The weather forecast called for clear skies and temperatures in low 70s, but by the time that the sun was high in the sky it felt more like the low 90s. Yet, that didn’t stop thousands of hop fans from filling the grandstands at the Orange Show Grounds, eager to see the California kickoff of LRM’s 2002 Scrapin’ Tour Hop & Dance competition, sponsored by ShowTime Hydraulics.

“Berdoo” (as the locals call the city) always has a good turnout and most vehicles were sporting fresh setups and fresh paint jobs for the new season. Due to schedule conflicts, a few perennial favorites including CCE’s Bryan Gillespie weren’t able to attend and some local heroes like Hopp-O’s and Brett Kopitz didn’t get their vehicles finished in time to compete.

Still, the eager audience was once again treated to a great Hop with plenty of sky-grabbing, record-breaking, car-breaking, truck-rolling hydraulic action in the arena. To add to the event, radio personality Bo Corona from 99.1 KGGI in Riverside, California, handled DJ duties for the hop, and Dennis “MC” Cervantes provided bounce-by-bounce commentary and color for the competition.

This is the third year that the car and truck hoppers have competed with fewer batteries, but that didn’t stop several contestants from hitting back bumper. Since only one measuring “stick” is being used to determine the vehicle’s height again this year, three sets of eyeballs are focused firmly on one stick, ensuring a more accurate measurement.

The Luxury Hop class was highly contested with Alex Vega winning First Place and setting a new 2002 Tour Luxury Hop record of 52 inches with his C&L Hydraulics-built ’83 Olds Cutlass. The performance also earned Alex the first $500 bonus of the Scrapin’ Tour for “breaking” a record. Second Place went to Peter Cuevas who hopped his ’81 Cutlass to 40 inches, and the Third Place winner was Isaac Mares who hit 32 inches with his ’83 Cutlass.

As always, the Street and Radical Dance classes had the wildest action of the show, with frying motors, flying parts and flipping trucks. First Place in the Street Car Dance was a tie between Juan Chavoya’s ’87 Cutlass and Leonardo Gonzalez’ ’81 Cutlass, each earning a score of 25 points. So, using the new payout formula, the First and Second Place prize money was combined and split equally between the two contestants, giving each man $625, not bad! Jerry Lamm almost made it a three-way tie receiving 24 points and making him the Third Place winner.

In the Street Truck Dance class, Mike Kaufman’s ’83 Chevy El Camino earned 26 points giving him the First Place win. Second Place went to Jeff Ross who, because his ’88 Mazda was giving him some problems, only got 16 points. Here again, following to the new payout formula, even though there were only two entries in the class, First got the full $750 and Second won $500.

Finally, the Radical Truck Dance class was up, saving the best for last. First Place and $750 went to John Markiewitz who had no trouble flipping his freshly built ShowTime-equipped ’88 Mazda for the screaming audience, earning a near-perfect 29 points. We knew that John’s truck was built to flip when we saw that it had roll bars on both sides. Ron Eggers was ready to rock, but his ’94 Nissan refused to “roll,” due to cylinder problems. Still, his truck’s performance earned him 27 points, Second Place and $500.

During a short break, drawings were held for a free set of Dayton wire wheels and a free set of Nitto performance radials. That’s a rather nice “bonus” for two lucky show spectators. The event went well thanks to the efforts of the inspection/judging team, including Raul Gomez, Mark Clayton and Hop Head Judge, Alex Cortez. The professionalism of the competitors showed also, with every vehicle but one passing inspection.