The Ponoka Piston Poppers began as a car club back in the 50s and did all the typical car club things like building cool street rods and socializing.

The 1970s saw a renewed interest in classic street rods, so the new version of the Piston Poppers resurfaced with an event called the Hog Root and Rod Run. The Ponoka guys wanted to host an event rather than be on the road for other car club events.

The event was born in 1979 when the local guys decided to host a social event featuring a pig roast in a pit—that’s where the Hog Root name was born. They moved around to a few venues, but some of the guys didn’t want to drive down a gravel road.

They contacted the people who ran the Ponoka (Alberta, Canada) Stampede grounds and made that their permanent home for many years. They had to build a pig roaster because the Stampede people didn’t want barbeque pits on their grounds.

The Ponoka Stampede venue worked until 2020 when the Covid plague disrupted life across the globe.

The Piston Poppers moved to the Calamut Curling Rink east of town and made it their new permanent home. It’s Ground Zero for the Hog Root and Rod Run now.

These are hardcore car guys, and they have a lot of blood in the game with their builds. They invite other clubs to join them in this 45-year tradition and it’s more of a social event than a car show because there is no competition for trophies—it’s just a pure social event.

I found a 1967 GTX on steroids at this event.

It was one of those cars that shouldn’t have been saved but was—now it’s a complete monster. Look for the story in late 2024 on MyStar.

Jim found a ’46 Ford at this event.

This is a fully functional trailer hauler, and it was built in record time. They wanted to build a driver and it worked out completely because this Ford is a working driver now.

Jim found another Ford street rod—this one was a ’38.

This was a built-not bought classic and he drives the wheels off it. Their cars have to be functional, so even though this Ford looks cool, it’s built for the real world on real roads.

That’s what make these guys tick. The Piston Poppers—and their buddies don’t build trailer queens—if you ask them, they’ll all say the same thing. What’s the point?

This club evolved from a group of guys who didn’t even own trailers—let alone put cars in them. They worked on cars outside in the winter—and drove them in the winter. That’s the kind of legacy 50s car clubs left and that’s why the Ponoka Piston Poppers Hog Root and Rod Run is such a cool event.

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.