Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 8, Page

Hemi Challenge

First Round Action From the 52nd Annual U.S. Nationals

Words by Jeff Burk

Photos by James Drew

The first round of the Mopar Hemi Challenge saw a rash of red-light starts with eight drivers red-lighting away their chance of a win at the U.S. Nationals venue.

Twenty-six SS/AH (formerly known as SS/AA) answered the call to the staging lanes under a low grey overcast of clouds that threatened rain but did keep the temperatures in the high 60’s. This year’s field included, for the first time, three four-speed/clutch cars that get a weight advantage over the automatic trans-equipped cars. They should be quicker and faster than the auto-trans cars but they weren’t.

Defending champ Charlie Wescott Jr. and his Warfish Cuda continued to be the dominant car of the field. In the first round he ran the quickest and fastest lap of the event, recording an 8.669/151.24 and beating Joe Faherty’s four-speed ’68 Dart. That win and ET got him a bye run into the quarter-finals. Wescott was the only driver who ran an elapsed time in the 8.60’s.

The next quickest winning ET an 8.776/150.11 came from Bucky Hess. Joey Wilkes ran an 8.765 against Mike Hensley, but wasted the run by red-lighting.

Other winners in the first round included Jim Pancake, Rick Houser, D Barton, past champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., Randy Warford, Jerry Jenkins, D, Marvel, and Randy Hopkins.

Wescott seems to have the field covered by at least a tenth of a second and the race is his to win or lose.