SAN BERNARDINO — Route 66 is more than just classic cars and motorcycles.
For decades, the historic highway served as an integral part of the nation’s transportation system.
And in an effort to raise that awareness, the Historical Society of Trucks sponsored a 40-truck convoy that traveled from Illinois along the old Route 66 Highway to the Rendezvous.
On Saturday, the society completed its inaugural Historic Highway Convey by joining the third day festivities of the 23rd Annual Stater Brothers Route 66 Rendezvous in downtown San Bernardino.
“We picked this destination because the event memorialized our Historic Route 66,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the society.
The national organization, which aims to preserve the history of trucks as well as the trucking industry, began its trek in Illinois on Sept. 6 and drove more than 3,000 miles.
It began with 30 classic trucks in Morris, Illinois, and on Saturday morning they made their final stop of the tour, picking up 10 more vehicles in Barstow.
By 9:30 a.m., the convoy, which stretched about half a mile, were traveling down Old Cajon Boulevard, the original Route 66.
Ken Lund, of San Bernardino, worked with the society’s organizers to bring others from the local chapter to join the final leg of the jaunt.
Lund drove his 1953 GMC half-ton pickup truck but said the local chapter has models dating to 1916 as well as more modern models. A bulk of the trucks come from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
“It was interesting to see how far away some of these trucks came from,” he said about Saturday’s ride.
Lund was joined by Richard McNamara, 62, who rode into the festivities in his 1946 Mack tow truck.
“It was a lot of fun,” the Riverside resident said about the short road trip.
McNamara’s truck, of the faded orange paint coat is covered in rust, was once used by the American Automobile Club of Southern California. A faded image of the logo is still visible on the side of the truck.
It was used by Highland based company called Bell’s Garage and Tow Service. But for years, it sat in someone’s yard unused. In fact, it hadn’t been registered since the 1970s, he said.
“I just fell in love with it. It had my name on it – Mark,” he said. “These are rare to find on the West Coast, the models were made in New York”, McNamara said.
John Vannatta, current president of the society was among those who road the whole portion of the trip.
“It was it was great everybody has a bucket list, its something you always wanted to do,” he said.
Along the way, the convoy made nine stops different stops at local Travel Centers of America. It was then the public could meet the drivers, or for members to come out and support. The largest turnout was at the Albuquerque, New Mexico stop.
There were even portions of the cross country trip that the convoy was joined by other truck enthusiasts, he said.
Vannatta said it was a big commitment to drive across the country. He commended those who took part in the trip adding that they probably spent around $1,500 on fuel.
Aside from being able to commit about two weeks, most of truckers spent between $7,000 and $8,000 on the excursion.
“The idea of doing it was fun,” Vannatta says. “A lot of people always want to do this, here (was my) chance.”
Liset Marquez – The Sun