SEMA, Optima USCI & Zzyzx Road and a Cracked Transmission Pan

SEMA – the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
It’s the biggest show of the year and I was on my way.
I left Colorado early and met my friend Heather Storm just outside of Vail.
We had caravanned to SEMA before back in 2019 but that time she was driving her little mustang.

This time she was in her new Bronco.
We stopped in Green River for fuel and kept on moving until we got to Las Vegas.
We parted ways at the gas station just north of Las Vegas.
I went to the Golden Nugget Hotel and found a good parking spot.

The next morning on my way to get my credentials I happened to stop by and see my Hot Rod Power Tour Co-Host Tommy at the Motor Trend booth.

Right in front of the Motor Trend booth was one of the coolest Hot Rods ever!!

Gray Bakersville’s ’32 Ford Roadster.
100% Legit!!
After checking out the car and catching up with old friends I went and got my credentials with my buddy Mike Cotten.

Then we went down to check out some racing action at the Optima Ultimate Street Car Invitational which was being held in the Bronze Lot for the first time ever.
I got to say hi to some of my autocross family and see ’em put down some good runs then we went into SEMA.
SEMA never disappoints.
I may have seen some of the cars before, but to me SEMA is all about the people!!

Fred, Virginia, John, me, Ted “Mr. Quarter Turn”and Mike Colton.

Jason & Wilwood Mike

Dan’s “Dirty Martini” built by Will at Big Oak Garage.

And Mike Colton & the new host go Hot Rod Garage and the fastest host at Motor Trend: Alex Taylor.
SEMA was awesome, but it was time to head over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Optima Ultimate Streetcar Invitational.
I had to stop by and see the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health with my own eyes.

Pretty cool right?!?
We made it to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In addition to all of the racing action, I got to see Mike Copeland and his revolutionary Hydrogen powered truck.

That’s right – it’s hydrogen powered!!
It’s gonna change the world.
They raced until the racing was done and when it was time for their class picture I got this shot of Hondo’s and David’s Blazers living together in harmony.

I hung out with my autocross family until it was cold and dark outside.

I love my purple Dakota Digital RTX gauges – Then we headed out.
The next day I left Las Vegas and headed west towards California.
My next gig was up in Pleasanton at the Goodguys Autumn Get-Together, but I was going to LA first.
If you’ve ever driven to or from Las Vegas from LA you’ve passed by these places.
You’ve probably passed them hundreds of times and you never stopped.
My first stop was the Hilltop Mart.

I had seen the sign and building on my way past, but I had never stopped…
Until now.
From the Hilltop Mart we continued on to Baker.
When I saw Baker’s cool little blue Post Office I just had to get a picture.

Baker is famous for having the Largest Thermometer in the World.

It’s also the “Gateway to Death Valley.”
On our way out of Baker I saw the Royal Hawaiian motel.

Back on Interstate 15 we got to Zzyzx Road.
Again… if you drive to Vegas from LA you know Zzyzx Road – but I’ll bet you’ve never stopped.
I did.

After I got the picture we crossed the overpass and off we went.
We crossed through a gate and a cattle-guard with a sign that read “Gate Is Locked Sunset to Sunrise. Day Use Only.”
So we need to get back outta there before sunset when they close and lock the gate.
Zzyzx Road is mostly paved, but it hasn’t been maintained very well.
After awhile it turns into a gravel / dirt road.
As we turned around a bend we were enveloped in a shadow from the hill to the west.
It looks like we were driving next to an old dried up lakebed.
Then… Around another bend we saw it.
An oasis of palm trees.
We made it out to the Desert Studies Center!!

You can check out the video of my drive down Zzyzx Road here.
From Zzyzx I boogied back to LA.
The next morning when I got up I noticed a small red pool under The 55.

Great… It turns out I cracked my transmission pan on Zzyzx Road.
I had ordered a “deep” transmission pan to keep 3 extra quarts of transmission fluid in there to make sure it didn’t overheat.
But the deep transmission pan was the lowest part on the car.
Aaron at Orange County Hot Rods took pity on me and made some room.
Now we’re back to running a stock transmission pan on The 55.
Once the transmission pan was on we were back out on the road and headed up to the valley.
The reason I was in LA was, I has learned during SEMA a friend of mine from The Price is Right had passed away – Emmy Award winning Cameraman Marty Wagner.
And since I was in the “area” I had to make it.
I paid my respects to Marty and then went to a celebration dinner for him at the Smokehouse.
SEMA, Zzyzx and Marty Wagner…
It was a good trip.
Now I’m on my way up to Pleasanton for the Goodguys Autumn Get-Together and then down to Scottsdale for the Duel in the Dessert – the season finale.
Thanks for coming along for the ride with me.
I hope to see you out on the road.

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