23 September 2013

Highways and Byways Road Trip, Part 3: Going to the Sun

Nine years ago, regular Montana visitors Jim Dolan, Brian Dolan, Dean Genge and Montana native Will Brewster created the Going to the Sun classic car rally as a way to show off their favorite part of the country to their fellow automotive enthusiasts. Named after the iconic road that climbs through Glacier National Park (site of that first event), the Going to the Sun Rally, or GTTSR, now attracts an impressive collection of collector cars and their owners, thanks to its fine mix of roads, fellowship and fun.

This year, Tim and Margie Suddard, owners of Classic Motorsports magazine, took us along on the rally. This is the second time that Tim has participated in the GTTSR, and he claims that of all the rallies he has done, this is one of the best.

“This event is about not only the roads and scenery, but the people, too,” Tim tells us. “The folks that we meet here are some of the nicest we have ever met.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the roads usually offer just the right combination of vistas, curves and speed as the rally travels through the high deserts, mountain passes and river valleys of the Northwest.

This year’s event eschewed past destinations in Montana and Wyoming to focus on portions of Idaho, Washington and even Canada as it traversed the wide variety of scenery that composes the mighty Columbia River’s watershed.

A highlight of the trip was the Okanagan wine valley of British Columbia. Most of the participants had never travelled to this area, and in fact few even suspected that this lush landscape, set against the stark relief of desert hillsides, even existed. Many glowing comparisons were drawn between the wine-growing regions of California and even Italy. This area is a must-see for any classic car enthusiast with a bit of wanderlust.

Stops included a delicious lunch cruise-in hosted by the Igniters Car Club in Libby, Mont., where this great bunch of hot-rodders shared their dubious-sounding, but wonderful, trash-can chicken. From there, even more challenging roads and breathtaking vistas took the group to the shores of Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho.

The next morning it was off through the northern tip of Idaho into northeastern Washington. A border crossing and trip up through wine country put the group in Kelowna, B.C., for two days. A trek back east led through the beautiful Selkirk Mountains to Nelson, B.C.

The next day the rally crossed back over the U.S. border into Idaho, then back through Libby, Mont., and a blast up the aptly named “better than sex highway” to Eureka. From there the group arrived back at the starting point of Whitefish, Mont., where the five-day-long experience was capped off with a final awards ceremony.

The Suddards were surprised with the “Lug Nut” award at that final dinner recognizing their perseverance before and during the GTTS event. The pair piloted their Shelby through more than double the rally’s 1,300-mile length thanks to their California journey the week before, and despite a few mechanical troubles completed the entire route in good shape and better spirits.

For any Hagerty customer seeking adventure and a real sense of camaraderie with their classic car, the GTTSR rally can be highly recommended. The Suddards are already making plans to return next September for the 10th anniversary running of the event, which will truly trace the path of Going to the Sun as it follows the first rally’s trek through Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.

9 Reader Comments

  • 1
    ken falk kent wa September 24, 2013 at 22:52
    how do we get in this coing to the sun roadtrip? we have driven the road from west to east , want to do it from east to west. thanks ken
  • 2
    Gus Hernandez Jr. Billings, MT September 25, 2013 at 03:30
    What a great way to spread news about cars and other things such as events and shows. Please continue to do this.
  • 3
    Dona and Mike Petrey United States September 25, 2013 at 19:33
    Thanks for sharing and recommending.......sounds beautiful. On another note, I wonder what ever happened to the "Topless" tour......we joined 200 convertibles in the Wisconsin North Woods/Lake Superior/Apostle Islands, I think the year we went was 2006 and they had one more that we didn't make and we haven't heard anything since. Just thought I'd shout it out in case anyone hears of it again.
  • 4
    Robert Maxwell San Jose,Calif. September 26, 2013 at 01:36
    I had a 67 GTA, drove from SJ to Penn, What a fun trip, Make sure you make a screen to keep the Corn Hoppers out of you Radiator and AC ? May do you trip in My 85 Corvette next year.
  • 5
    Going To The Sun Rally Montana September 26, 2013 at 11:25
    Ken, please visit www.gttsr.com and apply to join us! Thank you!
  • 6
    Bill Law Boise ID September 26, 2013 at 12:39
    Is non-ethanol gas available thru-out the trip?
  • 7
    jay Proops Ovando, MT September 29, 2013 at 16:38
    Bill. Non ethanol was available with no problem throat the trip. Just in case I keep a few bottles of ethanol gas treatment in the trunk which can be purchased at most auto parts stores.
  • 8
    Karl Winkler Oregon September 29, 2013 at 12:58
    In June 2010. my wive and I drove 7,400 miles from Portland to Florida and back (through North Dakota). Included was the 2010 Hot Rod Power Tour from Newton, Iowa to Mobile. Alabama where we were awarded "Long Hauler" status. All of this in a 1971 Toyota FJ40 (no AC). What a blast!! I am currently working on a 1956 Chevrolet 210 Sedan getting ready for the 2014 HRPT>
  • 9
    Chip Johns Santa teresa N.M. 88008 October 1, 2013 at 13:45
    Would like to agree with Gus Hurnandez this is a great way to encourage folks to come out and "play". Will also look into the gttsr website. thank you cj

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