So we are less than 5 months from the 25 Anniversary of the Hot Rod Power Tour. This year is extra special to me because it ends in Ohio and I have decided to long haul. I have toyed with the idea in the past, but I have committed and gone as far as booking my hotels for the entire tour.
While winter has arrived in the Midwest and other parts of the country, I have been thinking a lot about the warmer weather and looking forward to the trip. A few friends are participating this year for the first time which only adds to the excitement. The forums and inboxes are filled with questions about Power Tour and vehicle preparation. Although this is my first long haul, it is my third multi city tour and I have learned a lot from veterans along the way.
Step One: Book Hotels Rooms
This may sound like a basic idea, but it is important. The road trip and time at the venues can be tiring, so you need a place to rest at night. There are many strategies for lodging. Some people prefer a quiet, comfy, hotel, others prefer a hot spot full of other tour participants. I know people that look for something close to the venue and others that find a place near the route for the next day. Either way, you want to go into this with a plan. Don’t rely on finding a place with a vacancy sign. There are thousands of other travelers and some locations have limited hotel availability.
Step Two: Register for the Power Tour
There are several options for Power Tour registration and the option you choose determines how quickly you need to do this. If you plan to go with a gold, or platinum package with preferred parking and/or hotel service, they are limited and you want to act as soon as they are made available. Otherwise, the single day, multiple day, and long haul registrations are available until the tour starts. You want to register in advance for better pricing and to ensure your materials are available for pickup at your starting point.
You will also want to follow Hot Rod in various social media groups and sites. There are a few Facebook groups that I am a part of ranging from local to state, and regional. This is a great way to connect with other people and be in the know with what is happening. It builds the excitement of the Power Tour and helps put faces and stories with the many cars you will see on the tour.
Step Three: Prepare Your Car
This actually could be step one, depending on your vehicle age/needs and how long you have owned it. You want to give your car an old school tune up and check the wearable items. Make sure the belts, hoses, bushings, and mounts are all in good condition. Also, change your oil, check coolant, and check the transmission fluid. Sure up any leaks or other concerns you identify by way of a visual inspection.
Also, check out your electrical components, connectors, battery, alternator, and lighting. I mostly drive my hot rod on nice, sunny days. I rarely use my headlights or wipers. On Power Tour, you will get caught in the rain somewhere causing you to use your headlights and wipers. In 2018, it rained heavily most of my drive home from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Even if you are lucky enough to catch a dry week (fingers crossed), if you decide to hang out late you will need your headlights.
Speaking of safety items, you will need to check your brakes, suspension, and tires. Before any road trip, you want to make sure theses items are in order. This is very important when dealing with cars over twenty years old. If traffic comes to a stop while travelling between cities, you want to safely bring your classic ride or modern muscle to a stop or avoid the Prius in front of you that just slammed on their brakes. For this reason, I upgraded my front brakes to disc a few years ago. There are some really nice twisty back roads with and elevation changes, so you want to make sure your suspension is up to the task. You don’t have to be full pro-touring, but you should at least update those saggy springs and blown struts. Lastly, your tires should have proper tread left. Tires with too many burnouts on them are not the best idea for long trips. Read about my preparation in this blog post and this one.
Step Four: Test and Tune
This step can be the difference in a great adventure or a week full of issues. Once you have put your car together and tuned it up, you need to drive it. The Power Tour should not be the first 100 miles you put on your new motor, transmission, or other important component. You want to make sure your carburetor or EFI is properly setup for performance or fuel economy. Make sure your vehicle doesn’t overheat at highway speeds or at intersections. Check out those squeaks, and odd sounds so they don’t drive you crazy between cities. It is much better to resolve any issues at home in the comfort of your garage than on the roadside or hotel parking lot. You won’t be able to eliminate every possible issue, but you will be surprised at how much you can prevent from happening.
Step Five: Pack
This is a major part of planning for your road trip. Personally, you need to pack for the weather at each venue and the temperatures inside the car. I don’t have air conditioning, so shorts and t-shirts are what I wear. I also pack a hat or two, sunscreen, and bring my favorite polarized sunglasses. Nothing like sunlight reflecting off the chrome rear bumper on the car in front of you. You also need to bring proper tools and equipment for the voyage. I keep coolant, oil, and octane booster in the trunk. There are some gas stations that do not offer gas higher than 91 octane. Your high compression big block may not like that. I also bring a tool kit, an impact driver, breaker bar, jack, and spare tire. I also bring a jump box and various types of tape, nuts/bolts, fix-a-flat, and patch repair. You can see more detail on my preparation in this post.
You are now ready for Power Tour! Remember to have fun and enjoy the journey. It is an adventure and quite an undertaking. Take a friend with you and make new friends while you are there. Wave at every car that looks like yours and wave back to the locals. It is a great time and I look forward to sharing it with you!