Hot Rod Power Tour 2019, from Kentucky Onward to Ohio!
The last three days of the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour were a combination of sun and rain, as the massive caravan of Mustangs and other hot rods hit the road on the biggest, longest cruise in the world.
With 25 years of history behind us, one thing has become a fact of life: The Hot Rod Power Tour will almost certainly see at least one day of rain. The 2019 running of the Tour saw several days of rain mixed in with beautiful, sunny, and warm weather, making this one a true test of the participants' wipers, weather-stripping, and heaters!
The kickoff at ZMax Dragway in Concord, NC was sunny and warm, but the next two days and stops after that, at Martinsville and Bristol, were wet, cold, and windy (http://www.mustangandfords.com/events/1906-mustangs-of-the-hot-rod-power-tour/.
The drive from Bristol to Kentucky Speedway on the other hand, featured Chamber of Commerce-like weather through the most scenic parts of the Tour (http://www.mustangandfords.com/events/1906-from-bristol-to-kentucky-2019-hot-rod-power-tour). From there, the party took us north for the drive to Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP, site of the NHRA's "Big Go" U.S. Nationals) for day five of the Power Tour, another pleasant weather day through northern Kentucky and south/central Indiana. Once at IRP, we chatted with the friends we had met during the week and the new friends we made at this stop ("Hey, you're in that pink Mustang convertible we wanted to photograph but pulled off for a gas stop before we could catch up!"), while the drag strip was open for test-and-tune passes and grudge races—the most entertaining was between an old-school Mini Cooper and an Austin Bugeye Sprite, both ripping off mind-bending 23-second ETs!
From Indy the Tour took us to Fort Wayne, Indiana on the lousiest weather day of the week. The entire drive was wet and cold, and when we finally pulled into the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne it made your author wish he had packed more than shorts and tee shirts, plus a rain coat. It was positively freezing with sideways rain, making the venue essentially a ghost town with most of the vendors packed up and already on their way to Ohio, and participants running to get their Holley magnets and Long Hauler passes stamped before running off to the warmth of their various hotels.
Thankfully, the last day, from Fort Wayne past the author's home town of Bryan, OH to Norwalk, Ohio and on to Summit Motorsports Park, was more like the Bristol to Kentucky drive with picture-perfect skies. Along the way we stopped at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, IN, which is a must-see even if you're not into vintage cars. At Norwalk, again one of the best and most well-run dragstrips in the world, the track was open for runs and the car show was enormous, perhaps the largest turnout of the entire tour.
The experience of the Hot Rod Power Tour's last day is always bittersweet. Sweet because it's the culmination of a week's worth of automotive frenzy, new and old friends, roadside misery, good and bad weather, and everything in-between that makes this a yearly vacation event for a lot of people. The bitter portion of that tag hits home near the end of the last day, when the vendors begin packing up, and the gang of friends prepare to head home to every corner of the country. I've always said that the saddest and most lonely place on earth is at an empty race track after everyone has left. The shared experiences of everyone involved are forever stored in the memory vault, as we go our separate ways, hopefully to meet up again the next year.
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Photography by Rob Kinnan