Hastings will be the host site next week for the nation’s oldest and largest antique auto tour.
The 72nd Annual Revival AAA Glidden Tour will roll into the Adams County Fairgrounds on Sunday and depart on Friday. A lineup of 130 vehicles all made before 1943 will participate in this year’s Meet in the Middle Tour, which covers several towns that were part of the 1909 Tour through Nebraska. More than 300 people are expected to accompany the tour.
The Nebraska Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) will host the event, which will give participants a chance to visit multiple towns and attractions in Central Nebraska along a preselected route. Destination locations include Pioneer Village in Minden, The Archway in Kearney and Hastings Museum.
John Nikodym, a Red Cloud farmer, is tour chairman of the event, which brings together members of the AACA and Vintage Motor Car Club of America. A member of both national clubs, Nikodym has been participating in Revival Glidden Tours for 13 years. His vehicle of choice in this year’s tour is a 1909 Midland car.
“We’ll be traveling approximately 500 miles during the week, going in different directions from Hastings each day,” Nikodym said. “Each car is given a set of directions and a time period they need to be at each venue. For instance, on Monday, half the people will be at Pioneer Village in Minden in the morning and Holdrege museum in the afternoon. Everyone meets at the same place for lunch.”
Those participating in the tour hail from all corners of the nation, each with a unique story to tell. One couple decided to make the tour instead of taking a cruise to celebrate its 50th wedding anniversary.
Another family will showcase a vehicle that sports its steering wheel on the passenger side, putting a stuffed Dalmatian in the traditional “driver’s seat” for laughs.
For about half the participants, the tour represents their first tour experience. About 30 drivers have made the tour part of their annual vacation plans, including one man who is logging his 51st event this year.
The original AAA Glidden Tour ran from 1904-1913 to demonstrate the reliability of the automobile as basic transportation. It also encouraged the development of safe roads and dependable driving information, including maps and signage, and the expansion of other automobile-related services.
In 1909, the original Glidden Tour travelled from Detroit to Kansas City, Missouri, by way of Denver, passing through Nebraska on a cow path that is now Highway 30. This year’s tour marks the first time in the Revival Tour’s 72-year history the event is based in Nebraska.
It was during the early 1900s that an evolution was beginning to take place on the nation’s roadways, with consumers becoming more aware of the benefits afforded them by the horseless carriage. The tour served as a catalyst for these changes in the transportation industry.
These days, the tour revolves around socializing with other antique car owners while exploring various states in a unique way.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Nikodym said. “That’s why I keep doing it. There are definitely a lot of friendships formed through this. For some of us, this may be the only time we see each other annually.”
Kayla Nelson, Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director, said the event is sure to have a positive and much-welcomed economic impact on local businesses.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to showcase who we are to people all across the United States,” Nelson said. “Coming out of summer time, tourism is starting to slow down a little bit, so the fact that this is happening over an entire week is phenomenal for us. All of our businesses will be open and we expect a lot of participation in and around our area as they visit different sites, including the museum and Navy Ammunition Depot.”
Locals looking to catch a glimpse of the antique vehicles participating in the tour can stop by Hastings Museum between 8-10 a.m. Wednesday to view them in the museum parking lot.
Details of this year’s Revival Glidden Tour can be found online at GliddenTour.org. A collection of historical photos from the 1909 tour through Nebraska can be viewed on the Detroit Public Library website, detroit.lib.mi.us.