One of drag racing’s single most popular Sportsman racing fan attractions is again on the horizon…

The Mopar HEMI® Challenge is set to return for its 17th consecutive season at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Brownsburg, Ind., Aug. 30-Sept. 4. Mopar-powered Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI (SS/AH) Sportsman class competitors will go head-to-head on the quarter-mile at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in original Mopar package cars — 1968 HEMI-powered Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda machines.


The winner of the specialty event earns a $15,000 prize and a unique HEMI Challenge trophy. The Mopar HEMI Challenge also provides a cash prize payout to the top 16 finishers competing in elimination rounds. All entrants will receive special Mopar HEMI Challenge decals, hats and posters.

The Mopar HEMI Challenge made its debut at the 2001 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals showcasing the classic muscle cars that contributed to the brand’s legendary reputation and success at the drag strip. The 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda “package cars” were factory-built for the strip and the precursors to the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak vehicles that compete today in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock classes.

“Thanks to the many Sportsman competitors who continually compete in the Mopar HEMI Challenge, it has become a prestigious event for racers across the country,” said Brad Gerber, NHRA vice president and chief development officer. “Winning the race brings with it a huge sense of pride and bragging rights that keeps racers coming back and draws new competitors in. The popularity of this race continues to grow from year-to-year and in its 17th edition it will surely be the biggest yet.”

The inaugural Mopar HEMI Challenge was won by Bucky Hess at Indianapolis in 2001. Richard Beshore claimed the top prize the following year, and Jerry Jenkins took the victory in 2003, while five-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. won the Mopar HEMI Challenge in 2004. In 2005, Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Mich., earned the first of six career Mopar HEMI Challenge wins (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014) at Lucas Oil Raceway. His streak of victories was interrupted by Rick Houser in 2007 and 2013; his father, Charlie Westcott Sr., in 2009; and Jim Daniels, who took bragging rights in 2010.

Lloyd Wofford earned a place in Mopar HEMI Challenge history in 2015 by claiming victory in the 15th anniversary of the event, and young Jimmy Daniels followed in his father Jim’s footsteps, claiming the second Mopar HEMI Challenge victory for his family at the 2016 event.

Mopar — born 80 years ago in 1937 as the name of a line of anti-freeze products and since transformed into the total service, parts and customer care brand for FCA vehicle owners around the globe — will also continue its tradition of recognizing Sportsman racers at the brand’s annual Mopar Sportsman Appreciation Night on Aug. 31. Food and drinks, special guest speakers and demonstrations, Mopar raffle giveaways including major prizes and much more will be on tap throughout the night to honor those competing with Mopar power at the prestigious U.S. Nationals.

Posted by NHRA Communications
Photos by Bruce Biegler