Air Travel Hell: Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour (Pre-Tour)

4:44 a.m.
Okay, the trip started off badly when the shuttle van that was supposed to pick me up at 4:00 a.m. hadn’t arrived by 4:30. When I called, they told me, “oh, our driver just now told us he was experiencing vehicle trouble…” Great. What about my ride to the airport?

The shuttle company called a cab for me and my $45 trip to the airport wound up costing $68.30. The shuttle company is going to pay me the difference. Yea – there’s money I won’t be seeing again anytime soon. The only saving grace was Richard, my taxi driver, was also an Armenian philosopher. I got an Armenian history lesson on the drive to the airport. Interesting.

6:00 a.m.
I made it to the gate with only a few minutes to spare. I glanced out the window at the plane and exclaimed to my traveling partner, John Espino, “Hey John, check out the antique we’re flying on. Oh, sh*t.”

Our jet, an old 737 or something, was built in the era of, “How many people can we cram on this plane.” Of course, I always sit in the back (when a plane crashes, the tail usually breaks off and sometimes there are survivors in it…). I was one seat from the last row and was squashed in at the window (I’m 6’4″ tall. I literally couldn’t move).

Then, I met, “Cole.” Cole is the one-year-old that got the seat directly behind me. Cole’s Mom hooked up his car seat into the plane’s seatbelts and Cole’s little feet could just touch my seatback. He danced the whole way from Los Angeles to Milwaukee. He screamed the whole trip, too. It wasn’t a mad scream. He just liked to scream.

Across the aisle, John Espino had gotten shuffled around a few times and ended up in the middle seat of a three-seat row. John had his own problems. He tried to work on his laptop and ended up looking like a T-Rex (his description) with his little arms tucked into his sides. He finally gave up. I didn’t even pull my laptop out of my case. No point. I could barely fit in there myself.

Our antique jet did a pretty good job at flying, but the landing scared the ‘bejesus’ out of both Espino and myself. First of all, it took the entire runway to get the plane stopped. And the left wheel’s brakes seemed to grab better than the right, so the plane did a scary “S-pattern” all the way down the runway. Goodbye to you, plane.

5:00 p.m.
Setup at Miller Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was cool. The Hot Rod Magazine kick-off wasn’t until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 4th, but there were already some early birds around on Friday afternoon. So, I took Banks’ twin-turbo “rat rod” shop truck for a little spin to wow the troops. That truck came out perfect. Kudos to Banks Race Shop. On the way back around the parking lot, I spooled up the turbos through a couple of gears and all eyes (and ears) were on it.

I talked to a couple of Banks customers as we were setting up the booth. One guy happily exclaimed to me that his Banks Six-Gun-equipped Duramax actually got two more miles per gallon on top of all the extra power! Right on.

7:00 p.m.
The Banks crew (minus two who were still flying) had a nice dinner at a German restaurant, called Mader’s in downtown Milwaukee. The food was exceptional. Thanks, Gale! Oh, and there was a little plaque next to our table that said, “Mario Andretti and Paul Newman ate dinner at this table on June 4, 1993.” That’s one day off from twelve years ago. How cool. After dinner, we all crashed back at the hotel. Good night.

Check back soon for more posts from Hot Rod Magazine’s Power Tour 2005.
Your faithful,
Corporate Blogger

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