinclair gas station.

I love the long-horn skull sculpture in the back ground.
I’ve got a thing for the old Phillips 66 “batwing” gas stations and I seek them out whenever I go on a trip. I found this one a few miles down the road in Albany.

From Albany I drove into Abilene and got onto Interstate 20 heading west.
My destination was the Petroleum Museum in Midland.

But not before I got this cool mid-century modern building.
It reminds me of one of those taco salad tortilla bowls – but it’s a building.
Then the Petroleum Museum.

The reason I wanted to go was to see Jim Hall’s race cars in person.
Jim Hall is a race car driver, engineer and as far as race cars go – he’s the father of Aerodynamics.
His private racetrack – Rattlesnake Raceway – is a few miles south of the museum.
I had contacted Keith the Curator at the museum and he was happy to give me a tour.
Here’s a few of the cars.
First – the Chaparral 2D.
It was built in 1966 for endurance racing.

The 2D finished only one race -it won the 1966 Nurburgring 1000 – a race many consider the most difficult endurance race in the world.
Next – the Chaparral 2E – the “Wing Car.”
This car is the birth of the wing on race cars.

The 2E was built for the Can-Am series and is the first car to carry a high wing.
The wing generated and applied downforce directly to the rear wheels of the car.
Hall used an “automatic” transmission so his left foot was free to operate a foot pedal to control the high wing.
When activated, the foot pedal held the wing in a flat low-drag position when accelerating on a high speed straight.
When cornering, Hall released the pedal which moved the front of the wing to a downward angle.
The angled wing provided added downforce in the corners and allowed Hall to drive right around his competition.
Everyone laughed at the car until it drove right around them on the track.
Then the 2J – The Fan Car or The Sucker Car.

The Sucker Car has two engines – a 454 cubic-inch Chevy engine for power and a snowmobile engine for the fans.
For the fans to create suction, the 2J sits only 3/8’s of an inch off the ground.
Get this – with just the snowmobile engine running the fans, the 2J was capable of running at 40mph!!
Amazing!!
Now here’s a piece of Chevrolet history – the GS 2B experimental Corvette given to Hall by GM for testing.

Just look at that thing – it’s straight out of Speed Racer!!
GM gave Hall the Corvette 2B with instructions to destroy the car after he tested it.
He didn’t.
He kept it and he kept alive an important part of GM’s history.
The Petroleum Museum was amazing!!
I’ve got to go back and check out the rest of it.
I left Midland and drove to Odessa to fuel up before I headed south.
Way south.
After fueling up my Pop called me and I sat in the parking lot talking for awhile.
When I pulled out onto the street I noticed the coolant temperature was at 190.
192-194-196-198-200-what the heck?!?
I pulled over, popped the hood and found that my electric fans weren’t on.
The same thing happened to me earlier this year in Canyonlands National Park.
I touched the fan relay and – woooooooooooooosh – the fans came back to life.
But…
I drove over to the closest O’Reilly’s and bought an extra relay just in case.
It’s always good to be prepared.
With the fans working we cruised as cool as a cucumber down into Fort Stockton and another old batwing gas station.

From Fort Stockton I hopped on 385 and drove south to Marathon.
On the way down I found this cute little rest stop.

Texas has the rest stops.
Then I was off to Marathon.
First stop – the Marathon Post Office.

Next stop – the Marathon Motel & RV Park.
For $15 I could park in the back and use their shower & WiFi for the night.
After showering I was walking back to my campsite when I heard: “Do you want to see the rings of Saturn?”
This guy had a massive telescope!
It was twice the size of me.
I looked into the viewfinder and there was Saturn and it’s rings.
Amazing!!
“You ain’t seen nothing yet.” He said and he swung the big telescope around.
“Check out the stripes on Jupiter.”
I looked thru the eyepiece and there was Jupiter as plain as day.
I could see the big red swirl and stripes on the surface.
“See all those little dots around it? Those are its moons.”
Unbelievable!!
I walked back to my campsite, opened a beer and sat out under the stars admiring the beauty of Texas at night.
That’s when – “The stars at night – are big and bright – deep in the heart of Texas.” – started running through my head.
I got up the next morning and continued down 385.
My goal was Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend National Park is one of the largest, most remote, and one of the least-visited national parks in the contiguous United States.
It’s been designated as an International Dark-Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Measurements made by the National Park Service show that Big Bend has the darkest skies in the contiguous United States.
That’s why I was able to see so many stars last night.
I drove thru Big Bend National Park and then turned off onto Farm Road 170 headed towards Terlingua.
From Terlingua we drove thru Lajitas and continued on FR 170 past the Contrabando Movie Set Site.

After driving FR 170, it has become one of my top 10 favorite roads.
It’s a low speed, twisty road with lots of turns, some steep grades and beautiful scenery.
I think it should be a Nationally designated Scenic Byway.
Remember when I said Texas has the coolest rest stops?
Check out this tee pee rest stop.

Three tee pees in Texas on the Rio Grande river.
Those hills you see in the background are Mexico.
Here’s a video of the tee-pee rest stop with the biggest centipede I’ve ever seen.
I followed FR 170 into Presidio and took highway 67 up into Marfa and the Chinati Foundation.

The Chinati Foundation is located on the site of former Fort D.A. Russell – a US Calvary fort that was active from 1911 to 1946. 
I wanted to see the Claes Oldenburg sculpture “Monument to the Last Horse” that is on the grounds.

The sculpture is a monument to “Louie” – the last calvary horse who was laid to rest there in 1932. 
Be sure to check it out the next time you’re in south-west Texas.
I got back on the road – Highway 90 – and headed towards Valentine.
On the way to Valentine – a few miles outside of Marfa – I came across this.

It’s a giant “Giant Marfa Mural.”
It’s got James Dean & Elizabeth Taylor and there’s even a speaker set up with music playing.
It’s very cool.
Past Valentine is a place that’s been on my road-trip list for years: Prada Marfa

It’s called Prada Marfa but it should be Prada Valentine because it’s much closer to Valentine than Marfa.
Prada Marfa is a permanent art installation that was installed there in 2005.
The windows are bullet-proof glass and the door doesn’t open.
Inside are shoes and purses from Prada’s fall collection from that year. 
Here’s a short video I did of Prada Marfa.
Back on the road I headed towards Van Horn and Interstate 10 west.
And wouldn’t you know it – I came across another tee pee rest stop.

Texas has the coolest rest stops in the US.
I got back on I-10 and I was making good time.
I blew thru El Paso and Las Cruces and then stopped for gas in Demming, NM.
About 20 miles outside of Demming I found this sweet little rest stop and holed up for the night.

I got up early the next morning and I got back on I-10 headed west.
My first stop was the Post Office in Wilcox.

Then I spotted this old, abandoned Chevrolet dealership.

This Chevrolet showroom has been here since at least 1956 when it housed the Valley Auto Company.
I think it would make a cool hot rod shop.
Across the street was this super cool, abandoned mid-century diner.

I love it.
From Wilcox to Benson and the Horseshoe Cafe.

Gotta love that neon!!
The boxy, mid-century Benson Post Office.

I couldn’t pass up the Quarter Horse Motel & RV Park.

I love that sign!!
And then on to Tucson.
I’ve seen plenty of the “regular” batwing gas stations, but it’s not too often I get to see the ever elusive, super rare, double batwing.

There’s not too many of them left.
Check out this old abandoned motel just off of the interstate.

Right next door to the abandoned motel is the the Spanish Trail.

From I-10 in Tucson, I got onto Interstate 8 heading west towards San Diego.
Earlier this year I was able to go to GM’s Milford Proving Grounds outside of Detroit.
Since I got Milford, I had to get Yuma.
Located on part of the US Army’s old proving grounds, GM’s Desert Proving Grounds is 20-ish miles north of Yuma, AZ.

There’s not much out there, but we made it.
From Yuma we boogied to Del Mar and the Goodguys Duel in Del Mar.
After Del Mar I drove up to LA and dropped off my old transmission so they could find out what is wrong with it.
Tuesday I went water-skiing with my buddy Joey at Marine Stadium before having some coldies & pickled eggs at Joe Jost’s.
Friday I had the pleasure of driving up to Lake Ming with my buddy Mike and his dad Frank Dade for the a drag boat reunion.
I’ve never seen so many bad-ass boats in one place before in my life.
Frank is a former drag-boat racer.
He’s the 1980 & 1981 Blown Fuel Hydro Hi-Points Champion and has been over 210mph on the water in the quarter-mile!!
Check out 91-year old Frank climbing into the boat and Mike lighting up the 540-inch, 4500 horsepower Keith Black Hemi here.
After the drag boat reunion I went to Las Vegas for the Digital Dealer Trade Show and then back to Colorado.
From Colorado to the Texas Motor Speedway, to Big Bend National Park, to Del Mar to LA to Vegas and back to Colorado I put over 4000 miles on The 55.
Now I’ve got to get it ready for SEMA in two-weeks.
Until then I hope to see you out on the open road.
I’m Jeff Thisted and I drive a 55.
#idrivea55


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