Looking from high over the battlegrounds at the Tampa, Florida, Fairgrounds, the scene was a spectacular one and the Tampa Hop was the place to be. The stands were filled with enthusiastic spectators and everyone enjoyed watching the gladiator-like battle of rubber and metal take place away from the beating sun. Competitors came from all over the Eastern seaboard to show their talents and vie for honor and bragging rights until the next show.

The Truck Hop went low and slow with one entry hittin’ 8 inches to take First in the class. Sometimes it’s just about being in the right place at the right time. Single-Pump Hop action got things hopping and Raul with both a Buick Roadmaster and a white Lincoln Town Car hit 18 and 20 inches respectively. The battle continued with Sean Travers and his ’84 Olds Cutlass pumping its way to 30 inches, but the top warrior was Joe Dowers and the CCE Buick Regal. With just a few taps, 47 inches took out the competition and laid to rest the Single-Pump challenge for the day.

Next up was the Double-Pump Hop and forget the saying about saving the best for last ’cause Chris from CCE rolled out their Cutlass and Ben Hur’d a 57-inch hit to take the spokes out of the competition’s wheels. Gabe Silva’s Chevy Malibu wagon got up to 41 inches, Michael Gonzalez and his ’84 Cutlass put up a 49 to take Second Place. The crowd was into the carnage that was being created as competitors fell in combat and were hauled off for repairs to do battle another day. As the clean-up proceeded, the Radical hoppers one by one rolled out and put on a show that had the crowd screaming and holding their breath with each hit of the switch. Steven Mendez took his Ford Ranger up on the tailgate and posted up a 92-inch romp with Douglas Hughes bringing home 44-inches in his ’83 Regal.

From our bird’s-eye view, the Truck Dance and Radical Dance were looking pretty hot (literally) with sparks and flames flying from competitors’ vehicle as they battled to the vehicular death for cash and bragging rights. When the smoke cleared and the kitty litter settled, Rob Robertson took First Place and the T&D Customs Chevy S10 took Second in Radical Dance. Dave Harkins and his ’78 Pontiac Grand Prix, “Gremlin,” went uncontested in the Car Dance and took home the cash. T&D’s ’87 S10 did the same and took home the Street Truck Dance category.

We’re still early in the season but the competitors are just getting warmed up for what will prove to be a heated battle for the title in the up and coming shows. Look for all of the tricks of the trade to be pulled out later this year, which should make for some fierce competition.