(This article was first published in 2014)
If John Wells wrote up a recipe for the perfect hot rod event, it would look something like this:
Take one large bowl of tradition
Fill it with real hot rodders (no fillers, posers or fakes, please)
Add in heaping helpings of patina, chrome and some shiny customs
Pinches of flirty pinups, great vendors and some parts swapping welcome
Surround the whole thing in excellent tunes and activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family and…
We got us a hot rod festival!
You have to wonder if John is just a little obsessed as the details for these shows is becoming legend. Worked heavily by volunteers (myself included!), the Vintage TorqueFest for 2014 in Dubuque, Iowa May 2-4, drew hundreds of vehicles and vintage bikes and thousands of spectators from 9 states, all carefully orchestrated so there was ample parking, great food available and a vibe that you just couldn’t help but enjoy.
The sun shown brightly Saturday when the bulk of the action took place. Each direction you turned let you hear music from some talented bands, visit indoor and outdoor vendors, watch the racers and mini bikes battle it out on the Dubuque Fairgrounds quarter mile track and even witness some awesome burnout competitions.
Just crowd watching was a wonderful experience, from the traditional hot rod persona to mom and dad walking the kids around to show them how it’s really done…hot rods driven hard, the way it was intended! All ages had a chance to rub shoulders, swap stories and enjoy some nostalgia that felt genuine.
On top of all the fun, John makes certain that gate proceeds are forwarded on to the Helping Hannah’s Heart Foundation which each year writes an impressive check to a family who has a child struggling with heart issues.
Vintage Torquefest will return again next year to Dubuque and it will be exciting to see what John Wells cooks up to top this festival of hot rodding. There’s nothing else quite like it, at least in the Midwest, and if you missed this year’s festivities, you must make sure you put aside May 1, 2015 to participate in next year’s event!