For the 19th consecutive year, Dodge//SRT will sponsor the NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge at the historic Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals during the Labor Day holiday long weekend. The HEMI Challenge allows 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock NHRA race cars to battle head-to-head on the Lucas Oil Raceway quarter-mile drag strip for cash rewards.
This popular NHRA Sportsman event at the U.S. Nationals became a focal point of FCA US LLC’s promotion for its racing endeavors in 2001 and has encouraged the manufacturer to return for more excitement each year.
The NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge is a two-day exercise, occurring August 29-30 and showcasing Super Stock HEMI (SS/AH) NHRA Sportsman class competitors battling on the 1320-foot track. All 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda race cars are powered by the Mopar 426 HEMI engine.
“The NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge is a fan-favorite tradition at the U.S. Nationals,” said Steve Beahm, head of passenger car brands, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, and head of parts and service (Mopar), FCA North America.
“We’re proud to continue as title sponsor during one of the most prestigious events on the NHRA circuit,” Beahm stated. “It speaks volumes about the legacy of our brand at the drag strip and the passion of our fans to see HEMI-engine-powered vehicles from more than 50 years ago side-by-side in the staging lanes next to our modern-day Dodge drag cars.”
The 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda models were called “package” cars because they were purpose-built as a distinct package for use solely on the drag strip. They serve as precursors to FCA’s modern-day package car, the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.
A winner’s purse of $15,000 and cash awards for all 16 qualifying drivers is at stake in this competition. There’s also a unique trophy awarded to the winner, the 42.6-pound NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge trophy, which was created as a callout to the 426 HEMI engine.
The first NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge was won by Bucky Hess in 2001; last year Jimmy Daniels made history by becoming the first driver to triumph in three consecutive events, claiming the 2018 NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge win that accompanies his 2016-2017 victories.
Dodge//SRT are exceptionally active in NHRA racing, with a Dodge Top Finisher contingency program now in its third year. This program awards $500 each for the Stock and Super Stock competitors who advance the farthest in each event while driving a Mopar-powered race car. This award is given in both classes at all 24 NHRA National events.
Dodge//SRT also returns as title sponsor of the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, held at Bandimere Speedway outside Denver and scheduled for July 19-21 this year. This year the brand takes over title sponsorship at the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, held on The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 31-November 3, NHRA’s penultimate contest of the year.