What do you
get when you combine a car show with nearly 200 vehicles and a
carnival atmosphere with hands-on participation? If you're DaimlerChrysler,
you get the Route 2003 tour.
2003 staff members began the twelve city tour in April of this
year in Raleigh, NC. The Route 2003 tour brings the best that
Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge have to offer to the public in a weekend-long
the Atlanta, GA stop of the tour, where 30 freight trucks and
more than 25 vehicle haulers had brought 175 vehicles for the
locals to look at, touch, and even drive. Crews began setting
up the fairgrounds a week before, erecting tents, road courses,
and even off-road courses.
The day before
the event, the Southeast was pelted with major storms, dumping
several inches of rain and even hail over the Atlanta area. Upon
our arrival, we discovered that the off-road courses were not
just wet, but were flooded. For safety reasons, the off-road courses
would not be available during this event, to the disappointment
of many people, including ourselves. But remembering the first
rule of four-wheeling, which is to be safe, we understood and
had fun visiting anyway.
The Route 2003 tour site is sectioned into three
areas - one for each marque. After registering, you pass through
a technology tent where you can check out satellite radio, engines
on stands, full Ram truck and Jeep Rubicon rolling chassis and
even a cutaway Chrysler Pacifica. Leaving the tent you face the
three areas and go on your merry way.
The Jeep area
included the off-road course, a mini-museum where you could check
out a Navy flatfender, Mark Smith's famous expedition CJ-5, the
Dakar concept and a Liberty, a Wrangler balancing activity, a
rock-climbing wall, EVO video games, electric Jeeps for the kids,
In the Dodge
area, there was also an off-road course, a mini-museum, and other
activities. A Dakota was setup with reverse-steering for participants
to attempt figure-eight driving patterns without hitting cones.
Inside, you could also try your hands at the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge
tire-changing competition. Of course, you could always go for
a low-speed test-drive of your own in the Dodge of your choice
(well, not the Viper) or, in this case, also the Jeep of your
choice on a road course which was set up nearby. The mini-museum
contained some very nice Dodges, including a cherry Power Wagon
that was very droolworthy. Kids also had activities of their own
to keep them busy and entertained.
area was Chrysler, where Celine Dion surrounded you as you walked
through the entrance gate (we walked fast). The Pacifica is Chrysler's
new baby this year so there was a lot centered around it. In addition,
a pre-production Crossfire was on-hand for visitors to sit in
and check out. Zoom!
Like the other areas, Chrysler also had a mini-museum
and a driving course where you could drive anything from the current
product line, including more Jeeps. Probably the most fun part
of the Chrysler area was the PT Cruiser Dragstrip, where visitors
could test their reflexes and driving skills full-bore in the
new turbo PT Cruisers. Meanwhile, the kids also could play a few
holes of mini golf and there was a "Fill the PT Cruiser"
friendly folks were on-hand in every area to co-pilot your test
drives, answer questions about the cars and trucks and help in
any way needed. One of the nicest touches of the event was that
in each of the three areas, there were several coolers full of
sodas and bottled water that were free for the taking. Nobody
was to go thirsty while visiting Route 2003. In addition, not
only were there plenty of port-a-lets around, there were also
hand-washing stations, as well. These little amenities make for
a better family day out and were not unnoticed.
continues throughout the summer and ends in Houston, TX in September.
Check out the Route 2003 websites and register to visit a stop
|May 31-June 1
||New Orleans, LA