gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

Road Rules! Gene Welch’s Coast-to-Coast 1969 Camaro

Gene Welch’s Camaro is proof that cool things indeed come in simple packages. The car’s use and purpose have evolved through the years, eventually leading to more than 40,000 long-haul miles across the country during eight years of Goodguys Hall of Fame Road Tours.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em
gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

The Camaro began as a father-and-son project back in 2005 with the simple goal of building a clean restomod cruiser. The objective quickly shifted into building a machine that could tackle track days with ease. Based in the Bay Area San Francisco Bay Area, Gene knew he wanted to visit historic California racetracks such as Lagua Seca, Sears Point, Thunder Hill, and more for track days and local AutoCross events.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

Considering the planned track excursions, Gene used Hotchkis components to upgrade the suspension when building the car back in 2005. The rest of the build was relatively basic, which has helped the Camaro to be both versatile and reliable – simple 350c.i. small-block engine, Tremec five-speed transmission, American Racing wheels, and a pair of comfortable bucket seats inside. More recently, Gene added a Holley Sniper EFI unit to top the small-block Chevy.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

Simple and reliable, Gene’s Camaro is powered by a simple 350c.i. small-block engine backed by a Tremec five-speed. It recently got an upgrade with a Holley Sniper EFI system. Inside, more supportive bucket seats improve the long-haul experience.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em


The track day outings lasted for about eight years before Gene decided to sign up for a Goodguys Hall of Fame Road Tour in 2013. Since then, he has turned his focus to long-distance road trips. He is one of only two people who can claim they have never missed a Goodguys Road Tour, and the only person who has done them all in the same vehicle.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

Every hot rodder needs to stop by the Bonneville Salt Flats at least once, right? Gene grabbed this photo on the 2018 Goodguys Hall of Fame Road Tour.

Gene tells us there are 60,000 miles on the Camaro’s odometer today, and 40,000 of those miles can be credited to Goodguys Road Tours. Inflating those numbers is the manner in which Gene gets to and from each departure and destination location – he drives his car! To put it in perspective, back in 2017 the Goodguys Hall of Fame Road Tour departed from Mooresville, North Carolina and worked its way to Texas. Gene drove nearly 2,700 miles coast-to-coast from his home in the Bay Area to North Carolina, just to work his way back west. Talk about dedication!

Getting started on long-haul road trips seems to have been infectious – Gene says he was hooked after the first one. In the past seven years, he has crossed more than 30 state lines behind the wheel of his Camaro. Most of the Northeast states are what remains for him in the Continental 48, but the plan is to visit them all eventually. “You’ll never have more fun and appreciate your car more than when you drive it every day for a week or two,” Gene says.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

How would you rather cross the country – by horseback, or in a classic Camaro? Gene snapped this shot at the Pony Express monument in Julesburg, Colorado.

Keeping things simple with the Camaro seems to have kept things smooth on the road, as Gene has had very few problems during his journeys. “I’ve had two flat tires on road trips,” he says, “so the one tool I always take is a lug wrench, with a jack and spare tire.”

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

For creature comfort Gene also suggests installing cruise control. Good music is important, too. “At first it was Pandora, but I recently switched to satellite radio for the last Road Tour,” Gene says. “It worked out better when phone reception isn’t as reliable.”

Good tunes, a reliable classic Camaro, and the open road. It sounds like Gene has the right recipe for long-distance cruising.

gene welch, 1969 camaro, muscle car, road rules, ya gotta drive em

Photos by Gene Welch & Steven Bunker

Associate Editor

Steven is the grandson to the legendary Bob Bunker who piloted the green "Folsom Flash" 1955 Chevy from the 70's through the 90's. As a dragstrip kid, Steven started his automotive journalism path by photographing drag racing events and also building drag cars while working in his fathers shop. Since joining our team, Steven has grown leaps and bounds journalistically. He is now artfully crafting stories around the awesome machines at the shows, as well as the men and women behind them. When Steven is not on the road covering events, he spends his downtime out on the water fishing, building his 1962 Chevy Nova, or cruising his 1987 GMC Suburban.

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