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Inaugural Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally a Success! 500+ Miles Over the Back Roads of Rural Minnesota and Wisconsin

walleye 1000 vintage rally

By all accounts the Inaugural Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally over the back roads of rural Minnesota and Wisconsin was resounding success! At about 9:00am Saturday morning, June 9th 15 cars, all built prior to 1991, lined up at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Shakopee, MN with drivers and co-drivers ready for a cruise. Some event photos below… a link to the entire Flickr feed photo album is at the bottom of this post, over 130 event photos.

walleye-1000-vintage rally BMW
After receiving their rally packs full of maps, route guides, event T shirts, rally decals and other assorted swag teams departed for the +/-250 mile trek East into Wisconsin, along the St. Criox and Missippi Rivers, North through some of the small towns in Wisconsin, lunch in Somerset and then back into Minnesota, around Lake Mille Lacs to a great group photo op and refreshment stop in front of the huge, fiberglass Walleye in Garrison, MN on the shores of Lake Mille Lacs. After this brief stop it was on to the Brainerd lakes area for the night.
garrison, mn walleye statue

Walleye 1000 rally garrison statue

walleye-1000-vintage rally Jaguar
Bill and Terry Jacobs with their 1961 Jaguar MKII 3.8 with the Walleye in Garrison, MN.
walleye-1000-vintage rally Ferrari
The Steingas Brothers: Mark, Dan and David with their respective ladies.


walleye-1000-vintage rally-john Drewitz
Ryan and John Drewitz with the walleye and their 1989 BMW 325i convertible.
1960 Borgward Isabella Coupe Walleye 1000
Ulrich Graefe and Ron Engle with their 1960 Borgward Isabella Coupe.
walleye-1000 vintage rally
Beth Kraus and John Elliott with their German Shepard, Bandi and their red Fiat 124SS.

Dinner was hosted at the Bar Harbor Supper Club in Niswa, MN on the shores of beautiful Gull Lake, then it was back to the Brainerd Hotel and Conference Center for a good night’s sleep. Sunday morning it was East towards Duluth, a brief, optional stop in Cloquet, MN to fill up for gas at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed ‘Lindholm Service Station’. It was Eastward from there, through the great, winding roads of Jay Cook State Park which eventually landed us in Wisconsin again. We eventually crossed back into Minnesota at about St. Croix Falls and then headed south along the St. Croix Trail into Stillwater, MN.

Mercedes FLW Service Station, Cloquet, MN
At the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Lindholm Service Station in Cloquet, MN. John Olson checks the windshield wipers on his 1970 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3, Dick and Marty Olson's 1968 280SL is behind Tobin's 1973 280C.

The finisher’s dinner was held at the “Tavern on Grand” in St. Paul… a restaurant famous for, of course, Walleye! There was a brief awards ceremony after dinner. John Elliott and Beth Kraus received the ‘Journey is the Reward’ commemorative plate for their wonderful attitude and easy going manner… They were driving their 1968 Fiat 124SS with their big German Shepard, Bandi, sitting in the back.

walleye-1000-tavern on grand walleye
Tobin introduces the 'Journey is the Reward' commemorative plate before awarding it to John Elliott and Beth Kraus.

There was a gift certificate to an online auto parts store that was going to be reserved for the participating car that left its team stranded by the side of the road… amazingly, there was not a single mechanical failure by any car on the rally. In the end, the gift certificate was awarded to the team driving the 1961 Jaguar MKII 3.8 , Terry and Bill Jacobs… Terry keeps his Jags in tip top condition, but I figure he’ll need the parts eventually, so he got the gift certificate! Dave Bortner and Michelle DeMist were recognized for selflessly following the group (in modern air conditioned comfort) in the Chevrolet Suburban “Safety Vehicle” towing a (fortunately) empty car trailer, just in case one of the rally participants needed a tow.

The “Spirit of the Walleye Award” was given to the charming team of Ron Engle and Ulrich Graefe driving a 1960 Borgward Isabella Coupe. Ulrich came all the way from Germany to run the rally with his brother in law, Ron. These guys brought one of the oldest cars on the rally, could be seen taking pictures at just about every scenic overlook point, they had a honk a wave and a smile every time you drove by them along the way… they really embodied the spirit of the event… fun, casual and laid back, ‘The Spirit of the Walleye’.

walleye 1000 rally awards
Tobin presents the 'Sprit of the Walleye' award to Ron Engle and Ulrich Graefe.
tavern on grand walleye
Most of the group had arrived at the Tavern on Grand in St. Paul by 5:00pm Sunday, ready for a Walleye dinner.

I started thinking about planning a rally like this almost two years ago, August of 2010. I see what vintage car enthusiasts do in other parts of the country, in California, rallies like this are all over the place, there are a couple here in the Midwest, when I couldn’t really find a two day, overnight event, something more than a drive to lunch then back home, the idea for the Walleye 1000 was hatched.

I’d like to thank the people who really helped make it happen… David Steingas (the driver of the beautiful dark blue 1951 Mercedes-Benz 220S cabriolet) was a huge help when it came to making the route and figuring out the stops along the way. We spent about 14 hours in the car on a single Saturday back in late March planning both day’s routes! He also suggested the dinner venue, Bar Harbor Supper Club in Niswa, MN. This is a restaurant not to be missed if you’re in the Brainerd Lakes area.

Dave Bortner went above and beyond to secure a car trailer and tow it behind his Suburban all weekend.. there in case we needed it, thankfully, it remained empty the whole time.

Experienced rally participant and planner, John Elliott, in his red Fiat, had lots of good tips and information for me during the months leading up to the rally regarding routes and attractions that might be of interest to the group.

Also, a big thanks to John Drewitz, who ran the rally with his son Ryan in their 1989 BMW 325i Convertible who had a lot of great information during the planning phases due to his experience running similar rallies in Northern California with his other son Anthony. John helped with all sorts of logistical and operation questions I had while planning the event.

Lastly, a big thank you to my wife Michele… without Michele I couldn’t have pulled any of this off, and without her I probably would have suffered a heat stroke, passed out in the car on Saturday somewhere in Wisconsin when it was 90+ degrees, driven off a cliff and died (yeah, no A/C in our 1973 Mercedes 280C). Thanks for your help, patience and support along the way… and for keeping me company on the road (the rally road and the road of life).

I have no doubt there will be a Second Annual Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally… the route will be switched up, just to keep things interesting… and hopefully we can get even more cars and more participants next year! Be sure to visit the official Walleye 1000 website for future event info.

I will be posting all the photos on the website soon…but have a look here…  If you’d like to see all the photos… check out the Dave Knows Cars Flickr photostream here.