The 10th edition of the Mopar HEMI Challenge Race Series will make its first-ever appearance at the storied Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, KY, pitting the nation’s fastest SS/AH 1968 HEMI Darts and Barracudas against each other during the NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion (NHRR), June 1819.
Perennial favorites Jim Daniels, winner of two 2009 Mopar HEMI Challenge events in his 1968 Dodge Dart, and Charlie Westcott Jr., driving his new War Fish ’68 Plymouth Barracuda, will be among the field of entries that will highlight the racing card at the NHRR. Qualifying will take place on Friday, June 18, with eliminations set for Saturday, June 19.
Westcott’s new racer was put through its paces at the Mopars at The Strip event in Las Vegas back in March, but Daniels and his Ray Barton-powered teammates did not make the trip out west from Pennsylvania to compete. The NHRR will mark the first chance Daniels will get to face Westcott this season.
Daniels set the Mopar HEMI world on its ear last October when he ran the table and set new class records at the Mopar HEMI Challenge event at the Dutch Classic in Maple Grove. Daniels set the NHRA Super Stock/A HEMI class record in qualifying with a pass of 8.331 seconds at 157.96 mph.
Although the Mopar HEMI Challenge has not yet been contested at Beech Bend, the current track configuration was constructed, ironically enough, back in 1968. Although the track has been modernized over the years, it has been the site of many classic head-to-head battles in NHRA Stock and Super Stock competition.
The NHRR is in its eighth year. The weekend will include a wide variety of activities, including NHRA vintage drag racing featuring some of the sport’s most famous and historic cars and drivers racing in Nostalgia Top Fuel, Funny Car and more.
Ohio Chrysler dealer and past winner Jim Pancake, in his ’68 HEMI Dart, is expected to be part of the Mopar HEMI Challenge field, as is David Barton of Robesonia, PA, Bucky Hess of Bunker Hill, WV, and Don Bales of Connorsville, IN, among others.
The Mopar HEMI Challenge Race Series also will visit the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 36, and the Jegs Northern SPORTSnationals, Sept. 2527, at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, OH. The winners of the Hot Rod Reunion and SPORTSnationals events will haul in $5,000 paydays. The U.S. Nationals victor will take home a $10,000 winner’s purse. Each event is a stand-alone Mopar HEMI Challenge event.
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