Mopar has created the Tom Hoover Sportsman Challenge, named after the “father of the 426 Hemi.” The winner will be the Sportsman Class racer who earns the most points in a season during NHRA sanctioned races at the wheel of a Chrysler Group car, in either Stock or Super Stock. The purse will be $4,260, a nod to the 426 HEMI®, and a trophy and plaque. All National event winners will continue to be eligible for the “Mopar National Event Winner” decal.
Tom Hoover, a retired Chrysler engineer, was a founding 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, numerous Pro Stock cars, and helping to develop the Funny Car (as detailed in Mike Buckel’s series).
Hoover also oversaw field development of the Hemi and other race parts, working with 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 provides financial awards to Mopar-powered grassroots racers competing with specified Mopar parts.
Mopar will continue sponsorship of the annual “HEMI Challenge” held at the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis since 2001, and 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 celebrations.