Get your kicks on Route 66
Orland resident has mural painted in garage of famous road
January 28, 2010 | 12:59 AM
Twenty-five years after Route 66 was removed from the United States Highway System, the famed roadway — or at least its iconic logo — lives on in Roger Sanzenbacher's garage.
This past June, Sanzenbacher asked his son-in-law's brother to paint a mural on his garage wall at his new Orland Park home.
Four months later, Basil Herbeck completed the 13-by-9 foot mural which replicates the one at the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac.
Herbeck's drawing features the Route 66 logo, Chicago skyline and St. Louis arch—all images found on the museum mural. Herbeck also added Sanzenbacher's 1966 candy apple red Ford Mustang to give the mural a personal touch.
"I visited the Route 66 museum a couple of years ago and just couldn't get the image of the mural out of my head," Sanzenbacher said. "When I purchased the home [last June] and saw the blank wall in the garage I knew I wanted to do something with it. I sat down with Basil and we agreed a mural similar to the one in Pontiac would be a great option."
The Route 66 logo, Chicago skyline and St. Louis arch were easy choices for his mural, Sanzenbacher said. Herbeck's idea to paint a waving American flag took care of the top of the mural. The bottom half remained blank until Sanzenbacher and Herbeck had an "epiphany."
"We had discussed a checkered flag for the bottom, but weren't sold on it. Then one night I go to bed and wake up in the middle of the night and the idea of the United States map pops into my head," Sanzenbacher said. "I called Basil in the morning and he told me he had the same vision for mural last night. It was like we both had an epiphany."
Herbeck, 21, started the mural last June and finished in September, Sanzenbacher said. Herbeck, who works at a manufacturing company in Alsip, has completed approximately 30 paintings and murals, but none larger than Sanzenbacher's.
"He did such an amazing job," Sanzenbacher said. "What really gets me is that he did it all freehand. I've known Basil for about five or six years and seen his work before. I knew he had the talent to turn [the garage] into something special."
A car aficionado, Sanzenbacher owns a 1973 Mustang in addition to the 1966 Mustang. He purchased the latter vehicle in 1995 and restored it to its original condition.
"The 1966 Mustang is my pride and joy," Sanzenbacher said. "It's a very calm ride and I love to take it out for a drive year-round."
Sanzenbacher never had the opportunity to take a cross-country trip on Route 66 before the roadway was decommissioned, he said. He hasn't taken a road trip on the interstate, but the idea of cruising the United States in his Mustang has certainly crossed his mind.
"Four years ago a friend and I were going to drive from Chicago to Las Vegas in our Mustangs, but then he had car trouble and we had to cancel the trip," Sanzenbacher said. "I'd love to go and I've been toying with the idea for years. Hopefully, it'll happen one of these days."
A retired economist for the federal government, Sanzenbacher is an active member of the Northern Mustang Corral. The Bourbonnais-based group consists of 45 members all with a love for Ford Mustangs. To learn more about the group and to see additional photos of Sanzenbacher's cars, visit www.northernmustangcorral.com.