For this year's caravan, I was headed to the heart of performance territory, going south to Memphis, trucking up through Bowling Green, and on to Columbus. While these cities may have other claims to fame, it wasn't Graceland or the National Corvette Museum that had the adrenaline pumped for this Mopar freak, but the chance to visit two of the premiere aftermarket performance facilities in the industry-Competition Cams in Memphis, and Holley Performance Products in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

After working intensively with both of these companies over the years in various tech stories, I'd finally have a chance to put some faces behind the names on all of those long-distance phone calls. That I would come knocking on the door after pulling into the gate in a glitzy Prowler, with a Caravan of some of Mopars finest muscle machines, made the prospects all the more tasty.

Touching down in Memphis, Chris Brown of Comp Cams had the Prowler waiting after it had been delivered right to Comp by DaimlerChrysler and MSX. This year, I was riding shotgun with Mopar Muscle Publisher Doug Evans. I would leave most of the driving chores to the hard-driving 6-foot, 6-inch Marine, while handling the on-the-road photography.

On Wednesday morning, we sat on our luggage from our hotel and made the trip to Comp, hoping that someone with a bit more cargo space would offer us some. The crew at Comp had a large reception set for our arrival, and Doug and I waited for the caravan participants to arrive. With about half a dozen cars checked in, we began our tour of Comp's extensive facility. Now when I order a cam, I'm even more amazed when a few short days later that Comp Cams box arrives at my door. These guys have the production facilities to get the job done. Often, for Winston Cup clients, they turn out and ship a custom billet cam the day it's ordered.

While we were touring the plant, the number of Mopars outside more than doubled, so another tour group was put together while the rest of us bench raced and told lies under the Comp tent outside. Jamming the Comp lot were enough 'Cudas, Chargers, and mid-'60s B-Bodies to make it look like 1971, only the modern muscle and trucks that also joined the scene would assist in correctly setting the date.

We loaded up and hit the road for Bowling Green. Five minutes out, someone from our tour pulled up to tell us he was out of gas. We swung into the nearest station and promptly lost all of the trailered vehicles, which were lagging the pack. Back on the road, we made the run with what remained of our original group, and made the haul into Kentucky with no casualties.

By Thursday morning, we had regained a portion of the crew that we had lost the previous day, and headed out to Holley. Holley, for those of you who haven't been paying attention, is not just a carburetor company anymore. With the largest production facility of any aftermarket company, Holley now includes Weiand, B&M Superchargers, Hooker Headers, their own line of ignition system products, multipoint fuel injection systems, and the list keeps growing. We toured the plant and got a look at what goes into building the carburetors, but also had a chance to check out the extensive R&D lab and product development. These guys are serious about performance. We headed out of Holley and set our sights on Columbus.