Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hot Rod Power Tour 2015: Everything You Hoped It Would Be... Plus Tornados!

This week was Hot Rod Power Tour 2016.  Billed as "the world's largest road trip," Hot Rod Magazine sponsors this giant week-long drive from town to town with big car shows at the destination for each day.  This year was the 22nd running of the Power Tour, and the route went from last year's ending spot in Gulfport, MS, to Kansas City (where they'll start next year).  It's an awesome experience to see all these hordes of classic cars on the road together, but I didn't have enough money to go this year.  I did, however, go last year, and since I never told you about that, I'll reminisce this year on how much fun we had last year.

In Madison, IL
Power Tour was one of my two big highlights for the summer of 2015 (which I dubbed "Charlie's Automotive Summer").  I had planned it out so I could do the most car-related things and the coolest car related things over the course of the summer.  There were several cool shows that I attended, but my favorites were Power Tour and Car Craft Summer Nationals.

A good grouping in Madison, WI
I had been looking forward to Power Tour and Summer Nats for quite some time, and I did a lot to prepare for it.  My brother tagged along for Power Tour, and within the first 50 miles, we were both hooked.  Through the four days we drove, he kept asking me what my ultimate Power Tour car would be.  The deal was, I paid for registration and gas, and he'd cover hotels.  Food would be dutch.  This wasn't the best call...

Day one was a day-long kickoff party in Madison, WI.  There were tons of cars to see and vendors with products and project cars to wander through.  There was also an autocross course which I really wanted to partake in, but they all told me I shouldn't do it on the first day.  (We had met up with some friends who couldn't go on the driving portion.)  We all went for a drive in my friend's '48 Plymouth and then found some amazing pizza.  We parted ways and went home for the night.  We had a great day seeing everything in the lot up close, but we really wanted to see them on the highway, and tomorrow, we drive!

Madison was fun, and a taste of what Summer Nats would be.
We got up really early the next morning.  With our Power Tour and Roadkill stickers installed, we headed out into a rainy day of two-lane and suburb driving.  We got close to the starting point about the time they were supposed to be setting off, so we decided to stay on the road and meet them in route.  Already we had started seeing cool cars on the road.  Once we got off the interstate and onto the true route, they were everywhere.  I was blown away by the vast number and high variety of cars on Tour.

Displayed outside of Heidt's Performance.
You can see signs of the burnout from the day before all the way up to the body line!

This was a participant sitting outside of Heidt's
We stopped at the morning's hospitality and lunch stop at Heidt's Performance.  We actually were in the same shop tour group as Freiberger and Finnegan.  That was pretty cool.  That night we saw the Hot Rod Staff Suburban.  Sadly, Heidt's is a bit too far into the greater Chicagoland area, so we wound up driving a good two hours through Chicago suburb traffic before we were released back into country two-lanes.  The views were flat but beautiful.

Saw this on the side of the road.

The closer we got to the night's show I'm Champagne, IL, the more menacing the clouds looked.  They had been chasing us all day, but as we got to the venue, it seemed like a repeat of the previous year's trip to Indiana.  Threat of tornado, flash floods, major rain, and possible hail had the vendors packing up early.  We did see Elana Scherr and Wes Allison from Hot Rod snapping pics for the magazine.  We retreated soon afterward with everyone else and got some food.  There was a nearby Texas Roadhouse, and it was the perfect choice for dinner then off to our hotel.

Things in boothes in Madison, WI 

The Blasphemy
Soon to be Autocrossed
The Draguar
There were a couple of sweet Vettes outside the Texas Roadhouse.

Might've only taken them with my phone, but they look good.
My friend, Brad, had also gone on Power Tour with his '91 Firebird convertible, and he had been working for quite a while to make it Tour-worthy as well.  One of the things he had done was new floor pans, but he didn't have time to finish all the welds before leaving.  Like us, he found some pretty nasty puddles on the way to his hotel that night.  Under one bridge inparticular, there was so much water that he was unsure if he should or would be able to cross it.  He waded in looking for sink holes, but with the holes in the floor and his pcm on the floor temporarily, when he felt the car start to float half-way through, he gunned it to get out and still be drivable.  For how wet it was that night, it was beautiful and sunny for the next two days we were on Tour.  Those days will come next time.

Cars from Champagne

I love this wagon.

This is a guy who Ice Races locally about 8 miles from my house... and I saw him in Champagne, IL
This guy built this thing himself, all custom!

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