Convoy nears the end of historic Route 66

By Kimberely Lennard, Land Line staff writer | 9/14/2012

As the week draws to an end, so too, does the Historic Highway Convoy along Route 66. The convoy of 33 vintage trucks concludes its 2,400-mile journey in San Bernardino, CA, on Saturday, Sept. 15 after its final truck show in Barstow on Friday.

The trip, officially spanning seven states and dubbed “a trip of a lifetime” by many of its participants, was the brainchild of the American Truck Historical Society. Each afternoon the convoy has stopped at a TA or Petro. Travel Centers of America hosted daily “convoy” shows as part of the truck stop chain’s 40th anniversary.

The convoy making the entire journey includes mostly big rigs, but is joined by a dump truck and several pickup trucks. The lead truck is a 1974 Dodge Bighorn, owned by the Shroyer family.

“It’s fun to go in advance [of the convoy] and get a gauge for the excitement,” Tom Mullen, corporate relations for ATHS, told Land Line. “We couldn’t have picked a better group of people to go.”

A father and son from Melbourne, Australia, flew to the U.S., rented a car, and made the ride just ahead of the convoy, Mullen said. The convoy drivers embraced them as part of the group.

While traveling through Needles, CA, the convoy received a welcoming reception from the community. The convoy was asked to put on a parade. “Getting a reception like that from the community, that’s the highlight of the trip for me,” said OOIDA Life Member Allan Rowe, of St. Augustine, FL. “That, and the camaraderie. This is an absolutely great group of Americans.”

Between Albuquerque and Gallup, NM, Allan had a plugged fuel filter and ran out of fuel. Along came what Allan referred to as a “half a million dollar wrecker,” complete with a fold-out stainless steel picnic table. The driver, Lonny Brown, of B&B Truck Parts in Farmington, NM, drove Allan 120 miles to a fuel pump in Gallup and refused to take a dime.

The ATHS lead truck blew a tire Sept. 13 near Gallup, NM.

“That’s truckin’,” said Mullen.

Member Willard Good, Denver, PA, and Life Member Ron Williams, East Berlin, PA, stopped at a little truck stop and cafe in Ash Fork, AZ. During their visit, they discovered the truck stop was being bought out by a major truck stop chain.

“I’m glad I got to see it,” Willard said. He has also enjoyed taking photos along the way, particularly in Tucumcari, NM, considered by many the quintessential Route 66 town.

Life Member Barry Chesler and his wife, Gigi, have made many side trips along the trek to San Bernardino. They visited London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, AZ, on Thursday, Sept. 13, as well as Arizona’s Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.

Upon their return back home to Scottsville, NY, Barry estimates they will have traveled 5,500 miles and says he would “absolutely” do it again. He is looking forward to ATHS doing another convoy in the future and hopes the Route 66 trip is not the last event.

The southern California chapter of ATHS will meet the convoy at the TA in Barstow on Saturday. The entire group of about 75 trucks will leave together and convoy to the finish in San Bernardino, according to Bill Johnson, executive director for ATHS. That will be the first time the entire convoy has been together on the road.

The best part for Johnson has been to see the convoy group come together, make friends and create bonds.

“The journey has been unbelievable,” said Mark Shroyer, regional vice president for ATHS.

The convoy members have the photos to prove it, too.

“One guy shot over 1,000 photos, and another went through eight throwaway cameras in one day,” said Mullen.

Copyright © OOIDA