“I kind of feel like Lightning McQueen” Tourists loving Rockwood Motor Court

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Imagine trying to start a new business in early 2020, well that was a reality for one Route 66 Motor Court in Springfield.

As things open back up during travel season, the Rockwood Motor Court is seeing an 895% increase in business.

Well the Motor Court’s history goes as far back as 1929, overnight travelers stayed in what used to be tourist camps.

This was all renovated in 2019, there are 10 rooms here and visitors say they like how each one has a Route 66 theme.

“Oh, it’s awesome,” visitor Barbara Bennett said. “The rooms have been redone so cute.”

Bennett and her women’s motorcycle group stayed at the Rockwood Motor Court last weekend.

“Retro. Very cute and retro. Lots of antiques,” Bennett said when describing the Motor Court. “Things that I saw when I was a kid that you don’t see very often anymore.”

“The Motor Maids,” slept in a remodeled 1929 shell gas station, and rooms dedicated to Casablanca and veterans.

“It’s fond memories of my childhood and motor courts,” Bennett said.

Phyllis Ferguson owns the property.

“I care about the historic buildings of Springfield, and so it was an opportunity to restore an iconic piece of history,” Ferguson said.

She re-opened the 92-year-old Motor Court in Jan. 2020.

“Well, I sort of looked at it as a mixed blessing,” Ferguson said.

COVID-19 got in the way.

“It was pretty destructive to business,” Ferguson said. “Travel just dried up on Route 66 as it did throughout the country.”

But some people still had to travel and they chose to drive instead of fly.

“We had people who stopped in because they didn’t have to get in an elevator with strangers, didn’t have to walk down a long hallway in a hotel that was filled with air they were concerned might have been contaminated,” Ferguson said. “That brought us some business for which we were very thankful.”

As things open back up during the summer travel season, lots of tourists are making reservations now.

“People are really wanting to get out and see the country and just get out of their houses and get out of their own backyards and look at their bigger backyard and that’s Route 66,” Ferguson said.

Among the themed rooms available are a studio and some queen suites.

“I had a family stay who didn’t know Route 66,” Ferguson said. “The lady started reading the books. She was a young woman in her 30’s and she said ‘I kind of feel like Lightning McQueen.'”

Ferguson says during the week a couple of rooms are rented, but on weekends it’s mostly full.

You can also learn about the history of motor courts on the podcast below made by KOLR 10 photojournalist Tim Leimkuhler.

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