The 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour started in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
And it was the best Power Tour ever.
Bowling Green is the home of the Corvette Assembly Plant and home of the Car Craft Summer Nationals.
We had our kickoff party at the National Corvette Museum.
Our buddies at Laid Back had their Chill-Fest at the NCM Motorsports Park.
And if you haven’t been out on their track, do yourself a favor and get out on it!
The big loop is a little over 3 miles and all the turns are built to emulate famous corners of iconic racetracks like “The Corkscrew” and “Eau Rouge.”
It’s an awesome track.
Even if you can’t get out on the big track they’ve got go-carts that are super fun.
I had been to the track, but I had never been into the Corvette Museum.
If you remember last years Hot Rod Power Tour, I took a tour of the Corvette Assembly Plant the day they closed it to the public before they started their renovations.
The Corvette Museum is nicely done.
They’ve got the only 1983 Corvette in existence which I think is pretty cool.
My favorite was a Monaco Orange 69 L88 Coupe.
This is the Corvette C6 ZR1 that put down a 7:19.64 at the Nurburgring Nordschleife back in 2012.
Considering that the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE runs it in 7:16.04 – that’s smoking’ fast.
That’s six years ago, without a massive wing and a full aero package.
I can’t wait to hear what the new Corvette ZR1 will run around the Nordschleife.
And we’ve got a ZR1 on the Long Haul!
More on that in a bit.
One of the cool little tid-bits I learned in Chevy training back in the day was that the original Corvette emblem used an American Flag.
They had to change it at the last moment because “the American Flag cannot be used on a commercial product.”
The new emblem was created, shipped overnight and installed just hours before it’s debut at the New York Motorama.
I love that kind of history.
I happened to be going thru the museum with Jon & some of the other guys from Chevy Performance.
It’s really cool to see the guys who work at Chevrolet Performance and their passion for cars.
They had never been to he National Corvette Museum before and they were as impressed with it as I am.
After they finally kicked us out we went to the White Squirrel for some Bacon in a Cup.
The next morning we kicked off the Hot Rod Power Tour at Beech Bend Raceway.
Every Hot Rod Power Tour is like a family reunion.
Seeing old friends again is the best part of it.
Well… the best part besides getting to drive some sick cars.
My buddy Murray Pfaff of Pfaff Designs somehow talked GM into giving him the keys to a new 2018 Cadillac CTS-V for the week.
Even the guys at Chevrolet Performance were shocked.
They don’t hand out the keys to 640hp cars to just anybody.
But Murray does…
The CTS-V is a great car.
It’s gotta 640hp supercharged V8, 4-wheel disc brakes, magnetic ride control, a Cadillac interior with some sweet exposed carbon-fiber and room for three friends.
Murray put a cool little graphics package on it and not only drove it on the tour, but he autocrossed it at every venue we had an autocross event at.
But don’t tell anyone.
That’s our little secret.
One of my favorite things about the Hot Rod Power Tour is that if you’re a registered participant, you can take your car down the dragstrip and around the autocross as many times as you want.
I’m still surprised at how many people don’t take advantage of those opportunities.
And I understand not wanting to hurt the car, but that’s kinda what I think is part of the fun of driving a Hot Rod.
You build it and drive the hell out of it and then something breaks.
Then you replace what broke with something better.
Something that can withstand more of a beating.
And then you drive the hell out of it again until something breaks and repeat the whole process.
To me, that’s part of what Hot Rodding is all about.
Our next stop was Chattanooga, Tennessee where none other than Tom Peters, the Director of Design Rear Wheel Drive, Performance at GM cruised in in a 2019 Corvette ZR1 Indy Pace Car edition.
One of three.
The only modifications made to it for the race were the light kit and a fire extinguisher.
It’s gotta 755hp blown small block, a top speed of 212 mph and does 0-60 in 2.85 seconds.
Tom was kind enough to give me a walk around the car.
You can check that out here.
He also took the time to answer questions from the crowd.
They drove the ZR1 and the ZL1 1LE up in front of the stage and put em nose to nose.
When I saw Jon was driving the ZR1 I hopped off the stage, mic in hand, put myself in the passenger seat and got a little ride in the most powerful production car Chevy’s ever made.
I love my job.
Jon’s the one who gave me a ride in the 71 Vette built for Jimmy Johnson at SEMA a few years ago.
The next day we arrive at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Birmingham, Alabama.
I spotted a green 55 Chevy that looked familiar next to the Pilot Transport rig.
When I went in for a closer look I realized I had seen it at SEMA last year.
It’s called Kryptonite, and it’s a sweet little 1955 Chevy with a 434 small-block and some beautiful modifications.
I love the fog lights cut into the front bumper, and the emblem on the front of the car is hollowed out like the Gen5 Z28’s “Flow-Tie” to let more air into the intake.
He also built exhaust cutouts in the from quarter panels and he customized the rear bumper nicely too making it look like aero diffusers.
Check him out on Instagram.
Next to Pilot Transport was Holley, and they had Dave Schroeder’s 66 Corvette that won Drag Week’s Overall and Unlimited Class last year in their booth.
It’s an amazing feat of engineering and a beautiful car.
Imagine this car – with an nitrous-snorting 872 big-block – rolling down the interstate pulling a trailer, then with a few modifications have it run in the 6’s!!
Drag Week is like the Hot Rod Power Tour, but with a lot fewer cars with a lot more horsepower and there’s a purpose.
Drag Week has been on my list of car-things to do for years.
Here’s Gayle’s beautiful pink 71 Chevelle.
Gayle’s been a part of the Long Haul Gang for years and her Chevelle is painted pink for Breast Cancer awareness.
The Hot Rod Power Tour family is full of good people like Gayle.
Another member of the family is “The Colonel.”
For the past 15 years he’s been with both Painless Performance and Mother’s Polish booths selling pink “Long Haul Gang” stickers for $10.
100% of the money he raises goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Click the link if you’d like to donate.
I even caught the new Publisher of Hot Rod Magazine: Jonny Mill under the hood of the twin-supercharged Skyliner he was driving for the week.
You know I love wagons.
Here’s a sweet CTS-V long-roof owned by Rutledge Wood:
And this is the first Power Tour for new-ish Hot Rod Magazine staff member Jacob Davis without his Green Hornet and with Air Conditioning:
Our next stop was Atlanta Motor Speedway – one of the fastest tracks on the circuit and no restrictor plates.
The banking is ridiculous!!
We couldn’t even get our golf-cart up into the first groove it’s so steep.
And our buddy Mike Finnegan brought Blasphemi out to play.
One of my favorite TriFives ever.
Forrest from Mother’s even brought out an original 1970 Chevelle convertible and was foolish enough to give me the keys.
We tried to take it out on the track but the officials at Atlanta take their job very seriously.
And – get this – check out those wheels.
Those are the first prototype wheels Budnick ever made.
Pretty cool huh?!?
Rutledge Wood was part of the Long Haul Gang with Petty’s Garage and Continental Tires.
He’s a real car-guy and loves the Power Tour.
Darlington Raceway – The Lady in Black – The Track too Tough to Tame.
As we went under the tunnel into the Darlington infield I couldn’t help but getting a little nostalgic.
It’s the 2nd oldest track on the NASCAR circuit, built in 1950.
I mean, anyone who’s anyone in racing has been here and won on this historic track.
Murray let the cat outta the bag – I’m mean the butterfly out of the garden with this HRM cover.
Oh yeah, and he designed this sick Caprice.
I’m looking forward to having Murray draw a rendering of The 55 sometime soon.
Emily Williams-Reeves was on the Long Haul too with her husband Aaron.
They’re starring in a new TV Show called “Live, Love, Wrench” airing on the Motor Trend Network sometime soon.
In Darlington media superstar Lou Santiago did all he could to avoid me.
But in Raleigh, North Carolina I finally caught up to him to see what he’s been up to.
Check out this custom Corvair:
Wadda ya think???
Our final stop was zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.
Our hotel was right across the street from Hendricks massive FCA Dealership.
Just a mile up the road is the Charlotte Motor Speedway and across the street from there is zMAX Dragway.
That morning I was feeling a little melancholy – it was the last day of The Power Tour.
Tomorrow I’d have to go back to the real world.
Then I gotta call from my boss saying he’s got a job for me.
The last time this happened he wanted me to gas up The Muscle Truck and General Mayhem – so when he calls, I pick up.
This time was no different.
He asked me if I’d like a tour of the Hendrick’s Motorsports Race Shop.
The place is unreal!!
Like a kid in a candy store!
Nice rear end!!
Sorry… I couldn’t resist.
Yeah… that happened too.
I’m still not sure how we were able to take pictures inside the race shop but we did.
Then we got into the personal car collection where there were “No Cameras Allowed.”
As you walk into the museum there’s a row of 67 Corvettes.
All 427 convertibles.
Imagine every color option – every stinger color option and every interior color option represented.
Then the first gen Camaro Z28’s – same thing.
Every color option and every rally stripe option represented.
Then the Snake & Mongoose Funny-Cars sitting side by side.
The Ramp-Trucks are “off-site.”
So many VIN#00001 you start to get numb to ’em all.
We even got up into the conference room / guitar collection.
I attribute it all to the #MoralesEffect
We had drag racing at zMAX all day and then the burnout contest later in the afternoon which was won by our friends at HP tuners in a C7 Corvette.
I’m still amazed they let me out there with a microphone and short pants.
Check it out – 4 wide!!!
Almost as soon as it started.
Just like that, it was over.
I closed down that main stage and went around saying bye to my HRPT Family.
Then I heard a voice calling my name.
It was my friend Charley.
He needed some help getting back to his hotel.
Alright, he didn’t need help getting to the hotel, he needed help getting his car back from the hotel and into the Pilot Transporter and could I help him out?
Thanks for the picture Charley.
And thanks for trusting me with this:
My Holy Grail: Hellfire.
If you don’t know what it is look up Hellfire Camaro.
In my opinion it’s the perfect car.
It goes – it stops – it turns left & right – carves corners and will run 11’s all day long with the AC blasting ice cold.
When I got back from the hotel I was glad so many of my HRPT Family were still lurking about because nobody could believe Charley let me drive it without any adult supervision.
Thanks for the killer shot Ryan!
After saying goodbye to everyone we went back to the hotel and had an awesome team dinner.
As the sun sets on the 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour I’m humbled to be a small part of it.
If you’re a participant.
If you’re a sponsor.
If you’re a vendor.
Even if you’re just reading this, and you like cars and have never been on a Hot Rod Power Tour…
You are my people!
My Hot Rod Family.
So, until next year…
The Silver Anniversary of the Hot Rod Power Tour.
The Hot Rod Power Tour 25th Anniversary!!
I can’t wait to see you.
Until then – Get out there and go drive it!
The 2018 Hot Rod Power Tour started in Bowling Green, Kentucky.