The year was 1977. Duane "Tinker" Powell and his wife Sue were part of a group of western Minnesota rodders attending the Canadian Street Rod Nationals in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They were on the return trip south of Winnipeg and Tinker was running tail end. No one really knows what happened, but somehow a loaded grain truck collided with Tinker’s ‘33 Ford sedan. His wife Sue was dead at the scene. Tinker, sister-in-law Cheryl and Sue’s sister Linda were all severely injured and lengthy hospital stays ensued. Besides Tinker, Sue left behind their two young daughters Tammy and Amy. Local car people, Tinker’s home town of Appleton and the rodding community across the country came together to help.
The Tinker Powell Benefit Run was held the weekend of October 1 & 2, 1977 at the Swift County Fairgrounds in Appleton MN. On Saturday, a barbeque beef meal capped off the day followed by a dance featuring a live band - the great “Freight” from Willmar MN. By noon Sunday, caravans of MSRA cars coming in from every direction including the Twin Cities had brought nearly 100 cars onto the fairgrounds. At that time, it was by far the largest car event the area had ever seen. After a round of donated door prizes were handed out to show participants, a check amounting to $500.00 in rod run proceeds was given to Tinker, Tammy and Amy Powell. A post-event tally including funds from local banks and donation boxes at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals raised well over a thousand dollars more. Still more checks came in from rodders across the country thanks to a Pat Ganahl editorial published in Street Rodder Magazine. Much of that would not have happened, were it not for the involvement of the Minnesota Street Rod Association and its members.
It was a lifetime ago. Yet, I can still plainly recall that crisp, clear October weekend when MSRA members from all over the state came together to help one of their own.
More importantly, Tinker remembers it too.