Note from Bobby: Santino Chiappetta is a Summer Intern at Gold Eagle Co. who attended the 2014 Hot Rod Power Tour. I had the chance to visit with Santino and had him interview me and share his thoughts on the 20th Anniversary Hot Rod Power Tour. Enjoy!
Tim Brenner of Lockport, Illinois is a Hot Rod Power Tour “Long Hauler.” “It’s not about the destination,” says Tim. “It’s about the Journey.” This is how Tim described the adventure of being a Long Hauler on the 2014 Hot Rod Power Tour. “In order to have the full experience of being a Long Hauler, you need to be in the moment,” said Brenner.
Tim is a seven year Long Hauler veteran of the HRPT and he continues to love it more after each year he attends. He has a 1966 Pontiac GTO convertible and has driven on the tour every year since he became a Long Hauler. After Day 3 of the HRPT, on the drive from Ohio to Indiana, Tim’s car broke down. Unfortunately, he was not able to find the part that he needed in order to fix the problem.
This is the point where the STA-BIL Engine Ansewerman Team comes into the story. They were able to find room on the STABIL truck for Tim’s car, and brought it all the way to Indiana for him. This is a perfect example of the camaraderie shared among all the Long Haulers on this seven day journey. “Everybody wants their fellow Long Haulers to have a great time on the tour,” said Brenner. “If someone’s car breaks down or something goes wrong, there will always be someone to help out. We are a family.”
Everybody who attends the Hot Rod Power Tour is part of this family. This family enjoys spending time with each other because everyone shares a love and a passion for cars. They are dedicated to the culture of the power tour, and are very committed to attending it as well.
“My favorite part of the HRPT is the combination of hot rod enthusiasts and the small town culture,” said Joe Skala, a Customer Development Team Member at Gold Eagle Co. “It is extremely welcoming and it promotes the lifestyle and mentality of hot rod hobbyists.” Many Long Haulers take pride in the fact that this tour takes a historic, off the beaten path route in order to make the experience more authentic and enjoyable. It is this type of environment that brings the Power Tour family together. The tour fits into an exclusive car-loving culture that consists of friendly, like-minded people who share a true passion for cars.”
Although the majority of the people that attend the Hot Rod Power Tour are Long Haulers and locals, there are also the sponsors that attend as well, including STA-BIL. It was very gratifying to hear so many people thank us for being a sponsor. Without the sponsors, the Power Tour could not happen. The employees of these sponsors share a similar passion in their products as the hot rod family shares for the culture of their Power Tour.
Tyler Rossdeutcher, another Customer Development Team Member at Gold Eagle Co., shared why he loves the Power Tour. “The best part of the Power Tour is that we are able to get out of the office and meet actual customers,” said Tyler. “At the office, Gold Eagle employees are only able to talk to our customers by email or phone. On the Tour, we are able to talk to customers face to face, which allows us to give customers personal and instant service. The people on this Tour want to know about our products, and we are happy to be here to inform them. Customers get to see our products first-hand with Gold Eagle employees demonstrating and providing knowledge about them.”
Bobby Cleveland, also known as the “STA-BIL Engine Answerman,” is the face of the STA-BIL. He spoke on the stage of the Hot Rod Power Tour every day about the products that Gold Eagle has to offer along with the history of the company. Bobby got the crowd going by giving out prizes to anyone who could answer correctly the questions he asked about the history of Gold Eagle. Bobby has dedicated himself to the Power Tour for the last seven years, and plans on returning for many years to come.
Veterans of the Power Tour know and love Bobby for the excitement and passion that he brings to the Tour. Bobby loves meeting fans and customers at the Tour. “This is my best tour yet,” said Bobby. “The quantity of cars and people along with the upbeat attitude and atmosphere is what makes this tour so enjoyable. Being able to set up the booth and promote a product that we are so passionate for is why we are here.”
During each day of the tour, Bobby would hand out magnets to the long haulers who came to the STA-BIL booth. There were seven possible magnets to collect, and each of them formed a part of the STA-BIL truck. These magnets give long haulers a piece of memorabilia to show that they did the long haul, and made it all seven days. It is the little things, like these magnets, that make the tour memorable.
I had the pleasure to ask Bobby a few questions…
Interview With Bobby Cleveland
Q. Considering that the 2014 Hot Rod Power Tour was your seventh Power Tour, how did this one compare to the other tours?
A. Of all of my seven Hot Rod Power Tours, this was by far my favorite one yet. This HRPT had so many more cars than previous tours had, which added to the excitement of the tour. Along with more cars came a lot more people, both locals and Long Haulers. Because of this, there was much more interaction between people, which was just great. On top of all of that, the weather on this tour was almost perfect, making it much more enjoyable than previous tours.
Q. In general, what do you like most about the Power Tour? And what is your favorite part?
A. I would have to say that my favorite part of the Power Tour is the people. Each Tour, I am able to see many old friends that I have met throughout the years. I have also met so many new people on this Tour and have made lots of new friends. Also, I would have to say that traveling with the other truckers is one of my favorite parts of the tour. Being able to travel with your friends on the road for a week makes the long trip easier and a lot more fun. I got a lot more help on this Power Tour which was nice. It gave me the opportunity to socialize with people and have an overall better time.
Q. What is it like to travel to 7 states in 7 days? Do you enjoy it?
A. This is by far the hardest show I have to do each year, but it is the most rewarding. Because this we are working hard and having fun at the same time, this show goes by very fast. Seven days felt like it passed by in only three days. I love being able to drive and see the country along with all the other Long Haulers and truckers.
Q. Since you have also been racing lawn mowers for 20 years, what do enjoy most about lawnmower racing and the USLMRA? Are you looking forward to the STA-BIL Nationals?
A. Honestly, lawnmower racing is an excuse to socialize with my friends. Although it is a competition, we are still all friends no matter what happens. I love being able to build my lawnmower and be able to race it against my friends. It doesn’t matter whether I win or lose because it is always a great time with great people. Yes I am definitely looking forward to Nationals. It is the biggest and most fun race of the year.
Q. How does it feel to be the man who has built and driven the world’s fastest racing lawnmower?
A. I am just very fortunate that I was able to have the opportunity to do it. I am sure that there a lot of guys out there who could accomplish the same thing, but I was the guy who was able to do it. It was one of the most fun yet scary things that I have ever accomplished. Traveling over 96 miles per hour on a lawn mower is very scary. But Overall, It was a great opportunity and experience and I am honored to be able to still hold the record.
Check out the HOT ROD Power Tour 2014 Official Attendance Numbers courtesy of the staff of HOT ROD Magazine/TEN: The Enthusiast Network.
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