The other day I finally got a chance to meet the Route 66 guys in person. Well, at least one of them. Unfortunately Keith Barfield was back at his “day job” but I did get a chance to speak with Mark McConville. It was great to finally meet them after months of corresponding online and watching their progress.
Mark McConville and U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, outside the U.S. Capitol with a Capitol Police Officer. (The Birmingham News/Mary Orndorff)
NGVsNow was hosting them at the Capitol in celebration of their completion of the trip from Santa Monica to Chicago. Their trip covered took 10 days and covered 2,460 miles. After the trip was over, NGVsNow invited them to to continue their journey to the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol. The 1966 Pontiac GTO is a beautiful car to begin with, but the fact that it has been modified to run on compressed natural gas, and emits 80 percent less carbon monoxide than it’s gasoline-powered counterparts makes it look even better.
The first thing you’ll notice when you’re speaking with Mark, and what sends a little chill along your spine, is how much they believe in what they’re doing. One of the things Mark mentioned was the feeling he gets filling up his tank knowing that the compressed natural gas is an American fuel and that the money he’s spending to fill up isn’t going to support a country that might not be friendly to the United States.
Mark spoke about the timing of the trip and how he watched President Obama speak shortly before they left and heard his challenge to “unleash American innovation.” Mark said that they took that statement to heart and plastered it across the side of their trailer, with a little modification…”unleashED American Innovation.”
I wasn’t the only one taking notice though. Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL-6) stopped by to see the car and actually took it out for a short spin. Congressman Bachus had a great quote about the project.
“Mark McConville and Keith Barfield left a lasting impression all along Route 66 with their car and their message about alternative fuels. It’s fascinating to see how an old ‘muscle car’ can be converted into a clean-burning, low emissions vehicle. This shows that we can solve our energy challenges using American technology and ingenuity. It brought great publicity to Alabama here at the Capitol and the only other thing we needed driving it around was an eight-track tape of Little GTO.” You can read the rest of Congressman Bachus’ release here.
A lasting impression indeed. Here are some pictures I took including the trailer that was signed by people that saw the car during the journey. Mark was also nice enough to take a moment and talk about some of the people he met on the journey. Enjoy and leave a “congratulations” to them in the comments.