It’s one of the most anticipated, unique and entertaining races-within-a-race seen anywhere in drag racing and it’s on the horizon…….
For a 15th consecutive season, Mopar will underscore its commitment to Sportsman racing competition within the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) with the presentation of the Mopar HEMI® Challenge. The ever-popular annual vintage racing event will be staged during the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana, with this year’s shootout scheduled to take place September 3-4 at Lucas Oil Raceway.
The inaugural HEMI Challenge made its debut in 2001 on the quarter-mile track at the U.S. Nationals and showcases 1968 HEMI-powered Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas — the classic muscle cars that contributed to the Mopar brand’s legendary reputation and success at the drag strip.
This year’s edition celebrates the 15th anniversary of the heads-up shootout and provides a $15,000 winner’s prize, a unique HEMI Challenge trophy, and a custom Mopar HEMI Challenge winner’s jacket. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top 16 qualified cars that advance to the elimination rounds on Friday, September 4.
Every Mopar-powered Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI (SS/AH) class competitor participating in the Mopar HEMI Challenge will receive a 15th anniversary event hat, replica license plate, commemorative poster and participant decals to display on their vehicle. Mopar will also host a Sportsman Appreciation Night on Thursday, September 3. In addition to food and beverages, Mopar will provide a vehicle suspension seminar, a new product display, prize giveaways and the opportunity for attendees to win a Mopar Gen II HEMI engine block.
“The Mopar HEMI Challenge is a race that pays tribute to Mopar’s brand heritage,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care, FCA. “These competitors and fans are the backbone of drag racing, and we treasure their passionate support. It’s this passion that has helped to make Mopar the brand that it is today.”
“The longevity of the program is a tremendous testament to the commitment MOPAR has to the NHRA and its racers,” said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president, sales and marketing. “The Mopar HEMI Challenge is yearly one of the most anticipated events for our sportsman racers. It is also a can’t miss event for NHRA drag racing fans and has grown to be a crown jewel in the NHRA.”
The first Mopar HEMI Challenge was won by Bucky Hess (2001), followed by drivers Richard Beshore (2002), Jerry Jenkins (2003), and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2004). The driver with the most HEMI Challenge trophies is defending champion Charlie Westcott Jr., of Parma, Michigan, who has earned six career wins, (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014) with his father, Charlie Westcott Sr. (2009), Jim Daniels (2010) and Rick Houser (2007 and 2013) interrupting those victories with their own trips to the winner’s circle.
This year’s Mopar HEMI Challenge is scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday during the annual NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana, held from Sept. 2-7.
This 2015 15th anniversary event will also help to honour the memory of Tom Hoover, the father of the HEMI, who passed away on April 30 this year at 85 years old.
Please do check out this truly great on-line tribute to Tom posted on YouTube by FCA : HERE
Posted by: Pat Caporali
Photos by: Bruce Biegler