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Welcome to the 2016 Hot Rod Power Tour. Sort of. We’re not on Tour yet, technically. Much like when the airline lost my bag I was forced to wear Shane’s chonies, technically (and literally). Today was the kickoff party at Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, Louisiana but select members of our Mothers Polish team came out a few days earlier to take in the sights. When I say, “select,” I mean that I wasn’t selected, but I’m not bitter about it. I'M NOT BITTER AT ALL. Oops, I may have accidentally hit the caps lock key. Technically speaking. My bitter disappointment is your gain as we brought back the Biggest of the Easys, the longest of the haulers, the seller of ice to Eskimos, the Grand Prognosticator himself, Mr. Forrest Tosie to get us to speed. Take it away, Forrest. “Dear, John (not the first time I’ve read those words – JN). Once again I’m disappointed you’ve chosen to stay at the office for a couple days and do actual work instead of coming with us to revel in our Power Tour version of “work”. We flew in to New Orleans and found us a nice hotel in the French Quarter. The Big Easy is certainly an interesting place, with parlors, theatres and shopping. Thursday morning we went for a walk to find THE BEST breakfast in the world. Architecture here is over the top. You gotta love those balconies.” “I think he was still breathing – no one wanted to get close enough to find out (I’m just glad it wasn’t me… for once – JN).” “In the shadows of the Cathedral of Saint Louis was our destination.” “We found a couple of tables inside and proceeded to scarf down those famous biegnets.” “Jim, Jonathan and our friends Guy and Leatha actually had some left over. I think it’s because they spent too much time talking instead of eating. After wiping the powdered sugar off our faces we walked the narrow streets, finding fun looking places, and, surprisingly, an empty at the hour bar. "Last year we all talked big about taking a swamp tour, so I booked us one in the bayou." "I knew we picked the right place when the sign clearly said you must be an “experience d Cajun” to pass." "We reserved airboats for the Swamp Tour, ones with 454 Chevy engines because fast ‘n loud is more than a show on Velocity to us. Good thing we didn’t go for our Tour in one of these airboats." "What could possibly go wrong?" "Cameron was our capable Cajun Boat Captain/tour guide.” “Here’s Jim doing his Dr. Doolittle impression. It was a riot seeing Jim (sans hands) and Shane feed the bird (how come I feel like “feeding the bird” is code for something here – JN).” “But, the real reason we came was to see the gators. Captain Cameron was fearless, and we were up close and personal – although not as close as the good Captain. That gator was a nine and a half footer, he claimed. None of us wanted to get in the water with a tape measure and see if he was right.” “He even had a baby gator for the braves ones (that’d be Jim and Shane) to handle. After tiring of gators, we headed back to the dock, passing work tugs and boats that ply their trade on the Mississippi and Gulf of Mexico. We headed to Gonzales (Jambalaya capital of the world) from there, looking forward to more Cajun and seafood until your arrival (you ate Jambalaya without me? - JN). The 2016 version of the Hot Rod Power Tour looks like fun. We’ve got great cars, new and old friends, and some terrific venues to look forward to. Jim even promised me a side trip to Ripley, believe it or not. Your (slightly lonesome) friend, Forrest“ Thanks for the update, Forrest! I’ll see you in a while crocodile. Or should I say, later gator? Now that we’re all caught up, let’s get to Power Touring. My usual excuse of showing up late today, didn’t fly, since Forrest had done all the heavy lifting until now. Our friend Charlie Lillard is joining us again with his Stielow Skunkworked Hellfire ’69 Camaro. I would have offered to help you wipe her down, Charlie, but I can’t afford to damage my shutter release finger, because it is my money maker after all. Forrest will be taking the wheel of our cherished 59 Sedan Delivery on this year’s Tour. Looks like I showed up just as you were finished wiping her down, Forrest. I couldn’t have timed my arrival better if I planned it. And I did. Upon our arrival to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center, we found the sheriff had Gate 3 on maximum security stage 4 lock down (read: he parked his car in front of it). I know what the problem was. No Official Mothers on Tour Power Tour signage on our rental ‘Burban. Now it’s official! I expect nothing less than a police escort at the next stop. In lieu of a police escort, maybe we can roll into the next stop with this bruiser. Once we got inside, we could see that our Big Rig crew was already doing work. Whereas Shane and Forrest got to work putting their left legs in. You should see them when they shake it all about. It’s glorious. “I’m telling you, the gator Shane held was this big, if he was an inch. It was a harrowing experience.” “Yes sir, I would love to tell you all about how well our Wax Attack II Polishing Kit works, but first, let me tell you about how our own Shane Christman wrassled a nine-foot gator with snarling teeth this big! Nice fanny pack, by the way. I think our own Forrest Tosie has one just like it.” One of our boys performing a Wax Attack II Polishing Kit demo on our friend Steen Gilbertson’s Chevelle. I feel bad because after a day of Mothers Polish paint care demos Steen’s Chevelle is going to stand out like a finely-polished, banana-colored sore thumb. It will attract all the best, and worst attention the Tour has to offer. Then Steen will get a ticket, and then he’ll make me lie to Mrs. Steen and I’ll be conflicted (just as long as I’m not implicated). If you’re on The Tour with us, make sure to stop by and pick up our latest Mothers on Tour shirt. At $20 it’s a bargain, but at our asking price of $5 we’re basically giving away the finest shirts in the Western world. If you don’t believe my claims as to the quality of our shirts, check out Hot Rod’s own Elana Scherr interviewing our own Jonathan Stone to find our how we’re able to sell the best shirts on Earth for a mere $5. Our own Jim Holloway was a busy man today. Handing out some of our limited-edition posters at the Big Rig… In addition to debuting his latest build – a beastly Terlingua Mustang. Complete with big upgrades and his own signature Spider Monkey. Not sure about the Spider Monkey part. Maybe it’s because Jim’s all jacked up on Mountain Dew and he’s about to come at Grandpa Chip like a Spider Monkey. Or not. Jim wanted to make sure to give the Terlingua a proper break-in and what better place than the Autocross course since Mothers is the presenting sponsor of this one. Along the way Jim set and reset the fastest laps of the day repeatedly. Way to “outshine” the competition, Jim! See what I did there? A lot of Roadkill on Tour this year. As in the fleet of Roadkill’d rides. From left to right, Mazdarati, General Mayhem and the Muscle Truck. Godspeed, boys. Bob, Stubby, one of Roadkill’s latest and greatest builds. It’s a 1950 Ford F6 2-ton dump-truck chassis cab… With a massive Chevy big block, Holley Supercharger, a Gearstar Performance Transmission 4L80E four-speed auto and not much else out back. It’s completely okay to stare, kid. Maybe one day you can drive something like thi… Wait, I just noticed the pink sandals. You’re destined for a mini van and perhaps one of Forrest’s fanny packs. I’ve been trying to get my shift together for years now. Work in progress, under construction and not-quite-ready for prime time. And yet, I can’t look away. Our friends at Chevy Performance brought one example from each of the six generations of Camaro. This 1970 concept rocks an LT4 crate engine with a T56 Super Magnum six-speed manual and a sixth-gen production Hyper Blue Metallic exterior color. Chevy Performance also brought out their GM Motor Medics to help keep all the Power Tourists on the road. Our friend Craig Morrison from Art Morrison Enterprises is joining us on Tour this year with his "Farm Truck." We're talkin' full sleeper spec here. Looks like Godzilla got lost on the way to Hot Import Nights. Very clean R32 Nissan GT-R. John Bridges brought his chopped '70 VW with a 472ci Cadillac motor and a hodgepodge of appropriated parts that just came together perfectly. Not gonna lie, this one makes Shane's shorts tight. And by Shane, I mean me, because I was wearing his shorts today... technically and literally speaking. I absolutely adored the lines on this on this 1960 Studebaker Lark. Perfect color too! Scream on, Power Tour Chicken. Scream on. I gotta give props to these cams. Ha! See what I did there? Nice ride. But the one on the right is a bit of a bucket. Ha! Are you not seeing what I keep doing there? I give you, a study in contrasts. And yet another. Damn that Impala for photobombing my sweet shot of one of the official Hot Rod Power Tour Suburbans. And the photobombs just keep dropping. Tried to shoot this Camaro, but this Supra slid into my frame. Couldn't agree more. That is definitely the wrong way to kick over a cone. V8 powered barstool. Why? Because 'Murica. Okay, Shane, next year I want this set up for my personal use and I would be willing to wear the leash and/or the blouse if that's what it's gonna take to make it happen. One of our Power Tour emcees, Jeff Thisted borrowed my camera and managed to get a great shot of the exact moment his fellow host Clarence Barnes opened his mouth. Not a hard feat, mind you, since Clarence never seems to be able to shut it. Hey, Doctor Feel Good, be careful wearing that hat around Forrest. I heard he once tried to take a hat just like this one right off the head of the girl who was wearing it at the time. What I'm trying to say is that you're wearing a girl's hat. Panic washed over Cecily, when after years of flag semaphore training, she could not remember the sign for "park over there." Caught this adorable little tyke grabbing some snaps on his iPhone. Enjoy it, cuz when I was a kid all I had was a farm animal See and Say and the only animal that worked was the cow. C'mon, the cow was like the worst one ever. But I'm not bitter. I'M NOT BITTER AT ALL. Sorry, caps lock again. Best food stand ever. I'm gonna hazard a guess that Tie Dyed Shirt ordered the Hog Cracklins. That's it for our kickoff party coverage. Tomorrow is Day One where we'll travel 268.4 miles to Baytown, Texas. Even though I have my luggage, I might just wear Shane's shorts again. I've grown attached to them. And after a day spent in the humidity of Gonzales, I mean that literally.