If you've never had the opportunity to check out the Hot Rod Power Tour in person, it's definitely something you'll want to experience at least once. The last time I did a full tour of duty was back in '04, and the things I saw and the people I met have continued to leave an impression on me. Unfortunately, it's taken me this long to make it back out there, and while my schedule didn't afford me the luxury of making the entire trip, I was still lucky enough to check out two legs of it.
My first stop was in Ames, Iowa, and since we were running ahead of the tour, I was able to walk around and catch up with some manufacturers that were already there setting up their booths and also get a pretty detailed look at the autocross course. Only problem, the clouds were moving unbelievably fast; I can't remember the last time I saw anything like it. Still, within a few hours, the cars began trickling in from their drive out of Lincoln, Nebraska. The weather? Brutal. Never mind the wind-the raindrops might as well have been the size of golf balls-these guys were troopers and kudos to them for driving it out.
The overcast skies looming, a handful of cars ran that course umpteen times in an effort to dry it off. Call it good luck, but the day couldn't have turned out better. The gray was swapped for plenty of shine, and the show was huge. As for the autocross, it was a big hit for the crowd with an unbelievable line of cars waiting to get their turn through the cones. Did I run it? The opportunity was there, but I'll be frank, I don't have the eyes to maneuver through the cones. I tend to get cross-eyed and would have been a sure bet to drag down half the course with me. I'm still working on it, and my time will come. One of my favorite rides of the day was a golf cart; people laughed, especially when it almost tipped over, but in the end, it ran quicker than anyone expected.
As for the storm, it came back later that night and boy, did it get ugly, with flash floods and a tornado warning. We ended up playing it safe and having dinner at the restaurant next door, and only a little later into the night, let's just say the back parking lot was knee-deep in water and had people scurrying to get their cars out of the way. End result: one flooded restaurant and one beautiful C5 Vette that nearly drowned. The last I heard, the computer had gotten wet and it was done. If you happen to be the owner, let us know how everything turned out. I'm pretty sure I heard it fire up in the morning, so I'm hoping you got it back on the road.
The following day, our only downfall was that we weren't able to make a stop at Cedar Falls Raceway. It turns out they took a big hit and most of the track was underwater. Instead we made the three-hour drive to Rochester, Minnesota, with little drama, and to our surprise, it was another picture-perfect day. There's nothing cooler than seeing hundreds of hot rods just cruising down the interstate and having people being friendly and waving-even though we were in a rental. The surprise of the day was stopping for grub and running into Brent Casteel from Lizella, Georgia. I shot his '65 Bel Air four years ago in St. Louis, Missouri. This year, he built a '65 Chevelle in six months for his son, and they were both enjoying the completed project.
Considering an estimated count of 68,000 spectators and more than 4,550 registered vehicles, I know I'm not the only one with a story. I'd like to hear yours, so hit me up and say a thing or three about your Power Tour experience. And yes, I'd do it all over again!.
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