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Hot Wheels/Larry Wood SIXT on 66 Tour!

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SHELBY AND SIXT TEAM UP WITH “MR. HOT WHEELS” LARRY WOOD FOR

HISTORIC ROUTE 66 JOURNEY

 

Shelby American, Team Shelby and SIXT Rent-A-Car have teamed with designer Larry “Mr. Hot Wheels” Wood for an epic journey across America on historic Route 66. Starting in Chicago, Wood is retracing his migration 50 years ago along the fabled highway to join Mattel in Los Angeles. He will drive a supercharged SIXT edition Shelby GT-S rental car to greet fans and rediscover America’s adoration of the automobile in the “Larry Wood SIXT on 66 Tour.”

 

Larry Wood began his career as a designer for Ford Motor Company. In 1968, he was offered the opportunity to become Mattel’s chief designer for their new line of die-cast cars. Mr. Wood and his wife, Shirley, packed up their car and drove along Route 66 to California, where he became a legend.

 

Larry is connecting with fans of every generation who share his passion for the automobile, regardless of their scale. Team Shelby members look forward to swapping stories Larry and Shirley along the journey.”

 

The Woods began their trip at the Chicago stop of the Hot Wheels Legend Tour on July 12 in Romeoville, Illinois. They picked up the supercharged Shelby GT-S and drove to the gathering. After signing autographs and greeting fans, they began their “SIXT on 66 Tour.”

 

“When I began planning my dream trip along Route 66, I had a few stipulations,” said Wood. “First, we needed a very cool car with plenty of horsepower for the trip. And the exhaust note had to rumble so we could make an exciting entrance. Since my personal hot rods are orange, I really wanted one in that color. Most of all, the car had to be purely American so the connection would be genuine and personal. The vehicle that really fit those parameters was the SIXT edition Shelby GT-S.”

 

Wood and Shelby have a long and very deep connection. Not only did Wood know Carroll Shelby, he memorialized many of the Texan’s famous cars as part of the Hot Wheels line up. Then in 2009, Wood was tapped by Shelby to work with the company’s chief designer, Vince LaViolette on the 2010 Ford Shelby GT350. The company built the Shelby GT350 for four model years and now those cars are highly coveted collectibles, just like many of the Hot Wheels that Wood designed.

 

“SIXT and Shelby recently began their relationship by offering the supercharged Shelby GT-S in our livery at select locations in the United State,” said (insert SIXT spokesperson). “This is a car that we designed together with Shelby to give our customers the opportunity to experience the passion of American performance.

 

Wood even hand built a Hot Wheels SIXT edition Shelby GT-S that he will auction for charity when the trip concludes. He and Shelby are chronicling the trip on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Shelby.com.

 

We will be posting Larry's travel blog here throughout the tour!

 

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Larry Wood SIXT on 66 Travel Blog:shift::camera::speedie:

Day 1

Well here I am, can’t believe that I’m driving down US route 66 in one of the coolest cars ever made. This Shelby GT is such a fabulous car to drive, ‘looks great, sounds great and WOW hit that loud pedal and you’re gone!

Picked up the car last night in Chicago and the SIXT rent a car people were so nice, had the car all shined and ready to go, and actually drove on 66 for a short way into Joliet (home of the Blues Brothers) so an official start to the trip.

Today started early to get the Shelby to the Hot Wheels Legends car show, signed a lot of autographs, and even with hundreds of show cars everyone asked about the Shelby.

Had to judge with others on best in show, hard to do but we finally picked a 65 GTO gasser, hand built and in the family for years - great story to go with the car.

Stopped at local watering hole for lunch and the family next to us saw the Shelby and went to look at it.  When they came back they said they owned a Shelby and actually named their daughter Shelby, small world.

Well tomorrow we start driving on 66, and heading west!

 

Day 2

Started the day in Joliet, lots of Blues Brothers stuff, stopped by the Joliet prison to pick up Jake in our getaway SIXT Shelby GT, got cop engine, cop shocks and a full tank of gas, HIT IT!

Headed south on 66 and took touristy pictures, hardest part is holding my foot up off the gas pedal.

This pony wants to run, radar detector keeps going off but they must know where to hide because never saw one.

Hopped on and off 66 hitting the highlights, been making good time in between stops. There are a lot of giant statues, and neat old towns along the way. Great museum in Pontiac Ill., and what do you know, it’s full of Pontiacs!  Made it to St Louis in time to ride the arch, man gotta give the engineers credit, that’s a great iconic piece of America, made by tough men!

More tomorrow as we continue heading west.

 

Day 3

Well woke up this morning to rain, don’t see much of that in L.A. think it’s the start of the storm coming north. Shelby the GT SIXT doesn’t care and is ready to go, hit 66 to see what is out there. First is the Meramac caverns, and as I turned in, saw a sign for a toy museum, darn it’s closed but can’t beat the photo app!

Wow the caverns are big, and impressive, hard to believe what water and millions of years can do leaving wild sculptures. Ended the show with patriotic music and slide show on the stalagmites and stalagtites.  After seeing that and the Shelby in the parking lot, you can’t help but be proud to be an American.

Bet that’s the first time a Hot Wheels Mustang has been in a cave.

Back on 66 and saw a couple teepees so pulled in to take a shot and a crabby lady kicked me out, first time I was ever kicked out of a teepee!

Been enjoying the trip so much forgot I had XM radio, man this sound system is fantastic, got on the blues, and few Elvis songs, seems to fit this part of the country. I will switch to country in a few days.

Stopped on Route 66 a few times so got back on 44 to make time, got to Joplin and hit a local 66 museum, picked up a cool 66 sign I never saw before for my shop. Got a late lunch and the owner was a Mustang owner, he and the waitress sat down and told stories about their Mustangs - the Shelby always gets people to talk (last night met a guy that worked on Indy cars back in the 60s, great stories and he met Carroll at Indy, very cool)!

So back on 66 till I saw a tavern that was called Hogs and Hot Rods, had to stop in, cool place and everyone showed pictures of their cars, gave everyone Hot Wheels stickers to put on their rides.

Great cloud show, don’t get rain and clouds like that in L.A.

Ok! Time to sit down and plan tomorrow’s trip, should be a good one.

 

Day 4  

Headed west out of Joplin looking for a motorcycle museum, but like a lot of places on 66 it was closed down. Someone at the local bar mentioned the famous customizer Darryl Starbird, so looked his place up and called, his wife answered and said they usually were closed on Tuesday but she was expecting someone so if I could make it in ½ hour she would open up, well the Shelby can get anywhere in ½ hour so made it with time to spare.

She had the place all lit up for us and showed us around, saw many of the cars I’ve seen in all my magazines through the years, had displays of memorabilia of all the famous customizers that I had met or worked with because of Hot Wheels.

Darryl showed up and we realized we had met a few times over the years, was impressed with the Shelby GT as a rental.  You too can drive this icon and be getting your kicks on SIXT-Six!

Next came something I always wanted to see, the “Blue Whale”. Can you imagine being a kid traveling in the family truckster on a hot day bored out of your mind and this shows up, it was made for swimming so they cooled off in the pond jumping off the whale tail?!

Of course a fellow traveler mentioned his family had Mustangs one being a Shelby, happens a couple times daily.

It was over 100 degrees all day so turned on the cooling seats and up the air one notch and cruised down the road.

Lunch time and stopped at the “Rock Café”, neat place and the food was great, be sure to try the pies!

Still on 66 I saw another motorcycle museum, this time it was open. Wow, did it have vintage bikes of all kinds! And the place was a cool old gas station, even had an original rock outhouse.

Few miles down the road was “Pops”, filled with 6000 sodas, perfect for a hot day.

Was a full day so grabbed a room sat down and wrote up this report, wonder what’s up tomorrow??

 

Day 5

Last night we got a late start for dinner, saw a great sunset and got the Shelby in the shot, but after going into town, all the nice restaurants were closed. So Arbys on the desk in the room was what we got, guess they close Tucumcari early.

 

Not much on 66 around here, towns are far apart, kept going on and off 40, saw some murals and gas stations. Still mostly flat and straight not a hill in sight...

 

Stopped at a few tourist traps, love the billboards they put up for miles before the off ramp, that’s the one thing I remember from all my cross-country trips. Shirley checked out the Indian jewelry, beautiful things, and I tried on a cowboy hat, but think my “Indiana Jones” hat fits me better! Checked out the beautiful Indian dolls, after working with the Barbie designers for all my 50 years, I can appreciate all the work in them.

 

Made it to Albuquerque and cruised Central Blvd, checked out the huge steel 66 logos with flames coming out the top, was made by my buddy in Santa Fe. We worked together at the Ford design center in the 60’s, before he went into designing civic art pieces.

 

Saw a couple neat old buildings but traffic was so bad couldn’t find a place to park to get pictures. Driving out of Albuquerque the traffic stopped for road construction, funny I was stuck in the same spot in the 90s when I won a Nissan “Hard Body” pickup in a contest (driving it back from New York) It was in a huge snowstorm and the big rigs were all stuck, smarty me said hey I have 4 WD, so drove around them, DUMB!  I was the only one on 40 for hours and had to drive with my head out the window because of all the snow, lucky I made it. No such problem with the Shelby GT, 104 degrees outside, air on and 75 MPH!

 

Hills are starting to show up with the red clay in the sunlight, just like the western movies. And speaking of movies, stopped in Gallup and got a room at the famous El Rancho Hotel which is where all the Hollywood actors stayed when they shot westerns in the area, it’s still all original and funky. Tried to get the John Wayne room but ended up with the Forrest Tucker room, tiny but 50’s cool.

 

Gotta hit the sack; long day, onto tomorrow!

 

 

 

Day 6

Already warm when we hit the road but down the street is the Stafford Air and Space Museum, so it will be a good place to start the day. NICE! What a surprise that out here in the middle of the country is a quality air/space museum, seems like Lt General Thomas Stafford was a test pilot and Nasa astronaut, and since he was born in Weatherford OK, he had some pull to get samples of space modules, rockets, space suits, etc.

 

There are great displays from the Wright brothers with huge rockets. I thought the Shelby GT was fast, got nothing on them. So hit the road again making time on 40 and going over to 66 when it sounds interesting, must have been quite a trip in a wagon train no less a 50’s car.

 

Lots of abandoned rusty cars alongside of the road, but don’t worry no Shelby will end up there. We all know its money in the bank. The map says the curiosity shop in Eric OK. is worth a stop, boy were they right. The owner Harley gave quite a show, he bad mouthed us for being from California, sang a Route 66 song, took pictures, hardest working guy on 66, great fun. The automotive signs inside and out are something you don’t see much of anymore, most are in collectors garages. You should stop here if on 66.

 

Back on 66 to Shamrock Texas to the “U Drop Inn” and restored gas station, doesn’t serve food anymore but great photo opp. More open spaces, Texas is long and flat, glad the speed limit is 75 and gas is cheaper than California. Love the cruise control as it slows down for big rigs then goes when clear.

 

Finally made it to the “Cadillac Ranch” in Amarillo, very colorful with all the cars lined up and people spray painting them. See the Hot Wheels sticker, the magnet wouldn’t stick, there’s so many layers of paint over the metal. Neat RV park next store with restored Caddy’s lined up, had to get an orange Tee shirt to match the car, a few more miles and New Mexico, off in Tucumcari for a hotel for the night, long day, let’s see what’s up tomorrow.

 

 

Day 7

Today we eased out of Gallup after a quiet night in the El Rancho Hotel, no elevator so had to hoof the luggage down 3 flights of stairs, bet it didn’t bother John Wayne.

Hit 66 and grabbed a few photo ops, like a car 50 feet in the air. Also saw a few bicyclists and a guy carrying a large religious cross, and I thought a week on the road was a long time.

The XM radio is playing the “Willy Nelson roadhouse” music, fits the terrain.

The scenery is fantastic, changes every few miles, flat then mountains, trees, then shrubs.

Had to do the tourist thing and stop at a few roadside stores and look at all the stuff.

The on ramps are great fun in the Shelby GT, hard to stop at 75.

Made it to Arizona and stopped at the petrified forest, had to get a picture of some petrified California Wood, (Get it)?!

A few miles later mountains are showing up and trees alongside the road are a good sight.

The books only have 1 thing to see in Flagstaff, it’s the Monte Vista lounge in a vintage hotel, so as Bob Seger sings “stopped to have a brew”.

So on to Williams, great busy town has a lot to do (including shooting a real machine gun and a zip line).

Checked on the train to the Grand Canyon but it was done for the day, so instead got a Dairy Queen sundae, should hold us for a while.

Thought about washing the Shelby but there are lots of shiny Mustangs on the road. This one has 66 dirt all over it.

One more town before Kingman so stopped in Seligman, has some funky store fronts and Shirley bought more vintage linen for her HUGE collection. (can’t complain as I have a few too many cars also)!

Gonna quit in Kingman, looking forward to tomorrow, and the roads to Oatman.

 

Day 8

Started the day photographing some cool art work in Kingman, then eased onto the highway till we hit the Oatman off ramp.

The road to Oatman was twisty and narrow, great stuff but took it slow and easy so we could enjoy the views. Glad for the quick steering and paddle shifters!

On the way up stopped to take a picture at an old gas station and a guy had a Hot Wheels collection on display, blew his mind when a Hot Wheels Shelby showed up, signed some autographs for him and hit the road.

Oatman is quite a town, the donkeys are free to roam the streets, old buildings, lots of tourists with foreign accents, neat stop, something you don’t see every day, but why 66 went way up here is the question I have?

 In 1963, I was at Art Center in L.A. and was homesick, had 2 weeks off, so a buddy and I bought a ’51 Buick for $50 and took off for New England. I remember a twisty mountain road and now realize we must have taken 66, no GPS so must have thought it was the way east. By the way, we made it both ways. You are really your dumb at 21!

Dropping down into the desert the temp got to 112, but again the Shelby made quick work of the miles and love those cooling seats.

Crossed the Colorado river in California, stopped in Barstow for an ice cream, got a few pictures and decided we should head for home.

Welcome to California, gas at $5, traffic on the Cajon pass, where’s everyone going? Finally cleared up and found myself going the fastest on the whole trip staying up with traffic, between soccer moms in SUVs and BMW’s ... scary!

Arrived in Redondo Beach, the temp is 68 degrees with cool ocean breeze, good to be home after 10 days away (8 on the road)!

So after all this adventure I could get used to driving this Shelby every day, in fact Shirley said maybe we should trade in the family 4 dr econobox for one of these, MUMMM!

This trip wouldn’t have been possible without some special people - Tracey Smith at Team Shelby put me together with the SIXT rental company to get the best ride anyone could get. My daughter Monica came up with the idea and pushed me to do it. Scott at Team Shelby took my scribbles and posted them.

The Mattel Hot Wheels PR and Marketing teams supported the trip and can’t thank them enough for the help.

 Do yourself a favor and rent one of these from SIXT, great idea for birthday or Christmas presents, time passes fast, you’ll be glad you did!

L. Wood

 

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Bummer, wish I had known about the Joliet thing, I woulda tried to go.

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That is just awesome. Great story...... love the SIXT GT-S!

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Loved reading about the Shelby car adventure. 

When we worked together at the Ford Design Center this guy walked in into the studio with the somber Lee Iacocca...he’s wearing cowboy boots,  big belt buckle, jeans and a big cowboy hat. I’m setting at my desk in a black suit, white shirt and skinny tie and I’m asking myself...”Who the hell is this guy? He walking right up to me, put his hand out and says “ I’m Carrol Shelby....And I drive carrrs !! And he I guess he did. Never forgot that.

Love the pic’s of your journey west, the car, the trashy history and beauty that make RT66 so memorable...what a journey and you nailed it buddy!!!

Keep up the good work and travels.

Your ole school buddy 

Howard

 

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What a fantastic trip Larry.  I have often thought about doing the RT 66 trip.  We did drive the chevy from Pittsburgh to NJ, to CT and then back to CO last year and that was a blast.

By the way Larry, you're looking good for an old man.  Sure would like to see you at the 60th next year.

Howard

 

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Nice write up. Hope to make that trip down 66 form start to finish some day. Nothing like  a road trip in a Shelby.

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