Follow that Street Rodder 1955 Ford Custom!

Jerry Dixey, Road Tour Director, leads enthusiastic street rodders on trips to automotive events around the country.

“I drive a car, and people follow me,” said Dixey at the 2019 Minnesota Street Rod Association’s Back to the 50’s Weekend.

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Road Tour Director Jerry Dixey. Eugene Weigel for ArtsCrawler.

Dixey’s first stop, and Tour #1, was the State Fair grounds for the Back to the 50’s Weekend. “[The State Fair grounds] is the nicest space in the U.S. for this type of car show,” said Dixey. “I couldn’t believe it when I first came here in 2001. The gates opened and there was a line of cars waiting to get in. Drivers were getting out of their car and asking the driver behind if they could help. I thought to myself ‘what part of the parallel universe am I in?’ A lady said to me ‘this is called Minnesota nice.'”

Dixey and his 1955 Ford Customline two-door sedan, built by Troy Ladd and crew at Hollywood Hot Rods, meet street rodders in Los Angeles for the Road Tours. The rodders drove to meet the 12,000 other participants at the Back to the 50’s Weekend. “Minnesota is our first road trip of the season,” said Dixey.

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1955 Ford Customline two-door sedan build. Eugene Weigel for ArtsCrawler

At the Back to the 50’s Weekend, Dixey invited participants to join local all-day trips. One day trip was visiting the city of Duluth, where rodders toured AMSOIL, a corporate sponsor of the Road Tour. Another day trip was to French Lake Auto Parts, a 100 acre yard in Annandale featuring classic car parts from the 1920’s to present.

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Eugene Weigel for ArtsCrawler

The Road Tours are for special interest vehicles only- no late model vehicles. “We want to show rodders that it’s OK to drive their custom vehicle. A lot of rodders put their vehicle on a trailer, or worry their classic car could break down,” said Dixey.

Dixey said there’s a challenge attracting younger generations to hot rodding. “These [classic cars] are our generation’s memories,” he said. “The millennial’s can’t relate. They like tuner cars or imports. They do like the pick up trucks, though. Some of the classics cost $50 to $100K and they don’t have the money. Most of the participants [at car shows] are retired.”

The majority of Dixey’s generation, and older, have six or seven classic cars. “If one of their kids show an interest in hot rodding, he’ll be willed a car. But most of the classics go on the open market for sale [after the owner passes].”

Dixey said he went to 1969’s Woodstock festival. “I didn’t talk about going, I didn’t say I went but didn’t. I was actually there, on the hill, all three days.”

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Dixey, left, and Dale Sohlstrom, Out State Board of Directors, MSRA. Eugene Weigel for ArtsCrawler

Tours in July include Syracuse Nationals Week and the 50th NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville. August will find a Dream Cruise in Detroit. “A million people from around the world line up to watch rodders go down the street,” said Dixey.

In all, 8 tours are planned and wind up in late October. The Road Tour has 30 corporate sponsors, said Dixey.

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About Barb Teed

Barb has a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn., a B.A. in Media Studies from New School University, NYC., and Associates of Arts degree in Anthropology from Normandale Community College, Bloomington Minn. I was born in Duluth, Minn.