Photos & Words: Michael Phillips
One moment, blistering rays of sunlight are crashing through what feels like an invisible, silent shower floating in the air. The sun’s heat is nearly scorching of its own accord, but when coupled with the cranked-to-eleven humidity, Louisiana summer time feels like there’s no end point between the swamps and the “dry” land. The next moment however, the sun hides its face in favor of tumultuous storm clouds, day-lit lightening, and steaming rain drops large enough to fill a shot glass. Twice this glorious day for hot-rodders, heavy storms took us by surprise. The predictable, though shocking all the same, rain began to fall within the blink of an eye. The storms acceleration was plenty fast enough to rival even some of the meanest muscle cars in attendance on today’s first leg.
In similar abrupt fashion, the official first day (our second day) of the Hot Rod Power Tour came and went like a flash flood. The experience was utterly unique and thus rather difficult to put into words (yes, even for an automotive writer). For myself, as a Californian on my first real visit to the south, HRPT ’16 is thus far a complete culture shock in many ways. In stark contrast to the unfathomable numbers of truly fast cars on site, the pace at which this group of thousands is comfortable to carry themselves is refreshingly relaxed. Entering the show this morning meant plenty of slow paced traffic, but Los Angeles “rat race” style attitudes were the furthest thing from people’s minds. Not only does everyone want to nod and say hello as you pass by, but everyone wants to have a real life, honest conversation. The social commodity of talking “face to face” is one that is increasingly more difficult to come by.
Today’s kick off show brought nearly 5,000 vehicles to the Lamar Dixon Convention Grounds, and more than double that number of people. However, the wide stretched green grasses and airstrip style concrete pads made for very comfortable quarters. There were some seriously long lines near booths with free goodies for guests, but there was never shoulder-to-shoulder traffic grids of pedestrians. The grounds offered several natural sections, a main pad with the announcement/events stage and the many sponsor stations, two large lawns filled with rows upon rows of participant vehicles, two large covered sections with slightly tighter lines but plenty of shade, and a small track corner fitted with an autocross course.
In regards to the vehicles on display, there was no end to diversity amongst american made motors. A small handful of imported vehicles did make their appearance, which I was quite glad to see. A number of excellent Slam’d rides were on site, some of which are owned by following members of the Slam’d Army. Surprisingly, the overall display seemed to be majored by trucks of various shapes and sizes. Representatives of countless genre’s were in attendance, making for a seriously eclectic atmosphere. There was most definitely something for every single attendee to be ecstatic about. For me, it had to have been a Pontiac Fiero with an LS3 mounted transversely in the mid engine bay. By-in-large classic muscle car/truck seemed to be the driving genre, however there were numerous traditional rods, resto’s, and of course Slam’d rides to gawk at.
Having already seen what seemed like an unending number of appropriately attending vehicles, an entire week of continued show stops and displays may seem to be a set up for redundancy. I however having already been blown away at the lack of similarity between each vehicles and the one parked next to it, am confident that we will continue to be blessed with unique and character rich examples pouring in from every corner of the country. It is however, hard to believe this show just got started, when we have seen and done so much already. The well of beautifully built muscle cars and hot rods seems, from this angle, as though it will never run dry. We can’t wait to see what is next in store for us as we make our way to the Lone Star State!
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SEMA YEN Power Tour Driver Profile: Todd Earsley
Todd Earsley is a man of many automotive hats, as well as world class facial hair. He has a long relationship with the aftermarket industry and is a highly valued member of SEMA Org. Particularly the Young Entrepreneurs Network (YEN). The main thrust of his industry work is with My Shop Assist. MSA Is a software provider that has build a proper system for aftermarket shops project management. The software and company is geared towards saving service providers thousands of dollars by properly keeping track of parts, labor, and other aspects of current projects. In addition to his lead role at My Shop Assist, Todd has a long history building Mitsubishi Evo’s for Time Attack, Road Course, Hill Climb, and other track purposed application. His performance work has led him to compete in both the Optima Batteries Ultimate Street Car as well as the infamous Pike’s Peak race. Finally, Todd help to manage and produce the well established Do It for a Living Podacst. The audio show interviews and discusses various aspects of how the automotive industry relates to high level business savvy. Tod’s vehicle for this years Power Tour with the SEMA YEN team is his 1969 Camaro Z28. The epitome of muscle car features a tried and true 350/350 combo and recently/thankfully sorted A/C system. The Camaro has been loving nicknamed this week as “Daisy” by Todd’s tour Passenger, SEMA YEN member Erica Klein. Be sure to follow Todd on Facebook and Instagram as well, as he helps document the SEMA YEN Team!