Last weekend I went over to Seligman, Arizona to catch the beginning of the 32nd Annual Historic Route 66 Fun Run. As well as to catch up with the “Angel of Route 66”, the man who drops the flag almost every year; Angel Delgadillo.
This popular event drew over 1,000 cars from almost every car manufacturer and era of the automobile history. They always begin in Seligman and with Angel. Then roll down the beloved highway to Kingman, Arizona for a day and night of festivities. Then on the last day, they head for the Arizona border and Topack for a final day of festivities.
The Historic Route 66 Fun Run History
Historic Route 66 Fun Run is the brainchild of the Historic Route 66 Association. As a way to raise funds and awareness for the preservation and promotion of this vanishing piece of American history.
The very first fun run was held in 1987. When Seligman businessman Angel Delgadillo got 15 of his surviving friends and fellow business owners to come together at the Copper Cup Cafe, to try to save their little stretch of the most famous highway in America. It wasn’t going to be easy. People had abandoned them and Route 66 for the newly opened stretch of Interstate 40.
As the Interstate Highway system moved westward in the 1980’s, people were jumping at the chance to go from a boring two-lane road with stop signs and small towns with speed limits, to a multilane freeway with no stop signs. The abandoned highways along the way were being decommissioned and the Route 66 section going thru Seligman was to be the next casualty.
The businesses, their families, as well as the towns themselves that had popped up along Route 66, were now going broke as cars fled to the Interstate. Towns were losing their population and the economy was tanking. Something had to be done to draw attention to the disappearing old highway that moved so many people westward during the Great Depression.
The Historic Route 66 Association was the result and the Fun Run would be the beginning of fundraising and building awareness of their lonely stretch of highway,
Cars and Tourism
The newly formed organization decided that having a fun run, a 3-day car-centric event was a creative way to raise awareness as well as raise money to fund all the work ahead of them. Thus the Annual Historic Route 66 Fun Run was born.
the First Annual Historic Route 66 Fun Run attracted the 152 entrants! The governor of Arizona, Rose Mofford, cut the ribbons and declaring the name change from US Highway Route 66 to Historic Route 66. Will Rogers, Jr. was the first Grand Marshal and the Delgadillo’s band headlined the event.
This year, over 1,000 vehicles were registered. Almost every make and model you could think of and a few other ones you didn’t know existed, made their way to Seligman to start the run. Many were there just to say they drove old Route 66 and that they got to meet Angel.
Three Days of Cars, chrome, and Asphalt
They start out in Seligman Arizona. The first day is really for the car owners and hardcore enthusiasts. Parties and get-togethers. Saturday is the day to be in Seligman. Show up early. This is the day when they start to line up on Main Street and the late-comers get signed. The owners are out polishing their machines, talking with the tourists as well as checking out who else is in the lineup.
At 10 am, Angel will drop the flag. Their destination is Kingman, Arizona. With a couple of stops along the way for people to experience the by-gone days of travel. Small stores, travel courts, and mom & pop shops dot the scenic road. So the drivers get to see a little bit of the lost Americana and the fans of the cars and the highway get to ogle at the pretty pieces of chrome passing them by. It’s a fun trip back in time.
The final day, they will cruise from Kingman to Topack/Golden Shores. This is where the famous highway leaves Arizona and enters California. Again, its not a race, but a fun cruise and the highway is again lined with people and stops for appreciation, admiration, and celebration.
Seligman was the inspiration for the fictional town of Radiator Springs, in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars
The Angel of Route 66
Just as it was 32 years ago, this popular event would have never taken place without the energy, determination, as well as the humbling personality of the man who started it all, the man who starts the Fun Run almost every year, My friend, Angel Delgadillo. 92 years young and smiling like a kid in a candy store…
Want to Be There Next Year? 33rd Annual Route 66 Fun Run – May 1st-3rd, 2020