Tenth Annual Railsplitter Cruise-in at the Mill brings in plenty of cars and spectators

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[October 11, 2016]  LINCOLN - On Saturday, the Railsplitter Antique Auto Club and the Mill on Route 66 hosted their 10th annual classic and antique car cruise-in at the Mill.

This year's event saw a larger number of vehicles than in past years, and a good turn out of spectators. The weather was perfect, and it seemed that everyone was happy to be there, to see the cars, and to show off the cars.

Geoff Ladd of the Mill said that he knew there were cars there from northern regions of the state, which was something he was quite happy about.

In addition to the vehicles, there was live music throughout the day, pizza available at lunch time, Route 66 items on sale, and a 50/50 drawing.

The entry fee for the cars at the show was only $5.00, and the entire amount was given to the Mill on 66 for the restoration project that is ongoing. The Mill is expected to open as a Route 66 museum in the spring/summer of 2017.

Among a large number of cars on hand, there were quite a few classic and antique automobiles, including some Ford Model A's that have been carefully restored.

Classic cars included those of distinctive of the 1960's and a decade or two on either side. Many enjoyed checking out the muscle cars such as the Dodge Challenger parked in the shadow of the Mill.

When it comes to classics and antiques, the devil is in the details, and several enjoyed checking out the original engines, perfect upholstery, and the chrome that embellished many a vehicle in the mid-century era.

Resto-mods and Rat Rods draw plenty of attention

Among the vehicles on hand Saturday at the Railsplitter Cruise-in at the Mill was a cherry red 1950's era pickup truck that was certainly a "cherry" in every way. The owners of the vehicle are from the quad cities area. The couple explained that as a welding teacher at a high school in the Quad Cities, the husband had taken his truck body to class, and his welding class created the resto-mod vehicle as part of a class project.

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The truck featured a custom made truck bed and tailgate, had been "lowered" slightly from its original body style, and sported one very slick looking set of chrome wheels.

Rat Rods also ruled the day at the car show, with several showing up to show off. The story goes, Rat rods are a throwback to the 1950's and 60's right after World War II. Young men had come home from the war with a new lease on life. They wanted excitement, and one means of getting it was with cool cars and drag racing.

It was not uncommon for kids to line country roads, if they could find a good smooth, flat area, and pair off for drag races that were totally illegal, but very exciting.

The best challenges came when someone would show up with an old farm truck or car that looked like it would be better off in the junkyard. The challenge was, one never knew, at least for the first race or two, just what was under the hood. Often the secret under the hood was a souped up, overcharged engine that left the finest looking car shaking off the dust.

On Saturday afternoon, finding fellas standing around a car and remembering the drag races they participated in with their own version of the rat rod, or the classy car that went up against it, was not uncommon all around the grassy area of the Mill.


One rat rod in particular that drew a lot of attention was a late arrival. She was a hoodless model, stretched out a bit in the front, with air hydraulics that would set the frame squarely on the ground when parked for the show. As folks gathered around the car for a first-hand look, the owner enjoyed demonstrating the hydraulics, raising the vehicle to a driveable height, then dropping the body back down on the ground.

Almost all of the cars at the show on Saturday were reminiscent of the vehicles that would have traveled the famed "Mother Road" in its hay-day.

The day brought fond memories for those who lived in that era, and gave inspiration to those who did not to learn more.

[Nila Smith]

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