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Posts Tagged ‘Mother Road’

FL-TesttrackI’m talking about Florida and the Big Cypress Swamp.

To be more specific the address is: Harley-Davidson, 5301 34th Ave. S.E., Naples, FL., a 531-acre private test track north of Interstate 75/Alligator Alley.  The facility has a 2.1-mile straight away and a 1.1-mile ride-and-handling loop.

FL-Track-HeloPrior to 2002, the test track was owned and used by Ford Motor Company.  In October 2009, Harley-Davidson announced plans to consolidate its test operations in Florida and Talladega, AL. sites to the Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, AZ.  There were approximately 8 employees and as many contract employees at the Florida facility at the time.

Earlier this month, the automaker Chrysler Group LLC announced they purchased the property for $7 million with plans to use the more than six miles of tracks to test a wide range of pre-production vehicles.

FL-Track-BldsHarley-Davidson Motor Co., agreed to lease back a portion of the track to test motorcycles and other specialty vehicles along with 10,200 square feet within two buildings on the property. That lease will last through at least June 30, 2019.

Construction of the track and its associated buildings began in 1985 and ended in 1992.  In 1998 the test track was the subject of a lot of scrutiny when nearby property owners and environmentalist became concerned about expansion that would harm the neighborhood.

Photos courtesy of Google and Collier International.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum

The Seaba Station was built by John and Alice Seaba back in 1924 as a Sunray DX gas station on the now famous Route 66.

Sun Oil merged with Tulsa, OK-based Sunray DX Oil Company in 1968 which marketed gasoline under the DX brand in several midwestern states.  Sun Oil continued marketing its petroleum products under both the Sunoco and DX brands through the 1970s and into the 1980s. In the late 1980s, Sun began rebranding DX stations in the Midwest to the Sunoco brand which brings us back to Seaba Station.

Museum Location -- Warwick, OK

In 2007 the property was purchased by Jerry Ries and Gerald Tims who restored it to its original look.  They recently opened the property as  Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum on old Route 66.  Interestingly 25 years ago, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials officially decertified U.S. 66 as a federal highway. In essence, U.S. 66 ceased to exist.  But I’ve digressed.  Mr. Tims owns Performance Cycle in Bethany, OK., and with that motorcycle interest in mind help populate the museum with some classic antiques.  One of the rarest motorcycles in the museum is a 1913 Pope Board Tracker, with a replica section of wooden track from that era to simulate what it would have been driven on.

Future plans include adding antique gas pumps to the front of the building and long-term they want to include a restaurant in one of the side rooms.  The museum is open seven days a week. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

Route 66 is an old road, but it still “kicks!”   If you happen to be traveling the “Mother Road” then this museum is a  great place to stop and take in some motorcycle history.

Photo courtesy of Seaba Station and Route 66 News.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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leisure_seekersThe upcoming riding season has me contemplating a “Route 66” road trip…and this version of the famous song which spotlights steel guitarist Herby Wallace will have any country/swing fan smiling at the classy display of talent.  Or if you’re a Jazz aficionado then you’ll really appreciate this piano version from Japan.

But my story starts with John and Ella Robina.  An elderly couple from Chicago.  He has Alzheimer’s.  She has an incurable case of cancer and stopped taking her treatments.  He’s driving the family’s late-1970’s RV.  She’s riding shotgun and popping pain pills.  He has random outbursts of anger mixed with confusion…she’s cynical.  Ella calls all the shots and decided they should take a final vacation together — to Disneyland — on Route 66! 

Are you troubled with where I’m going on this? 

It’s the story from Michael Zadoorian’s new novel, “The Leisure Seeker” which arrives in book stores this week.  It’s quite the “geezer” adventure on the “mother road” in search of a past that they both are likely having a hard time remembering.  Even though the book is fiction, the idea of mixing geriatric-age couples with motorcycles on a two-lane road raises the question again of “When is too old to Drive?”  I’ve blogged about this previously HERE.  I’m thinking about camper after camper loaded up with “recliner drivers” — drugged up on meds — in need of hourly naps — yet damn determined to rediscover life in their golden years.

Scary…I may need to rethink this?

Photo courtesy Flickr.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Yucca Desert Proving Grounds

Yucca Desert Proving Grounds

During WWII the U.S. Army established numerous airfields in Arizona for training pilots and aircrews of the USAAF fighters and bombers.  Just east of I-40 and about 25 miles south of Kingman, AZ is the Yucca Army Airfield.  In 1946 the property was declared surplus and in 1954 the Ford Motor Company acquired the facility and began using the runways for automobile testing.  Ford eventually built an extensive automotive proving ground and used the airfield known as the Arizona Proving Ground Airport.

In November 2007, Chrysler bought the facility (3,840-acre test site, which has 50 miles of test roads) for $34.9M from Ford Motor Company. Chrysler also made another $10M in upgrades, including a new 70-foot-high test grade along with other new test surfaces. The facility is open 24/7 and the Yucca site is the primary hot weather testing grounds. Chrysler tests about 2,000 vehicles a year at the site.  As a side bar, Toyota’s desert proving grounds is 128 miles away in Wickenburg, AZ and runway information is HERE.

Harley-Davidson recently closed an agreement with Chrysler to use the facility effective July 2009 as their desert proving grounds.  Harley will occupy several buildings and use the banked, high speed, five-mile, three-lane oval track as well as many of the twisted asphalt and checkerboard tile concrete roads.

I don’t know about you, but I can see a day in the future where the Laughlin River Run in coordination with the Route 66 Motor Sports and “Mother Road” Harley dealer in Kingman might include facility tours and/or sport track demo rides.  Let’s hope so!

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