Monday, June 24, 2019

Behind the scenes of a "Roadkill" show episode at the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour

Freiburger sits on the roof of a 1972 Ford Maverick while Mike Finnegan attempts a head stand on the fender of the beater car.

Roadkilling it! Junkyard Life buckled into a modified, all-wheel-drive 1966 Chevy Impala and ran into some greasy-handed celebrities on this year’s 25th edition of the Hot Rod Power Tour. 
  During our 2,500-mile road trip we stumbled across the Roadkill crew in the parking lot outside Bristol Motor Speedway. A small film crew wearing black Roadkill t-shirts, armed with camera gear and umbrellas, fought a big downpour as they hustled around a minivan wearing Tennessee plates. Their sights were set on a toasty-looking 1972 Ford Maverick. 
  We gravitated toward that car, which was covered in all shades of ugly. A State of California automobile title was on the dash of the Maverick, tucked inside a plastic sleeve with “paid cash $2800” scribbled in black ink. 

We saw it at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.
A 1972 Ford Maverick was Roadkill's beater brought to kick-off their daily title-swap plan during the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour.

Who wants it?
  The four-door Maverick would soon be part of a new episode of David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan’s latest Roadkill storyline. Their goal was to trade titles and drive a different car every day that they were a part of the Hot Rod Power Tour. They reached out on social media for Roadkill fans to bring a ratty car and their title to the Hot Rod Power Tour. Would-be traders also needed to bring lots of nerve if they were willing to trade their vehicle for whatever junk Roadkill would be driving and trading that day. The deals and ownership would be final.

Price paid was $2800.
A State of California title sat on the dash of the Maverick. "Paid cash $2800" and "RK 87" scribbled in black ink on the title's plastic sleeve.

Look over there!
  As luck would have it, we were parked near the Maverick, taking shelter from the rain under a tent beside the Junkyard Life, all-wheel-drive 1966 Chevy Impala. It was close enough to jump up and watch the fun when the cameras began rolling.

Cameras, light poles, and rain slick asphalt surrounded the duo.
David Freiburger, left, and Mike Finnegan work on a segment for a Roadkill episode at Bristol Motor Speedway during the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour. Cameras, light poles, fans and rain washed asphalt surrounded the duo.

Lights, camera, action! And repeat that, louder
  Freiburger and Finnegan made quick work of their hot rod hi-jinx while loud exhaust rumbled past and fans and gawkers gathered around the spectacle. At one point Freiburger climbed up onto the hood and sat on the roof of the Maverick while Finnegan attempted a headstand on the driver’s side fender. It was all in fun to accentuate the craziness of their proposition. The crowd was loved it. 

Freiburger and Finnegan laugh it up with the next owner of the 1972 Ford Maverick.

Trade time
  A fellow with a long beard showed up holding the keys to his 1979 Jeep J10 4x4 truck. The first “victim” of the even swap shenanigans had arrived. 
  I asked the Jeep owner if he thought the J10 would make it to the end of the Hot Rod Power Tour road trip.
  “I dunno, we’ll see?” 
  The look on his face seemed a bit unsure but he was decked out in a Finnegan Speed & Marine baseball cap and Roadkill t-shirt. He wouldn’t trade them a bum steer, would he?

Roadkill stars chatting up the first title trader in Bristol, Tennessee.

Good fun
  During and after, the short, 30-minutes-or-so of filming, Freiburger and Finnegan posed for photos and signed autographs for fans young and old. They were friendly and charmed the crowd. All the while staying focused on the job at hand and smiling despite interruptions while they worked on scenes for the first trade segment. 
  Easy work for the guys who put the "fun" in malfunction and have perfected the genre of junkyard engineering fueled by wild ideas during the last seven years and counting.  
  The duo tries to keep the Roadkill ideas fresh while negotiating self-inflicted automotive nightmares that many gear heads have experienced. They build dream cars from the scrap heap and create cheapo solutions while burning rubber in the name of automotive fun. 

The Roadkill guys happily pose for pics and sign autographs for fans.
Junkyard Life meets Roadkill. Jody Potter jumps at the chance to meet Freiburger and Finnegan. 

Trade details
  • Trade 1: Bristol Motor Speedway - 1972 Ford Maverick for 1979 Jeep J10 4x4 truck.

  • Trade 2: Kentucky Speedway - 1979 Jeep J10 4x4 truck for 1987 Pontiac Fiero "Guy Fiero" or also known as the Baja Fiero.

  • Trade 3: Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis, IN - 1987 Pontiac Fiero "Guy Fiero"  for 1963 Plymouth Belvedere.

  • Trade 4: War Memorial Coliseum in Ft Wayne, IN - 1963 Plymouth Belvedere for Fox Body Mustang notchback. 

Swapping titles
  The Roadkill guys managed to pull off four trades during their title-swapping road trip. When they landed at the final stop of the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour in Norwalk, Ohio they held the keys to a Fox Body Mustang. They spun the tires on the Mustang even after limping it to the track on less than all cylinders. 
  “We ended up giving the Fox back to the guy we got it from,” said Freiburger. “So he got the Plymouth AND his Mustang back!”
  Call it a goodwill gesture or part of the Roadkill master plan. They avoided the cost of avoid hauling a car home by giving the Fox Body back to the guy who traded it for the ’63 Plymouth (we spotted it on a rollback). That earns huge respect from fans and adds to the number of people willing to trade, should their be a next time. 

More roads ahead
  For those two people who don’t know about RoadkillIt's a streaming MotorTrend Channel show, that brings in tons of viewers. Before it went subscription-based, the first 82 free episodes have earned more than 40 million views on YouTube of as of June 2019. New Roadkill episodes, produced after October 1, 2018, became available on the MotorTrendOnDemand subscription service. 
  Freiburger and Finnegan continue to grow their brand of old school know-how and junkyard projects in the modern age via smart phones, computers and smart TVs. Ironic, yes? The success is unquestionable.  

Jody Potter
— Junkyard Life: The Story Beneath the Rust

Junkyard Life crew crammed into a modified all-wheel-drive 1966 Chevy Impala to become a long hauler on the 25th Hot Rod Power Tour.

Freiburger and Finnegan chat with the first "victim" of the Roadkill title swap.

A 1979 Jeep J10 4x4 made the cut as the first trade. The ’72 Ford Maverick found a new owner (bearded man).

Bristol Motor Speedway, the home of short-track NASCAR racing, was the backdrop for Day 3 of the 2019 HRPT.

Freiburger (flip flops) and Finnegan (flat bill cap) at it again in their standard Roadkill black t-shirts.

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at