MATS 2014

SHE’S BACK! Standing just inside the Cannery Hotel/Casino there was a mob of folks heading out to the valet parking desk. Curious, I too ventured out to hear the roar of a Hemi engine and see tire smoke all the way down Craig Road as the rear end of a Super Stock Dodge disappeared toward Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But the sound of the Beach Boys’ “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” still filled the night air.

Yes, it is time for the 2014 MATS event, put on by hard working Phil Painter and his group from nearby Utah. Starting 12 years ago, the Mopars at the Strip has grown exponentially since the beginning and by Saturday afternoon, April 12, looked to be the most successful event to date. Hundreds of MOPAR owners brought cars from all over the west, to be part of this annual ‘happening’.

Defending Quick 16 Champion Judy Radford, returns from a qualifying pass with her Dennis Radford-built Dakota pickup. The fast little truck turned 8.14 at 165 mph to ease into the 2014 show. (Photo by Brad Baker)

As the times started rolling in Friday, Tom DiBartolo claimed the top spot in the quick sixteen with an Elapsed Time of 7.53 at 174.82 mph, with defending Champion Judy Radford solidly in the field at 8.14, 165.64.  We were not certain at that time how many SS/AH cars would race, but they were led by stellar driver Rick Houser who hails from California.

Clay Bates, the “Golden Nugget”, racing out of Gilbert, Ariz. was in the action as Sunday eliminations deepened toward the finals. (Photo by Brad Baker)

For this old racer, it was great to re-connect with several folks from my past, including Riverside, California’s Bob Mazzolini; Harry Holton, from Northern California and a renown ‘hemi engine’ builder/ tuner extraordinaire, Harry drove his 1968 Dodge Dart to Pro Stock Runner-up at OCIR in 1970; John Irving, Boulder City, Nev., who has his whole front yard full of various MOPAR powered vehicles. They win a lot too, if you check win sheets from recent races you will see what we mean. Also on hand was Ken Oister from New River, Ariz., with his Alston Chassis kit 1964 Plymouth Belvedere. The blown 426 Hemi (now 572 cubic inch) screamer is certainly a show stopper as Siemens engineer Ken continues learning to drive what is really a Pro Mod. Ken recorded low 7s at over 180 mph.

Spending time at Pontiac Heaven last week, we spoke with Clay Bates during the Nostalgia finals on Sunday. Clay indicated he would be part of the ‘cruise in’ from Glendale, Arizona. Last year’s semi-finalist was there early too, preparing for what he hopes will be a trophy run this year.

As we watched the late action, Alex The Car Girl” Rogeo, Senior Editor of Mopar Max, won two rounds when her opponents red lit. Alex was really driving the Hemi wagon.  (Tim Marshall photo)

In Quick 16 quarter-final action, Judy Radford red lit ending her two year winning record. Ken Phillips was the recipient. Gordon Turner, Darren Williams, and Rich Wheeler also advanced.