When I first had the idea to write A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66, I didn’t know any of the true “Roadies” of the Mother Road. I just knew a few names. Even after taking two months to travel the entire route in the fall of 2019 to work on the book, I had still only met a handful of people whose names are synonymous with Route 66.
But even before the book’s release on August 3, 2021, and before I commenced a three-month book tour on August 20 in West Hollywood, the positive vibes were being felt and I had been connected with more and more people along the Double 6.
Two people we met in 2019 – now former Texas Route 66 Association president Nick Gerlich and New Mexico Route 66 Association president Melissa Lea Beasley – were instrumental in connecting me with others like New Mexico’s Gary Herron, a sports editor at the Rio Rancho newspaper, and California Route 66 Association president Scott Piotrowski. My wife, Patti, and I had a chance meeting with Nick and Melissa in Holbrook at Mesa Italiana in 2019. We stayed in touch and then Patti and I attended Melissa’s wedding in Albuquerque on September 17, 2021. That is an example of how becoming part of the Route 66 community has changed our lives.
The three months we spent on Route 66 in 2021 cultivated new friendships and strengthened relationships that were in their infancy. We now consider Nick a close friend, especially after spending three days with him in Amarillo – exploring breweries and hiking Palo Duro Canyon.
Nick wasn’t the only one to show me around his town. Route 66 legend Jim Hinckley treated me to breakfast in early September and then drove me around Kingman for three hours, pointing out Route 66 tidbits that very few know. Jim Ross and Shellee Graham invited us over to their house in Arcadia, Oklahoma, for their annual “Neon Fest” and it was there that I met several other Route 66 “Roadies” like Oklahoma Route 66 Association president Rhys Martin and Electric Route 66 founders Mike and Jessica May. Route 66 photographer Efren Lopez was in Litchfield, Illinois, the same day we were to promote his new coffee table book and we swapped signed copies of our respective tomes. We hooked up again with Rich Dinkela in St. Louis for the Missouri Route 66 Association Halloween party and befriended the delightful Elizabeth Olwig, who lives in Tulsa and we were able to hang out with her some more in the Sooner State two weeks later ahead of my final book signing over the Route 66 Marathon weekend. We also met up with Route 66 Suite composer Nolan Stolz multiple times over those three months.
That leads me to the book signings themselves. Some were great; some not so great in terms of turnout, but the overall experience was amazing. And when I say the entire trek was life-changing, I’m not exaggerating. We added a new member to our family because of the book tour. I did two book signings in Tulsa, on October 13 and November 20. The first was at Marshall Brewing, where we met a 2-year-old dog named Goose who was up for adoption. Because we already had Maverick, we felt like the universe was trying to speak to us and we officially brought Goose home with us in the RV on November 3rd.
I can’t list everyone we met or express how the enthusiasm of people like Sammy C’s owner Sammy Chioda in Gallup and Northern Arizona University’s Mitch Strohman in Flagstaff helped to keep me going. I could not be more proud of A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 and it’s gratifying to know that my wild idea to write the first-ever sports book on Route 66 has been so well-received. We’re grateful for the positive press from Men’s Journal Magazine, the Today Show, Forbes and Cleveland.com, but most of all, we’re appreciative of the new friends we made and delighted to have been welcomed into the Route 66 community.
I do hope A Sports Fan’s Guide to Route 66 inspires folks to view Route 66 a different way, and to embark on another epic road trip.