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There was a time in my life when I had to be at the dragstrip anytime it was open. I wanted to see, hear, and smell it, and I could be a pretty miserable character when that opportunity was denied. After 20 years in this business and getting more than my fill of the sport during my IHRA years, I now only go to pro events a couple of times each season, based mainly on opportunity rather than any driving passion. Indy is different.

The 2006 edition of the 52-year-old event will go down as a watershed occasion for Mopar fans, regardless who actually wins this afternoon, as I’m writing this Labor Day morning. Of course, there was the Hemi Challenge that had happened on Friday, with 26 of the roughest, toughest A-bombers in the sport going head to head for honors and ten grand of Mopar’s money.



In the semifinals, it came down to four great drivers and four good engine builders, all in Barracudas – Charlie Westcott’s Warfish (Jackson Engine Service), Bucky Hess’s King Cuda (Joe Clark), Jeg Coughlin Jr’s West Coast Hemis (Harry Holton) and Little Joe Teuton (Doug Fazzolare and Modern Cylinder Head). Westcott had ‘em on the ropes all day, but Hess, the other finalist, gave no quarter in the final, running a blistering 8.63 though the Warfish was even quicker at 8.58. No problems for either car in tech. Charlie Westcott Sr. announced in the winners circle that he is taking a page out of Don Schumacher’s playbook and will be fielding a second car next year -– a stick no less.

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