HEMI Challenge Returns
14th Season Includes Hemi 50th Celebration
Larry Jewett - May 29, 2014 04:18 PM
Mopar will highlight once again its commitment to Sportsman racing competition within the NHRA by holding the ever-popular HEMI® Challenge for a 14th consecutive season at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind., this August. This year’s edition will include a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the GEN II 426 Race HEMI as part of Mopar’s year-long commemoration of the iconic engine.Courtesy of Chrysler Media
Rick Houser will try to defend his 2013 win at Mopar’s HEMI Challenge during the 60th U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind. This year’s edition will include a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the GEN II 426 Race HEMI as part of Mopar’s year-long commemoration of the iconic engine.Courtesy of Chrysler Media
The Mopar brand will highlight its commitment once again to Sportsman racing competition within the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) by holding the ever-popular HEMI® Challenge for a 14th consecutive season at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Brownsburg, Indiana, this August. This year’s edition will include a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the GEN II 426 Race HEMI as part of Mopar’s year-long commemoration of the iconic engine.
This year’s edition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic second generation HEMI engine that powers these vehicles with a winner’s award of $15,000, a unique HEMI 50th anniversary Challenge trophy and a custom Mopar HEMI 50th anniversary winner’s jacket. Every participant in the Mopar-powered Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI (SS/AH) class participating in the HEMI Challenge will receive a special HEMI key chain and a limited edition print of the 50th anniversary HEMI heritage wall display, while the top 16 cars advancing to the elimination rounds on Friday, August 29, will receive a cash prize payout.
“The legendary 426 HEMI engine was introduced 50 years ago through motorsports and went on to power the classic Mopar muscle cars that still are such a big part of our heritage thanks in part to the passion of our sportsman competitors and fans,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “That passion and heritage comes alive every year with the HEMI Challenge and the NHRA Sportsman drag racers who compete in this annual showcase. This year, we’re excited to celebrate this half century of the HEMI with the group of racers that are truly the backbone of the sport with their dedication to the brand and drag racing.
“Continuing to support the HEMI Challenge and our sportsman racers is important to Mopar. A strong contingency program, Sportsman barbecues, the establishment of the Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge in 2013, and now a 14th edition of the Mopar HEMI Challenge, are just a few examples of how much we value their contributions.”
Among the all Mopar Sportsman competitors taking part in the U.S. Nationals, one will be chosen as Mopar’s “Top Eliminator” in the long-running customized and performance vehicle program that highlights passionate and dedicated Mopar enthusiasts who display unmatched skill in modifying or preserving a classic or modern-day Mopar vehicle. Last year’s winner was the 2010 “Knox County Driller” Mopar Challenger Drag Pak owned by Brent Jones, of Wheatland, Ind. A total of four 2014 Top Eliminator selections will be made from entries at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, “Mopars in the Park” in Farmington, Minnesota, and a final one will be chosen from an online contest with fans voting to determine the winner.
The 2001 inaugural edition of the Mopar HEMI Challenge was won by driver Bucky Hess. Previous winners also include Richard Beshore (2002), Jerry Jenkins (2003) and five-time NHRA Pro Stock champ, Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2004). Charlie Westcott Jr., of Parma, Mich. has five career HEMI Challenge wins, (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2012) with his father, Charlie Westcott Sr. (2009), Jim Daniels (2010) and current defending winner Rick Houser (2007 and 2013) interrupting those victories.
This year’s HEMI Challenge is scheduled to take place Thursday, August 28 and Friday, August 29, during the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind., held from Aug. 27–Sept. 1.