8. My Wheel Life – Hot Rod Power Tour, Part 1

Hot Rod Power tour is a 7 day traveling car show.
It changes it’s route every year.
It starts in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, next year.
You need to attend at least one day, preferably more, if it comes through your town see it!

The Full Monty:

Robbie and I, HRPT long haulers

Robbie and I, HRPT long haulers

My college friend Robbie and I participated as “Long Haulers” in the Hot Rod Power Tour (HRPT) this year. What is HRPT you ask? It’s probably the largest touring car show in the world. The core group of hot rod cars are early “hot rods”, 1960’s and 1970’s muscle cars, and late model cars. Some people would argue that HRPT is only for muscle cars or hot rods, in reality just about any cars are welcome, gassers, hot rods, muscle cars (new and old), super cars, kit cars, trucks, rat rods, there are even a few imports. All cars are welcome and most guys on the tour are cool with all cars. The cars are the stars at HRPT but meeting thousands of other hot rodders, talking about what they did to their car, learning tricks and tips for your next build and forming friendships that will last the years, is what HRPT is all about!
Gasser Chevrolet Shoebox (1955 or 1956)

Gasser Chevrolet Shoebox (1955 or 1956)

This year HRPT took place from June 7th to June 14th. HRPT changes it’s route every year. There are approximately 1500-2000 “Long Haulers”, people who do every day of the show. There are also thousands of people who show up for one or two days locally wherever the show stops. The show takes a meandering route through the country, avoiding as many interstates and main roads (as possible, usually). This year HRPT started in Charlotte, NC at zMax Drageway-Charlotte Motor Speedway for the opening day. Sunday morning we left from there to Chillhowee Park in Knoxville, TN. From there Monday morning we drove to downtown charleston, WV. Tuesday – Summit motorsports Park, Norwalk, IA. Wednesday – Lake County fairgrounds, Crown Point, IN, Thursday – The Isle Casino, Bettendorf, IA and finally Friday June 13th at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
There was also a final long hauler only send off early Saturday, June 14th, which we left town by 9 am. I’ll be sharing about half of my trip in this post and half in another. Power tour is too big and awesome for one article!

Onto the show!
The first thing is to get to the start of the show. I left from Iowa early morning Friday June 6th and drove to Knoxville, TN and stayed there. Then I drove to Charlotte, morning Saturday, June 7th for the first day. You can register ahead of time or at the event, I choose at the event and it was $90. The first day was at zMax drag strip in Charlotte, NC. The drag strip was open and a lot of hot rodders were racing their cars. Walking back to my car I met Joe from 513 Motorsports out of Ohio. He had a very cool 1993 Dodge Dakota that is currently running a twin turbo setup and a Megasquirt 3 fuel management system, all built by himself. He said he hadn’t used a tig welder until he bought some pre-bent mandrel tubing and started making his headers. They turned out beautiful! Check Joe out at 513 Motorsports on FB.

513 Motorsports twin turbo 1993 Dodge Dakota, runs 11's in the quarter mile. Sweet!!!!

513 Motorsports twin turbo 1993 Dodge Dakota, runs 11’s in the quarter mile. Sweet!!!!

Later that night I met up my friend Robbie at our hotel. Hotels are a great place to talk to other HRPT participants. The first guy I talked to was Rick Brooks of the Newberry Car Buffs club. He was driving his 1952 Chevrolet Deluxe. He had a very extensive restoration. He also performed an LT1 engine swap, a huge upgrade over the original I6 in power. This was a very beautiful car and nicely restored.
1952 Chevrolet Deluxe, with LT1 (1990's version), by Rick Brooks, Newberry Car Buffs.

1952 Chevrolet Deluxe, with LT1 (1990’s version), by Rick Brooks, Newberry Car Buffs.

Sunday June 8th 2014
This was the first day driving, we left around 10 am and followed the recommended scenic route. The general daily drives are 200-300 miles. And can take up to 8 hours once you take into account stops, traffic jams (caused by 2000-3000 HRPT cars), lunch breaks and burnouts through small towns. The drive is an integral and fun part of HRPT, especially since there are thousands of cool cars all around you. We rolled into the show around 5 pm. At this show I met a fellow Iowan, Shane Sherman (shanesherman22@hotmail.com), who has his own shop, Honus Motorsports (Like on FB) in Williamsburg, IA. He was driving a very cool 1970’s Ford 2wd truck that he had swapped a 7.3L Ford diesel engine into. He had built that truck between Feb 2014 and June 2014!

Shane’s 1966 (I believe) Ford with a 7.3 diesel

Shane’s 1966 (I believe) Ford with a 7.3 diesel

This was also where I saw my favorite build of an 2002 (approximately) Camaro. I really like the side skirts and the “Remember the Buster”tribute to Paul Walker (Bryan Oçonnor – Fast and Furious movies) was also a nice touch.
2002 (ish) Camaro

2002 (ish) Camaro

R.I.P - Paul Walker

R.I.P – Paul Walker

A third great vehicle from this day was a late 80’s, early 90’s GMC S-15 that had a modern LS GM engine swapped in. These engine have been swapped into about 1 million vehicles, and a lot of them were on HRPT. It’s a great engine, makes good power, is reliable, good fuel economy and makes tons of power relatively easily.
GMC with LS V8

GMC with LS V8

Another great part of power tour is the hotels. You can meet up with tons of hot rodders in a closer environment, have more time to talk with each other etc. This night we met up with Chris from Oregon. He was driving an old Toyota 4×4 with his brother. It had a a small block Chevrolet V8 swapped in for power. In the same parking lot was a “rat” VW bug and a very new Nissan GTR (one of only a few “tuners/imports” on the HRPT. This just shows the variability of the tour! Great!

VW "rat rod"

VW “rat rod”

Nissan GTR

Nissan GTR

Monday June 9th 2014
This morning I took my car to a shop to have a lower a-arm bolt tightened. The day before going through the mountains, when braking hard there was a shudder in my steering wheel. That’s not good! We got a bolt tightened and it seemed to have stopped clunking for a while. I met a few hot rodders at the shop so that helped pass the time.
Our next drive was to Charleston, WV. The drive through the mountain was beautiful but part way the car started clunking again. I stopped at Appalachian tire service and spoke with the mechanic, Elvis. He was very gracious and put my car up on a lift and told me that my bushings on the a-arms were shot, so that as good to know so we could fix it.
At Elvis' shop

At Elvis’ shop

While at this stop we were also able to see a cool van, being driven by Rutledge Wood, auto racing analyst and Top Gear (US version) co-host.
Rutledge Wood's van

Rutledge Wood’s van

Again, we arrived later, 5 pm. I was told parking was difficult and some people had to walk miles to get to the street parking. I ended up having a “creative” parking spot and we were only 2 blocks from the main stage. We walked up and down the row of cars, got out long hauler tags punched and headed out. This night we ate and then drove to Walmart to get supplies. Comp Performance Group (Comp Cams, F.A.S.T. Racing Head Service, and others) has a giveaway each year, a shopping spree to their products. They choose 5 people a day who promote their products. I did it 2 years ago and wanted to get my name in the drawing again, 1/30 change at $10k of car parts I’m in!
Later that night we were able to get parts for the mustang to get it fixed the next day. I also ran into some really cool guys from Level 7 Motorsports. They had built a 1968 C10 (the C if for 2wd, a K is 4wd) truck with an LS engine. The truck had a great patina and I had seen it earlier in the week. I went to get stuff from my car late at night and ended up talking to Jesse and his crew in the parking lot for about an hour. Very cool guys! Check them out on FB at Level 7 Motorsports.
Level 7 1968 C10 with LS V8 swap

Level 7 1968 C10 with LS V8 swap

This was just the first few days of HRPT. Stay tuned for coverage through the end of the week. Lots of burnouts, more cool car people and more cars on the way!
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All my pictures from HRPT 2014 are on my FB page.