The trip to Carlisle began with a trip back to the motherland. The birthplace of Mopar, the home of kick ass rock and/or roll, the land of Coney Island food on every corner -- Detroit. The reason we were in Detroit was simple. Road testing and shakeout of a '72 Dodge Challenger sporting a small block and a five-speed manual trans before it was pressed into service as a development vehicle for a fuel injection conversion kit for the Magnum crate engine.

This was a man's car, despite its baby blue exterior. Fully manual steering, a clutch pedal that required the strength of Gorilla Monsoon himself to operate, and a precisely worn front suspension that demanded the concentration and driving finesse of Mario Andretti at all times. The five-speed transmission dished out rewards for doing things right, and quick punishment for wrong moves. This was a muscle car all right -- violent, fast, and somewhat dangerous.

Meeting up with the Challenger at the Mopar World HQ for the trip was a rag tag fleet fugitive fleet consisting of an SRT-8 Charger, and a super clean Charger on a trailer owned by a man only known as Frank. Out on the road things went smooth, interrupted only by numerous tank ups. Even though the Challenger had injection in its future, it was delivered with a stonkin' carburetor on top of the intake manifold.

We had a lunchtime audience with the king -- of burgers. We rolled past the functioning and crumbling industry and factories of Ohio, and as the flats of the Midwest gave way to the hills and tunnels of Pennsylvania, we were at last in Carlisle, home of the Carlisle Fairgrounds and the massive collection of Mopars that had descended upon the small town for the All Chrysler Nationals. It was instantly apparent this was Mopars taking over the world, even if that world was just one small town in the keystone state. Virtue, liberty, and independence indeed.