Back in my late teenage days, muscle cars, as they’re called today, were a really big thing around Gonzales and Ascension Parish. Along with revealing my age, I’d like to caution younger folks who read this not to try any of this as these activities are very dangerous and in violation of modern traffic safety laws.

Now there was a drag strip in LaPlace where legal racing took place that many of us enjoyed. But there were lots of street-legal cars and testosterone back in the day that sometimes went on display in ways that I wouldn’t recommend now. Cars came from the factory with big engines and high enough horsepower to throw your head backward “coming out the hole,” if you know what I mean.

The first one I remember was a ’67 Chevelle Super Sport owned by Gabe Lambert, who was mentor to many young men working at Roy Marchand & Son. This baby had 396 cubic inches with 375 horses and a Hurst 4-speed manual shift on the floor. “Four on the floor” was the cool thing those days. Gabe was very generous in letting some of us drive his car, and we took advantage of all that horsepower when we got the chance.

Jimmy “Bajun” Moran bought a ’69 Dodge Coronet with 440 cubic inches and 390 horsepower. We were in Baton Rouge one night, cruising on Florida Boulevard, when a Corvette came in our sights. It took about three red lights to get both cars side by side. When the light turned green, it was on, and we left that ‘Vette in the dust.

Danny “Cotto” Bourque bought a 1971 Buick (yes, a Buick) GSX with 455 cubic inches and 410 horsepower that was lots of fun to cruise around in. Mike Banker had a ’69 Mach I Mustang with 428 cubic inches and God only knows how much horsepower. He held many “F” Class Stock drag racing records at the LaPlace Raceway with that beast. Every day when school let out at East Ascension, all the guys held their breath as he pulled out of the student parking lot to see if he would “do it.” When he did, it was a sight to see, smoking tires and a flash of dark red heading down Irma Boulevard.

Well, we can’t go back to those days, but we can either relive them or get introduced to them at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center on June 11 as the Hot Rod Magazine kicks off its Annual Hot Rod Power Tour right here in Gonzales.

The 22nd annual Hot Rod Power Tour gets underway in 2016 with lots of new features for auto enthusiasts and newbies alike. This is a highly anticipated event that takes place in a seven-day, seven-city trek that is expected to bring together more than 6,000 vehicles and as many as 125,000 spectators in the June 11-17 spectacle. Anybody here that might be interested in participating in the excitement can register at www.hotrod.com/events/power-tour.

“We love starting out our event in Gonzales at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center,” said Hot Rod Magazine Editor-in-Chief David Kennedy. “We hope to see 15,000 to 20,000 spectators here, along with all the local hot rods as well as those who will participate in the complete tour. We will have displays that include massive amounts of manufacturer booths for all the gearheads to enjoy as well.”

After leaving the expo center on June 11, the tour will head to the Royal Purple Raceway, Baytown, Texas, on June 12; the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, on June 13; the Traders Village, Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 14; the Remington Park, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 15; the Kansas Pavilions, Wichita, Kansas, on June 16; and winding up things on June 17 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Hot Rod Power Tour is presented by Chevrolet Performance and driven by Continental Tire, bringing to life the pages of Hot Rod magazine as performance car lovers join the magazine editors and photographers cruising through small-town America.

Car enthusiasts from around the world celebrate as the Hot Rod Power Tour welcomes all makes and models of hot rods, street rods, custom trucks, muscle cars and performance machines of every vintage and nameplate.

For many, Hot Rod Power Tour is the ultimate vacation with friends and family. Those who travel from start to finish are considered the “Long Haulers,” a title they proudly boast. The 2016 Hot Rod Power Tour anticipates more than 2,100 long-haul vehicles and more than 3,500 “Long Haulers” on this tour.

“Long Haulers” are those who drive their cars to all seven events, and we’ve had more than our share of Ascension Parish drivers make the tour in past events. So come on out and enjoy a great day of every kind of car or truck one could imagine on June 11 at the Lamar-Dixon Expo center from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dutchtown’s Leah Scott earns All-Metro track title

The All-Metro track team is dotted with Ascension Parish athletes. Leah Scott from the Dutchtown Griffins earned the Outstanding Field Performer for the girls team. The rest of the selections for our area schools are:

Girls track events — 800 meter: Maerys Joseph, Ascension Catholic, 2:16.10. 3,200 meter: Sophie Daigle, Ascension Catholic, 11:49.00.

Field events — Long Jump: Leah Scott, Dutchtown, 18-11. Triple jump: Leah Scott, Dutchtown, 37-8.25. Nicole Broussard, Dutchtown, 35-10.

Outstanding field performer: Leah Scott, Dutchtown.

Boys track events — 100 meter Lamarcus Jefferson, East Ascension, 10.74. 800 meter: Parker McBride, Dutchtown. 1,600 meter: Ben Vasterling, Dutchtown, 4:27.93.

110 meter hurdles: Zachary Kilpatrick, Dutchtown. 300 meter hurdles: Zachary Kilpatrick, Dutchtown, 38.65. 4x100-meter relay: Dutchtown 42.43. St. Amant 42.71.

Field events — Discus Jordan Zuppardo, Dutchtown, 145-9. Long jump: Keilan Raven, St. Amant, 23-6.50. Triple jump: Keilan Raven, St. Amant, 46-5.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.