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Thousands flock to BMS for Hot Rod Power Tour

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 10, 2019 at 10:45 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Rain couldn’t put out the festive atmosphere during Monday’s Hot Rod Power Tour at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Thousands participated in the 25th annual tour, which began Saturday at ZMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina, and featured a stop at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia on Sunday. The seven-day tour encompasses 1,300 miles overall.

Some traveled great distances just to get to Bristol. Among them was Michael Hartz from Appleton, Wisconsin. He drove a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, which is both street legal and used for drag racing at Wisconsin International Raceway, and found the Power Tour to be a good getaway from the racing back home.

“It’s a nice vacation, seven days to see different cities, different venues,” Hartz said. “It’s a chance to get out this 2016 Chevy Camaro SS, which runs 12.14 (seconds) at 114 mph in the quarter-mile. It’s a great facility to come to.”

Steve Howell of Bakersville, North Carolina, concurred. Howell, who said he’s attended races at Bristol since he was 10 years old, drove his newly acquired 1955 Chevrolet he plans to run in some Vintage racing events.

“The people are what’s cool about it. I’ve talked to people from Canada, from Mexico and all over the world,” Howell said of his fellow car enthusiasts. “Everybody has the same thing in common: how we love cars. People look at this car and say, ‘We’d like to build one like that.’ That makes you feel good.”

No car surpassed the ingenuity of the Volkswagen Super Beetle owned by Ernie Miyamoto of Davisburg, Michigan. The car has a 572-cubic-inch Chevrolet motor and a hood that lifts in the front like a Funny Car, and it features a windshield wiper motor in the back to move a giant wind-up key.

“Nobody has one like it,” Miyamoto said. “I had to be a little different and be the odd duck in the pond. Everywhere you go, I can park next to the nicest car in the parking lot, I can steal that guy’s thunder for the first 10 minutes because everyone wants to come and see this car. Even going down the road, I can lift the hood if we’re going under 40 (mph).”

Among the thousands of cars were a tribute to 12-time Bristol winner Darrell Waltrip, featuring a paint scheme similar to the one he used to win the 1982 NASCAR championship, and a replica of the 1981 Buick Regal Richard Petty drove to his seventh and final Daytona 500 victory.

Travis Roffler, a marketing director for General Tire, drives the replica built by Petty’s Garage to different racing events. He said the car has been a big hit on the Power Tour.

“We decided to honor Richard and bring it on the Power Tour,” Roffler said. “We take it to ARCA races throughout the year as well. Coming to Bristol is pretty cool. Such an amazing place and an amazing track.”

Drew Hierwarter, a local motorsports photographer from Kingsport, brought his 1928 Ford roadster kit car to Bristol, fulfilling a longtime dream to be a participant of the Power Tour. Hierwarter was wowed by the number of cars and all that went into the event, which included a number of vendor displays.

“I can’t imagine all the logistics that go into it,” Hierwarter said. “I’ve seen everything from modern to classic cars to the everyday daily driver with minivans and soccer-mom cars. Everything can go on the Power Tour.”

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