Start Your Engines

Hot rods and southern belles get revved

After winding through the sandy, one-way road that leads into Boone Hall, I was glad to grab some turf in the impromptu parking lot outside the Carolina Open Car Classic and Hot Rod Run. The vehicles at the plantation were an impressive collection of half-finished restorations, Corvettes that saw sunlight twice a year, 70 or so Harleys lined up like horses outside an Old West saloon, chrome carburetor-topped muscle cars, black death mobiles, and other classic rides. The two chickens I stenciled on the side of my pickup the week before couldn’t compete with the giant General Lee 01 painted on the side of the orange monster truck parked next to me.

Once in the show, my first encounter was with a photographer getting shots of the contest winners posing next to women dressed like Scarlett O’Hara. It was pretty funny to see the procession of bearded 50-somethings, Fast and Furious extras, and elitist shop owners line up next to the improbably hot Gone with the Wind gals.

The cars themselves were incredible. Looking down the line of open-hooded beasts, you could see a whole chunk of American history. I ended up walking by each car and trying to imagine what all the hoses and linkage and blowers were actually doing.

The answer came soon after as I was walking back toward the main stage area. Now that the show was almost over, all the drivers and owners were starting up the cars to leave the show. One by one, the air-ripping engines growled, sputtered, and roared like a pride of hungry lions. Each one had their own sound, and the owners made sure that everyone could hear it. Truly bitchin’. —Joshua Curry