Power Zone Debuts at CMA Fest 2011

It looks like something out of a testosterone-fueled dream. Shiny cars and souped-up trucks are everywhere, with vendors selling tires, T-shirts and more.

But the Power Zone, a brand-new edition to the CMA Fest landscape, is the brainchild of Zan Martin, the female President of Martin & Company Advertising.

“I was trying to find ways to reach automotive people who don’t necessarily read Hot Rod Magazine, and we came up with the idea of getting in touch with CMA and saying, ‘You know, you’ve already got the Fun Zone … can we do an automotive zone?’” Martin said.

CMA approved the idea, and Martin’s company began designing a 90-by-50-square-foot paradise for auto aficionados of all ages.  Martin’s own car is on display, a ’57 Chevy she and her husband Randy call the “Zandy Wagon.”

“I’ve always loved ’57 Chevys,” Martin said. “They just have that real sexy look to them.  Because I serve the automotive industry, I thought, ‘I need one of my own.’  My husband and I both love it.”

Martin and the Power Zone staff have created several events to appeal to car-crazy fans and artists, including the Tool Challenge, where country artists race to match nuts and bolts screwed into a pyramid-shaped tower.  Greg Hanna and Jason Sturgeon, two rising Nashville stars, were the first artists to step up to the plate.

Though both said they loved cars and were excited to be in the Power Zone— Sturgeon’s ’79 red truck was parked at the Skyjacker Booth— they had a hard time with the challenge.

“Quit shakin’ that board!” Sturgeon teased Hanna at one point as host Greg Parker egged them on.

“You have an engineering degree, don’t you?” Parker asked Sturgeon, a graduate of Vincennes University in Indiana.  “Well, figure it out, man!”

After a few minutes, with neither having completed the challenge, Parker called it a draw.  Since Sturgeon had made a little more progress, his official time was 4:45 while Hanna’s was 4:46.

“I’m just saying, the fastest time was 3:15 by a girl,” Parker said.  Of course, she had a slight advantage—she’s Rachel Smith, one of the Power Zone staff members.

“I beat all the boys,” Smith said, laughing. “But I’ve been working on cars my whole life.”

Sturgeon and Hanna didn’t let the competition shake them.  After the challenge, they both signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans, smiling and cracking jokes.

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