ALPCA members only: See the voting results.
by Gus Oliver
Arizona's Route 66 plate won the Best Plate Award by a very slim margin. It defeated South Dakota's general issue by a mere 2 points. North Carolina's Honey Bee plate was only 5 points behind SD. This is probably the closest 3 way race in the history of the award. Eric Sivertsen of Scottsdale, Arizona (#8685) had this to say about the Arizona plate, "Clean, attractive and full of nostalgia." Gary Speck's comments were my favorite, "Simple, understated but effective. You can almost feel the wind in your hair (if ya got any!), tunes comin' from the radio and the smell of the sagebrush!" Other states with optional Route 66 license plates include Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Steve Wingenfeld, a vintage car enthusiast who specializes in classic car insurance, had asked the legislature to authorize this specialty plate to raise funds for the repair of Arizona's remaining 158 miles of the old Route 66. The pre-numbered plates cost an extra $25 per year and vanities cost $50 per year of which $17 goes to the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. As members Chris Brady and Brie Bunn designed the plate which was approved by this association. The plates went on sale in December of 2016.
A significant part of what later became Route 66 was originally authorized in 1857 as a wagon road built by the War Department. The 2448 mile highway was officially designated Route 66 in 1926 with one end at Chicago, Illinois and the other at Santa Monica, California. Cyrus Avery (1871-1963), a Tulsa businessman, championed the establishment of the highway and helped promote it, earning him the nickname "Father of Route 66." During Route 66's planning, Avery was instrumental in getting it to pass through Oklahoma. In 1927, he was involved in founding the U.S. Highway 66 Association to boost tourism on the roadway he dubbed the Main Street of America. The Association promoted paving the remainder of the route which was completed in 1938 and thereby became the first completely-paved highway. The Association also promoted the use of this route for travelers to attend the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Much of the route was relatively flat and straight making it particularly popular as a truck route. It became the most popular route to the west. Businesses prospered that provided services to travelers along the route giving rise to the mom-and-pop industry. It underwent a number of changes and realignments during its history.
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath, about Dust Bowl migrants of the 1930s, John Steinbeck devoted a chapter to Route 66, which he dubbed "the mother road," a nickname that stuck. It was further popularized by the 1946 hit song "Get your kicks on Route 66" which was written by Bobby Troup and first recorded by Nat King Cole. The song was written as Troup and his wife during their 10 day journey from their home in Pennsylvania to Los Angeles where he fulfilled is dream to become a famous Hollywood songwriter. In 1952 Route 66 was rededicated as the Will Rogers Highway. An early 1960s TV show Route 66 also gave fame to this highway. Arizona's section of Route 66 took travelers right through the Painted Desert and close to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as well as other tourist sights.
T he passage of the Interstate Highway system in 1956 was the beginning of the end for US-66 as travelers chose the interstate system resulting in the slow death of many of the mom-and-pop businesses as well as larger ones. The highway was decommissioned in 1985. Much of this highway system has become state highways. Also the obsolete Route 66 signs have become coveted collector's items with prices in excess of $2000 for original cat's eye signs.
With my real estate office just 2 blocks from the Historic Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I am particularly aware of the significance of Route 66 to the local communities. Like many others have done and even more hope to do, my wife and I dream of traveling Route 66 from one end to the other in a classic car. About 85% of the original highway is still open.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in any way.
Last updated: Wednesday, 15-Mar-2017 19:43:00 EDT
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