Friday, September 02, 2005
Smart Way to Travel Famous Route 66
Sussex Express, Friday September 2, 2005
A Lewes man has shown Americans that size isn't everything.
Former Tanners Brook resident Rupert Lloyd Thomas, with his Lewes wife Annette, has driven the smallest car the US has ever seen across the 2,300 miles of Route 66 - and more.
Rupert and Annette missed the Smart car they had in Lewes when they went to live in Canada four years ago.
So when it was recently launched in Canada they bought a diesel version.
Said Rupert, 54, best known as a presenter on Rocket FM, the Lewes independent radio station:
'Here's the setup: Drive the smallest Smart car down old-time Route 66 in the US of A to see the good old boys and find out what we make of each other.
'The trip is a kind of antidote to gas-guzzling in the land of pickup trucks, where a car like ours is not available.
'In the faded suburb of Cicero an old black man pulls alongside at a stoplight – “I like your car man” – the smart is an instant ice-breaker.
Folk are intrigued and enchanted although some are laughing at the car so much that they cannot speak.
'The message is that 50 miles a US gallon is possible and most people get the message.'
Adds Rupert: 'We are mobbed everywhere we go.
'A lot of women think the car is cute. In Gallup, New Mexico, a Navajo woman is practically in tears because she wants the car so badly.
'We make common cause with the bikers who are hip to our minimalist approach and tend to come alongside at campsites.
'At the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, half way along Route 66, and the lady owner rushes out to photograph our little fellow in front of her sign.
'We see endless freight trains, each with up to four diesel engines, pulling double-stacked container cars. The train whistle is the signature tune of the tour coupled with the background music of American country radio.
'We cross the Continental Divide at 7,245ft and tackle the Mojave Desert in daylight.The Smart takes everything thrown at it.
'The trip balloons in the planning and eventually we cover 8,984 miles in 35 days, heading home via the Pacific Coast Highway and the Trans-Canada.'