Hi there, fellow roadies! How ya doin’ with that polar vortex?? Have you been buried under layers of silk, wool and down this month? Wearing two pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks, indoors? Drinking hot cocoa and trying to think warmer thoughts?? Well, we can’t warm you up as fast as an XXX-rated movie might, but we can certainly turn your attention away from the freezer outside to things that should bring a smile. With the annual Chicago Auto Show ongoing at McCormick Place through Feb. 22, it’s an opportune time to look back at last autumn’s annual Berwyn (IL) Route 66 Car Show … and dream.
Suddenly those cars with the flame-throwing exhaust systems actually look appealing, eh? Yeah, we thought they might. But hang on to your mittens anyway (they actually work better for keeping your hands warm).
Greetings, fellow roadies! Have you got Seasonal Affective Disorder or cabin fever yet? Mother Nature has been jerking us around this winter, at least in Chicagoland – teasing us with unseasonal above-freezing days that melt what little snow we’ve had so far (not enough long-lasting snow cover: very bad for farmers and for your precious perennials), then slapping us upside our parkas with single-digit temps and subzero wind chills and giving us an intermittent reality check (yeah, the super-cold is the way real winter used to be up here; y’all are spoiled these days). Makes you want distraction, preferably with something warm … or at least something that reminds you of warmth. Well, thank heavens Mardi Gras season officially began back on January 7 and Chinese New Year is just around the corner; I don’t know about you, but thinking about great food always makes me feel warmer.
Oh, but there’s an excellent distraction coming up soon, especially for those of you who are automotively minded: the annual Chicago Auto Show is coming back to McCormick Place! And it’s warm and sexy inside!! Now some of you may be asking yourselves: Hey, wait – what does McCormick Place have to do with Route 66? Fret not, there is a legitimate connection: the massive convention center is located at the eastern end of Cermak Road/22nd Street, right where Lake Shore Drive meets the start of Interstate 55. The final alignment of U.S. Route 66 in Illinois during the early 1970s had the eastern terminus set back to Jackson Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive, then the route went south to I-55 where the interstate and Route 66 mostly ran together on the same superhighway between Chicago and Joliet for a few years, before Route 66 was finally decommissioned in Illinois during the 1970s. This last iteration of the route took it right past McCormick Place.
So: do we really need more reason than that to come stare at muscle cars, sports cars and high-tech prototypes? Naaaah – like you should even ask.
So: you went to this year’s Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place six or seven weeks ago and ate your heart out over all the beauties on display (uh, we mean the cars, guys; they don’t use scantily-clad female models anymore). Now it’s wet, and cold, and dreary, and sometimes (though not often enough) snowy outside, and you’re pining for blue skies and wide-open spaces to cruise with that fancy concept car you were oh, so tempted to drive away with at the car show. Right. Uh-huh. And of course, all good route roadies are already planning their rides down 66 for this year.
What better time, then, to dream about Riding The Route in some of those classic, vintage and souped-up lovelies that were on display at the Berwyn Route 66 Car Show last September? If you’re gonna dream, might as well dream big and imagine cruising down Route 66 in your favorite fast vehicle. To help you with that, your blonde, blue-eyed genial route guide here has assembled a lovely slideshow to remind you of warmer, sunnier days and what you can look forward to when driving season returns (which to me means any time after May 1st, when lilac season begins in Chicagoland; but your local start of spring may vary).