Immortalized in countless books, songs, and movies, Route 66 is a timeless icon of American culture. Until now, however, no guide to this historic byway has focused on another beloved part of American culture: sports. That all changes with A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66. In this groundbreaking new book, sports writer and lifelong sports fan Ron Clements goes beyond nostalgic buildings and classic cars to highlight historic sports venues, storied sports professionals, and current sports events along the Mother Road.
State by state
Rolling 301 miles through Illinois, Route 66 is dotted with small towns that embrace their Mother Road heritage. In addition to NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, you’ll find auto and horse racing tracks. And don’t forget the magnificent lineup of high school and collegiate sports programs to check out along the way.
The Missouri stretch of Route 66 has a little bit of everything for sports fans. Professional teams, a pair of NCAA Division I universities, multiple D-II schools, elite high school teams, and a handful of golf courses are just the beginning.
Take a trip back in time on the 13-mile non-Interstate stretch of Route 66 through the small towns of Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs. All three towns inspired characters and settings in the 2006 Disney Pixar film Cars. They also have high schools with competitive teams, especially on the diamond.
Oklahoma is home to many sports legends who have roots on Route 66. Towns along the Mother Road boast baseball hall of famers, football stars, Olympic medalists, and one superstar who won the most enduring foot race of all time. Oklahoma is also home to an NBA team, a Triple-A baseball club, and–perhaps surprisingly–thriving rugby and rowing scenes.
We all know the movies and television shows about Texas high school football. Route 66 travelers can experience it for themselves while traveling from Shamrock to Adrian. Discover high-scoring six-man football and a unique golf course with sand greens in McLean. Amarillo has successful minor league baseball and hockey teams in addition to a thriving high school sports scene. And check out one of the nation’s biggest rodeos!
Rodeo is an especially big deal in the Land of Enchantment. Soccer and basketball are two other extremely popular sports in New Mexico, where you’ll also find an iconic college basketball venue and one of America’s best sports bars.
The Arizona segment of Route 66 begins and ends in the desert, but between Holbrook and Oatman, you’ll discover pine-covered mountains, an NCAA Division I university, multiple rodeo venues, an elite ski resort, and dynastic high school cross-country, wrestling, and football programs.
On your way to the edge of the continent, roll through towns and cities that boast teams in each of the major four professional sports leagues. You’ll also find major league soccer clubs, minor league baseball teams, iconic venues like the Rose Bowl and Dodger Stadium, famed horse racing venues, numerous golf courses, and elite high school and college sports programs.
A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 will be in bookstores and online on August 3, 2021.
Updates from the publisher can be found on the Scenic Side Trips series home site here.
Purchase A Sports Fan's Guide to Route 66 at these fine retailers
About the Author
Ron Clements is a Wisconsin native and Green Bay Packers fan who married a Chicago Bears fan from Peoria, Illinois. Despite the rivalry, Ron and Patti make it work and have been living fulltime in an RV since March 2018. They travel the country in search of new adventures and love attending baseball games and exploring national parks. They visited all 30 MLB stadiums in 2018 and have taken their RV to each of the Lower 48 states. Ron is a veteran journalist of more than two decades and a summa cum laude graduate of East Carolina University, which he attended following his service in the United States Marine Corps. Ron has written for USA Today, Sporting News, CBS Sports, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Omaha World Herald, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Fresno Bee, the Montgomery Advertiser, and many other media outlets. Ron and Patti have two adult sons, RJ and David, and a four-legged travel companion named Maverick. While Ron’s home base is in Florida, he is on the road in his RV twelve months a year. A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 is for anyone who has ever driven past a high school, college, or professional stadium, and thought, “I wonder what it’s like to see a game there.” A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 will be in bookstores and online everywhere on August 3, 2021.
On the 5th of each month, Ron posts an article about current events and historical lore he discovered during his recent travels on the Mother Road.
Praise for Ron’s Book:
“Have you ever dreamed of visiting the birthplace of Oliver Gibson? How about meeting Illinois’ winningest high school football coach? Wanna step foot in Mickey Mantle’s boyhood back yard? Play hard-core rugby in Tulsa? Ron Clements’ A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 is a joyful who’s who of where’s where; a guidebook to seeing all the sports landmarks you’d never thought to see. It’s pure fun.”–Jeff Pearlman, New York Times, best-selling author of nine books, including Boys Will Be Boys, Three-Ring Circus, Football for a Buck, The Rocket that Fell to Earth, The Sweetness, The Gunslinger, Love Me, Hate Me and The Bad Guys Won. (02/26/2021)
“As someone who has traveled Route 66 many times, chronicling every bend and fork in the road, I was surprised to discover new insights thanks to Ron Clements. At first glance, it seems that A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 is all about sports. And it is. But it’s also a thoughtful look at how sports unites communities, spotlighting those communities — big and small — that knit together the people and places of Route 66. Ron brings a unique perspective to one of the most epic roads in America. I love this book!”-–Jessica Dunham, author of Moon Route 66 Road Trip and The Open Road: 50 Best Road Trips in the USA, (04/06/2021)
“By blending Route 66 with a keen and tireless eye for sports history, Ron Clements has created a book that is so mind-bogglingly interesting, entertaining, and informative, that it makes you want to pack a bag and hit the road within the hour. For me, that’s the mark of a great travel/history book; how fast it makes you want to hit the road. Exhaustive in scope and brimming with passion and detail, A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 is a home run, touchdown, goal, slam dunk – you get the idea – thoroughly wonderful.”–Chris Epting, best-selling author of 30 travel/history books, including Roadside Baseball and Hello, It’s Me, (03/13/2021)
“As a fan of both the American road and American sports, I’m happy that someone has skillfully expanded the Mother Road’s purview to include not just its dinosaur statues and burger stands, but also its Mickey Mantle Museums and high school gyms incubating greatness. Ray Nitschke and Mario Lemieux might have worn the number with pride, but Rt. 66 remains the original.”–Mike Wilkins. coauthor, Roadside America, and co-owner, Pittsburgh Steelers. (03/13/2021)
“Just when you think it’s all been covered, here come’s A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66. It’s all here, from rodeo to rugby, from landmark locations and legends of sports to the glory of local high school athletics. Loaded with fascinating trivia, roadside attractions, and eye-popping photographs, this book is a grand-slam!”–Jim Ross, author of Oklahoma Route 66 and Route 66 Crossings. (02/26/2021)
“As a testimony to his skills made manifest in A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66, I was inspired to add a few new stops to our next Route 66 odyssey and I do not qualify as a sports fan.” –Jim Hinckley, Route 66 historian and best-selling author of Travel Route 66: A Guide to the History, Sights, and Destinations Along the Main Street of America (03/13/2021)
“I’ve often dreamed about driving U.S. Route 66 from end-to-end, 2,448 miles from Santa Monica, California to Chicago, Illinois. Now Ron Clements’ unique book, A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66, has brought America’s most iconic highway to life for me, with details on everything from sports venues and historic landmarks to must-stop eateries along the Mother Road. This colorful collection of facts, figures, and photos is the ultimate travel guide for fellow fans, nostalgia buffs, and foodies, whether you just want a bite of Americana or, like me, you are ready to hit the road and eat the whole enchilada!” –Kirk Richardson, author of Craft Beer Country: In Search of the Best Breweries from the South Pacific to the Pacific Coast (03/14/2021)
“Ron Clements reminds us that sports and the Mother Road go together like hot dogs and ballparks. After all, Route 66 first made a name for itself by staging the 1928 Bunion Derby footrace. This unique perspective on America’s favorite highway has something for everyone. I love this book!”–Shellee Graham, author of Tales from the Coral Court and Secret Route 66. (03/01/2021)
“Clements’ accessible and thoroughly enjoyable book offers a genuinely unique insight into a previously ignored aspect of life along the Mother Road: the sports enjoyed by the people who live and work along its 2,400 miles.”–Peter Thody, Thody.net and RoadTripAmerica (03/08/2021)
“Ron has done an outstanding job of traveling, visiting and reporting on the myriad sites in New Mexico, which has the longest stretch of the Mother Road!! As a member of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, I’ll make it a point to recommend this book to fellow members, as well as other visitors to New Mexico and anyone seeking a cool way to travel Route 66.”–Gary Herron, Sports Editor of the Rio Rancho Observer. (03/02/2021)