(Words and Photos by Mike Brooks) Hot Rod Power has been something I wanted to participate in for at least 15 years. It was one of many shows, races, and events that I dreamt about over the several years it took me to build my C10. I loved the idea of cruising the highways and byways of America amongst thousands of like minded people who believe in the same idea- Use your car how it was intended, drive the wheels off of it and enjoy it. When the dates and cities for the 2018 Power Tour were announced last December, I knew this would be the year I got to join in on the fun. After months of planning and prepping I was on my way with my brother Jon as co-pilot.
The truck ran great the first part of the trip. A few bugs surfaced along the way, but they were all quick fixes. The first 5 days and 1500 miles went fairly well. The next day?…. Well, not so much.
The morning of day 6 started like all the others. Throw our bags in the truck, top off the cooler and hit the road to Raleigh NC. As soon as I pulled out of the parking lot I knew there was a problem, the truck felt like it was only running on 7 cylinders. I assumed I fouled a plug or something. I decided to drive on and swap plugs at the next gas stop instead of holding up our buddies who were doing the tour with us. Fresh plugs didn’t solve the issue. We continued on the route which took us right by the old Rockingham Speedway. We stopped for a photo op and to take another look at the truck. We were there for over an hour swapping out ignition parts and diagnosing the EFI for possible causes. No dice. We decided to continue on and stop at the next parts store we come across to pick up a compression tester. After checking all 8 and getting good readings, we pulled the valve covers to have a look. Bingo. One of the valve springs was broken. How it hadn’t dropped the valve in the last 110 miles of driving was beyond me.
I thought I was done. My dream of long hauling was crashing fast, and I only had one day to go!
Having an oddball engine like a Cadillac 500 is cool because it’s different, except when you are now stranded almost 1000 miles from home. None of the local parts stores could get a new spring until the next day. While I was figuring out a way to get me and my truck back home to NY, my buddy George started Googling local engine shops.
At the top of the search list was Sloan Racing Engines in Sanford NC. He gave them a call and explained our situation. Tim Sloan replied saying “ I figured one of you guys would be calling with all these cars rolling through town”, “I got enough parts here where I’m sure I can find a suitable replacement for that spring.” “If you can get here, we’ll see about getting you fixed up with something good enough to get you home”. We slapped the valve covers back on, crossed our fingers and drive another 40 miles to Sanford.
When we pulled up to Sloan’s shop, they pulled the truck in and got right to work. As soon as I pulled in, I knew I came to the right place. The joint was full of cool parts, engines and cars. Tim’s wife, Sheila greeted us and we struck up a conversation about what we were doing and how far we were from home. Once we removed the valve cover again, Tim dove in and quickly extracted the broken spring and dove into his inventory to find a close match. It was then that my brother approached me after wandering around the shop a bit. “Dude, did you see all this guys trophies?”
I glanced into the front showroom to see a nice collection of IHRA Iron Men and NHRA Wally’s, as well as a ton of winner’s circle photos and other race memorabilia. Turns out that our new friend Tim races Super Stock and had built several championship engines for customers. Tim’s wife Sheila, and daughter Hillarey, have racing history as well. Did we get lucky finding these folks or what? He had a spring that spec’d out and got it all patched up fairly quickly. We were good to go!
What I thought was gonna be a horrible and expensive day turned into one of the best days of the whole trip. Tim and Sheila are fantastic people and really took care of us for more than a fair price. It just goes to show what kind of great people there are in this car hobby/lifestyle. They were more than happy to help and see us continue this adventure and I can’t thank them enough. The hospitality they showed to a bunch of complete strangers was truly heartwarming.
We said our goodbyes and motored on to the venue in Raleigh just as things were wrapping up. Better late then never! We were still in this! The truck performed flawlessly on the drive to Zmax Dragway in Concord, NC the following day for the last stop of the Power Tour. We did it! Long Haulers baby!!
It really meant a lot to me to make it to the end of this trip. It was an amazing experience and an adventure I’ll never forget. We were able to cannonball the truck home on the 600 mile drive the next day without a single issue. We traveled a total of 2540 miles in 9 days. There was no way we could have succeeded without the help of my friends and the Sloan Racing Engines family and staff. They are truly top notch and do some incredible work. I really hope our paths will cross again.
Check out their awesome work! https://www.facebook.com/sloanracingengines
(Editor’s Note: Sloan Racing Engines is WELL known in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock ranks, having helped customers set too many national records to count, with countless wins as well. If you are on the East Coast and need a high performance engine build, check them out. Good people with a great reputation for quality and performance. We appreciate them helping out BANGshift contributors Mike and Jon Brooks, and know they would have done the same for anyone else.)