Story continues below this advertisement
Words by Richard Kratz photos by Mark Posner
We look forward to Muscle Cars at the Strip Las Vegas (formerly and probably forever known as Mopars at the Strip, shorthand reference MATS) every year. And we’re not alone; folks from all over North America and even Europe converge on Las Vegas every spring for Phil and Jill Painter’s event. You can refer to our MATSV preview last month for all of the details of what the event offers. Drag racing, auto cross, car show, swap meet, cruise in, party, rock concert, manufacturer’s midway and even the Dodge Thrill Ride experience where you can ride in a Viper or Hellcat with a professional driver.
When we attend the event, we’re there to race. MATS is either our first or second race of the year every year and we’re usually done with winter and itching to get on track. Most years, we’ve made lots of changes and upgrades to the MoparMax Maulin’ Magnum over the winter and we’re excited and concerned to see how it will all work out on the track. We usually race two classes and this year we stepped up to three classes. And, we’re also vendors manning a combination manufacturer’s midway booth/pit. When we’re not in the lanes or on the track, we’re talking to folks on the midway, selling products, chatting with fellow Mopar lovers about the race car. Or, as is often the case, thrashing on the car to diagnosis and repair some gremlin that has popped up. As we said, this often the first race after the winter upgrades and it’s never easy.
So, that is why we have to call this story, “Our” experience. We have never made it to the free concert yet in five years of attending—we’re always at the track late on Saturday thrashing and prepping the car for eliminations on Sunday morning. We have never made the Friday night party at the Cannery Casino and Hotel for the same reason. We hear the autocross is a blast, be cool to actually see it someday, ditto for the car show and the swap meet. For two years in a row now we’ve listened to the Vipers and Hellcats taking attendees for thrill rides drifting, drag racing and carving a mini-autocross course but we have not had a chance to stand in line and try it for ourselves. Why? The answer is because; admittedly and unashamedly we’re racers who always show up at every track looking to win.
You can read Senior Editor, Alex Rogeo’s, column this month to see what made this a special year for us. We’ll just tell you here that one reason is because we were runner up in the New HEMI Challenge class last year and we really, really wanted to win this year. Another reason is that we made an unusually large step in the car’s development this winter, spending the better part of three solid months of day in and day planning and implementing the work. We racked up 8,000 miles on our two vehicle and trailer driving the car around the country. It would be quicker to tell you what we didn’t upgrade than what we did upgrade.