Photos & Words: Michael Phillips
Another one for the record books, ladies and gentlemen, both in regards to the number of passion-built vehicles I was blessed to see and the amount of falling rain competing with the air’s stand-still moisture, as to which could keep the crowds more drenched. However, this California drought expert is by no means complaining. The summer storms are a welcomed characteristic to the already culture-soaked shows. Again, thousands upon thousands of vehicles made their way into the venue, The Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. I think the phrase “everything is bigger in Texas” was first coined in regards to the clouds as their cover brought welcomed relief from the hot midday sun.
Royal Purple Raceway is a equipped with a pro-series, race ready quarter-mile strip. This added feature of the track meant for the words “Power Tour” to be thrown into honest action. The event first opened to the public around high-noon and for nearly the first four hours, muscle cars, hot rods, and odd balls made pass after pass, before rain got the best of the tarmac.
Perhaps one of the most shocking (and exciting) aspects of the tour’s second leg of adventure, was the fact that the majority of the vehicles sticking out today, were ones present in Louisiana. Over the next week, these southern and mid-western stretches of interstate are going to be continually littered with enthusiast-powered american monsters. Every tunnel is a blessing and continuing themes of diversity were promoted today, meaning a broad sweep of segments were represented.
There was however a single notable genre that stood out amongst the rest. Innumerable rat-rods and chopped up piles of fire breathing freedom showed up in intimidating fashion. A surpassing number of genuine patinas graced us with their presence. For this reason, we have set aside a whole other feature to display the gallery of black flagged road machines – check out our first full Power Tour Gallery HERE.
Before ever even arriving on site today the SEMA YEN Team had an exciting amount of business to attend to. The thrust of our team’s goal for this week, as representatives of the next hot-rodding generation, is to reach out and network with other young enthusiasts, offering help and advice about how to enter the industry. To accomplish this mission, we have a number of school visits mapped out on our tour route where we will be explaining our stories, industry involvement, and enjoying the enthusiasm of others. Today marked our first such opportunity, when we visited Sowela Technical Community College in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The stop was greeted by several students, alumni, instructors, faculty, and community members. We met in the Instruction Shop, where several vehicles were in process of repair or construction. The southern morning welcome was especially warm (pun intended). Many of the students and alumni are extremely well versed in the technical aspects of industry work and well on their way to finding a perfectly suited automotive career path.
The morning brought an extra measure of fun as a handful of students, alumni, and other young enthusiasts were preparing for a drift event to take place just after our visit. One of the attendees is a big Slam’d Mag fan who plans to continue modifying his static-dropped Silverado to one day make it into the mag (surprise, it’s made it here!). Quite a few of our team members, myself included, were gassed at an alumni’s 1UZ Lexus V8 swapped Nissan 240sx S13 who is a passionate drifter and Toyota Tech at his local dealership.
Our day included the first longest haul in the tour, running nearly two hours from our hotel in Baton Rouge, to Sowela TCC and then another two hours before reaching Royal Purple Raceway. The road was filled with beautifully green southern views, occasional downpours quick to let up, and uncountable number of muscle cars on their way to Baytown. Only very minor troubles reached YEN Team, causing two short stops. One was to address a leaky return line on Zach Denney’s ’91 Supra, the other was to rectify a driver, rather than a vehicle, that also had a “leaky line” to take care of. The tour’s excitement factor is still on the rise and we have nearly a full week ahead of us to enjoy all the little things the open road has to offer. Look out for more LIVE coverage to come!
SEMA YEN Power Tour Driver Profile: Eric Ables
Eric Ables is perhaps best know for his front and center role on a 3-season run of CNBC’s The Car Chasers. Eric works at the Flat 12 Gallery, in Texas. Flat 12 is a boutique style Texas car dealer that searches out unique rides with stories to tell. Many of their vehicles are ones with apparitions upon the silver screen. As their resident do-everything mechanic, Eric has adopted a mad scientist persona, and daily dons his trademark Pennzoil Lab-coat.
Eric is a software and technology enthusiast with a gifted knack for building badass machines. He has a special place in his book for big-bodied Lincolns, which we at Slam’d obviously can get behind. He currently has two Lincolns and a G-Body El Camino he’s in the process of restoring. However, his work isn’t limited to that of pre-fuel-injection motors. He built the #PENNZILLA, which serves as the “exotic car” in the SEMA YEN Team fleet. Pennzilla is a 2014 Nissan GTR featuring a scale textured vinyl livery, APR carbon wing, flared fenders, and beautifully bronze staggered Forgeline wheels. Under the hood, thanks to Eric, lies big turbos, upgraded piping and intercooler, and a custom exhaust. The modifications are good for about 1000hp, making Pennzilla the fleets most powerful member.