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Making Plans for the New Season

Well, after taking the month of January off, (I was in hibernation) it’s time to get back into the “Elephant Cage” for 2008. Being a college basketball nut as I am, March Madness is also going to be great this year in Hemi drag racing action. The Mopars at the Strip event, March 28-30, starts off the 2008 Mopar Hemi Challenge action. It is also the continuation of the 2008 championship starting back at the Jeg’s Northern SportsNationals in Columbus, Ohio, last year. Since then we have not had a repeat winner. Charlie Westcott Sr won the Jeg’s Northern SportsNationals, with Larry Woo the runner up. A weekend later it was the West Coast Hemi’s owner and driver Michael Ogburn picking up his first ever win over John Raines at the Jeg’s Pacific SportsNationals at Fontana, CA. Then came the Dutch classic, where Charlie Westcott Jr won the event over a upset minded Matt Hensley.

With the Mopars at the Strip event coming up, we will see who from the east coast will make the long trip west to run at the strip. Talking to my sources, I have been told the Westcotts are coming.  The defending champion, Rick Houser and his beautiful DeFrank & Son’s/California Car Cover Cuda, will also be there. Other west coast cars I’m figuring to be there will be the West Coast Hemi team, Dave Raybourn’s “Mean Fish” Cuda, John Raines “Heli Hemi” Dart and Joe Faherty’s new stick shift Barracuda.

The weekend after the Mopars at the Strip event is the Jeg’s Cajun SportsNationals in Belle Rose, LA. Charlie Westcott Jr is defending champion of this event and never has been defeated there. I’ll talk more about the Belle Rose event in the March issue of the “Elephant Cage.” Busy March madness for drivers getting ready for these two events.

New cars and new faces have been appearing in the SS/AH class. In 2007 we saw the new Cuda of the Tennessee-based team of Hutton Racing with Tony DePillio doing the shoe work. Other new cars were Joey Teuton driving Skip Baskin’s Cuda, Geoff Turk and the Sorcerer Barracuda, and Joe Faherty parking his Dart for a new Cuda at the end of the year. New drivers we saw were J. Allen Sherman, who came aboard the Teuton camp as crew chief and driver. J.Allen did a great job jumping into the Hemi mix having never driven one before. He has plenty of seat time in fast Comp cars and Modified Super Stock cars. Don’t forget my Rookie of the Year pick, Larry Woo. What a great season for the Woo & Haugh entry!

In 2008 we will see yet more new entries, new faces and new paint jobs. Modern Cylinder Head owner Jeff Kobylski has purchased the Caro & Teuton Dodge Dart. Hopefully by the March issue I’ll get more information on how Jeff is progressing with the new adventure. Another new car coming out of Pennsylvania is former multi world champion in NSCA and national event winner in NHRA Comp eliminator, Larry Perkins. The Barracuda is now down at master chassis builder Gary Jennings shop, and should be ready to race by late summer. Tony DePillo’s Specialty Motorwerkes in Dayton, Ohio is doing the engine work.

Tony DePillio’s trusty ‘64 Hemi powered “Honkin’ Hemi” Savoy will be back out in 2008 with Tony’s son, Joe, doing the driving this time. As of now, Joe isn’t sure if the stick or an automatic will be in it to start the young DePillio out with. Good to hear we have the younger crowd coming into the Super Stock action.  (Nitro Joe photo)

Bucky Hess and the “King Cuda” have parted ways. Bucky traded the feared Cuda to the Teuton’s for their original 1965 Factory Super stock Belevedere. Don’t worry, Bucky is not leaving the Hemi Shootout wars as Phil Mandella of PMR Race Cars is building a new Cuda for Bucky and it should be completed for racing in the spring. Bucky also is building a Hemi A/SA Dodge and with the ex-Teuton car in SS/AA & BA. His son Travis has a stocker so Bucky will be a busy guy this year. I have seen pictures of Wendell Howes’ Canadian Cuda’s new paint job. It looks just like his son Mark Howes’ beautiful looking Dart. I’m hoping to hear from other drivers to let me know what is going on in their operations and will report more in March.

I have not been able to get a hold of anyone concerning the points, so I have tried to figure the Mopar Hemi Challenge points out myself.  I have done the points per NHRA’s rules of national events and this is what I currently have. Remember, mine might not be the same as what they have. Here we go, remember they are unofficial.

  1. Charlie Westcott Jr 147
  2. Larry Woo 127
  3. Charlie Westcott Sr 126
  4. Michael Ogburn 126
  5. Matt Hensley 126
  6. John Raines 95
  7. Jerry Jenkins 84
  8. Joe Teuton III 83
  9. Jim Pancake 83
  10. J. Allen Sherman 72

Well, that will do it for the February issue. By next month there will be more action going on with the 68 cars. Hibernation will be over for the sleeping elephants and it will be time to head to the track again. Remember, this year is the start of the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Factory Super Stock cars. The Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas will be the first to honor this place in history on March 28-30. Tom Hoover of Chrysler will be there as Grand Marshal. Another special guest, well special to me, will be my mother, Mary Ann Jackson (Go Hummer Dart). Be there. I know I’ll be. 

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