The challenge was thrown when Chevy asked if I wanted to test the new 2016 Camaro driving a leg of their Find new roads (#findnewroads) adventure. As you might expect I pondered the question a whole mille-second before saying yes. Their goal was to have two groups of 8 Camaros drive through all 48 continuous states.
I picked the Nashville to Kansas City leg, because I love Nashville, country music and great BBQ. The normal driving time according to internet directions, is just over eight hours. We had two days to find new roads and arrive at the Kansas City airport for our flight back to California.
The first night in Nashville we gathered along with a number of Camaro owners for a self-guided tour of the Lane Automotive Museum. This is a collection of eclectic and most unusual automobiles to ever travel our roads, and is one not to miss.
The following morning each team dug into a black bag to select the keys to their Camaro. OK, so it was the only way to fairly distribute the four V6 and four V8 Camaros. I am sure my navigator/photographer noticed a bit of disappointment when I pulled the keys for a V6. That disappointment faded quickly into the horizon as we hit the road headed for our first roadside attraction.
The 2016 Camaro, at first glance, may seem as though there is little change. But, you’d be wrong. Designers sculpted the body inducing a more muscular stance. The front end includes sharp surface character lines and a racing car look. The Camaro long hood and sleek fastback profile is accentuated with sharp angles of the lower side body lines. While it remains Camaro all the way the 2016 model takes the image another step higher.
On the road the 3.6-liter V6 does not disappoint offering up an impressive 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft. of torque this Camaro showed performance that made us forget about the few who got the big V-8 powered cars. Well, almost.
Departing Nashville, the Music City, what better point for our first destination but country music legend Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. One of the great things about the US of A is the wonderful names given to many of the small towns across this great country. We headed west following back country roads (after all how best to test the mettle of the Camaro) toward the towns of Only, Duck River and Bucksnort, all interesting small communities.
One saving grace to our having the V6 engine was the great six-speed manual transmission getting the power to the road. I may be showing my age (there were a few young twitters/bloggers on the event who could not drive a manual transmission vehicle) but having the joy of selecting the gears myself as we negotiated tight turn after tight turn brought home the meaning of road trip. It’s the joy of the journey not the destination. Although on our case both were high on the enjoyment list. Parents teach your young drivers how to use a manual transmission equipped vehicle, they will learn more than how to drive.
Onward from Hurricane Mills we decided if we are honoring one country music great why not continue and honor another, which we lost so early in her career. Patsy Cline is best known for her rendition of Willy Nelson’s song “Crazy.” At the young age of 30, in 1963, she lost her life in a small plane crash in the hills just west of Camden, TN. After many drive bys of the sign marking the site, we finally found the etched rock marking the site. Faded flowers and small mementos left behind by fans dotted the boulder.
Our plan to hit at least four states before we flew back to California became our priority. Well actually it was to find food, as the road trip nourishment of Goo Goo clusters and beef jerky was waning. There was more than food on our minds as we headed toward Paris, TN. (seems we were having a difficult time getting out of Tennessee) we wanted to see the town’s largest catfish statue.
The closer we got to the catfish the more we were interested in finding Trolingers BBQ. During our drive we heard truckers, locals even folks in Nashville tell us Trolingers in Paris is not to be missed. They were right. The ribs were to die for and the combo plate for $5.99 made us feel as though we had just dropped back to 1963.
Time was starting to get away from us, so we headed north toward Kentucky, Illinois Missouri and Kansas. That is the problem with time it seems to race ahead of us with no regard to the fact that we have more to experience. The other problem was this darn Camaro was fun to drive and we wanted to hit every back country road.
We got stuck in Paducah, KN by meeting a group of local retirees who find the time to sit next to the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers enjoying telling stories and each other’s company. They loved it when we asked if we could photograph them with the 2016 Camaro. We should have called Chevrolet and told them we needed a week not two days.
We nearly had to race through Illinois and Missouri to get to our flight home though we did stop off at 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL for more fabulous ribs, after all if these are good enough to win four world BBQ championships, we needed a taste test.
Motoring rapidly toward Kansas City for our departure was bitter sweet. Between wanting to stay and sample more of what these four states had to offer, spend more time behind the wheel of the 2016 Camaro and getting home made for hard decisions. Decisions made for us since we had airline tickets for that night and other journos were coming in to take our Camaro further on the #findnewroads tour. Chevy has assured me a longer test in the Camaro, V-8 SS this time so I have lots to look forward to including finding great BBQ on the North Coast.