Nostalgic Kingman Route 66 Fun Run is a Must for Classic Car Enthusiasts

The Route 66 Fun Run. The name sounds like a marathon, a long-distance foot race on the famous highway. Yet the Fun Run is anything but. It’s actually a three-day road trip and car show, an annual event that takes place in Seligman, Kingman, and Topock, key Arizona towns and cities on Route 66.

Route 66 was one of the first long-distance highways when it was commissioned in 1926. The two-lane road stretched from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, a distance of 2,448 miles, though the entire route wasn’t paved until 1937. It crossed eight states—Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California—and spanned three times zones. Unfortunately, the modern, high-speed Interstate system doomed Route 66, and the old highway was decommissioned in the mid-1980s, and along with it, many towns and businesses.

Today, Route 66 is a discontinuous highway that has been chopped up and covered over in many places by newer highways and interstates including the I-40. Yet somehow, some way, love for the historic highway didn’t die. If anything, admiration for the road increased with the passage of time. Indeed, many new businesses have sprung up after the highway was decommissioned—including several museums—and many old ones reestablished. Today, Route 66 tourism remains strong with admirers from around the world enjoying the charm of the venerable old highway.

The annual Fun Run has been one way to keep love for the highway kindled. Yet the Fun Run isn’t just about tourism—it’s about having fun. Organized by the Historic Route 66 Association of America, the event is held each year in May. A total of 830 vehicles registered for the 2024 event, which ran May 3-5. The Fun Run takes place on the longest remaining unbroken section of Route 66, the 140-mile-long stretch between Ash Fork, Arizona and Topock.

Delagadillo’s Snow Cap Drive in, Seligman.

The Fun Run is three-day event. The event kicks-off in Seligman, Arizona on a Friday where participants gather and hold an evening parade before embarking the following morning on the next phase of the event—the 87-mile drive to Kingman. There, participants gather for the Show N’ Shine Car show in downtown Kingman where the vehicles are displayed and compete for a variety of awards. The award ceremony is held on a Sunday morning before the vehicles embark on the final leg of the drive to Oatman then to the Golden Shores Community Center in Topock. Here, participants cross the finish line to collect their Fun Run patch and enjoy an afternoon BBQ, raffle, car show, and music.

“The Fun Run was started in 1988 to celebrate Route 66 from Seligman to Kingman being designated as a historic highway,” said Nikki Terlesky, Director of Operations for the Historic Route 66 Association of America. “That was the first stretch of Route 66 to be designated as such. That was really the first Fun Run. They didn’t know it at the time, but everyone asked if they were going to do it every year. They said, ‘yeah, we’re going to do it.’ This was our 35th annual show. We have been doing it for 35 years now.”

Fun Run classic cars on Route 66 near Seligman.

Fortunately, you don’t have to own a classic ride to participate in the fun. Any vehicle can register and participate in the annual event. An official count wasn’t taken, but we’d venture to guess that the ratio of classic to modern cars was 70/30 for the 2024 event.

Registering for the Route 66 Fun Run is worth it. Registrants receive a goodie bag loaded with all kinds of gifts and collectables, including a Fun Run T-shirt, a license plate, a poster, a refrigerator magnetic, stickers, a post card with a Fun Run pin, and a hat. Depending on how early or late you register, the cost to register ranges between $66 and $75.

We registered our 1981 Jeep Scrambler for the event, but also participated in the three-day event in our truck camper. Getting hotels rooms during the Fun Run can be difficult, especially in Seligman, so attending in some kind of RV is highly recommended.

Cars in procession on Route 66 near Oatman.

Of course, the big event wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated support of volunteers. The Fun Run Committee is comprised of dozens of people, community members from Seligman to Topock. The planning process is very involved with lots of moving parts, including road closures, permits, insurance, and schedules.

“We have been doing it for so many years now that it does get a little bit easier,” Terleski explained. “And because it’s a three-day, three-community event, it really takes the whole team coming together and leading on each other to make it a successful event. We’ve learned lots of lessons of the years. We start planning in December. I don’t think that participants necessarily know how much goes on behind the scenes, but we really do work tirelessly to try and put on a fantastic event for Route 66 fans.”

Without a doubt, the main event is the Show N’ Shine Car Show held in downtown Kingman. A good portion of the downtown area—including Route 66 downtown—is closed off where participants can park and display their classic vehicles to the public. The massive car show is free for anyone who wants to attend.

A total of 53 awards were given by the Historic Route 66 Association of America. Vehicles of every make, era, and national origin were recognized by the committee, including best-in-show vehicle, best muscle car, best Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge and Ford truck, and longest distance driven. Individual models were are also recognized including the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Ford Thunderbird. Even the best classic vehicle with trailer was recognized by the show.

The best classic truck camper, unfortunately, isn’t recognized…yet. The staff at Truck Camper Adventure will have to work on that with the restoration of our 1967 Avion C-10 camper.

“I like the awards ceremony because it validates people’s hard work,” Terleski said. “But I also think classic cars are like kids, where you think yours is extra special. It’s so sweet when you get to see people win. We’re a smaller car show, and we’re not necessarily a serious car show. I’m not sure how many shows these people attend or how many other awards they’ve won. But when I see them win an award, it feels very special. We’re so glad that we get to do that aspect of the show and give out awards to all these categories.”

The car show even has what they call a “Hard Luck Award” when participants can come up from the audience and tell everyone about their mishaps during the weekend. People lose tires, one participant’s brakes went out, and another participant’s radiator hose broke and sprayed a radiator fluid on the paint and ruined it. In spite of these mishaps, the hard luck award hopefuls are smiling and having a great time. The awards are an important part of the Route 66 Fun Run experience.

So which car was Nikki’s favorite? “My favorite was a 1967 British MGA sports car. It was a pretty, baby blue, but the gentleman who drives it said it was his father’s car, and they have had it ever since his dad purchased it brand new. He actually won the award for best British car. He participated in Fun Run last year, too, which was cool. I only see these people once a year, but they really are old friends, and they come into the gift shop, and you see them at registration, and it’s just really fun,” she said.

In 2024, there were 830 registrants, a superb turnout for an event that will surely get larger. So what was the largest Fun Run ever held? “I think the biggest probably was in the ’90s, and they probably reached almost 900. They used to have it at the Lee Williams’ baseball field for several decades, I think, and they would park cars there as well. The Fun Run got pretty large, but the numbers usually hover between 750 and 850. That’s a good manageable number for the Fun Run. As we approach the centennial, we know interest in the Fun Run will grow, but we’re at capacity at 850,” Terleski said.

The enthusiasm for the annual event runs high in the community. We were pleasantly surprised by the numbers of people parked along Route 66 to watch the procession of cars and trucks during the three-day event. Home owners pitched canopies and pulled out lawn chairs to view the passing vehicles. Drivers usually acknowledged the onlookers with a friendly honk of the horn and a wave.

“We always have so much fun running this event. It’s so cool how the community gets behind it. It’s been a tradition since 1988. But there were people from all over the world there including Poland and France. Seeing all of the classic cars drive down the historic highway just gives you this overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. It really transports you back to a better, simpler time,” she said.

Those interested in participating in the 2025 Fun Run, May 2-4, 2025, can register now on the main Route 66 Association website.

About Mello Mike 901 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.

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