10th Mopar Hemi Challenge –  At Indy This Weekend

By:  Darren Jacobs

The Mopar® HEMI® Challenge Race Series which made its debut back in 2001 at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis — will celebate it’s 10th Anniversary this coming weekend…

Fast forward to 2010 and the popular racing series is still going strong and set to return to the place that started it all. The second of three 2010 Mopar HEMI Challenge Race Series events is scheduled to take place on Sept. 2–3 during the 56th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

“The Mopar HEMI Challenge event at the U.S. Nationals has experienced remarkable growth and popularity since its inception in 2001,” said Jim Sassorossi, Director — Mopar Parts, Sales and Marketing. “The Mopar HEMI Challenge has flourished for 10 years due to the passion and dedication of the grassroots racers and enthusiasts who purchase Mopar parts and spend their spare time preparing their Mopar HEMI-powered cars for competition.”

The best SS/AH cars in the world will face off this coming weekend!

The Mopar HEMI Challenge Race Series pits Super Stock/A HEMI (SS/AH) 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas against each other in fierce quarter-mile competition. Bucky Hess etched his name in the record books in 2001, taking the first Mopar HEMI Challenge event win by defeating James Keyes for the $10,000 winner’s purse. The Bunker Hill, W.Va., resident will return to the scene of his historic Indy triumph as one of nearly 30 SS/AH competitors in what could possibly be a record field of Mopar HEMI Challenge entrants.

Joining Hess in competition will be Charlie Westcott Jr., a three-time Mopar HEMI Challenge event champion at the U.S. Nationals who is coming off a HEMI Challenge victory in June at the NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion in Bowling Green, Ky. Westcott Jr. will compete in a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda as will his father and fellow Parma, Mich. native Charlie Westcott Sr., the defending HEMI Challenge champion at the U.S. Nationals.

Charlie Sr. & Charlie Jr. are 3X Mopar Challenge Winners at Indy

“The Mopar HEMI Challenge has been a great deal and I’m glad Mopar supports it,” said Westcott Jr., who along with his father tested last week at 131 Raceway Park in Martin, Mich. in preparation for the U.S. Nationals. “It’s impressive that so many cars have entered for Indy. The event always has a good turnout and it’s a fun race.”

Jim Daniels, owner of three HEMI Challenge wins and the current record-holder in the class with a 8.331-second pass, will compete at the event. Former HEMI Challenge U.S. Nationals champ Rick Houser will look to bring home his second win at the venue and Don Bales, winner of the NHRA Best Appearing Car Award at the 2009 U.S. Nationals for his 1968 “Silver Bullet” Plymouth Barracuda, will attempt to capture his first HEMI Challenge trophy. Other drivers currently entered include David Barton, Stephen Hebert, Jim Pancake, John Rains and Joe Teuton Jr.

The Mopar HEMI Challenge Race Series will conclude at the Jegs Northern SPORTSnationals, Sept. 25–27 at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio.

NHRA stars among drivers to take part in autograph sessions at Mopar Direct Connection Trailer during U.S. Nationals
Race fans can stop by the Mopar Direct Connection Trailer during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 1–6 at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Ind., to check out Mopar vehicles and parts displays and to meet Mopar racers from the past and present.

On display at the Direct Connection Trailer will be the Mopar ’10 Challenger, the first-ever Mopar version of a Chrysler Group LLC vehicle; the Mopar Direct Connection Test Lab vehicle, a Dodge Challenger converted into a performance parts development “mule”; and Herb McCandless’ Sox & Martin 1972 Pro Stock Dodge Demon. Fans can also test their racing skills by taking the wheel of a video-game version of a Mopar-powered NHRA Funny Car or in a Mopar sprint car simulator.

McCandless and members of the famed Mopar-powered Ramchargers™ team, including Tom Coddington, Tom Hoover and Al Adam, will take part in a meet-and-greet and autograph session at the Mopar Direct Connection Trailer on Friday, Sept. 3, between the second and third rounds of eliminations for the Mopar HEMI Challenge. Team Mopar NHRA Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson will be joined by Mopar-powered NHRA Funny Car stars Ron Capps, Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan and Dodge Avenger Pro Stock drivers V. Gaines and Vinnie Deceglie in an autograph session on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 1 p.m. at the Direct Connection rig.

Mopar-First Features

Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:

  • Camper trailers: first to introduce off-road camper trailers
  • Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with consumers
  • Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format
  • FLO TV: first to offer live, mobile television
  • WiFi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
  • WiTECH: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network

About the Mopar Brand

Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand.

Mopar distributes approximately 280,000 parts and accessories in more than 90 countries and is the source for all original-equipment parts for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram Truck vehicles. Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram Truck vehicles—a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at http://www.mopar.com.

More than 70 Years of Mopar

When Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928, the need for a dedicated parts manufacturer, supplier and distribution system to support the growing enterprise led to the formation of the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation (CMPC) in 1929.

Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for a line of antifreeze products in 1937. It also was widely used as a moniker for the CMPC. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s—the muscle-car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth “package cars” equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of “special parts” for super-stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use.

Visit Chrysler’s Media Services Web site at http://www.media.chrysler.com for additional Chrysler and Mopar news. For additional information about Mopar, log on to http://www.mopar.com or http://www.moparspeed.com.

(Photos by:  Bruce Biegler)