Cars, Compassion, and Humanity On Display at the HOT ROD Power Tour

I think it’s important we all pause to appreciate the moment captured in these pictures I snapped with my phone on HOT ROD Power Tour 2021. Here are two friends who are a generation apart in age, but who have developed a deep and enduring bond over their shared interest in cars. This moment would not have happened were it not for the keen eyes of MotorTrend photographer Renz Dimaandal, who was riding with me for the duration of Power Tour. He spotted this gravel pile on the side of the road in sleepy Raymond, Illinois, and casually mentioned, “That’s a great place for a photo shoot.”

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I glanced over as the scene flashed through my peripheral vision and recognized its potential. “Want me to turn around?” I asked. I did and we agreed to try to flag down a car or two to shoot in front of the scene. In a stroke of cosmic luck, these two cars approached just a few minutes later, and I knew their blazing red paint jobs were the perfect contrast to the slate gray rock pile and the silos behind it. What I didn’t expect was the story the cars’ two owners told me.

It wasn’t a new story; it was the way they told it that affected me. It was a variation on the “cars brought us together” trope, which is a staple in this business. Mark Bremer owns the Camaro. I talked with him first, while Dan Tucker, owner of the 1966 Corvette waited in the comfort of his air-conditioned interior. Mark relayed the story of how he and Dan became friends many years earlier, based on their shared interest of cars, motorcycles, and skiing. This Camaro had been sitting since the ’80s, and Mark bought it four years ago, beginning the restoration process immediately. He finished it just a couple months ago and was thrilled to bring it on HOT ROD Power Tour 2021. He described the restoration process as both therapy and incentive to fight a particularly nasty bout of cancer. Thankfully,  he is cancer-free today.

While Dan’s Corvette was being photographed, he and I spoke, and he relayed a similar message. He’s owned his car for a lot longer, however—43 years—and this was his seventh Power Tour in it. Dan is 81. He described a nearly 20-year friendship with Mark, who is nearly 30 years his junior, describing him as the son he never had. “We worked on those cars in my barn,” he said, then added, “I’ve had so much fun; I wish I could be around a lot longer to see the rest of his journey.”

Those words really got to me. The fact that cars have helped these two guys through life’s inevitable trials together is one thing, but it was the stark admission of one’s mortality plus a pure and uninhibited way they communicated their respect and admiration for their friendship that struck me. I stood back to watch them interact with our photographer and with the Raymond locals who were sitting by the side of the road watching the cars go by. For the last picture, Renz climbed on top of our chase car to gain a higher vantage point, and that’s when these two guys stood shoulder to shoulder marveling aloud at where their friendship has taken them. It was moving to the point I almost got choked up. At a time when it feels like our leaders and big institutions can fail us so utterly and so ineptly, this gesture meant a lot. We have more in common than we have irreconcilable differences, and our time here is fleeting. Make the world a better place while you can.

“Starting Line” is HOT ROD editor-in-chief John McGann’s monthly look at life in the hot-rodding world. Shoot an email to McGann and the rest of the HOT ROD editorial staff to [email protected] and let them know what’s on your mind.

Watch! A Day on HOT ROD Power Tour from 2019

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