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Hot Rod tour coming to Charleston in June

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Car lovers and gearheads can mark June 9 on their calendars. That day, Charleston will host this year's Hot Rod Power Tour -- an annual mega-road trip that covers seven U.S. cities over the course of seven days.

The city is hosting the third day of the tour, which is expected to bring 3,500 cars into town, said Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau President Alisa Bailey.

"And we know these car enthusiasts will want to come back to Charleston again and again," Bailey said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

Jeff Dahlin, publisher of Hot Rod magazine, told reporters the tour began 20 years ago as a road trip for the publication's editorial staff.

"Now we have about 80,000 people that attend throughout the week," Dahlin said.

Dahlin said the magazine has wanted to bring the tour to Charleston for a number of years, and this year managed to create a route that allowed for it.

Bailey said the one-day event is expected to have an $850,000 economic impact on Charleston.

"That ain't chump change, and we could really use it," she said.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones called the tour "a huge, mammoth event to introduce Charleston to a lot of people." Jones recalled reading Hot Rod magazine in the 1960s when he worked at a filling station and was building racecars with his buddies.

"Our community continues to make partnerships like this," Jones said. "We've always had car shows, but since I've become mayor, if you didn't like car shows, you voted for the wrong guy."

Jack Jarvis, president of the West Virginia Motorcoach Festival, said there are about 40,000 people in the state who "tinker with old cars," and few have seen a tour like Hot Rod's.

"Everyone's getting excited for the Hot Rod Power Tour to roll into town. June's too long," Jarvis said.

The tour shouldn't affect the Charleston Boulevard Rod Run and Doo Wop, which is scheduled for October, according to CVB spokeswoman Jama Jarrett.

The Hot Rod Power Tour will be held from noon to 7 p.m. on June 9. Admission to the event -- set to be held on Kanawha Boulevard -- is free. In addition to hot rods and custom cars, General Motors will have concept cars on display. Attendees can also enter a contest to meet NASCAR legend Richard Petty, who will be on the tour.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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