Back in early January, I decided to roll with this year's Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Since the tour's route was from the Midwest to the Deep South, my hope was to see and photograph a good selection of trucks from America's midsection. I registered, secured motel reservations for the nightly stops, and promptly forgot about it for the next several months. You know the drill; a week before the event I started some serious hustle to prepare for the trip. The night before leaving from upstate New York, I loaded up my '58 Chevy Apache Fleetside longbed after finishing the A/C installation earlier that day. I left early the next morning and worked my way west on I-70 to Indianapolis, then up I-74 to camp for the night somewhere past Peoria, Illinois. The following day, I arrived in Newton, Iowa; the starting point for the 2010 Power Tour.

Newton proved to be a great starter; locals went all-out to see that the PT folks had a great time. After "Long Haulers"-those intending to complete the run to Mobile-registered on Saturday, they could cruise around the 7/8-mile oval Iowa Speedway track, or drag race on a 1/8-mile track set up on pit row. My goal was to complete the entire tour in good order, and since I built my Fleetside for distance cruising, I opted out of smoking up the Speedway's pit row. However, with her Mustang II front and four-link rear, she handled the banked oval very nicely. Later, from the grandstand, I watched an early '70s Chevy truck and a pair of '53 Dodge Suburbans consistently smoke late-model Mustangs, Camaros, and Chargers. Reminding everyone that classic trucks can do more than look good and haul stuff. One of these killer Dodge Suburbans even made the long haul to Mobile.

The route from Newton took us on a weeklong tour of 1,368 miles on mostly secondary roads to six different venues and averaged some 230 miles a day. Along the way, we drove through many small towns whose residents lined their main street, offered us free water, took photos, and liberally dispensed "thumb-ups." Imagine a scene from the Boston Marathon, but instead of a mob of runners, substitute a semi-orderly flow of classic cars and trucks moving through a downtown area.

As the photo coverage that follows displays, there were many custom classic trucks on the Power Tour. These are drivers; built for reliable cruising. When car or truck breakdown occurred, fellow Power Tourians stopped and helped to make repairs. At a watering hole the night before we set out, I was told that if a driver makes a pit stop along the side of the road, five or ten following cars will stop to offer assistance. Trip wisdom has it that this is a common rookie mistake. It's really a cautionary tale, but anyone pulling off to the shoulder has to continually give a thumbs-up signal if he or she does not actually need assistance.

As you might imagine, there are many benefits to signing on to the Long Haul. You get to see other parts of the county, and you have time to examine in detail a great number of customs that you have not seen before. You meet folks from all over the country, and get to know many of them while stopped at the many venues and particularly after the day's events at motel parking lots. On the road, drivers sort themselves out in terms of whatever speed they are comfortable with, and you will see trucks with virtually every group. At times, there are "bottlenecks" through small towns at red lights, stop signs, or at train crossings. This is just part of the deal, creating space between elements of the convoy. The slowdowns can cause engines to overheat, so if you are thinking about doing a future Power Tour, you need to be sure your cooling system can deal with the summer heat.