The heat of hop competitions is usually doubled thanks to the sweltering outdoor heat of summertime hop-offs. The typical scenario usually leaves spectators in the unfortunate middle ground between the unwavering summer sun and the scorching pavement, as they wait for the cars to jockey into position in the hop pits. It’s the closest we can feel to what cafeteria food probably feels like wrapped in tinfoil and placed under a heat lamp, but we brace these conditions because the competition in the pits provides us with one of the most unique experiences in all of motorsports. Thankfully, this year’s Denver Tour Stop provided an alternative. The 2011 Lowrider Tour Denver Hop actually brought the action indoors to the National Western Complex. With the crowd waiting comfortably in the air-conditioned arena, over a dozen juiced-up soldiers lined up to do battle in four separate classes.

A trio of Cutlasses were the first to come out swinging in the Street Single series. The battle lasted as long as an old-school Tyson fight, as the Gold ’87 from Black Magic Hydraulics made handy work over the second-placed Jose Salazar in his ’78.

The next event came courtesy of the Truck Hop, which included a pair of Mazdas mashing it up against the board. This time, Black Magic’s ‘88 fell short to Shorty’s Hydraulics’ 104-inch grab for the victory. Another Shorty’s Hydraulic creation, “El Mero Mero,” found itself to be a dancer without a partner. The ride did electrify the crowd, however. Up and down and side-to-side the ’85 Blazer went, and it looked like it was having a seizure until the rear window literally exploded from the routine and purged hydraulic fluid all over the concrete. The crowd loudly applauded the effort, and if you’re going to go out, go out with a bang I say!

The final shoot out for Radical Hop was to be decided from a six-car lineup. Black Magic’s ’84 El Camino set the initial bar and patiently waited to be dethroned by the competition. The Camino sat in the hot seat as Dan Davis’s ’85 Regal, Florentino Camacho’s ’91 Towncar, Todd Land’s ’63 Impala, and Eppie’s ‘88 Ranger all fizzled for being on the bumper or failing to match the numbers. Last but not least, Shorty’s Hydraulics’ ’94 Ranger hit the high point of the day at a whopping 113 inches and took the overall King of the Ring. As the smell of the batteries and hydraulic fluid disbursed, so did the crowd, only to return a few hours later for a concert featuring Too Short, WC, and Li’l Rob. Let’s hope next year’s show remains as cool and comfortable as this one did, with the exception of the steaming competition and action we saw in the hop pit.