So… about 6 months ago, a racing buddy and friend who recently retired half jokingly says “Hey, the Hot Rod Power Tour is on my bucket list — can I rent your shop truck?”I’m keen on doing fun things while my bucket doesn’t leak… so naturally I said “Well Jim – no, you can’t rent the truck. But how about this: we do it together, and we long haul from the shop in Oakland California to the start of the tour in Madison Wisconsin. Then we “Long Haul” the entire tour, then long haul all the way back to California.
Jimmy is game. He thinks I’m a bit nuts – but he’s in.
I go online and pre-reg us for the tour – email Jim to tell him to which I get “Really? I didn’t think you were going to go through with it! – When do we leave?”
We put a ton of hours into what was a cool, dirty, simple little hot rod in the past week, just to get us to this point. We probably could have taken the truck as it sat — but what’s the fun in that? Hot rodding is all about making your car better, faster….. more…
Fast forward 6 or 7 months and we’re here in a hotel casino restaurant near Reno. The first few hundred miles of the trip are past us, with only one little bump along the way. Totally self-inflicted.
The hours and dollars spent paid off. Last evening as we rolled out of the shop and hit I-80 I thought to myself about the miles I had put on that truck in the months prior — and how sketchy it was to drive in certain situations. I realized the improvements we made in this last dash were just incredible. When traffic opened up in past Berkeley I hammered down the loud pedal — the truck roared to life and I actually realized I felt totally laid back driving the thing. No more darting steering, touchy brakes, torque steer, overheating. Soon enough I hit 70+MPH and let go of the wheel – straight as a freaking arrow. I look over at Jim and smiled. “This thing is FANTASTIC!” He says – “Well… I never drove it before – but that’s good.” Understatement of the year.
It’s not just good. It’s GREAT…. It’s insanely awesome…
So, 5 hours into the drive, I have to give special props to co-pilot and catalyst for this whole crazy adventure Jim Eby; Cody McCulloch — newest Alloy Motors hire and all around wickedly smart and talented mechanic; Shawn Rodgers – Alloy Motors’ amazing shop manager and owner of keeping-sh#-rolling smoothly; my lovely wife Melissa; Dave Lyman – another wickedly smart and talented maker-in-residence at Alloy Motors; best friend and spiritual outrigger (in a totally bro way) Eric Dean; and of course, Mitchell the Danger Intern.
We met some guys on their way to the tour from Idaho — they are with “Laid-Back Garage“. They were digging the truck and looked it over a bit before rolling on with their trailer rig. We left a few minutes later and hammered down the throttle on I-80. As I see their rig I punch it to almost 100mph and scream past them. In pursuit they followed us for a bit and we hit the next fuel stop together. Cool guys.
We made it to the start of the tour in Madison around 1:00 Friday. Mission 1 accomplished!
Jim took the truck on the Autocross course and laid down a 31 second lap time. Full prepped autocross
cars are 6 seconds faster, but hey — not bad for our daily driver!
First day of the actual tour. Woke up to a photo from Mike Finnegan (of Roadkill Show) on Instagram of the truck…sweet! We took the planned route and were completely amazed at how many townspeople lined the streets. The weather turned really rough late in the day — apparently we drove through tornadoes. We got wet. But the day ended pretty well — met Roadkill’s Finnegan and Freiburger that night…cool guys!
Driving with hundreds of other hotrods is cool. We arrived in St. Louis and as soon as we pulled into the venue, a guy from Comp Cams handed me #13 of 100 “Golden Tickets” for the next night night on Beale Street. He just said — “Be ready at 5:00 in Memphis, I’ll find you.”
We arrived at the meetup spot in Memphis in the afternoon and they were doing drag runs on the strip. Why not? We did 4 passes, with a best time of 14.5 seconds. Not too shabby — and we even put a hurtin‘ on a GTO.