Mustangs of the Hot Rod Power Tour
Mustangs of the Power Tour 2019
Twenty five years ago the staff of Hot Rod magazine got a wild hair up their collective butt and decided to drive their personal project cars, most of them having been in the magazine at some point, to the newly created Hot Rod Powerfest event in Norwalk, Ohio. Back then Pro Street was King and the big car shows of the day featured a lot of overdone trailer queens whose only under-power driving were to go on and off their trailers. "What happened to real hot rods that were actually driven—driven hard—to America's shows?
The idea began as a bench racing session amongst the staff that led to the staff driving the cars from Los Angeles to Ohio, and invite friends and former feature car builders to join them. I'm proud to say I was one of those original staff members, and prouder still that I brought two cars, the '67 Crusher Camaro that was my project at the time and my personal '67 Fairlane cover car (which looked amazing in photos but in reality was a pile full of Bondo and poor decisions).
If you've been on the Power Tour since 1998 or so, that first one would be unrecognizable. While today there are roughly 2,000 Long Haulers who drive the entire route, back then we had seven. That's right, SEVEN. The staff's cars outnumbered the Long Haulers by two cars.
In the years since, the Power Tour has exploded in popularity, size, and scope. Whereas we started off with maybe three vendors (whose "booths" were carried in the trunks of their hot rods), today the vendor midway rivals and sometimes surpasses that of an NHRA national event. That first tour also had several 500-mile days and at least one day's drive that was nearly 700 miles. Due to the event's size now that's impossible, so today's drives are limited to under 200 miles per day if at all possible.
This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Hot Rod Power Tour and extra cool was that it ended in the same place that it did 25 years ago, at Summit Raceway in Norwalk, Ohio, perhaps the nicest and best run/promoted drag strip in the world (and also the same place that last year's Cobra Jet Reunion was held).
Twenty-five years later but not that much wiser, I wanted to see how much the Power Tour had changed so hitching rides with fellow Ford drivers and friends, I went the whole way from Charlotte, NC to Norwalk to check out the Fords that were on this historic Tour.
Check out the photos here from the first three days, from ZMax Dragway in Concord, NC to the circle tracks in Martinsville, VA and Bristol, TN. Three very wet days that put a damper on the local participation but none on the enthusiasm of the participants. If you've never experienced a Long Haul on the Hot Rod Power Tour, put it on your bucket list. After a few days it becomes less about the cars and more about the 1,000 new friends and family members you meet along the way. In a time when social media, anything internet related, and even family get-togethers are nothing but a cesspool of partisan politics, none of that crap goes on at Power Tour. It's the hot rods that bring us together and the adventure of the road that keeps us together. And if you break down just remember that the best memories can come out of pure roadside misery. Just ask the Roadkill guys.
Keep coming back to this site as we'll re-cap the Tour's days and venues throughout the week!
I'd be remiss if I didn't give a special callout to those that made the Tour possible for me this year. Most notably that would be Jon Marshall, Crimson Sanders, Mike Ellis, Eric Stebner, Anthony and Arlette Von Canon, Rod Schlosser, Nelson Smitherson, Hunter Marshall, Jasmine Sanders, and everyone else at Innovation Performance Technologies in Aberdeen, NC, where the Tour started for us as a group. Emily Compagno from Fox News (The Five, Fox & Friends and more) brought her producer Nikki Del Castillo and a film crew to cover it all (including more we'll talk about later) and was both my passenger and driver in her '72 Mustang Mach 1, basically acting as my camera car while pulling double duty as the star of the upcoming Fox & Friends segment. And I can't leave out our own Team Mustang Girls' Courtney Barber, who left her Project Road Warrior '65 Mustang (that you've seen here many times in the past) at home for her new project 1978 Bronco. Court brought along her new buddy Brittaney Bozeman for company and the three of us teamed up for the day with the best weather and most scenic drive of the Tour, from Virginia to Kentucky.
And everyone else in both of our groups plus all the thousands of Tour participants, local car guys, and all the people in lawn chairs in their front yards that waved as we drove through their towns.
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Photography by Rob Kinnan