Day 10 - May 18

Alfa Heaven

No, in this case we're not talking about the way we feel about driving across the country in an Alfa. We're referring instead to a visit to near-cult-figure Tom Zat's Alfa emporium of that name located out in very rural Wisconsin. But we're getting ahead of ourselves...

Unencumbered by any undue amount of time spent last night at that nice new brewpub with the horrid beer in Ashland, WI, we arose early as usual and headed on a bit of a detour. Alfa Heaven is the name of an enterprise owned and operated by one of Alfa Romeo's names of lore, Tom Zat. Once we learned that it wasn't THAT far out of our way, we decided to make a little 100-mile detour to Alfa Heaven, a little northeast of Wausau, WI.

Tom is truly a unique individual who has helped form part of the legend of the Alfa Romeo marque in the USA. He's sold them, raced them, rallied them, prepared race cars for others—it goes on and on. He's a car manufacturer, offering his SSZ—a tube framed, fiberglass-bodied performance car based roughly on the Alfa Sprint Speciale body. He has an amazing "museum" on his premises that houses dozens of unique Alfas, many of them original prototypes.

More will be reported on Tom and his Alfa activities over the years in a future issue of Velocissima. In the meantime, visit his web site.

After we were thoroughly saturated with all kinds of Alfa stories and the Alfas themselves, we headed off toward our route back home, driving up the northwestern coast of Lake Michigan, ending up in Escanaba, in Michigan's unforgettable Upper Peninsula.

This is where we went today
Today's Map

The View Out the Front
This is what Wisconsin looks like, from what we can tell—a continuous corridor of trees with plenty of bugs going splat on the windshield.

Tom Zat
A shot of the lanky guy leaning against the very first prototype of his fabulous SSZ.

Should I Buy One?
This is the only extant Alfa-powered SSZ. It uses an Alfa 3.0 liter engine making 300 dyno-tested horsepower.

Farm Country
John likes to turn around and take shots out the back window. Or maybe it's because he can never get the camera ready fast enough.

We don't know what it is, but our GTV is really a magnet for people controlling other forms of transportation. Yesterday we got buzzed by a freakin' jet, and today we get a Huey?

Beer(s) of the Day

Leinenkugel's Red Lager
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, WI

Sorry, but this stuff was weak in every respect—watery, no malt character, kind of metallic. If we were still stuck in Long Creek, we'd drink it instead of Hamm's.

Hereford & Hops, Escanaba, MI

This was a (or rather the only) brewpub in Escanaba that specialized in—guess what—beef as well. If you grill your own, you save two bucks, a concept we're not used to in Boston. John had a salad, Dave had his rare steak rare. The beer? Ummmm, well it was better than last night.

Culture Feature

Well, what can we say? There's just something about a 20-foot-tall loon that appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities. Doesn't that loon look great compared with The Warrior?

Alfa Spotting!


Day 1


(Except for a bunch while still in San Francisco)

Day 2


(No Alfas, but one Fiat X-1/9 parked, but standing on its own wheels)


Day 3


(No Alfas, no Fiats, but one Corvair that looked like it might have run)


Day 4


The Milano parked in Doug Zaitz's driveway when we pulled in.


Day 5


That's 20 or so on the Wine Tour, plus the three in Doug's loft.


Day 6


(All of them in the Veloce Motors garage.)


Day 7


Hey, we were in Idaho and Montana.


Day 8


Hey, we were in Montana and North Dakota.


Day 9


But we've got something up our sleeves for tomorrow—stay tuned!


Day 10


We didn't actually count them, but there must be at least this many at Alfa Heaven.






May 2001


Back to the Road Trip 2001 title page