It was one HOT time in Topeka, KS (literally) for our 27th annual National Meet July 19-22, 2001. In fact, this meet will go down in history as one of the hottest! Each day we saw temperatures over 100 degrees and the evenings cooled off into the high 90s. But dedication won over the heat and our members showed up and had a fantastic time anyway.
Cars started rolling into the ClubHouse Inn as early as Wednesday ( July 18th) afternoon. Early Thursday, Roger and Rochelle Wilson from Moville, IA pulled in with a completely gutted and wrecked 1970 GTX on their trailer. They had been at the 2000 Boone meet with a pristine 1970 GTX and several of our members gasped upon seeing this junker and wondered if it was the remains of the nice car they'd seen the year before. Roger announced to the unsuspecting members that they'd had a "little mishap" with the car but they were both alright. It was good for a laugh and we joked about the eyesore GTX on the trailer all weekend. There literally wasn't much of anything good left on this poor hulk, except one thing that came in rather handy..........more on that later.
Thursday morning, our group took off for a guided tour of Ward-Meade Park, where we learned the history of the Anthony and Mary Jane Ward family and saw how they lived in an 1854 cabin. We toured the incredibly beautiful 1870 family mansion and saw some of the old tortuous instruments used in the 1800's physician/dentist office. One photo on the wall depicts the surgeon drinking spirits from a flask as he's performing surgery on a patient! The old pharmacy included an original style soda fountain, so our group made a pit stop here and enjoyed the hand-mixed root beer, green river and ice cream goodies.
From the Ward-Meade Park, we drove over to the Gage Park Topeka Zoo. Because of the extreme heat most of the animals were resting out of sight in the shade. Several members commented that the humidity outside was greater than inside the zoo's rain forest. For some reason, the huge Reinisch rose garden (6,500 roses of 400 different varieties), with its cold water sprinklers spilling over onto the sidewalk, was a most popular exhibit with our members. While we were in the zoo, the local folks enjoyed looking at our beasts - Road Runners, SuperBees, Birds, etc.- in the parking lot. That evening our group drove go-karts and played miniature golf at the Sports Center.
Friday was a day full of tours, starting with the Combat Air Museum, where we saw vintage war planes from a biplane Jenny used in WWI as one of the first trainers to a helicopter sky crane that was capable of lifting ten tons. We also saw mock-ups of a POW prison cell, field kitchen, field chapel and we learned in detail how a rotary engine works. Next stop was down the road at the National Guard Museum where we saw extensive displays of various weapons and artillery, uniforms and war artifacts and watched an interesting video of Kansas history. Outside of this building various helicopters and other aircraft were on display. After a quick break at the Blind Tiger for lunch (sounds bad, I know, but it was really good), we headed for the Hallmark Card Factory where we were given a most interesting tour of the card making operation that is housed inside of a building that has 40 acres of floor space! We saw how the sparkles and foil accents are applied to greeting cards, how they are die-cut and then removed from the paper frames, we saw the machines that fold the cards and make the envelopes and a machine that makes the glue for the envelopes. It's a self-contained factory where they design and build a lot of their own machinery and everything is recycled. We were told the Mylar strips were the only material used in the factory that they didn't know how to recycle, so the decision was made to shred the Mylar and add it to the asphalt in the parking lot so as not to end up in a landfill. Now, on a sunny day, the parking lot surface sparkles like a million diamonds!
After the Hallmark tour, we drove to the Kansas Museum of History where we saw displays of prehistoric people of the territory through time to the modern day. There were arrow heads, early bone and rock tools, Indian artifacts, a full sized tee-pee, uniforms and paraphernalia from the Civil War, early farm equipment, a Santa Fe railroad locomotive, period clothing, some of the first kitchen appliances and even the old neon arches from an original McDonald's restaurant. That evening we had our member's meeting and raffled-off a bunch of collectibles and discussed plans for our 2002 Pigeon Forge, TN Meet and our 2003 Darlington, SC Spring Meet. Dave Smith of Des Moines gave a very informative technical seminar on the Mopar electrical system.
Saturday morning, we were all lined up on the street beside the ClubHouse getting ready to convoy to Wamego Park, some 40 miles away, for our car show and picnic, when Mike Atkins' Tor Red SuperBird from Tellico Plains, TN disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Quick action on Mike's part to jump out and yank the battery cable saved the car. The ignition switch had burned up. Remember that hulk of a GTX mentioned earlier? We discovered its reason for being when we pulled the steering wheel and found the ignition switch still intact and in good condition! While one crew of people worked on Mike's car to remove the old parts, another crew worked on Roger's GTX to get the good parts out and an hour later, the swap was done and we were on our way to Wamego. On the way to the park in Wamego, we stopped for some photos of the cars in front of Walter P. Chrysler's birthplace home. It's a quaint little house positioned right on a corner lot. Unfortunately, it is privately owned so no renovation has been done and it is not open to the public for viewing. There is little more than a sign posted in the front yard to tell you this is the place. From there, we progressed into the park and set up our cars for display. Jeff Kelderman from Oskaloosa, IA had brought his Vitamin C SuperBird restoration project. This Bird is undergoing quite an extensive restoration after sitting in the harsh Iowa winter in a corn field for much of its early life. It came to the meet with a fresh engine, most of the bodywork done and without any front end sheet metal and served as a great learning experience for anyone who hasn't seen what's inside of a SuperBird front end. After wandering around and visiting with some of the local car fans who'd come to see our machinery, most of us walked downtown to take a tour of the historic Colombian Theatre. The Colombian is a renovated 19th century opera house. First we saw an informative video about six rare paintings, each depicting a different area of the world, that were purchased from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.The paintings had been stored for over a century and then folded into a smaller size so as to fit the frames when first put on display. The local banks and townspeople in Wamego donated money to have the paintings restored and the video showed us how the fascinating restoration of each piece was accomplished. Following the video, we were taken upstairs where the original stage, ticket booth and the six huge paintings are now displayed in the theatre.
After returning to the park and our cars, our hosts Randy and Tim Morrison and Wayne Perkins brought in boxes full of pizza and we had lunch in the shelter house. In the late afternoon, we left Wamego Park and headed out to the Topeka K-Mart where we joined in a huge weekly cruise-in. There were 200+ cars in attendance and all the locals seemed to enjoy seeing our Mopars for a change.
Sunday morning, we all met at Lake Shawnee Park for our traditional farewell picnic. While our hosts cooked up a great lunch, we held a raffle and played some games. It was a beautiful setting for the cars. Ralph Yarnell brought his pristine Survivor 1971 Hemi Road Runner out so the members could see a time capsule. All too soon, the meet was over and everyone was back on the road headed for home. Host Wayne Perkins reported the final count for the weekend was eleven SuperBirds, five Daytonas, twelve B-Bodies (including four Coronets dating from 1967-1969, a 71 Charger, two 69 Road Runners, a 71 Road Runner, one 70 GTX - and part of another one! - one 69 Charger 500 and two SuperBees), one 71 Cuda convertible, one #43 Volare Kit Car and one Cyclone Spoiler II. A very big thanks goes out to our meet hosts Randy and Tim Morrison of Meriden, KS and Wayne Perkins of Olathe, KS for putting this extraordinary meet together for us!
|Allyn and Barb File's SuperBird from Beloit, KS.||This and the next photo are of Steve Kisiel's beautiful 1971 Charger R/T from Round Lake, IL. It has every option imaginable including the very rare air grabber hood and Go Wing.||Dick and Bev Drake's SuperBird from Cleveland, MO.|
|Gary Miller's 1969 SuperBee from MN.||Tim Perkins' SuperBird.||Curt and Janet Lawson's 1966 Coronet from Daytona, MN.||Bump and Betty Fleck's SuperBird from Findlay, OH.|
|Ed and Sue George's SuperBird from Boone, IA.||Stuart and Michele Sutton's 1969 Road Runner from Overland Park, KS.||Stan McGuire's 1969 Road Runner convertible from Des Moines, IA.||Ric and Vicki LaFollette's 1970 GTX from Thorntown, IN.|
|Rich and Judy Bolzenius' SuperBird from Union, MO.||Randy Morrison's Lil Red Express Truck from Meriden, KS.||Ralph Yarnell's 1971 Hemi Road Runner Survivor from Independence, MO.||Mike and Toni Svec's #42 Marty Robbins Daytona clone from Richmond, VA.|
|Mike Atkins' SuperBird from Tellico Plains, TN.||Gene and June Stricker's 1967 GTX from Gardner, KS.||Jerry and Carole Stricker's Hemi SuperBird from Gardner, KS.||Joe Murnan's Daytona from Nebraska City, NE. Joe's positively perfect Daytona was awarded the prestigious sterling silver tankard Best Mopar award sponsored by the Mopar Muscle Association of Great Britain. Congratulations Joe!|
|Gary Svec's #43 Volare Kit Car from Toledo, OH.||James and Cyndi Keehler's #88 Daytona clone from Kingsville, MO.||Gary and Corrie Baker's 1969 Cale Yarborough Cyclone Spoiler II from Kelley, IA.||Dan and Barb Gaddis' SuperBird from Independence, KY.|
|This is the quaint little house where Walter P. Chrysler was born in Wamego, KS.||Some very hot Mopars pose in front of Walter P. Chrysler's birthplace home.||Some of the members' cars at the Combat Air Museum.||Bill and Janet Kuenkel's 1971 Cuda Convertible from Ankeny, IA.|
|Bob and Betty Kerb's Daytona from Morrison, CO.||This and the next photo show Joe Murnan's Daytona and Dick and Bev Drake's SuperBird in front of the Dutch windmill at Wamego Park, KS. Both photos by Randy Morrison.||Rick Edwards' well-traveled SuperBird from Walton, KY.|
|Margaret and John Winsler's 1969 Coronet 500 from Berryton, KS.||The winged cars at Lake Shawnee Park. Photo by Wayne Perkins.||How appropriate! This Road Runner truck was spotted at an office adjacent to our headquarters hotel!||The B and E-bodies at the Lake Shawnee Park picnic.|
|Jeff Kelderman's SuperBird (shown here and in the next two photos) restoration is not quite done! He brought the car to the car show so everyone could see what a SuperBird looks like with no front end sheet metal. It got a lot of attention throughout the day.||Dick and Bev Drake's PT Cruiser from Cleveland, OH.|
|This (and the next two photos) are of the GTX parts car that Roger and Rochelle Wilson purchased prior to arriving at Topeka. Not much left. We made fun of it until it sacrificed a good ignition switch for Mike Atkins' ailing SuperBird!||Rich Bolzenius' 1970 vintage license plate autographed by Richard Petty.|
|A group of very willing and able helpers remove the toasted ignition switch from Mike Atkins' SuperBird.||B and E-bodies at the Shawnee Lake Park picnic.||This is the cake our hosts had made for the picnic, complete with two winged cars, a 67 Charger and a 70 Road Runner on the race track!||Josh Edwards brought these two SuperBird models and won a prize for his good work.|
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