Record Purse for Annual Mopar® HEMI® Challenge

 One-race shootout for season bragging rites will take place during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals next weekend…..

The 11th Annual Mopar® HEMI® Challenge will take place during the 57th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Ind. on Sept. 1–2, with a lucrative purse of $18,000 on the line, including a record $15,000 earmarked for the event champion.

The Mopar HEMI Challenge pits Mopar-powered Super Stock/A–HEMI (SS/AH) 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas in side-by-side quarter-mile competition. The NHRA Sportsman event debuted in 2001 as a one-race shootout during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and returns as a single-race event following a number of years as a multi-race series. More than 20 drivers are currently entered in the field for the 11th Annual Mopar HEMI Challenge.

“The Mopar HEMI Challenge is the premier event for Mopar Sportsman drag racers,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “The passion exhibited by these racers is a true testament to the performance and durability of Mopar products. We are honored to once again support the Mopar HEMI Challenge and the drivers who spend a lot of time and money preparing their Mopar-powered race machines.”

Mopar HEMI Challenge qualifying will take place on Thursday, Sept. 1, with eliminations scheduled for Friday, Sept. 2. The Mopar HEMI Challenge final round will take place between Funny Car and Top Fuel qualifying rounds on Friday. In addition to the $15,000 winner’s purse, $2,000 will be awarded to the Mopar HEMI Challenge runner-up, with $1,000 allotted for the No. 1 Qualifier.

Defending event champion – Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels of Bristol, Pa., captured the Mopar HEMI Challenge event win at Indy last year, edging his teammate David Barton as the pair ran nearly identical times on the quarter-mile. For Daniels, the win at Indy was the biggest of his drag racing career.

“I’m really looking forward to this year’s HEMI Challenge,” said Daniels. “We’ve been working hard all year long preparing for it, and it’s a great event. You get to see people from all over the country that you usually only see once a year. It’s great that Mopar comes out and supports the event, and for all that they do for the sport. It’s quite a purse this year and we’ll all be going for it. No one will leave anything on the table, that’s for sure. Everyone will be trying their hardest to capture it.”

Bucky Hess won the inaugural event back in 2001

Bucky Hess won the first Mopar HEMI Challenge at Indianapolis in 2001. Richard Beshore was victorious the following year, with Jerry Jenkins taking the top spot in 2003. Four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. won the HEMI Challenge in 2004, with Charlie Westcott Jr. taking his first of three wins the following year. Westcott Jr. followed that HEMI Challenge win with another triumph in 2006 and added a third in 2008. Rick Houser captured the 2007 HEMI Challenge, with Charlie Westcott Sr. joining his son as an Indy winner in 2009.

Charlie Westcott Jr., who currently holds the SS/AH National Record of 8.22-seconds at 162.72 mph, will attempt to bank his fourth Mopar HEMI Challenge Indy win this year. His father will also hit the Lucas Oil Raceway strip, looking to add to the Westcott family’s winning tradition at the event.

“It’s the biggest race all year,” said Westcott Jr. “Thanks to Mopar for putting the money up for it. That certainly makes it more interesting. It’s a really popular event with the fans and there are a lot of people that come to Indy just to see the Mopar HEMI Challenge. It’s the race that everybody wants to win.”

The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is scheduled to take place Aug. 31–Sept. 5. For more information on the Mopar HEMI Challenge or Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, log on to

Posted by:  Darren Jacobs

Photos by:  Bruce Biegler