We’ve all seen the classic vintage Fuel Altered photos, where the high-centered, short wheel-based bucking bronco is pointed directly at the crowd under power rather than at its intended target a quarter of a mile away. The driver, trying relentlessly not to become a passenger, can be visibly seen cranking the wheel back in the right direction – his foot still matted in a balls-of-steel display unlike any other.
Sure, they’re most at home turning left and right, but they’re actually meant to – and designed to – go straight. Unfortunately, in this particular, going straight was the problem.
Last weekend, longtime Fuel Altered icon and the creator of the famous “Rat Trap” Ron Hope found himself in a precarious situation thousands of miles from his Franklin, Tenn. home that left the classic nitro-burning altered a little worse for wear.
Hope had crated up and shipped the Rat Trap across the Pacific Ocean to the small settlement of Hahei, New Zealand, where native off-road, rally, hill climb, drift, and super touring racer Rod Millen was hosting the Leadfoot Festival that brings together classic cars, vintage motorcycles, and motorsports legends on his private 140-acre Leadfoot Ranch as a global celebration of all things automotive and motorsports.
Looking to deliver a slice of Americana with his truly American cackling Fuel Altered, Hope cracked the throttle on the Rat Trap on an intended drive though the meandering roads of Millen’s ranch when things took a destructive turn. Or lack of a turn.
Hope, no stranger whatsoever to the unorthodox skill that it takes to drive such an unruly racer did what he could to avoid disaster, but according to some second-hand reports, simply lost control of the car and couldn’t get it stopped or back on the roadway before overturning in a ditch. Certainly not the way the way that Hope or Millen intended for the drag racing display to go, but thankfully, the Tennessean climbed out unhurt.
The Rat Trap is said to already be on a ship and headed back stateside, where it will undergo repairs and readied for the long season of nitro-burning exhibitions ahead.