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The Road To LansingWeb Exclusive
By Rebecca Hudson
When David Frock first considered taking his stock 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado, affectionately dubbed “Martha”, to the 2016 Homecoming Car Show in Lansing, Michgan this summer, he had a few qualms about getting there and back. But it turned out that Martha had no such doubts and was more than ready to handle the trek.
Frock hit the road heading eastward from his Sioux Falls, South Dakota home on what would end up an epic journey of a lifetime. As the miles went by, Martha attracted the attention of strangers and friendly folks. She beamed with each new thumbs up, horn honk, or friendly wave from a passing vehicle.
The lengthy first day’s journey of 506 miles ended in Milwaukee, a city on the western shore of Lake Michigan. Rolling into the downtown hotel there, Martha, Frock and his companion settled in for the night of well-earned rest.
In the predawn hours the next day, Martha and her passengers boarded the Lake Express ferry for a ride across the span of Lake Michigan. Gliding across the water at break neck speed of 40 mph, the journey took a mere
2 ½ hours.
Land ho was on the shores of Muskegon, Michigan where the passengers and vehicles disembarked the ferry and parted ways. Martha found her land legs quickly and headed north on Highway 31 for some sightseeing along the shores of Lake Michigan, stopping in the quaint town of Grand Haven, tucked away on the Grand River. After a stroll along the board walk at the Dee-Lite Bar & Grill, where “Breakfast is King,” it was on to Lansing, a mere 90-minute drive.
Martha arrived in time to join a varied collection of classic Oldsmobile automobiles assembled for the homecoming parade through town on the way to nearby Dimondale, where they filled the downtown streets of the little burg for the evening. Car enthusiasts came like moths to a flame – stories told, tales swapped and lively discussion about the beloved, diverse collection of cars gathered.
Rolling into the 2016 Homecoming Show the next day, Martha joined more than 70 other Toronados of every flavor imaginable in the exhibition spot reserved exclusively for them in honor of the Toronado’s 50th anniversary year. In all, more than 500 models were exhibited at the momentous gathering.
Engineers who designed and built the very first Toronados, which rolled off the Lansing production line in 1966, were on hand at the event to provide insight into the development and production of the state-of-the-art, unique car. When it was introduced that year, the Toronado sported the first ever front wheel drive, UPP power train, “Draft-Free” ventilation, air conditioning, power windows, and a slew of other innovations.
While in Lansing, a visit to the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in downtown Lansing was in order. The museum houses an impressive collection of classic cars, bicycles and vehicles of every sort, and pays homage to the REO Motor Car Company.
As the weekend wound down, farewells were shared, bags packed and cars loaded for departures. Heading down the road, Martha bid her birth town goodbye and pointed southward with a subtle roar of the engine.
Down the road a spell, not far from Kalamazoo, Michigan, nestled in the backroads and sprawled across 90 acres, is North America’s largest auto museum: the Gilmore Car Museum. This must-see historic center is home to some 400 vintage automobiles and motorcycles, along with an array of automobiles and memorabilia of every sort.
Westward on U.S. Highway 30 into the state of Indiana, Martha encountered the famed Lincoln Highway. The transcontinental road was established in 1913 and traverses countless rural communities in 14 states from coast to coast.
Martha rediscovered the Lincoln Highway once again upon entering the state of Iowa, where the roadsides were flanked by a corridor of corn fields on both sides and wound through the rural countryside.
As home neared on the fifth and final day of the journey, an inventory of the states Martha traverse totaled seven: South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. Miles traveled: 1,600. Memories made: countless.
The journey to Lansing took twists and turns and through it all Martha was a superstar, worthy of every accolade she received along the way. Traveling in this manner – the radio off, the windows rolled down, good conversation – cannot be beat. 1,600 miles, 7 states, countless scenic routes, and memorable experiences are what it’s all about.
Best of all was sitting back while Martha took on the road with grace, beauty, and a whole lot of horsepower. She was the star of the show after all, and barely even acted her 48 years of age.
“Must-see attractions” along the Road to Lansing:
Interstate 90 Golden Spike – Blue Earth, Minnesota
Rest stop near Blue Earth, Minnesota where a section of road is tinted gold commemorating the 1978 paving of the last four miles of freeway
Spam Museum – Austin, Minnesota
101 3rd Ave. NE
Austin, MN 55912
Lake Express High Speed Ferry – Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Muskegon, Michigan
1918 Lakeshore Dr.
Muskegon, MI 49441
Dee-Lite Bar & Grill
24 Washington Ave.
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Long-standing bar grill offering creative global fare and cocktails in a hip, modern atmosphere
Grand Haven Musical Fountain – Grand Haven, Michigan
A synchronized water and light show accompanied with music of all varieties. Each 25-minute show plays daily at dusk from Memorial Day through Labor Day
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum – Lansing, Michigan
240 Museum Dr.
Lansing, MI 48933
Gilmore Car Museum – Hickory Corners, Michigan
6865 W. Hickory Rd.
Hickory Corners, MI 49060
Studebaker National Museum – South Bend, Indiana
201 Chapin St.
South Bend, IN 46601
John Deere Pavilion
1400 River Dr.
Moline, IL 61265
Transcontinental highway established in 1913, beginning in New York and ending in San Francisco, traversing a total of 14 states and covering 3,142 miles
World’s Largest Truck Stop – Walcott, Iowa
Established in 1964, this famed truck stop on the eastern edge of Iowa is likened to a Trucker’s Disneyland and deemed a place not to be missed