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It’s a Hemi.
No It’s a Wedge.
Who Cares?
It’s a Mopar!!

You can trace use of Mopar motors and specifically the Chrysler Hemi back to the very beginning of organized drag racing. Cook and Bedwell won the 1957 World Series of Drag Racing, which was run at Cordova, Illinois, in a hemi-powered rail. Since that time Chrysler-powered cars and specifically Chrysler Hemi-powered cars have dominated some class of drag racing, from Stock eliminator to Top Fuel.

This story, though, is about Chrysler’s Hemi style of motors and Pro Stock racing. When Pro Stock began in the late 1960’s names like Ronnie Sox, Dick Landy and others were dominant forces in the class. In 1972, Mike Fons, driving for the Rod Shop team, won the NHRA Pro Stock Championship in a Hemi-powered car. But those were the halcyon days for Hemi powered Pro Stocks.

In 1973, Butch Leal won the NHRA Pro Stock title at the “Molson” driving a ‘73 Duster with Hemi power but that would be the last time a Mopar with a Hemi engine would win. Some diehards continued to campaign the Hemi but it was a losing battle and the last time a true Hemi-powered Pro Stock qualified was the 1983-84 season when Reid Whisnant did it.

At the NHRA race at Gainesville in the year 2000, former NHRA World Champ Darrell Alderman qualified in Pro Stock in an Avenger with an engine that says Mopar and Hemi on the valve covers. For the last 15 years or so, Mopar has had a presence in NHRA Pro Stock including a five year period where Mopar Pro Stockers dominated the sport. But the facts are that for the dyed-in-the-wool Mopar freak, those cars and the engines always were a little suspect. And, in recent years, the use of GM blocks and cylinder heads which weren’t easily identifiable as Mopar has bothered those fans.

But now, thanks to the efforts of Mopar’s Lou Patane and his band of hand picked racers and engine builders, Mopar fans and racers will have an engine that is a unique Mopar piece and it is called “Hemi.”

The new “Hemi” is being turned into a race engine by a pair of Mopar’s Pro Stock racing teams: the factory team of David Nickens and the factory-backed team belonging to Larry Morgan.

DRO approached Morgan to see if he would allow us access to his shop to take pictures of the new “Hemi” and its components. He graciously allowed us access.

What follows are the first published photos of Chryler’s new “Hemi” which, as you can see, is not a true Hemi-head. It appears that the valve pockets for the intake and exhaust are somewhat Hemispherical and the plug is in the center between the valves, but a Hemi? We’ll leave that decision to the reader and Chrysler’s ad agency.

Before the Mopar Pro Stock teams began the 2000 NHRA season they did pre-season testing with the new Hemi in their Pro Stock Avengers. Both the David Nickens and Larry Morgan teams tested at various tracks, including Houston Raceway Park, with Hemi engines that were virtually hand built, one-of-a-kind engines. Morgan’s Avenger ran a reported best of 6.95 / 198 while the Nickens car was reported to have run at another test session at another track where the corrected altitude was 1600 ft. The best times for the Nickens-tuned, Hemi-powered Avenger were 6.92 and 6.93.



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