The kickoff event for the 2016 Hot Rod Power Tour was sent off with a “vroooom” on Sunday morning after approximately 5,500 cars, hot rods, muscle cars and trucks descended on Ascension Parish for the 2016 Power Tour at the grounds of the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. This spectacle marked the 22nd time this seven-day, seven-city trek of gearheads gathered and drove their vehicles to seven cities in seven days.

A passing thunderstorm or two didn’t dampen the spirits on the Hot Rod Power Tour that began its madness Saturday in Gonzales. This event is all about finding familiar faces and sheet metal, new friends just a few cars away, and tons of machinery and parts to see while on the world’s largest road trip. Even Tim ‘the Tool Man’ Taylor would have been envious of all the horsepower that was there.

Jeff Dahlin, general manager of the Hot Rod Network, was elated at the opening of this year’s tour.

“This kickoff of the world’s largest traveling car show — the Hot Rod Power Tour — has always been a huge spectacle, and this one was no different,” he said. “More than 5,000 classic cars, a midway made up of the biggest names in performance, even an Autocross course that any registered attendee could drive. This was heaven for car people. We always start with a huge party, and that’s just what happened in here in Gonzales. After winding through Texas and Oklahoma, we’ll end up in Kansas City, (Kansas), with about 125,000 attendees over the seven days of tour. There is nothing else like this.”

Rubin Molliere, of St. Amant, was one of the locals who attended. He and his entourage of Ricky Morin and Clint Melancon brought three dune buggies to show off to the nearly 18,000 folks that were in attendance. “It was a great event,” Molliere said. “Not only did we get to participate, but getting to see all the vehicles on display was awesome.”

Another local, Doug Reed, of St. Amant, brought one of his cars to the show. It was a Cobra he built in 1999. Reed will drive his Cobra as far as the event in Grand Prairie, Texas, then return home to St. Amant.

The tour has some very recognizable vendor names from all around the world. Holley is one of the names that has been around for a long time. Back in the day, if you didn’t have a Holley 4-barrel, dual-feed carburetor on your ride, you just weren’t cool. Edelbrock headers was in the same category.

Todd Acosta, of Gonzales, was another of the locals who spent his Saturday at the expo center. “I liked that cars came from many different states to start here in Gonzales along with the many world-known manufacturers that came here and set up displays and booths,” he said.

There were lots of freebies that were given away all day. Petty’s Garage gave away a free set of tires, Holley/MSD gave away a $500 gift certificate, and you could even win a free transmission from Tremec plus many more opportunities to win all kinds of car stuff.

“It was an awesome event,” Peter Signorelli, of Prairieville, said. “There were so many cars to see; there was no way to see them all. Watching the cars race around the track and hearing the engines roar, being so close was another thing that really brought it home. It was great.”

On Sunday morning, the parade of “long haulers” (those who will drive their vehicles to all seven cities) left the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center and headed to the Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas. Craig Gautreaux, of Gonzales, took the opportunity to watch the caravan heading out.

“I got to watch all those cars and trucks heading down I-10 heading to Texas,” Gautreaux said. “It was really cool. I spent three hours there on Saturday and didn’t see half the cars on display. All kinds of cars, trucks, hot rods and 50 or so vendors selling parts, chassis engines and auto cross event where pros and rookies could try their skills on a timed track. I’m hoping to do it again next year if it is anywhere close to here.”

By the time this goes to press, the event will have been to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on June 13; the Traders Village in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 14; the Remington Park in Oklahoma City on June 15; the Kansas Pavilions in Wichita, Kansas, on June 16; and will be winding up things on June 17 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas.

Kaleb Winchester commits to play for Wolfpack

Ascension Catholic senior Kaleb Winchester has signed a basketball scholarship with Westmoreland Community College in Pennsylvania. Along with his standout play on the court, Winchester became the all-time leading scorer (2079 point) this past season, passing former Bulldog Lane Frey.

The 2016 Wolfpack team, playing under head coach Stuart Silverberg, finished the 2015-16 season 12-5 in their district and played in the Division XX playoffs. Winchester will be a welcome addition to the Wolfpack basketball team.

LSWA All-State Track and Field Team

The 2016 LSWA All-State Track and Field Team was selected from nominations by members of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. Ascension Parish track stars were selected.

Making the boys team was long jumper Keilyn Raven, of St. Amant. The girls team includes 800-meter runner was Maerys Joseph, of Ascension Catholic, and long jumper and triple jumper was Leah Scott, of Dutchtown.

Donaldsonville All-Stars finish 2nd in baseball

The Donaldsonville 8-and-under All-Stars won District 4 runner-up honors this past weekend at a tournament in Pierre Part. Players selected for the All-Star team included Kamryn Schexnayder, John Rob Daigle, Evan Casso, Jakel Haynes, Andrew Landry, Camille LeBoeuf, Hunter Chiquet, Christopher Anthens, Ethan Bergeron, Aidan Hebert and Quinnton Dabney. Camille received the Frank Sotile Sportsmanship award for his play and sportsmanship.

Donaldsonville was led by head coach Timmy Chiquet and assistant coaches Jason Casso and Troy LeBoeuf. Donaldsonville will next compete in the state tourney in St. Francisville June 23-26.

Lyle Johnson can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.