SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Yesterday evening, OzarksFirst got to sit down with former NASCAR driver Ken Ragan, who made an overnight pit stop in Springfield while on the road touring Route 66.

Ragan is exploring Route 66 with his wife. Both are avid fans of Route 66 history. The couple stayed in the “Fill Er Up” suite, a Route 66-themed room, at the newly re-opened Rockwood Motor Court on West College Street in Springfield.

“I can sit here and just imagine all of those old vehicles going,” Ragan said. “We were just up at the museum, and all of those old vehicles riding up and down Route 66.”

In addition to his familiarity and interest in Americana, Ragan is also embedded in the history of cars and racing.

“I’m an old member of NASCAR and had an opportunity to race,” Ragan said. “My dad did some and I did a little in the ’70s and ’80s.”

His passion for racing and Americana soon became intertwined with the love he has for his wife, and it still is 50 years later.

“I just started [racing] at a young age, even when I was in my high school days dating Beverley, the girl that I married,” Ragan said. “I would take her to racetracks and we’d watch races, and I always enjoyed it and wanted to race. It’s actually the week of our 50th anniversary. We decided that we would tour Route 66.”

The Ragans opted to get their kicks on Route 66 in style: in a completely restored yellow 1966 Corvette. This Corvette has been in his family for some time and its restoration has been a decade-long project.

“We’ve got all the little pieces that have the right marking and everything on it,” Ragan said. “We restored it back to the way it was built. You know, we enjoy the old days, and my wife’s about as adamant about the old history of places like Route 66 as I am, so it just fit right into what we wanted to do. And I tell you, we made the right choice.”

Fun fact: Ken Ragan has a son, David Ragan, who is a current famous NASCAR driver.