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The 15th anniversary edition of the Mopar HEMI® Challenge at the 61st annual National Hot Rod Association U.S. Nationals saw a new winner crowned from the 22 classic 1968 Plymouth Barracudas and Dodge Darts competing in the fan favorite vintage muscle car showcase on the quarter-mile Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.
Two first-time finalists, Lloyd Wofford of Jonesboro, Ark., and Gus Mantas of Toronto, Canada, staged their Mopar-powered Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI (SS/AH) class vehicles on the starting line Saturday afternoon, Sept. 5, in front of thousands of fervent drag racing fans after it was rescheduled from the previous evening due to rain and lightning.
The two classic Mopar machines didn’t quite get the opportunity to battle it out as they had hoped. A red-light start by his competitor gave Wofford’s 1968 Plymouth Barracuda an instant win and his first Mopar HEMI Challenge victory.
“It just goes beyond explanation because we’ve worked so hard – six years, and we finally made it,” said Wofford, who purchased and began to prepare his ‘Cuda for competition in 2009. “I’ve got one of the best crews in the world. I don’t think I would be any more elated and excited if I won the Super Stock eliminator. This to me is the pinnacle, to win the Mopar HEMI Challenge, and in its 15th year. I just love a HEMI car – best car ever.”
On his drive to the winner’s circle, Wofford and his ‘68 Barracuda defeated Fred Henson (Dart), Jim Pancake (Dart), pole sitter Gary Wolkwitz (Dart) and Mark Howes (Dart) before staging next to Mantas for the final elimination showdown.