return to fans

Los Angeles Times. July 20, 2001

A Route To The Past
story by Gene Maddaus. photos by Katherine Head.

Gary Goltz right, and Kelly Crawford, son of the 1950’s television show "Highway Patrol" star Broderick Crawford, pause near the Wigwam Motel on Historic Route 66 in Rialto. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Route 66, Goltz and Crawford will drive Goltz’s 1955 "Broderick Crawford" Buick from Chicago to California, accompanied by others in vintage emergency vehicles.

The 75th anniversary of Route 66 will be marked by a caravan of vintage law enforcement vehicles, including Gary Goltz’s replica of his hero's car from ‘Highway Patrol.’            

Gary Goltz loves "Highway Patrol". A lot.           

The classic1950’s TV show had a four-year run, and a profound impact on Goltz’s life. Six years ago, Goltz bought a 1955 Buick Century, just like the kind Chief Dan Mathews drove over the course of the shows 156 episodes. He also managed to get in touch with Kelly Crawford, the son of Broderick Crawford, who played Chief Dan Mathews on "Highway Patrol". 

"My wife found his Website", Crawford said. "She wrote him some email which he jumped on…We’ve become best friends." (Broderick Crawford, who had a long, successful career on the big screen as well, died in 1986.)            Crawford and Goltz have ridden in parades together, but next week they’ll do something they haven’t done before: a 2,450-mile caravan from Chicago to Santa Monica in celebration of the 75th anniversary of route 66.

The caravan is being organized by a Texas based company called Pathfinder Adventure Service. The company’s president, Chris Yelland said he cooked up the idea as a way to recognize law enforcement agencies who have patrolled Route 66 since its inception.           

Some of the profits from selling a promotional poster will go to support a Washington memorial to fallen law enforcement officers, and several representatives from law enforcement will join the tour at various points, Yelland said.           

"My father is an ex law enforcement officer, and part of it was on Route 66," Yelland said. "I just said with the75th anniversary coming up we should do something."           

The rally will start July 26, and last a leisurely 14 days, heading through old towns on main streets that used to be major thoroughfares, before the highway came in and changed everything.           

"Growing up, we used Route 66 all the time," Yelland said. "There were pieces of Americana that I grew up seeing, and to see it get forgotten is sort of a sad thing."           

The national Highway Commission established the route on Nov. 11, 1926, and the road was used by westward bound migrants through the Depression.           

"If you get on the old road, its pretty amazing," Yelland said, "About 2,000 miles of it are on the old pavement. You can almost travel the whole way not on the interstate. Some of these old towns are just like getting into a time machine.  You get an authentic hello. It really is pretty special."           

Five cars will travel the whole way, including Goltz’s Buick, but and at any given point 10 to 12 cars from local law enforcement agencies will join the trip, Yelland said.           

The most fervent response has come from Californians.           

Yelland said he had heard that Los Angeles police department chief Bernard Parks was even thinking about attending for the trips final leg.             Crawford said he looks forward to driving through so many towns, as representatives of the California highway patrol.  From his parade experience, he knows that, "Highway Patrol" touches a chord.           

"I've kind of kept this quiet, because, you know, who cares?" Crawford said. "But people do care. They yell out Broderick Crawford .... I’m astounded at how many people remember my father. Its kind of neat. "

Goltz said the key to the appeal of "Highway Patrol" was evident. "Broderick was a no nonsense, rough and burly, take no prisoners cop. He’d usually end of icing a few of the criminals with his snub-nosed .38. He didn’t use all the politically correct methods."

Gary Goltz cruises down the road in his 1955 Buick, rebuilt to look like the Broderick Crawford’s car from the TV series "Highway Patrol."

Goltz, an authority on all things related to TV’s "Highway Patrol," restored and renovated the 1955 Buick to look exactly like his childhood hero’s car.

Along Route 66, near Oatman Ghost Town, Arizona (photo by K. Crawford)

Along Route 66, outside Kellyville TX (photo by Kelly Crawford)

Amboy CA

Amboy CA