This past weekend was Torquefest in Farley, Iowa. This is a traditional hot rod show that was being held at a dirt track speedway. It was the first year for this event, and I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about that fact. Actually, in the history of MCC, I have never shot a first year event. I prefer to wait till they’re a little farther along the learning curve. However the promoter, John Wells, is a good guy and it was being held for a good cause. I also wanted to try to help this event get established because ultimately I’d like to see these traditional hot rod shows dotted all across the US so that there’s one within driving distance of anyone that would want to attend one.
Farley’s a bit of an outpost tho, and there really wasn’t a good place to fly into so we decided to make it a road trip. It was going to be about 500 miles from E’ville to Farley, and there were supposed to be some pre-event festivities starting at 5:00 pm Friday so Ben & I got on the road mid morning in hopes of getting to the church on time.
It was pretty smooth (and flat) sailing most of the way thru central Illinois until we got up to Rockford and turned west at which point we were faced with a wall of black clouds which was frequently illuminated by bolts of lightning raining down all around us.
And speaking of rain, it wasn’t long before it started to do that in earnest, and continued till we were about 20 miles outside of Farley (which had received somewhere between two and three inches). We were running a bit behind schedule, but it didn’t matter because the planned cruise to the farm where Field of Dreams had been filmed was wisely cancelled. Fortunately tho, the weather forecast for the next day was nearly perfect, and I was just keeping my fingers crossed that the cars that did show up for this event wouldn’t sink out of sight in the showfield.
We headed out to the speedway first thing in the morning hoping for the best but anticipating the worst. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see 40 or 50 cars already there and a steady stream of them rolling in.
Everybody was looking for high ground and that was in pretty short supply, but this is not a particularly finicky crowd. Actually, that’s one of the things I like about the traditional hot rod scene. These folks don’t get all unjazzed if their cars get a little muddy. In fact, the rattier ones wear it like a badge of honor.
The vast majority of these cars were also driven to this event; many from three or four hours away and some thru the apocalyptic storms of the previous day. I respect that!
Before it was all said and done, more than 400 cars (and an extremely colorful crowd) showed up to Torquefest, which I think is pretty impressive for a first year event.
I get a kick out of the how creative and innovative the builders of these cars are. There was plenty to shoot, and we were scrambling to take it all in.
There was some really crazy stuff there too. I think the wildest thing was a ’47 Willys truck powered by an air-cooled, turbo charged Deutz diesel engine out of an excavator; and this guy had driven it about 200 miles from Chicago!
It had been really windy all day which posed some audio challenges for shooting, but it helped dry things off enough that by 4:00 they started letting cars do some laps on the dirt track (which is fortunate since that had been billed as the feature event of this show). And it was definitely a crowd pleaser! The stands were packed as everything from rat rods to fire-breathing Caddys took to the track and drifted thru the turns, kicking up huge rooster tails of dust.
What a wild time!
On a side note, I actually grew up not too far from Farley in northern Illinois and an added treat for me was that a couple high school buddies of mine, Roger Townsend and Harvey Kramer, came over to see me. Roger is a photographer and he shot some killer pics at Torquefest. You can check them out as well as some of his other work at www.tigerwhip.net.
I’m really glad we did this show and even tho it looked pretty grim early on, it all worked out in the end. Honestly tho, with as bad as things were Friday, I wouldn’t have bet that anybody would’ve showed. Guess it just proves that at least with this crowd, if you build it, they will come.