Things get rolling as Roanoke gets ready for ‘Dream Tour 2020’ July 25

Rolling into Roanoke guests check out cars on display on Main Street in downtown Roanoke in 2018.
Rolling into Roanoke guests check out cars on display on Main Street in downtown Roanoke in 2018. Photo provided.

Many special event and festival committees have thrown in the towel as the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague our nation.

Nevertheless, in an act of perseverance, the organizers of the annual event “Rolling into Roanoke” decided to revamp their celebration rather than cancel altogether.

The alternative event, “Dream Tour 2020,” will take place Saturday, July 25, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., culminating with a movie showing of “Smokey and the Bandit” at Sweetwater Performance Pavilion, from 5 to 9 p.m.

The tour is free for anyone who registers. It is essentially a planned sightseeing journey for anyone with a show car. Those participating may come and go from tour stop to tour stop anytime within the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. window.

Registered participants of the Dream Tour will have the opportunity to drive their show cars to nine tour stop locations, each with their own automobile-centered attraction, says Rick Fischer, executive director of the event.

Tour stop locations are Auburn, Fort Wayne, Roanoke and Huntington.

Pre-registered participants may begin their tour at any of the tour stops, at any time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Fischer notes.

Those registering on the day must report to Sweetwater Performance Pavilion first, and may then travel to the nine tour stops at their leisure.

Drivers may visit the stops in any order they choose.

The day will wrap up with everyone heading to Sweetwater Performance Pavilion at 5 p.m. for food trucks, the 7 p.m. cruise-in movie and door prizes, says Fischer.

In Auburn there will be three tour stops open. They are the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, National Auto & Truck Museum and Worldwide Auctioneers.

In Fort Wayne stops include SweetCars, Mitchell’s Neighborhood Grill and Ultra Motorsports.

In Roanoke tourists will stop in Historic Downtown Roanoke and at GM/UAW Local 2209 Union Hall.

In Huntington, Huntington Chevrolet will be open to motorists.

Fischer says rather than cancel completely, the Rolling into Roanoke, Inc. Board of Directors opted to “give people something to do.”

Safety is of course still an issue, and he says, “we are doing our part to be safe – you do yours.”

He says social distancing guidelines will be in place, and wearing a mask – or not wearing a mask –  is “okay.”

“It’s something, instead of nothing,” he adds.

“Because of tough times, and concerns over safety and health, we knew it was not smart to have the traditional event this year … (motorists) can get in the car and drive.”

“For many with show cars it is such a passion, from why they own them, to stories and memories behind cars.”

He says folks may “pick your place,” from all the tour spots, and can spend “one hour, or 10 minutes,” depending on their preference.

At each stop, tourists will receive a stamp, and anyone collecting a stamp from every stop will be entered into door prize drawings to be chosen at the Sweetwater pavilion that evening.

Everyone who registers will also receive a goody bag with a 16 oz. glass.

The stamp cards are part of a tour packet that can be picked up at any tour spot by pre-registered participants. Those who register on the day will need to retrieve their packet from Sweetwater between 8 and 10 a.m. The tour packet will also include a tour map and a window card.

Fischer says each stop along the tour will have its own allure.

At Huntington Chevrolet, he says Nick’s Kitchen will be selling their famous tenderloins, and a “unique Corvette” will be on display. The Corvette is a cutaway Corvette from the local Ed Foss collection, says Fischer. He notes that the car offers viewers an educational display of the inside of the vehicle.

In Roanoke, tourists will be able to explore downtown Roanoke, and Fischer says it’s “open for business.”

There will be designated parking on Main Street for the show cars. Fischer says this is a great opportunity for folks to “drift through” the streets, stop into stores or eat lunch at one of the locally owned restaurants.

Also in Roanoke, at GM/UAW Local 2209 Union Hall, Fischer says trucks straight off the production line will be on display and a live DJ will be present.

At SweetCars and UltraMotorsports in Fort Wayne automotive information will be available, such as the ability to chat with a technician.

At Mitchell’s Neighborhood Grill, the third stop in Fort Wayne, food and entertainment will be available, says Fischer.
Auburn has many “big draws,” says Fischer.

Between the museums and Worldwide Auctioneers, it will be a very automotive focused group of tour stops.

The Duesenberg museum will be open to all Dream Tour participants, says Sam Grate, curator.

He says all exhibits will be accessible, including their newest exhibit, “Out of Quarantine.”

The exhibit has “a little for everyone” says Grate, with vehicles from “1911 to 2002”, from “Corvettes to Thunderbirds.”

The National Auto & Truck Museum will have a General Motors (GM) Futurliner on display.

The Futurliners were “designed for a glimpse of the future,” says Dave Yarde, executive director of the museum.

The vehicle is one of 12 of its kind. They were produced in the 1940’s for a traveling caravan event that took place in the latter part of the decade and the beginning of the next, says Yarde.

Yarde explains it was a “road show carnival” that paraded from Detroit to Miami, New York City and L.A. from year to year, stopping in small towns to exhibit new technologies such as microwaves and rotary dial telephones. Yarde says it was GM’s way of taking the “future to the public.”

“It is truly one of a kind, it is spectacular,” he says.

The Worldwide Auctioneers are “new” in Auburn, says Fischer. They will be previewing their Labor Day sale for visitors during the Dream Tour, he adds. According to the Worldwide Auctioneers website, “All roads lead to Auburn for the next catalogue sale in North America.” The site states the sale will be held on Sept. 5. For more information about the sale, visit worldwideauctioneers.com/auburn-auction/.

When tourists have finished their excursion, they should report back to the Sweetwater pavilion to enjoy “lining up and hanging out,” says Fischer.

The cruise-in movie “Smokey and the Bandit” will be played on a jumbotron, Fischer says. The movie will start at 7 p.m., following a performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner” by Linda McDonald. Fischer says her rendition of the national anthem, “gives you goosebumps.” She will perform the song in front of a garrison flag, Fischer says, which is being donated for use by Doc’s Crane Service of Roanoke.

Fischer says of the Dream Tour, “You do not have to do it all day. You can come and go. Head to the stops at any time, and pick and choose your stops. There is no structure.”

He says the event is a thank you for everyone who has supported “Rolling into Roanoke” in previous years, and as a way to segue into a hopeful return of the annual event in 2021.  

Pre-registration for the free tour is recommended. To pre-register, or for more information about the tour, visit rollingintoroanoke.com.

Information can also be found at the “Rolling Into Roanoke Dream Tour 2020” Facebook page.