Fancy Gap — John Denver’s song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was applied in a slightly different way last week by Model T enthusiasts thrilled to ride Carroll County’s quieter routes. “The Poor Boy’s Tour” stopped briefly at Fancy Gap Pottery & Fabric Outlet on June 14.
The tour was co-hosted by Lambsburg’s Randall and Tonda Strickland and Brent Terry, from Johnson City, Tenn. Terry explained the effort gives enthusiasts (some driving Ford Model A vehicles), an economical chance for a laid-back event with their grandchildren.
“Our tour has no cost to it (for the participants),” said Terry. “We like the dirt roads with some driving on Highway 58 and 52. These cars have a 22 horsepower motor and two-speed transmissions so it’s slow and slower. It’s a fun thing. The other cool thing is it brings more people to the area, which is important for the economy.”
He said participants came from areas including Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia. The antique vehicles were manufactured in the early 1900s. (A few Model A vehicles were also in the Tour.) The 37-car motorcade visited Fancy Gap for the first time this year with plans on visiting Mount Airy, Floyd and local sites along The Blue Ridge Parkway.
“The weather and the locals for this tour have been great,” Terry said. He said the group isn’t accompanied by a support unit and drivers and navigators rely on each other for help with mechanical issues. Fancy Gap Pottery & Fabric Outlet donated goody bags for participants who stopped in briefly.
Antique cars are prominent in Outlet Owner Gina Isom’s life as well, with her son catching the bug from Dr. Tom Littrell. The two were participating in “The Great Race,” an antique, vintage, and collector car competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways, when the Tour came to Fancy Gap. The Race’s course typically ranges from from Illinois to California.
“We love history. We only found out when they (The Poor Boy Tour) called us last week. We put it on our Facebook page,” Isom said. “We would love for them to come back and give us a bit more notice. I’d love to have had a lot more people here to enjoy this.”
She said she views the Tour as similar to The Great Race, which her family supports enthusiastically. Isom said Littrell reached out to local Boy Scouts and allowed them to help him build his Great Race car from the ground up. She recalled how young her son, Tony Isom, looked in early pictures with the vehicle. He is part of Littrell’s team this year.
“Tony got to go on the race and navigated while Doc drove. They ended up in Daytona for the Daytona 500 for his 16th birthday,” said Isom. “They have to be good with math for The Great Race. It’s a precision run. It’s the closest to the time they should be there. The kids have to be on their A game.”
Great Race participants (like Poor Boy Tour enthusiasts) have to contend with geography and weather with participants encountering rain, sleet, snow and sunburn all in one day.
The camaraderie exhibited by Race participants is similar to Poor Boy Tour participants, who chatted with each other as much as they did to admirers looking at their cars. One of the first things drivers did after parking at the Outlet was to open manifold cookers (which were an optional accessory for Model T cars) and check on the progress of the beans calmly cooking next to the engine block.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.