There's always been a strong connection between NASCAR and the hot rod community, and nowhere was that more evident than Saturday night at the conclusion of the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Reno Tahoe Hot August Nights auction.
The week of festivities wrapped up with the awarding of the Barrett-Jackson Cup to the best hot rod selected by expert judges from about 400 cars entered in a series of show-and-shine events leading up to the big finale.
How serious was this competition? Well, a good indication is that Barrett-Jackson gave away $40,000 in prize money, including $20,000 in cash and a new Chevrolet LS3 crate motor to the winning entry.
And guess what?
The Barrett-Jackson Cup-winning car was a NASCAR-themed 1969 Ford Torino Talladega, patterned after the cars raced during the halcyon days of NASCAR's aero wars in the late 1960s and early 70.
Owned by George Poteet of Memphis, Tenn., the incredible Ford was built by Rad Rods by Troy, the Manteno, Ill.-based shop founded by legendary hot rod builder Troy Trepanier.
"Doing a car that no one else has done is a banner philosophy at Rad Rides," Troy said on the company's website said. "A '69 Talladega became the perfect blank canvas for creating a car distinct from the typical street machine. I didn't want to just copy an old NASCAR car. I liked the thought of building a car that recalled the NASCAR glory days of the 60's and early 70's, but then enhance it with modern day features and body modifications. George was already thinking along the same lines, so we set out to transform a plain-Jane '69 Torino GT into our interpretation of what Holman Moody might have created today."
Called the "GPT Special," the Torino has a fuel injected, 750-horsepower Boss 429 engine, rides on a Art Morrison-built chassis, with Corvette C5 front suspension, and is fully streetable. The car carries massive Wilwood disc brakes, GT40-style wheels and fat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires all around, the rears being 14 inches wide.
The bodywork alone took more than 1,000 man-hours to complete and the interior is every bit as trick as the exterior is. The workmanship on the GPT Special truly is amazing, the details jaw-dropping.
The car is painted in "Tennessee Whiskey Gold" gloss paint on the bottom half, and "Daytona Sand" satin paint on the roof and in the interior. On the dash is a set of gauges copied - with permission - from an old Holman-Moody NASCAR race car.
In fact, even sitting still, this beautiful Torino looks like it should be on the high banks of Daytona or Talladega, with David Pearson behind the wheel, giving Richard Petty all he could handle and then some.
But the best part of the car?
It actually gets driven.
In fact, Poteet has trip planned to the Bonneville Salt Flats to determine exactly just how fast this bad boy can run. Now, that will be a story.