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Hemi March Madness 2008

It’s March, let the madness begin!  In the February issue I stated I’m a college basketball junkie. Well, the “Hemi March Madness” is about to start.

Already in February we have a new SS/AH record holder as John Rains reset the record at 8.54. He went 8.75 with his ‘68 Dart, but it was adjusted because of elevation factor. It was reported in our Mopar Memos. Since then, John has been proving he has a real good car and power plant. He went rounds at Pomona’s Winternationals with a best run of 8.61. Then at Chandler, he ripped off a string of 8.60 runs with the best being 8.60/153. Nice job to the “Heli-Hemi” crew. I have to say he is the front-runner going into the “Big Dance” (I know College Basketball talk) at Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas March 28-30. The weekend following that is the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, LA.


(Tim Marshall photo)

There were a total of six Hemi SS/AH cars at Pomona. We talked already about Rains, and the West Coast Hemi team of Michael Ogburn and Jerry Jenkins was also there. Ogburn recorded a best run of 8.72. Teammate Jenkins went a great 8.58 in round two of eliminations of Super Stock. He fell to the red hot John Rains in round three. Rains also took out Ogburn in round one of Super Stock eliminations.

The rest of the group participating at Pomona were 2007 Mopar Hemi Challenge World Champion, Rick Houser (8.71), the “Mean Fish” Dave Raybourn (8.75) and Joe Faherty’s new ‘68 Barracuda (8.87). Speaking of Faherty, at the C/S/K Nationals in Chandler, AZ., he received best-engineered car award from NHRA. He did go 8.85 in round three in Super Stock eliminations. Congratulations to Joe and his family, great looking car for sure. There were only two SS/AH’s at Chandler and Rains was the other car. He picked up the class win trophy to boot with his stellar performance.  {Ed. Note: See our Event Coverage of the Stock and Super Stock cars at Chandler (Phoenix).}

NHRA divisional events are off and running. The two first Division 2 events in Florida are in the record books. In Bradenton, it looked like the Hemi Cuda’s and Darts had a hard time running good numbers. Bill Brooks was the fastest at 8.84 and Jim Pancake was right behind him with an 8.88. John Gifford and Bob Reed both struggled the whole event to put down good numbers and both were in the nines.

At the second divisional event at Gainesville, both Bill Brooks and Bob Reed stepped up their performances. Brooks went 8.79 and Reed ran 8.85 in round one of Super Stock eliminator.

This coming weekend at Belle Rose will be the first Division 4 event of the year. As I am writing this story, I think you will see Fred Henson and the Teuton gang with the other SS/AH drivers getting ready for the double header coming up at Vegas and Belle Rose at the end of March.

Now for some new car rumors and sightings. I was told by my good friend Joey DePillio that Lexington, KY’s own Bob Buntin is going to have a new Dart built this year with the DePillo’s Specialty Motorwerkes power plant in it.

Remember the name Barnett? They were and still are great engine builders from Georgia. They are coming back into the hemi wars. They have built a ‘68 Cuda, with Kirk Barnett and Stewart Way sharing the driving chores. The car is still in the testing process and hopefully will be a player down the road. 

I reported about the Howes’ new Cuda in the February issue. Here is an update about it. It’s a new FJ Smith car with the power plant coming from the old “Snake” himself, John Armstrong. Yes, the guy that made the Hemi cars nervous for years in Super Stock with his bowtie cars (I won’t say what makes).

With the Vegas and Belle Rose Mopar Hemi Challenges coming up, John Rains goes into both as the front-runner. Don’t count out the Westcott crew as they have stated they are doing the double. We will see what the Teuton’s and Fred Henson have next week. I already know that Rick Houser, Michael Ogburn, Dave Raybourn and Joe Faherty have the tools to be in the winner circle. Like in college basketball, right now I have no idea who to pick. I will be in Las Vegas in March and hope to see some of you there. Let the madness begin and good luck to all. 

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