To become a member of the prestigious “long hauler” club on the Hot Rod Power Tour, one must travel hundreds of miles over the course of a week and attend car shows each day in seven cities throughout the country.
Dan Reed is from Byron, a small town southwest of Rockford, Illinois, and this year, he became a “long hauler” for the first time on the Power Tour.
Reed owns a 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, which was his partner along the journey. His very first car was a Chevelle, and it he says it has always been one of his favorites. He owned a '71 more than 25 years ago, and he said he always wanted to have it back.
After his father, Max, passed away about a year ago, Reed was looking to purchase another '71 Chevelle. He decided to buy this car and he dedicated it to his dad. The license plate reads “MAX SS” so when someone asks about it he gets to talk about his dad.
“My dad was an incredible mechanic who could fix anything, even if he had to make his own parts. I was really close to him because of cars,” Reed said.
Reed left Byron with his two children on June 6 to begin the Power Tour. They drove about an hour and a half to Madison, Wisconsin with three other cars from the area.
The group chose to take an alternate route to Champaign on Sunday to avoid some road construction on the planned route. Along the way, they got to stop at the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, which Reed said he really enjoyed.
On Monday, the tour stopped in Madison, Illinois, and there were long lines to enter the venue at Gateway Motorsports Park. “It was a nice place but it was really hot out,” Reed said.
One of his friends, and many other drivers, had vehicles that overheated from sitting in the lines for so long. Some even had to be pushed into the venue.
On Tuesday, the Power Tour passed through Southern Illinois on its way to Memphis International Raceway in Tennessee.
“Everyone felt so welcome in Southern Illinois, and particularly in the town of Red Bud,” Reed said. “There was lots of waving and cheering from all the spectators along the streets in Southern Illinois. They were even handing out free bottles of water at stop signs. We were on a 1,500-mile parade and the people in Southern Illinois really came out to see it. It made the whole trip and was my favorite part.”
When they arrived in Memphis, the group witnessed a new world record for the most burnouts being performed at the same time.
On Thursday, in Gulfport, Mississippi, participants were parked across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. Reed said his children enjoyed this stop the most because they were able to take a swim in the Gulf.
“I was able to park my car under a palm tree and it was such a beautiful location,” Reed added.
Gonzales, Louisiana was the final stop on Friday. A thunderstorm came in the middle of the afternoon, but Reed was able to pull his car into one of the buildings on the fairgrounds property to ride it out.
On Saturday morning, Reed and his friends attended the “long hauler” awards ceremony to receive their certificates for completing the Hot Rod Power Tour. They had a card that had to be stamped at each stop to receive the recognition.
The only problem Reed had on his long road trip was a loose wire that wouldn’t allow his car to start. Luckily, it was an easy fix and he said he hopes to take the journey again next year.
“I wanted this to be something for the kids to do with dad and something that they will always remember,” Reed said. “We had the time of our lives. There’s nothing better than going to a car show for an entire week. I’ve been going to car shows for almost 40 years and this was totally different. It was like a family road trip. Everyone took care of each other and even though you didn’t know everyone, you met them along the way.”
By the time he returned home to Byron, Reed had recorded over 3,100 miles on his Chevelle, and made memories that will last a lifetime.
Idle Thought of the week: “The Hot Rod Power Tour is a road trip with the biggest family you never knew.”- Dan Reed