Classic Car Buff Long Way From Home

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When Sonny Adams of Anchorage, Alaska, restores a classic car, he wants to drive it. So the trip to Reno for Hot August Nights was a 6,100-mile joy ride in his 1958 Chevrolet Impala convertible.

There were a few detours, like the stop in Phoenix, where Adams visited his daughter. On the way home, another side trip is planned, through South Dakota for a close-up look at the presidents heads carved on Mount Rushmore.

"It's been fun so far," Adams said Monday at the Peppermill Hotel Casino, where he joined hundreds of others in the crowded parking lot to start the weeklong celebration of oldies automobiles and music. "It's been running just great."

Cars from 38 states and Canada are registered for Hot August Nights, said organizers of northern Nevada's biggest special event.

Adams isn't formally registered, but he spent two weeks driving through six states and Canada to reach Reno.

"I thought I'd come down to look at the cars," said Adams, who checked his odometer at the Peppermill.

It read 12,000 miles. He'd started at 5,900 in Anchorage.

He isn't the only one who drove a long way so people could see his car and he could see theirs.

Benton Kastman of Raleigh, N.C., brought his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro 350 Super Sport 2,700 miles to Hot August Nights.

"I trailered it," Kastman said in a whisper, not wanting his parking lot neighbors to hear he towed the Camaro to Reno instead of driving it.

Hauling classic cars to Hot August Nights is popular, especially among vehicle owners who live in far corners of the country.

Three Chevrolet Corvette owners came in a convoy 1,900 miles from San Antonio, Texas, each with his classic on a trailer.

"I'm tough, but not that tough," George Haile, attending his fifth Hot August Nights, said of the decision to put his 1964 silver Corvette on a trailer instead of driving it to Reno.

But Ed Fisher of Elkton, Md., and his wife, Pat, drove 3,280 miles to Hot August Nights in a green 1940 Ford Coupe that Ed built 13 years ago.

"When you want to go somewhere and you have the time and money, you just don't worry about it," said Ed Fisher, who estimates the trip will cost about $5,000 by the time he and Pat return to Elkton.

Adams didn't put a dollar figure on his odyssey. But gas must have cost plenty from Anchorage to Phoenix to Reno, because Adams estimated the Impala averaged about 15 miles per gallon.

"I saved up enough money to cover it," said Adams, 51, a vehicle mechanic for Alaska Airlines.

When Adams set out July 21, he drove east before heading south, taking a day to cover about 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Whitehorse in Canada's Yukon Territory.

From there, Adams and the Chevy picked up the Cassiar Highway and drove south about 900 miles to Burns Lake in British Columbia, Canada. From Burns Lake, Adams figured it was another 1,000 miles to Seattle.

In Seattle, Adams made his first extended pit stop.

"I got it up on a lift in Seattle and tightened some bolts," Adams said of maintenance on the Impala.

He hung around the area for three days, showing the car at a Chevrolet dealership near Olympia, Wash.

From Seattle, Adams planned to drive down the Pacific Coast on U.S. 101 all the way to Southern California. He stayed with that plan to the Washington-Oregon border, then turned left to Portland, Ore. He was suddenly in a hurry to reach Phoenix and Interstate 5 was quicker.

"I took off again," Adams said with a smile.

Once on I-5 in Portland, Adams had a straight shot through Oregon and all the way down California to Los Angeles before heading east to Blythe, Calif., on the Arizona border.

A day later, Adams was in Phoenix, showing the Chevy to his daughter, Loni Voorhis. It was an important stop.

"We bought the car together in 1987," Adams said. "She was 16. We were living in Alaska. "We both put money in it together."