Ever wanted to jump in a plane and head to America, taking in all the sights and sounds, and — more importantly — all of the car events on offer? The hard part with trips like this is all the planning involved, but with people like Craig ‘Fingrz’ Mullan and Karl Boniface around, those worries are all taken care of. The pair, with support from Castrol, organised one hell of a USA tour, and jumping into a plane in early October along with two van-loads of fellow Kiwis who were keen to piggyback off their expertise. They are currently living the life cruising through America, and we’ll aim to update this post every day, as the tour diary comes through from tour participant Andrew Johnston.
And, don’t forget — you could be a part of this tour this time next year. Simply register your interested by emailing email@example.com.
The beginning of the trip went as you’d expect. Everyone met at a bar beside customs, followed by the usual customary handshaking and 'where ya from?' conversations before the gift packs were handed out, which included a backpack, t-shirt, caps, notepad, pens and the like courtesy of Retro America, Castrol Edge and Nitro Flashback.
Mild panic ensued as Air New Zealand announced several times over the PA that flight NZ6 had been cancelled, resulting in a major delay at customs with long lines of wary travelers, of which Karl [Boniface] was the last out by quite a margin — presumably because Craig had labeled his backpack name tag with nickname 'Ka-Boom' …
Off to the supermarket to load up on the essentials — beers and snacks — so that Andrew could drop and smash some of his Coronas when heading to the room. An hour’s relaxation by the pool melded into a dinner at Frisco's Carhop Diner with real American (read: HUGE) meals delivered by waitresses on roller skates. Things aren’t all peaches and cream on a trip like this, as the next day would prove …
A extremely early 4.30am departure for the 5am start at Pomona Swap Meet can’t have gone down to well, nor did it avoid traffic congestion getting in, although there is little doubt that it was fantastic to be near the ticket entrance.
Eight hours of meandering through a treasure trove of car- and motorcycle-related shiny (and not so shiny) stuff to buy. Karl’s first purchase was a pull-behind trolley which rattled when we towed it, leading to a suggestion he buy something else to weigh it down and stop the noise. A vintage jack followed which made it better but we needed more. A cool vintage ice sled on top helped even further, but we figured a toolbox would really do the trick. Two toolboxes later, we had stopped the trolley rattles but now the toolboxes were rattling. A train set, cast American eagle, and heavy metal fence ornament almost solved the problem, but now the trolley was heavy to tow. And so on it went … you can see how these things get out of hand, right? Meeting up with Paul Stichbury at CFR Line around 2pm, the group’s purchases were sorted and loaded to hopefully see everything in New Zealand by the time they returned.
A quick supermarket stop for a restock of beers was once again followed by hotel check-in, and a quick freshen up before heading out for a little taste of Hollywood and a great view of the hillside Hollywood sign. The dinner at Mel’s Diner wrapped up quickly so everyone could return to catch up on much need sleep.
One thing worth mentioning, though — the tour’s newly-awarded Doodle Bug hat of the day, which was a close competition between Craig, the fearless leader, and Warren and Brian. Craig managed to run a red light, with Karl in hot pursuit, but the overall win was taken out by Warren and Brian for leaving their beer in the fridge at the last hotel in a rush to get to the van at 4.30am. Unforgivable.
Fortunately, the third day began rather easily, finally letting the body synchronize before a personal tour by Craig and his partner Andi — who are the pair behind Retro America, and the main tour organizers — through Hollywood and Beverly Hills to see if Meg Ryan or Mick Fleetwood were home. Unfortunately not, although pictures may or may not have been taken in Meg’s driveway. Then it was off to the tourist hotspots of Bel Air, Rodeo Drive, Mulholland Drive, and then Burbank for lunch. Onwards to Anaheim and a catch up on laundry before dinner at TGI Fridays, wrapping up a laid backday out.
First stop of the day? The amazing Mooneyes workshop and retail store for a guided tour and many purchases, and then it was back in the vans for a quick stop at the truck store before cruising around to Reid’s Rod Parts Inc. — a great store and cheap prices, even in New Zealand dollars.
The afternoon yielded a bit of free time after lunch, aptly spent exploring multiple antique stores in quaint Old Towne Orange, then a surprise visit to California’s biggest and best model shop. Another awesome day closed with a spicy Mexican meal providing enough methane gas in our rooms and vans to power Craig’s racecar.
As our man on the ground informs us, “we have fallen behind with reports and photos due to long days and short nights” — the diary will be updated once we have accompanying imagery.
We've got a bunch of images, but no information — however, we're presuming the day revolved around a visit to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsport Museum and So-Cal Speedshop.
Time for a day at a slower pace, starting with mooching around five and dime stores to pick up more antique bargains — our writer’s personal favourite being Karl's large antique spark plug drink bottle. Off to Zingos Cafe for lunch, then some more free time for shopping before settling in at Chuy’s for cruise night — cars, people, music, and, oh, so American!
The final stop of the day was the yearly traditional party at Squeak Bell's shed to drink and be merry, surrounded by 360 degrees of hot rod coolness. However, despite the potential for a big one, everyone was tucked in by 10pm in preparation for an early start tomorrow at the track.
We've got the following days uploaded to a different article, which you can read right here!