9/20/2013 1:55:00 PM Team to compete in rattiest road trip ever Rat rod drive-off starts September 22
Chris Walker, center, with rat rod build out team members Don Duchene and Ed Sokol.
by DENISE MARTIN
Ever heard of a “drive-off?” It’s sort of like a dance off or a bake off; only it takes place cross country, with vehicles. And, not just any vehicle.
Eight “Rat Rod” cars and four motorcycles are competing in a first-ever drive-off happening later this month. One Rat Rod car, representing Minnesota, was built in a workshop between Stacy and North Branch.
The drive-off is being co-sponsored by Rat-Rod and Ride Hard magazines. Competitors construct their cars and bikes under strict guidelines, within a 30 day build window, and build budgets can’t exceed a maximum of $3,000 (cars) and $5,000 for the motorcycles.
A group of local guys in the national drive-off are being quarterbacked by Chris Walker, who will be behind the wheel. We got the update last weekend visiting the shop.
The team goes by the title In the Weeds, or “ITW” which you’ll need to remember when on-line voting takes place during the drive-off.
ITW created its Franken-car using a 1957 Chevrolet four-door wagon, on a hand built frame, with a 1992 Camaro motor and transmission and a 1972 Chevelle rear end. Resurrected from parts sheds and salvage yards, the build started August 20 and under drive-off rules must halt tomorrow, Sept 20. The team was visibly psyched to be almost ready to roll the rod off the hoist and start the engine. These guys clearly enjoy making something out of nothing.
Walker explained that rat rods are supposed to be as ratty looking as possible. Vehicle bodies should retain their original paint, the rustier and more time-worn the better. Interiors are spartan. Rat rods proudly wear their metallic welding scars after front ends have been pushed back, rooftops shorn and blended mechanicals are hardly recognizable.
Walker said rat rodding took hold because motorheads-of-means were ruining the fun of restoring and showing classic vehicles. Bringing an old car back to life became an “unobtainable achievement” for hobbyists who don’t have thousands of dollars to recreate their ideal vehicle. People, feeling the common rejection of growing elitism in the classic car world, carved out their own rat rod niche.
Walker and the build team are pretty confident they’ll conquer the drive-off course of 1,400 miles. Prizes include a handbuilt radiator, a cover picture on the magazine, a custom-autographed guitar and maybe even some cash. But, it’s not about the prizes, Walker adds, it’s about the competitive nature of rat-rodders and seeing what your inspiration can lead to. “You just make it as road worthy as you can,” Walker said.
He’ll find out if this rat rod has the right stuff when he drives it to St. Louis, where the drive-off starts from. From St. Louis, Missouri, the course goes to Memphis, where there’s a two-day layover for a national rat rod show. Then it’s off to the finish line in Louisiana.