Some Mopar HEMI Challenge Canadian “Know Howe”
Few will argue that the biggest Canadian drag racing highlight during the recent NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – was not the superb runner-up finish by New Brunswick’s Wendell Howes in the marquee 14th annual Mopar HEMI Challenge….
Featuring the absolute cream of the crop for SS/AH class racers from all across North America – the annual attraction is both an enormous fan event favourite as well as the single most coveted title that any driver of 426 HEMI powered Barracuda or Dart Super Stock drivers can strive for.
Wendell and his son Mark both entered HEMI cars for the annual classic again but it was Wendell that made the biggest noise this time around – taking his ’68 Barracuda to the championship final round versus many time champion, Charlie Westcott Jr. (from Michigan).
In what was the very first Can-Am final round in the event’s now illustrious 14 years of history – Wendell give it his all in the driving department. He delivered a near perfect .0005 RT to jump to a very commanding lead. But in the end the reputed tremendous top end HEMI horsepower which the Wescott’s are famous for — proved to be the difference. Charlie Jr., nipped Howes right at the stripe — winning a 8.557 secs 157.28 mph to 8.669 secs 154.05 decision. Westcott’s winning margin was less then three feet and it gave him his 6th career Mopar HEMI Challenge championship – by far more then any other racer in the event’s history.
Prior to that round, Wendell had qualified his car with a 8.582 secs run and outgunned Russ Campbell, Larry Perkins, Bucky Hess and Charlie Westcott Sr., while advancing to the final.
And while Wendell was disappointed with the razor thin final round outcome — he was pleased with his best finish yet within the Mopar brand sponsored competition.
“We had a great day,” he said. “It was tough coming up short in the final by such a small amount but at the same time we earned our way there – going through four very tough rounds prior to that. That gave us a sense of accomplishment.”
“Were proud of the motor program we have (Armstrong/Westcott power) that put us solidly in the field and made us able to compete against some very serious operations. It was a great experience to be at the “Big Go” with my son and also my grandson (Colton). It doesn’t get any better then being at Indy and having success is the icing on the cake.”
While Howes’ final round appearance was his first within what is now known as the Mopar HEMI Challenge – it should be noted that he did place runner-up in the classes previous
age designation (SS/AA) at Indy 24 years ago in 1990.
Post and Photos by: Bruce Biegler