Can he do it: 9 days 49 states in a ’32 roadster?

Dave Schaub is planning to drive his ’32 Ford roadster through
49 states in 9 days, raising money for Ronald McDonald House,
to help terminally ill children. His ‘32 Ford roadster, built in
South San Francisco by Roy Brizio Street Rods, will be wrapped
in a vinyl cover by Yak Graphics (San Jose, CA) to carry sponsor
logos and signage.You can help support Dave too. Just go to
www.49in9.com to help contribute and track Dave’s progress.
(Dave Schaub photo)

He’s going to drive his ’32 Ford highboy roadster through the entire continental 49 United States, touching every state. More impressively, he plans to accomplish this never-before-done feat in just nine days. A quick calculation shows the distance will be about 9,800 miles, and Schaub will drive it in just 216 hours!

Best of all, he’s doing this for charity. Schaub will pay for gasoline and oil himself. The tolls are sponsored by Chemical Solutions, Inc. All the proceeds – he’s hoping to raise between $50,000 and $100,000 — will benefit the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, Calif., helping seriously ill children. Schaub is asking people to donate whatever they can to sponsor his drive. For example, one penny per mile will work out to just under $100; a donation of 10 cents per mile will be $1,000. But any contribution, however small, is welcome.

The owner of Schaub’s Meat, Fish and Poultry, in Palo Alto, Calif., Dave is an active member of the Bay Area Roadsters Club. I first met him on one of Ken “POSIES” Fenical’s “Driven Dirty” cross-country drives. He was driving his Roy Brizio-built, Chevy-powered, bright yellow Model A Tudor by himself. I asked to ride along, and as miles rolled by, I discovered Schaub was a fascinating guy, with well-developed survival skills, Native Indian tracking ability and natural medicine knowledge. All of these will stand him in good stead on his marathon drive.

Schaub grew up in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay area, went to races with his dad, and always had a passion for cars. As a kid, he couldn’t afford a serious hot rod. But he and his dad built a dune buggy together. “I learned mechanical skills from my dad,” he recalls. Schaub wanted a ’57 Corvette, but with money a challenge, he paid cash for a ’68 VW, to which he added trick wheels and tires, Koni shocks and more.

“My friends all had GTOs and Shelbys,” he recalls. “I did some off-road racing, then got into vans, which I used for towing.” At a VW garage in Los Gatos, he met Gil Ferreira, of the Bay Area Roadsters. “Gil had a ’29 roadster, with a Jag rear end; it was pretty exotic at that time. He saw that I’d put a lot of money in my van. He asked, ‘Why don’t you get a hot rod?’”

So Schaub bought a Model A Tudor in ’71, but as he was starting up his specialty meat business, and raising a family, extra money for a hot rod was tight. “I never had enough to finish the car,” he says. “Not until my dad passed away. He left me an envelope and a sum of money, so it finally happened.

 “I took the Model A to Roy Brizio’s shop, in So. San Francisco, in 1998. Over time, everything on the car changed. I switched from traditional hairpin wishbones, to a Pete & Jakes’ four-bar front suspension… Whenever something new came out, I just had to have it. Later, I went from drum brakes to discs, and with Roy’s help, I kept upgrading the car and making it more reliable for long drives.”

The idea for an epic drive began two years ago. “I first started talking about it at the Goodguys meet in Del Mar,” he recalls. “A buddy of mine was having a car built. I said, ‘When it’s finished, we ought to do a reliability run, like the Iron Butt Association long-distance motorcycle riders do,” something like ‘10,000 miles in 10 days.’ My friend insisted, ‘It can’t be done;’ I said it could, and volunteered, ‘I’ll put it together.’ The more I looked into it, I thought, ‘this is really cool.’ So I started mapping. Next, I got to thinking, if I’m out there burning up gas and tires, why not do it for a charity?

“I always wanted to do something like this. People said it couldn’t be done, and I’ve wanted to find a cool way to help kids in need. In all my research, I couldn’t find anyone who’s hit 49 states in nine days. I told it to Gary Meadors, the founder of Goodguys, and he said, ‘If we can help you out, we will.’”

“I have organized runs and tours to Indy and to Colorado,” Schaub said. “So I kind of knew what it was about.”

Schaub is no stranger to long-distance driving, and it’s kind of a passion for him. When we rode together, I noticed that he was very focused on the road, but he didn’t miss a thing when it came to interesting scenery, edible foliage, intriguing buildings by the wayside, old roadside signs, you name it.

“Just about everything I have has a lot of miles on it,” he said. “I’ve gone from Louisville, Ky., and the NSRA Nationals, to Gallup, N.M., in one day, in the roadster. I started at 5 or 6 a.m., and I was in Gallup at 10:30 that night; I made it home in two long days from Louisville.” Shades of Cannonball Baker!

You don’t just jump in a car and drive 9,800 miles. “To get ready,” Schaub says, “I’ve started walking 30 miles per week, watching my diet and preparing myself mentally. The Iron Butt Association’s Web site tells you not to eat fast food, avoid coffee altogether, and they advise that you condition your body. They have exercises you can do while you’re riding your motorcycle, to help stay concentrated and alert.”

Schaub’s roadster is receiving a few changes, too. He’s putting in a bigger fuel tank that will hold 30 to 35 gallons, and relocating the in-trunk filler for quicker gas-ups. He’s also adding cruise control. “When I’m finished, the car will go 500 miles on one tankful of gas. I’m changing the rear end gears. Right now, the roadster has a 2.70:1 rear; I’m going to 2:54’s. The engine will only be turning 2,000 rpm at 80 mph.

“My bladder won’t allow me to drive the distance with a full tank of gas. Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go!,” he laughs.

He’s even been practicing pit stops. “I can fill the car with gas, hit the bathroom, and be back on the road in 8 to 10 minutes. That’s without really hustling…if I can get my stops down to five minutes, there’s more sleep time each day.”

Schaub has driven a lot of miles by himself and he has a few tips. “I have a friend who’s a rock guitarist,” he said. “He’s put together a selection of heavy- driving, really pounding music, a couple of thousand songs, that I will have on my iPod.” The Garmin Zuma GPS navigation system he’s using has a facility for books on tape. “I’ll put in a few high-adventure books. Listening to one of those. I can drive for hours and not realize I’ve been traveling. The devices are Bluetooth, so they’re hands-free. I’ll be wearing a headset under my old-fashioned (Steve Moal-sourced) helmet and it will give me instructions.

“The Iron Butt Association (www.ironbutt.com) Web site talks about a sleep study, understanding the rhythms of the body. Some of these guys get up at 3 a.m. and get on road, but your body reacts in odd ways when you’re sleep-deprived. As the sun comes up, you’re doing great, you’re focusing, but as it gets to noon, and you get a little food, you’ll get sleepy. The first time you nod off, you should find a spot. They recommend using a loud, jangly alarm clock called a ‘screaming mimi.’

“It’s OK to take a short nap, say 5 minutes, 10 minutes, but no longer than 45 minutes. If you sleep longer, you’ll get into deep, REM sleep, so even if you wake up, your body will want more sleep. But if you just stop and snooze for a short time, you can wake up and go another 10 hours. It’s not about speed, it’s being constant; you have to keep rolling.

“For the first part of journey I will have the Sid Chavers ‘Bop Top’ off,” he continues, “but I’ll have it with me; it stores behind the seat. As I get closer to Florida, and watch the weather, if there’s a storm, it takes about 10 minutes to get it on the car. I may do it all with the top on… I love the wind in the face kind of deal, but if I put it on, I’ll probably leave it on.”

This drive is all about time management — he doesn’t want to be putting the top on and off.

“I’ll make nine overnight stops, trying for five hours sleep a night,” he said. He’ll launch from Needles, Calif., on Sept. 8, heading for Tulsa, then blast across country covering the deep South until the Florida panhandle, then he’ll head up the eastern seaboard towards Virginia, doing all of the New England states at night.”

I’m hoping he’ll swing by where I live, in a corner of Virginia that’s close to Maryland and West Virginia.

“I plan to stop near the Rolling Bones Garage and stay in Troy, N.Y. They’ll come to the motel and service the car that night. Then I’ll head for Buffalo, zip around the corner to Toledo roll up into Michiagn, duck across the state line, and back out to Ft. Wayne, over to Peoria, before heading back west, and picking off the northern states along the Canadian border one by one.” His biggest day will notch 12 states. As he approaches the eastern edge of Washington state, he’ll head north through British Columbia before hitting his final destination and 49th state, with a stop in southeast Alaska in the small town of Hyder. It’s a little village with a deepwater port and a dock.

To document his journey, Schaub will keep a time-stamped receipt for gasoline and other items in each state he visits. He will use a GPS satellite device known as “SPOT” that will allow Internet users to track his progress in real time on Google Maps through his Web site, www.49in9.com.
 Schaub plans to change the oil at least once. “Everything else should hold up OK. I will have extra parts with me. The truth of the matter is, if I break down, I’m not going to make the nine days. It might take 10 or 11 days. But we’ll get the car fixed… I’ll keep on going and try to stay on schedule and do the best I can. If it’s a fuel pump, for example, and it takes a few hours, I’ll try to make up time and get it done. Either way, I’m going to be in Hyder, Alaska.

“I haven’t really figured out where I’m staying after the first two days. As I roll down the road, I’ll decide. I’ll have my NSRA ‘Fellow Pages,’ in case of trouble, but hopefully I won’t have to call anybody. I’ll have a GPS ‘SPOT’ tracking device, so people can see where I am via the Web site. Even if my cell phone doesn’t work, I can get a message via ‘SPOT’ to someone on my contact list; they can see where I am on Google Earth and do a search for a tow truck.”

Everyone talks about doing something for a worthwhile charity. We read about walkathons for causes like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Dave Schaub is convinced that one individual can truly make a difference. “There’s a real need and people can help out,” he says. “When I get road weary, I’ll turn my thoughts to the kids. I’m hopeful that will give me the added boost to pull this off.

“There are a lot of great people in the hot rod hobby and the industry. They’re the silent majority. They do a lot of good things, but legislators who rail against vintage cars don’t always understand. I’m hoping I can bring some light to the people who drive old cars and have fun with them.

Besides,” he says, “I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this.”

"One of Dave’s sponsors for his 49-state run for charity is Golden State Food, one of the largest providers for McDonald’s. “They’re all hot rodders,” says Dave, and they want to help. You can help support Dave too.

Just go to www.49in9.com to help contribute and track Dave’s progress.

UPDATE
September 21, 2009

According to Ken Gross, Dave Schaub made it to Hyder, Alaska, driving his Roy Brizio-built, Edelbrock Chevy V-8-powered ’32 Ford in 8 days, 16 hours and 48 minutes.

"As this is written, he’s very close to his goal of raising $100,000. He’s still accepting contributions for the Ronald McDonald House in Stanford, Calif.," said Ken.

"It’s a remarkable example of what one determined guy can do, when he sets his mind to it. And it’s a great tribute to hot rod ingenuity, endurance, good will and generosity."

Ken also included photos of Dave visiting him in Virginia, showing the contrast between his traditional ’32 roadster and his more modern highboy, as well as Straub in Hyder, Alaska.

For the complete update, with photos, go to "Under the Hood with Angelo Van Bogart" >>

To learn how to donate to Straub’s cause, click here.

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