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Hot Rod tour cruises through town

Doug Brown, owner of Doug's Auto Service, couldn't stop waving. His cohort, Thomas Stidd, couldn't stop drooling. The two were standing outside Mr. Brown's business on West Hill Street Tuesday morning watching as participants in the 2006 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour drove through Thomson.


Ricky and Debbie Clemmons of Tennessee get into their classic Chevelle to continue the tour Tuesday.

"I think I should just get my lounge chair and sit out here all day long," Mr. Brown said.

When a '72 Chevelle convertible pulled into the parking lot of Michael's Restaurant, next door to Doug's, the two men took the opportunity to admire, appreciate and talk car talk.

"It's beautiful," Mr. Stidd said as he looked under the hood at the 350ci V-8. "It's so clean you can eat off of it. We don't get to work on engines like that."

This was the third Power Tour for Chevelle owner Ricky Clemmons, who is from Murfreesboro, Tenn. Mr. Clemmons said he has never been able to drive a complete tour before, because he suffered from cancer. His wife, Debbie, said she promised him that when he was recovered from his treatments, she would accompany him on an entire tour.

The two had driven from their home in Tennessee to the tour's kick off in Kissimmee, Fla., on June 3. The Hot Rod Tour began in 1995 when the magazine staff had the idea of sending the magazine's project cars on a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to Norwalk, Ohio. Each year, it is tradition to have the Power Tour begin where the previous year's Tour ended.

"It's just great fun, it's a great time. Everywhere we stop, we get to see all these car guys and everybody talks about their cars. Where we stay at night, where we stop to eat, it's just great fun," Mrs. Clemmons said.

The Tour traveled on "back roads" from Kissimmee to Gainesville the first day. The next day, their scheduled stop was Perry, Ga. The next stops along the route are Columbia, S.C., Roanoke, Va., Harrisburg, Penn., and the tour ends at the Old Bridge Township Raceway in Englishtown, NJ.

Mr. Clemmons said they are given a mapped route to follow, but that is the extent of their rules. They stop where ever they want to along the way. The Clemmons stopped for lunch at Michael's Restaurant. They said they "love old country restaurants."

The extra-long cruise is what makes the Tour special, according to Mr. Brown and Mr. Stidd.

"You can go to a car show anytime and see cars that are backed off of trailers and never driven," Mr. Stidd said.

"With this tour, you see them on the road, see them travel the miles. They prove they can handle it. It's what cars are made for," Mr. Brown said.

Web posted on Thursday, June 8, 2006

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