Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Long Haulers Awards

Saturday, the final day of the 2011 Hot Rod Power Tour brought all of the cars, drivers and passengers who had made the full trip from Cocoa Beach to Detroit.

The Long Haulers gathered at the GM Milford Proving Grounds to receive their awards and to see who gets to win the prizes. 

Long Haulers taking pictures of the cars

Long Haul cars gathered at Black Lake, GM Proving Grounds

 Our estimate was that about 1500 cars made the full trip.

Two new GM Performance Division crate motors and a 2011 Chevy Camaro convertible were awarded to three lucky long haulers...neither Strokr nor Ayce had their names called.     

Some pictures of the Long Haul cars...

Ayce n' Strokr   1989 Corvette  w/ 383 cid

Chevy Pick-up

Custom Suburban

Street Rod Truck

Studebaker on a Blazer chassis

1948 Dodge cab-over

1968 VW Beetle - diver by two teenage girls

Old Camaro
New Camaro

Classic Street Rod

Corvette C3 w/ awesome paint job

1970's Chevys

1960's Corvair Van

Saws-All Chevy "Convertible"  

1968 Shelby Mustang
198? Olds Diesel w/ homemade bumper and brushguard

Madza RX-7 w/ Rotary motor

Street Rod - w/ Mazda diesel motor 45+ MPH
The Power Tour is all about the experience;  driving, meeting people and sharing a love of motor vehicles...in all of their forms.    Future posts will explore the variety of vehicles that people brought to see and be seen at the Power Tour

Strokr gets stroked - driving GM Proving Grounds

Any car nut could not get excited visiting a facility like the GM Milford Proving Grounds. Fantasizing  what they would do here, driving on the pristine and challenging roads and test tracks if only those in charge would turn their backs and let us go.

 Well, a little of that happened on the last day of the power tour.  Long haulers got to drive through the Proving Grounds, and there were opportunities, especially on the road course to open thing up a bit and begin to push the car to it's limits.

Strokr got so excited driving his Corvette through the twists and bank turns that Ayce was concerned that Strokr would wet his pants.  Actually, Ayce was just trying to hang on with one hand and take pictures with the other.

Some pictures from our trip through the GM Proving Grounds, so Strokr can relive the moment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

GM Milford Proving Grounds

Saturday brought what many would describe as the best day of the Hot Rod Power Tour.  General Motors Performance Division, the lead sponsor of the Hot Rod Power Tour invited all those who made the entire Tour, from Cocoa Beach to Detroit, the Long Haulers, to their home at the GM Proving Grounds.

This is a very secure and secretive facilility and we were honored to be there.  The Long Haulers got to take a driving tour of the Proving Grounds and to drive our own cars on many of the test tracks.

 Let GM describe the facility to you:

Milford Proving Grounds

The General Motors Milford Proving Ground (MPG) is the headquarters for GM’s vehicle durability and test operations. Since the facility’s inception in 1924, the Proving Ground’s mission has remained unchanged which is to develop General Motors cars and trucks to meet the demands of both our customers and the environment in a competitive marketplace.

The Proving Ground was inaugurated in 1924 through the foresight of Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., President of General Motors. The General Motors' Technical Committee voted to spend $300,000 to turn 1,125 acres of farmland outside of Milford into vehicle testing roadways and facilities. Prior to this time, all road tests were done on public highways.

Today, the Proving Ground site has grown to nearly 4,000 acres, across both Livingston and Oakland counties, and employees nearly 5,000 people.

Over the past eighty plus years, vehicles have become increasingly more complex which has also changed the type and amount of testing performed at the Proving Ground. GM performs vehicle tests for safety, compatibility with the environment, ease and comfort of operation, reliability, durability and efficiency. As the challenges of the 21st century emerge, testing will become more exacting and rigorous. These tests hold specific significance for the performance variant vehicles that are developed by GM Performance Division. Having the ability to actualize the various high-performance vehicles in a variety of controlled environments, has placed GM at the forefront of performance technology.

The Proving Grounds' primary focus has gradually shifted from road testing to lab testing and supports the move to computer math simulation to reduce hardware testing and builds. However, the final vehicle validation is actually to measure the performance of vehicles, and the only way to accomplish this is through durability road testing and test analyst interface. The Proving Ground logs more than 12 million test miles per year.


    1 billion miles driven - September 1994


    Nicknamed "Black Lake"


Approximately 4,000 acres
Serves over 1,000 meals per day
Sloan, Mott and Pickett
Equivalent to over 132 miles of two-lane highway


16,550 gal. of white and yellow paint
35,000 lbs. of reflecting beads
67 Acres
approximately the equivalent of 59 football fields
3.8 miles
4.5 miles
3.104 miles (including loops)
1.204 miles each way (level)
600 per year
1,500 per year
4,400 tests run annually on various parts of GM vehicles

Motor City

Friday brought the first full rainy day of our Hot Rod Power Tour.  It was 4 1/2 hours driving in off and on showers to from Muskegon to Detroit.  An easy, if unexciting drive, on Michigan interstate highways,  unless of course your were Mike in the T-Bucket.

The venue at Detroit's Metro Beach was good, but the weather kept the local car count down.  The Metro Beach and Marina is located on Lake St. Clair, and has a huge paved parking lot for which we were very grateful.  The parking on grass in the rain would have been a nightmare.

It is the little things that stand out in your mind. Detroit was our 7th car show in 7 days, and they all start to run together in your mind.  What Ayce will remember about Detroit was the heated restroom with running water that located a short walk from the venue.  Port-a-Potties would have been a dismal option when the colonic malfunction he suffered with all week decided to break loose after our arrival in Detroit.

Two other more pleasant and interesting things set Detroit apart from the other Power Tour Venues.  One was food.  The vendor charged reasonable prices and had an excellent choice , including several salads, grilled items, sub sandwiches (with the best bun I've had in a long time) and wood fired pizza, prepared on location with a portable wood burning pizza oven.  They also plenty of covered seating.

Lots of cars on display but the one that made the largest impression was a late 60's nitro-methane burning funny car (dragster).  Ayce has some knowledge about drag racing and has spent a little time at various drag strips.  But, was not prepared for the noise, violence and mayhem that occurred when the car was started.  The noise (at idle speed) is literally ear splitting and painful, and when the engine revved up the sound was nauseating.  Coupled with the acrid odor of the burning nitro-methane it was enough to make one physically ill.  It is hard to believe that Funny Car drivers will strap themselves into a seat directly behind the motor (the drivers seat can be seen at the far left of the picture) and allow the car body to be lowered down around them.   Funny car drivers may be the bravest or the most &@#$%* up race car drivers there are. 

Have to tell you though... that car drew a crowd, and the car was on jack stands and wasn't going anywhere. Just sitting there sounding like the end of the world.

Next stop -  Hot Rod Power Tour Long Haulers get together at the General Motors Proving Gounds