American Graffiti, Vanishing Point, The Loneliest Highway in America & Sonoma Raceway

I left Colorado and headed west on Interstate 70 to Sonoma Raceway.
And, as usual, I stopped in Green River, UT for fuel and Ray’s Tavern for a burger.
It amazes me that they always remember me at Ray’s whenever I walk in.
I love that place.
Instead of bombing down the Interstate I wanted to drive somewhere different this road-trip.
So I took exit 56 off of I-70 and drove into Salina.
From Salina I got on Highway 50 west towards the town of Scipio where I found this awesome little garage.

I remembered that Highway 50 was called the “America’s Loneliest Road” years ago in a magazine article and I wanted to see it for myself.
From Scipio I got onto I-15 and headed south for a few miles before I took exit 178 and got back onto highway 50.
Within a few miles of getting off of the interstate what did I see coming the other direction?
A Jaguar E-Type!!
The same car that races Kowalski in “Vanishing Point.”
Looks like my drive on Highway 50 was meant to be.
The next town was Delta, and I had to stop at the Delta Post Office for a picture.

After Delta was my first taste of America’s Loneliest Road – and it was delicious.
For the next 90 miles I don’t think I saw 10 cars on the road.
I stopped at the Border Inn Casino for fuel and to get a Highway 50 stamp in my road-trip book.
As the name implies, it’s on the Utah/Nevada border.

I really like how proud Nevada is of their section of America’s Loneliest Highway.

My next stop was Ely, Nevada.
I knew the name because the Silver State Classic starts just south of Ely on highway 318.
Ever since I learned about “The Silver State” – I’ve wanted to drive it.
In Ely I spotted this beauty – the Deser-est Motel.

I love that motel sign.
And… speaking of signs – right down the street I saw the Club Rio sign and I had to stop.

I didn’t realize that Highway 50 follows the old Lincoln Highway.
Back in 1928, the US Bureau of Public Roads allowed the placement of 3000 markers to dedicate the highway to the memory of Abraham Lincoln.
Many of them have been relocated, lost to road enhancements or just plain stolen.
Some of them are still around – there’s lots of them on this section in Nevada.
The markers feature the Lincoln Highway logo and a bronze medallion with “This Highway Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln” on it.
There’s one in Ely at the Renaissance Sculpture Park.
If you watch the video my road-trip you’ll see what I mean – I’ll post the link below.
Past the Renaissance Sculpture Park, at the end of town is this old Richfield service station.

Another gem hiding in plain sight.
After that we’re back to being on the Loneliest Highway in America.
And that’s a good thing.
This is the part of Highway 50 where I think it really lives up to it’s nickname.
Every so often there’s a big white & blue sign shaped like the state of Nevada and a little ways after the sign is one of those Lincoln Highway markers.
I love that there’s almost no one on the road – it’s a two-lane blacktop and you can cruise along at a good clip if you’re so inclined.
And there’s a bunch of passes where you’ve got to slow down for the curves in the road and then you’re back to cruising mode.
I think it’s a great driving road.
About eighty miles away is the town of Eureka.
As I drove in I saw this General Store and I had to stop.

Gold baby!!
A little further into town I saw the Eureka Opera House.

It was built in 1880 and restored in 1993.
It’s pretty awesome.
A little further down the road and across the street is Louie’s Lounge.

It was built in 1874 as a general store.
If you look at the back of the building, you can see the original blocks built out of local volcanic rock.
I’d love to see that old neon sign all lit up – wouldn’t you??
From Eureka I drove to the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area.
It’s a Bureau of Land Management property where you can camp for free.
After I set up camp I sat down with a coldie and listened…
It was completely silent outside.
No cars – no trains – no planes and no one around for miles.
Nothing except for the faint sound of the wind through the trees.
It was awesome.
The next morning I made my way to Austin.
On my way there I drove through more of those beautiful, curvy, Nevada passes.
Driving into Austin I was greeted by the Austin Post Office so I had to get a shot.

Down the road and across the street I spotted this old garage.

Soooooooo cool!!
But the reason I wanted to visit Austin had to do with the movie “Vanishing Point.”
This is where Kowalski drives past the oldest church in Nevada.

This is my shot.

I’ve got a bad habit of driving past things that I want to see because I’ve stopped too many times already.
Stokes Castle was almost one of those times, but it was early enough in the day and I really had nowhere else to be, so I took the dirt road up to Stoke’s Castle.

And I’m glad I did!!
Stoke’s Castle is up on the hill on the west side of Austin and was built in 1897 by Railroad magnate Anson Stokes as a summer home for his family.
It’s built entirely out of hand-cut, local granite and the 100 mile view is amazing!!
Leaving Stoke’s Castle I saw this sign and I had to stop for a picture.

Then, as I was driving down the hill, I saw this.

This is the Loneliest Highway in America.
Something I didn’t realize is that this part of the country is where the Pony Express came through.
At one point I saw a “Pony Express” sign and to the left and right of highway 50 was the old Pony Express dirt trail.
Very cool!!
I couldn’t imagine riding a horse through that hostile, unforgiving terrain.
Those guys were real bad-asses!!
I made my way to Fernley and fueled up The 55.
This is where I got back on the interstate and oh what a difference.
Going from almost no other cars on Highway 50 to needing a jungle-hat and a machete to cut thru the traffic was one heck of change.
I drove right past Reno since I was just there in June and I continued on to Sacramento and this super-cool Orbit gas station

I stopped for lunch at an ever elusive and super-rare Double-Batwing now being used as Suzi Burgers.

If you’re in the area, definitely stop in for a burger or a cheese-steak.
I had their double deluxe cheeseburger and it was delicious.
After I had finished the guy behind the counter said I should’ve ordered the cheese-steak.
Now I’ve gotta reason to go back.
Down the street and around the corner is the Pancake Circus.

It’s only open for breakfast…
Across the from Pancake Circus was another Double-Batwing!!
But it was all filled up with used cars and my picture didn’t do it justice so I made my way over to Petaluma and Paradise Road.

This is where John Milner in his little 32 go up against Bob Falfa in his wicked 55 in “American Graffiti.”
American Graffiti was filmed in Petaluma, and just like every guy in that town, I’ve got the same secret dream… I wanna be a Pharaoh. 
I finally made it to Sonoma Raceway and the 35th Mini Nationals for the NorCal Shelby Club.

Sonoma Raceway is pretty awesome!!
It reminds me of Laguna Seca with its big elevation changes.
I was lucky enough to get The 55 out on the track for a few hot laps.

My buddy Martin even brought his super-sleeper Mercury Zephyr out to play.

Don’t let those station wagons fool you – they can get up and move when they want to.
Special thanks to Scott Herbert for bringing me out to Sonoma Raceway to host the show.
And big thank you to John McKissack for riding shotgun with me in The 55 and showing me the line around Sonoma Raceway – and for giving me the ride of my life in his Riverside Spec 66 Ford Fairlane.
And thank you for coming along for the ride with me in The 55.
Check out the video to see a close-up of the Lincoln Highway marker here:
https://youtu.be/T82zYqzPUBo
I hope to see you out on the road
#idrivea55


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