published Friday, June 7th, 2013

Muscle madness: Performance car tour makes stop in Choo Choo City (with video)

Thousands attended Hot Rod Power Tour at Chattanooga State
Thousands of car enthusiasts attended the Hot Rod Power Tour stop at Chattanooga State Community College on Thursday. The free event brought more than 3,500 cars to town, mostly American-made muscle cars. Chattanooga was the sixth stop on the seven-city tour, which started in Arlington, Texas and wraps up in North Concord, N.C., today.
Al Gagnon, of Crossville, Tenn., polishes the hood of his 1967 Chevy Nova on Thursday at Chattanooga State Technical Community College during the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Drivers of custom hot rods, classic cars and trucks filled the college's parking lots on the tour's stop in Chattanooga.
Al Gagnon, of Crossville, Tenn., polishes the hood of his 1967 Chevy Nova on Thursday at Chattanooga State Technical Community College during the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Drivers of custom hot rods, classic cars and trucks filled the college's parking lots on the tour's stop in Chattanooga.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

Oklahomans Herschel and Terri Ring are one-year empty-nesters and the proud new owners of a 638-horsepower 2010 ZR1 Corvette.

The torch red, $128,000 car still sports temporary tags and a license plate frame that reads, "It's fast, it's red, it's mine."

"We've worked hard to get where we're at," Terri Ring said, sitting in a lawn chair behind her car in a Chattanooga State Community College parking lot Thursday. "So why not let Mom have something like this to drive around in?"

More than 700 miles from home, the Rings stopped in Chattanooga with about 3,000 other hot rod owners Thursday as part of Hot Rod Magazine's 2013 Power Tour. The long-distance caravan of high-performance vehicles started in Arlington, Texas, on June 1 and wraps up in Charlotte, N.C., today.

"This has got to be on everyone's bucket list if you're a car buff," Terri Ring said, gesturing at the wide array of high-performance cars. "This is the biggest car show you'll ever go to."

About 8,000 spectators wandered through the free show Thursday, braving humidity and cloudy skies to check out the Power Tour's vendors, cars and entertainment. Chattanoogan James Robinson planned to spend several hours looking at the cars with his wife.

"We love cars, and we love car people," James Robinson said. "We both grew up in the late '60s and '70s and our brothers, uncles and grandparents were all gearheads. We just grew up with that mentality."

His wife, Jannelle Robinson, nodded her agreement and cut in.

"And when I can get rid of my crappy Honda, I'd like to get me a little Mustang," she said with a laugh.

Mustangs were in no short supply at the show Thursday, which included everything from the world's fastest lawnmower -- clocked at 96.5 miles per hour in 2010 -- to souped-up minibuses and pickups.

Hod Rod Magazine spokeswoman Jessica Hubley said this year's turnout has been good, but not as huge as last year's record-breaking tour. Part of that is because a larger percentage of the magazine's readers live within a 50-mile radius of Cincinnati, so Southern tours tend to attract fewer spectators, she said.

"It won't be a record, but we've had a great tour," she said, adding that they haven't hit any major logistical problems beyond the typical breakdowns and a few drivers running out of gas.

The seven-day, seven-city tour is in North Concord, N.C., today, and the group plans to try to break the Guinness World Record for the most cars performing simultaneous burnouts. (That's when the driver keeps the car stationary but spins the wheels, creating a cloud of smoke and sometimes flames.) The current record is held by Australia at 69 cars. Hubley is hoping to shatter that mark with between 80 and 100 vehicles.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 ot sbradbury@times freepress.com.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury joined the Times Free Press as a business reporter in January 2013, after starting with the paper as a general assignment intern in July 2012. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint Hill Times. Outside the newsroom, Shelly enjoys ...

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