As a supporter of Sportsman racing within the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), Chrysler Group LLC’s Mopar brand will continue to recognize its roots with the establishment of the “Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge” beginning this season, along with enhancements to its contingency program.
The winner of Mopar’s Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge will be determined by selecting the Sportsman Class racer that amasses the most points earned in a season during NHRA sanctioned races at the wheel of a Chrysler Group vehicle, competing in either Stock or Super Stock classes nationwide.
The winner will be awarded a $4,260 purse, as a nod to the 426 HEMI, and presented with a special commemorative Mopar trophy, as well as a plaque with their name engraved on it. All National event winners will continue to be eligible for the “Mopar National Event Winner” decal to proudly display on their Chrysler vehicle.
“Mopar’s Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge was created in anticipation of many planned celebrations for next year’s 50th anniversary of the introduction of the 426 Race HEMI engine,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, the Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. "It also is a thank you to all loyal and dedicated Sportsman racers for their passion for Mopar vehicles and NHRA drag racing.”
The competition and trophy are named in honor of the “Father of the 426 HEMI” Tom Hoover, a retired Chrysler engineer and original member of the Ramchargers team, whose passion for high-performance engine design and racing helped launch and build Chrysler’s motorsport program in the 1960s.
Amongst his many contributions are the 426 HEMI, HEMI and small-block Pro Stock cars, and involvement in the development of the Funny Car.
Hoover also oversaw field development of the HEMI and other race parts through the efforts of sponsored racers nationwide. He was an avid Super Stock racer, built motors and raced on weekends much like Sportsman racers currently competing in NHRA events nationwide.
Mopar will also be making some enhancements to its contingency program for the Sportsman classes in the 2013 NHRA Full Throttle and Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. The long-running Mopar Contingency Program offers financial awards to Mopar-powered grassroots racers competing with specified Mopar parts.
In addition to the Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge, Mopar will continue sponsorship of the annual “HEMI Challenge” held at the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis since 2001.
Mopar also is hosting Sportsman barbecues for those competing in Chrysler Group vehicles at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., Mopar Mile High Nationals in Denver, and at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Next year, Mopar will mark the 50th anniversary of the 426 Race HEMI engine, first introduced in February 1964, with a number of planned celebrations.