Richmond County residents lined the sidewalks Thursday morning, waving as a line of muscle cars and classic autos filled the streets with the sounds of honking horns and revving engines.
The Hot Rod Power Tour passed through downtown Rockingham as drivers made their way from Darlington Raceway in South Carolina to PNC Arena in Raleigh.
The route had them passing through Cheraw, South Carolina, and Wadesboro before turning east toward Rockingham. After making the turns through downtown, the parade proceeded past Rockingham Dragway and the now-defunct Rockingham Speedway and through Hoffman.
From here the convoy headed north to Pinehurst and Carthage, then through Sanford and Lillington and Apex before stopping at their final destination.
Included the array of automobiles were Chevy Impalas, Camaros, Corvettes and Chevelles; Ford Mustangs and Fairlanes; Pontiac Firebirds and GTOs; older and newer Dodge Challengers — and an Edsel Villager station wagon.
Adam Williams from the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority said it was shocking to see the amount of cars on the street.
“I haven’t seen traffic that backed up in Rockingham since the Pop Secret 400 race in the 90s,” he said. “It was an amazing site to see.”
The tour is a seven-day, seven-city journey where more than 6,000 cars and 100,000-plus spectators can come together, according to the event’s website.
One spectator, Jackie Hatfield, said he goes to a lot of car shows around the country and was happy to see them drive through town.
“I love old cars,” he said. “I heard they were coming through here so I brought my lawn chair and I’m just sitting out here watching them go by.”
And Chris Jones, a spectator-turned-participant, was excited to hop on the road to drive to Raleigh with the tour.
“This is my first time doing it,” he said. “We’re meeting up with a group of people we know on the tour and we’re driving up there.”
When the parade of classic cars turned west of U.S. 1 and onto N.C. 5 near Pinehurst at about noon, traffic slowed to one lane because of continuing construction, giving those driving east front-row seats. Construction workers ceased their chores for a few moments as the vehicles passed.
Down through Pinebluff, clusters of men and boys still stood along the side of the road and outside convenience stores, hoping to see more of the cars, but only stragglers continued to pass one at a time.
One man excitedly said he’d seen a classic Lamborghini, pronouncing it “nice.”
The Power Tour started in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and will end in Concord at zMAX Dragway. For more information, visit www.hotrod.com.
Christine Carroll and William R. Toler contributed to this story.