Big Daddy Tour
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2006 Vespa GT (Rocket): 2005 Vespa GT (Razzo): 2007 Vespa GT (Vanessa): 2009 Yamaha Zuma 125 (Zoom): 2018 Yamaha Xmax (Max),
Joined: 26 Sep 2006
Posts: 4156
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Mon May 08, 2017 7:17 am quote
It had been almost a month since the last big ride, so Ken set up another one that would become a fine adventure.

Because no oysters were eaten on this ride, we had to come up with another name. As we visited with the world famous drag racer, Don, Big Daddy, Garlits, I decided to call it the Big Daddy Tour.

It began with me heading south 90 miles to Newberry to meet up with Ken at his friend, Larry's, country trailer. Kayak partner, Dave, was to meet us but he had difficulty getting out of St. Pete and didn't arrive until long after bedtime. Ken and I dined at one of the two Mexican restaurants in town. We couldn't decide whether we liked this one or the other one where we ate last time better. Both good.

Ken had booked a kayak trip on the nearby Santa Fe River for Thursday morning, so we piled into Dave's truck for the ride north to High Springs.

We got instructions and off we went for a seven mile paddle (downstream, of course) We saw lots of turtles and several clear springs with water rising out of limestone holes.

After the kayak trip on Fisheating Creek, I must say that I truly enjoy paddling on these old waterways. It offers a touch of old Florida that I seek whenever we travel.

We dined for lunch on soul food in Fort White, then take out pizza from an Italian restaurant run by a German with Mexican workers. America at its best. Good pizza, but truly too much food for one day.

Friday had us saying goodbye to Dave, and Ken and I heading south to Ocala to see the Don Garlits' Drag Racing Museum. By chance, it happened to be a day where 'Big Daddy' would be offering a personal tour of the shop and back rooms, so we signed up for that. We toured the main areas, then had lunch and got in on the fine tour.

'Big Daddy' is now 84 years old and only races an electric rail, but he has had it to 180 mph and now is about to install new batteries to get it to 200. I found him to be a great host to the twenty or so of us. Well worth the visit.

After that we headed south, 130 miles to Avon Park. We checked into the Jacaranda Hotel, in the center of a dead town. Avon Park is in the midst of the same problem of many small towns in that there is simply not enough interest, people and traffic to bring people downtown to handle their tasks. Shopping centers moved the shopping out. And Avon Park doesn't have a county courthouse to make it a legal and business center. So the storefronts are closed except for an excellent restaurant across the street from the hotel and a small breakfast place where we ate Saturday morning.

Saturday saw us heading sixteen miles south to the Sebring International Raceway and Airport. We went to the airport to see our friend Walt fly his Pitts Special in an aerobatics competition. Unfortunately the timing didn't work out so we sat and talked with him while others flew. Always fun to visit with him and we were also able to meet with his son Rocky, also flying the plane.

It happened that the speedway was having a testing day. Free admission as long as you signed a waiver. We had the run of the place with visits to the grandstands and paddock area. The highlight was seeing a well prepared Mercedes GT getting serviced in the paddock. The owner also brought his Pagani Huracan.

We left after an hour to head northeast to Titusville, 160 miles away. I misjudged the fuel stops so we went to Melbourne first for gas. We got to Titusville and had lunch at Dixie Crossroads, not our type of restaurant as it was huge and had a waiting line at 3:00. The rock shrimp were tasty but the beer was $10.00 and the atmosphere touristy at best.

After spending the night at the Hampton Inn, we had arranged to see Bob (Flordian) in the morning for breakfast. He arrived early and we had a nice ride past Johnny Weissmuller's house to our kind of breakfast place right next door to Dixie Crossroads. Bob is an very nice guy and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit. I headed for home after that, but he and Ken went to the local aircraft museum for a visit that I heard was a good one.

I very much enjoy these rides with Ken and look forward to the next one. It may be a while with the Greek Island trip coming up next month, then the heat of summer. I logged around 650 miles total on the ride.

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My usual stop on 238 heading to Lake Butler.

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Kayaking on the Santa Fe River

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Riding south to Ocala

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Scooters and big sign.

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Big Daddy showing the parts he used to get a dragster running for burnouts at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few years ago.

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Macho Ken in front of the Jacaranda.

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Ken and Walt in front of Walt's Pitts Special.

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Ken and scooters taking photos at Sebring
International Raceway.

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Ken at Pablo Perez's paddock. He was a good match for the Mercedes racer.

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A quick stop at the Desert Inn in Yeehaw Junction.

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Bob and Ken at the hotel in Titusville.

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Ken being Tarzan at Johnny Weissmuller's house.

Genuine Buddy 125
Joined: 25 Jun 2014
Posts: 224
Location: Houston area
Tue May 09, 2017 7:23 pm quote
Wow. I saw the Big Daddy museum back in the early 90s, but I never got a chance to meet him. You had an awesome trip.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
2007 LX150 2015 GTS 2013 BV 350
Joined: 13 Sep 2012
Posts: 8699
Location: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Wed May 10, 2017 6:52 am quote
I love Ken's pose in front of the Jacaranda. He could hire out for security for London's scooterists!
Scooterless (Previously owned Ruckus, Zuma, Burgman 400, GTS 250 & 300, & BV 350)
Joined: 02 Apr 2014
Posts: 303
Location: Saint Augustine, Florida
Wed May 10, 2017 10:47 am quote
Always a pleasure to read and view photos from WLeuthold's rides!
Molto Verboso
Vespa LX150 GTS250ie GTS300x2
Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 1997
Location: St. Pete, Fla
Wed May 10, 2017 11:02 am quote
I thought you were going to call it "The Coincidence Tour". It was just a coincidence that Big Daddy was there that day and would not be back for months, it was a coincidence that they were racing that day, and it was a coincidence that the guide Bob and I selected for our museum tour was a mutual friend of several people from my past.
Me, I called it the Demo Tour/Oyster Tour. You can read about it but I am behind a few days. Sorry, but you must scroll waaaay down.

If you ever get the chance get the Floridian to tell you the story of the almost international incident he and his high school buddy created during the Cuban missile crisis.

Officer McLaughlin wanted to discuss my driving habits.


Bill arriving in Newberry




Lets play "find Bill"

How long has this been on Don's shelf.

Yes, that is real gold plating on that dragster. It is not Don's he is just displaying it.

Probably the oldest hotel in Florida. Not a place you would want to stay.

Bob/Floridian in front of the several monuments in Titusville commemorating the space program that he was instrumental in creating.

This the monument that Snoopy started and ended is world journey from.

'16 BV350 '01 ET4
Joined: 03 Oct 2011
Posts: 191
Location: San Diego CA
Sat May 27, 2017 9:54 am quote
Really nice report. It achieves, I think, the most import criteria. Did it make me smile and, after reading, did I want to do this ride?

Thank you. I look forward to more.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
GTS 300, BV 500, Buddy 125
Joined: 05 Apr 2008
Posts: 7929
Location: Houston, TX/Breckenridge, CO
Sat May 27, 2017 11:14 pm quote
Looks like e y'all had fun.
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