Insane Idaho Spiral Grade Highway Inspired Massive #1 Hit Song
My hometown of Clarkston Washington and Lewiston Idaho doesn't have too many claims to fame but one of them is they did manage to inspire a hit record that still gets played on the radio.
The Lewiston Hill Inspired A Hit Song Back In The '50s That Became A Smash Hit
If you ever have been to Lewiston Idaho, no doubt you've had to travel the Lewiston Hill. It's a daunting task to traverse the hill at an elevation of 2,756 feet, it's the stuff the legends are created from. If you get to the top of the hill, it offers breathtaking views of the Lewiston/Clarkston Valley.
The new Lewiston Hill was opened in 1979 with a winding "Z" highway down the mountain with several runaway truck ramps along the way as safety precautions if a truck loses its brakes.
That hill alone is enough to scare you but that's not the road that once inspired a hit song.
The video above shows the Spiral Highway, the old US 95 that still exists today and serves as the inspiration for a song that tells of an infamous drag race to the top.
The Lyrics Of The Song Were Rewritten Years Later About California's Grapevine
If you ever wanted to hurl, going up and down the old Spiral Highway will do it for you. The highway is still open today and you can drive up and down it if you so desire. It's worth driving at least once.
The song in question is Hot Rod Lincoln.
As described on Wikipedia, here's how the song came to be:
Songwriter Charley Ryan raced his hot rod against a Cadillac sedan driven by a friend in Lewiston, Idaho, driving up the Spiral Highway (former U.S. Route 95 in Idaho) to the top of Lewiston Hill. Some say he incorporated elements from this race in his lyrics to "Hot Rod Lincoln", but changed the setting to Grapevine Hill (a long, nearly straight grade up Grapevine Canyon to Tejon Pass, near the town of Gorman, California) to fit it within the narrative of "Hot Rod Race".
The Charley Ryan version you might not be familiar with but one version ended up becoming a smash hit for Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen in 1972.
Commander Cody's version reached #9 on Billboard Hot 100 chart back in 1972 and has become the definitive version of the song.
Can You Think Of Other Songs That Were Inspired By A Car Race?
The lyrics might've been changed but the inspiration remains so if you ever get a chance to drive the old Lewiston Spiral Highway, you'll know "Hot Rod Lincoln" needs to be playing on your car stereo as you go up the hill.