Flashback Racing crew member Dave C. has decided to participate in the 2010 Red Neck Power Tour… A week long event designed for hot rodders to put some miles on their street machines and visit hot rod and speed shops throughout Mississippi and Louisiana. Dave has graciously offered to give us the inside scoop.
Day One: Organizing the Troops
There I was on my way to Meridian, Mississippi to link up with 25 or 30 street rod buddies to participate in the second annual, my first, Red Neck Power Tour. Incidentally, the subtitle of this tour is “Nothing but two lane roads”. I hope that is the case.
Upon arrival at the Best Western in Meridian, MS I spotted Ollie Patterson and his really cool metallic blue Rambler, then a slick little red and white ’53 Chevy 2 door hard top, followed immediately by a yellow ’51 Ford two door post, complete with flames from stem to gudgeon. Things were definitely looking up! Next to arrive was a 2010 white Mustang closely followed by a green Fairlane 500. The light is beginning to fade and the arrivals have slowed to a stop…but remember, the event hasn’t officially started yet. The RNPT doesn’t really kick off until tomorrow at 8A.M.
Tomorrow we are touring a rod shop here in Meridian that specializes in trucks. Rumor has it that they have had at least two trucks that were contenders, if not winners, at SEMA in the past. More on that later.
The week’s itinerary is to travel to Laurel tomorrow, picking up tourers along the way, pass through Slidell, Louisiana and end up in Biloxi, Mississippi for the night. Tuesday it’s on to Kenner, Louisiana for the night; Wednesday we’ll spend the night in Covington and Thursday on to Hammond, all in Louisiana. We’ll be in Hammond through the weekend for the “Coon Ass /Red Neck Nationals”. This is supposed to be a real “happening”, if you’re old enough to remember that term.
Along the way there will be tours of hot rod shops, car museums, land speed racing shops, drag racing enterprises and just about everything you can imagine that has to do with converting gasoline into noise.
Day Two: Let the Games Begin
The first stop was Twin States Customs just outside Meridian. What an unbelievable experience! Sitting outside was a fairly rare ’34 Chevrolet sedan; only 850 or so of this body style were made. Inside was a 1960 Impala two door hardtop undergoing a frame up resto-mod build including a twin turbo charged big block that was estimated at 1250 horses! Twin States Customs also boasts the build of a 1992 Mazda pickup truck that has “won everything it has entered” according to Eli Griffin, the co-owner. TSC had something for everybody, including an old XKE ready for restoration, a Triumph that is beyond hope, (editors note: I have restored, raced and parted out nearly 20 TR’s and most of them were beyond hope!!!) Camaros, pickup trucks, even a ’59 Caddy two door hardtop.
The next stop was a place identified only as “Jerry’s”. It was a really neat place with Model A parts onthe wall and a pristine 1958 Plymouth… but in the outbuilding was the really good stuff: a flamed ’34 Ford three window with Hemi power, a cherry ’40 Ford Coupe with a completely louvered hood…and a really clean ’56 Ford two door hardtop with Mercury taillights.
Then on down the road toward the coast. We picked up two more cars in Bay Springs; Fred Lytle in his school bus yellow 1937 Chevy Slant back sedan, and Casey and Sue Yates in their navy blue ’37 Ford two door sedan. In Stringer, MS we were hosted by one of the tour participants who treated us to lunch and door prizes. We were joined by probably 10 to 12 cars at the lunch stop.
Among the cars joining us in Stringer was a beautiful white/silver ’58 Corvette and a ’58 Ford Fairlane two door hardtop that was bone stock and drop dead gorgeous. A blown ’40 Ford sedan with a black and silver paint job was one of the top cars. There was also an assortment of Chevelles and an Impala or two.
Our next stop was Roy’s Rides in Laurel, MS. There, sitting in the front door was a ’62 Corvette undergoing a frame off restoration. Here again, the main story was the frame. It was magnificent. You gotta see the pictures! There was the usual plastic check book deuce, a ’33/34 under construction and a fairly neat bubble top ’61 Impala with a 348 with three deuces. There was even a ’55 T-Bird body on a rotisserie sitting outside.
On to Lyman, MS for the stop of a lifetime. There we were hosted by Paul Vanderley, Owner of Vanderlay Racing Engines and world reknown drag racer and land speed racer. This guy is the real deal. We saw his 255 car; the Bonneville/Dry Lakes racer that he won D-Gas Roadster with at Bonneville in ’04 at a speed of 213.252. His shop was almost like a museum of land speed racing with a little drag racing thrown in.
Paul also has a ’32 five window Coupe, Ford of course, that he bought when he was 15 years old. He is 75 now. He told me that when he had the NASCAR engine building contract for the Busch racing series, he put one of the motors in the little deuce…said it was a V6 but ran like a scalded dog.
A little farther down the road we stopped at yet another rod shop who hosted us for dinner. The hospitality was outstanding and the burgers were much appreciated. Fred, our first casualty, broke both the top shock mounts on the rear of his ’37 and the guys at the rod shop put his car on the lift and welded the brackets back on while we ate…what a great bunch of guys.
The Club House, for lack of better terminology, is one of the neatest places on the coast. There are outobard motors hanging from the ceiling, airplane propellers about, surf boards on the walls, model cars in glass cases, and two, count em, two ’55 Corvettes and a Camaro convertible in there, One of the Vettes is blown and the other has, I think it was, anLS2.
Day 3: More Cars, More Fun
We Red Neck Power Tourers awoke Tuesday morning to quite a chilly day, as we lined up with the rest of the crew at 8:30 for departure. The only stop for the day was to be just outside of Picayune, MS at a rod shop called B&B Motorsports. It took a while to get there but, man alive it was worth the drive!
The first thing we saw as we came around the curve was a line of 15 of the sharpest rods you have ever seen parked along the back side of a small lake with a water feature (fountain) in the middle. A real Kodak moment….or for you digital fans, a Sony Second.
The B&B crew, led by owner Barry Barone (rhymes with baloney) his wife, and some, if not all of the rod owners were standing in the doorway to the shop which was set up for lunch. The burgers and hot dogs were great but the main event, for me anyway, was some of the best Jambalaya I have ever tasted.
Included in the rod line-up was a red/orange ’41 Willys, blown 454, of course, and a slick little Model A two door sedan with the cutest little Ford V6, all chromed out, just like the big boys. There was a pumpkin orange ’41 (might have been a ’42) Chevy coupe with Frenched in ’49 Ford taillights, a drop dead gorgeous Crystal Red Chalet ’57 Chevy two door hardtop, a dark blue, too dark to be Marina Blue, Camaro,a Tweetybird yellow (actually Lemon Ice Yellow) ’67 Chevelle with a a big block (454) with a Muncie four speed.
Down the line was a glass ’34 coated with a burgundy and silver paint job to die for. Next up was a rather odd entry but a real looker, a 1938 Dodge 2 door Trunkback sedan painted a hottish red with ghost flames. It sported a ZZ1 engine tied to a TH350 tranny. Then, of all things, was a ’39 DeSoto. It was bone stock, except for the burgundy paint and was splendidly turned out in wide white walls, just what it needed. The owner, DeWayne Hutchinson, told me that he went looking for a car on E-bay, and turned this beauty up only seven miles from his home in Carriere, MS. Can you imagine! It would be just like finding a Lotus three miles from your own doorstep. And then there was a 4 door burgundy Plymouth sedan.
Then, one of my favorite of all times popped up…a 1958 Impala two door hardtop. The owner called the color some brand of red, but back in the day, we called it Salmon, go figure. It had a clean little 283 with cast valve covers…what a neat ride. The owner said he was looking for a 348 for it but wanted something newer than a ’59 vintage. If you recall, early 348′s were bad about bending push rods. And, if you remember yesterdays chapter, at Roy’s Rides in Laurel, I ran across a ’61 bubble top Impala with a 348 whose owner has a 409 that he wants to swap out. I told the guy about it and he was ecstatic…I spread cheer whenever and wherever I can.
On down the line was a ’56 or ’57 Dodge Coronet two door hardtop with a button tufted interior…not retro..a survivor. And last, but not least, was a very red ’57 four door Chevy Station Wagon. It was an older restoration that smoked a little. The guy wanted $28,000…not sure it ws worth it.
A black ’38 Chevy 2 door sedan made a late appearence. I didn’t get to see it up close and personal, but I heard it was very nice. All in all, it was an extremely satisfying visit. The crew at B&B are to be complimented on their shop and clientele.
The route to Kenner (New Orleans) was a circuitous one from Picayune, but it didn’t have to be. We all finally made it across the causeway and to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow it’s on to Covington,LA, and Thursday we’ll be in Hammond, LA.
Day four started in Kenner, LA on a bright and sunny Wednesday morning. We rolled out of the hotel parking lot, caught West Esplanade and headed east toward Causeway boulevard. We crossed the 24 mile long concrete slab and entered the town of Madisonville, La where we were met by Joe Doran. He and a Police escort led us through Madisonville, across the beautiful Tchefuncte River and onto the premises of the Champaigne Beverage Distributor, the local Budweiser distributor.
There we entered one of the most amazing private car museums I have ever been to. There were 25,000 square feet of Ford automobiles. Not just Ford automobiles, but perfecly restored, concours quality cars. Seventy seven of the most elegant restorations you have ever laid eyes on.
Not only was there a plethora of early Fords, there was one or two Lincoln Zephyrs and a Mercedes 230 SL, plus an old Chris Craft cabin cruiser and two or three Higgins inboard speed boats. Higgins, as you may or may not know, was a New Orleans boat maker from a long time ago; but that is another story.
There were neon signs, porcelain signs, gas pumps, both electrified and “visible” pumps, those which one would hand pump the gasoline into a glass cylinder by hand and then allow gravity to deliver the premeasued gasoline onto the vehicle. You probably need to be over sixty to remember those little jewels.
There were model airplanes hanging from the ceiling. I specifically recall a P38 Lightning, a P51 Mustang, a T-6 texan, the same plane in Navy markings but called an SNJ, a P40 Tomahawk or Warhawk (mistakenly referred to by some as a Flying Tiger because of the unit that used them in the China/Burma theatre prior to WW11), and either a Liberator or Mitchell bomber, I don’t remember which. an F4U Corsair and several motorcycles, inclusing a Simplex and a Cushman Eagle.
There was also a section of old outboard motors, some pre-slot gambling devices, some old NCR cash registers which had been de-nickled and the brass polished to a golden luster.
Among the perfectly restored cars were two street rods. One was a gorgeous 1940 Ford Panel wagon and the other was ’40 two door sedan with subtle flames.
The grounds were immaculately manicured and almost park like.
From there we went to Joe Doran’s Shop in Madisonville. His shop was as neat and clean as any shop has a right to be. It is about the size that every car nut wishes he could have. He had several ’51 Fords and a Model A ready for restoration. Joe treated us to some great Jambalaya and bread pudding.
Joe gave us a tour of his house including his den, which is totally dedicated to cars and the fifty’s…you really have to see it to believe it.
Then it was off to the Hillside Rod Shop where they speciaize in Willys street rods and gassers. There were a half a dozen Willys and one or two deuce roadsters in various states of build. It was a really neat experience.
Then back to Covington for the night. Tomorrow, on to Hammond and the Coon Ass Nationals!