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By Bill Cawthon
The 2012 edition of the Lone Star Mopar Fest presented by Pennzoil Ultra, the Space City LX Club’s big annual event for LX and Mopar fans, kicked off early in the morning. Under clear, cool Texas skies, the 300s, Challengers, Chargers, and Magnums were joined by Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8s and some classic, non-LX Mopars at the gates of Lonestar Motorsports Park for a full day of show-and-go competition and fun.
The gates opened at 8:00 a.m., and the first of what would turn out to be 454 vehicles, 65% more than last year, entered, and drivers began to register their cars for their time on Lonestar’s quarter-mile track. In addition to members of other Texas LX clubs, folks from Oklahoma, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia came to the event.
Runs began at about 9:45, and it wasn't long before the roar of engines and the smell of rubber filled the air. It was better than a rock concert for a HEMI fan.
Mixed in with the modern Mopars were some classics, including a couple of mid-Sixties Belvederes that probably set the record for sheer decibel output. Being able to be trackside for that run was definitely a soul-stirring experience: you could literally feel the barely harnessed horsepower. The newer cars might not have been quite as loud, but they were still exciting: get a clean launch and watch it rocket.
Also in attendance was Dave Wilks in the Team Gamma Dodge Charger SRT8. Wilks, from Sugarland, Texas, and his teammate Gunter Schaldach, from Aspen, Colorado, competed in the SRT-sponsored AutoWeek America Adventure road rally that finished in Las Vegas earlier this month. Wilks wasn’t just visiting Lone Star Mopar Fest to see the sights: the black Charger took its own trip down the strip.
A casual observer might have looked at the stands and remarked on the rather small number of spectators. But, while there may have been lots of room in the bleachers, a look at the staging area would have shown where the best seats in the house really were – and they were filled.
When it was time for a break from the action, Mopar Fest offered plenty of options. A new, and much improved, food court was set up with Houston Gourmet food trucks. The menu was varied, to say the least, and everything looked good.
There was a nice kid’s play area sponsored by Spring Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram. I spent some enjoyable time talking to Erik Kluna, the SRT sales rep, and Joe Salas, the dealership’s marketing director. It was nice to hear how much volume had picked up at the store over the past couple of years.
In addition to the racing, the Lone Star Mopar Fest is a car show with hundreds of cars on display. There were some classics, including a really nice AMC Gremlin, but the show was really about the LX cars and it would be easy to spend hours just looking at the outstanding custom work that went into some of the creations. These cars were personalized to the nth degree.
Space City LX calls their car competition the “People’s Choice Show ’N Shine.” Popular vote determines the winners, but it would have been tough for me to select the best when every time we turned around, there was another eye-catcher.
In the afternoon, it was time for autocross; a chance for drivers to display their skill and their car’s ability to navigate a course that was improved from last year.
One of the treats was a tour of the Hennessey Performance shops. This is the place where the “stuff such as dreams are made on” is created.
Although the shop was a bit crowded because all the vehicles being modified had been pulled indoors for security, it was still exciting to get up close to Vipers, Mustangs, and other makes getting the Hennessey touch. There was even a Cadillac Escalade from Russia in the shop, awaiting its upgrades.
As was true of last year’s meet, 2012’s Lone Star Mopar Fest was well organized, and the Space City LX volunteers seemed to be everywhere and went out of their way to be helpful. If you needed a lift, it was seldom more than a few minutes before one of the shuttles appeared. “Outstanding” is the word that describes it best.
On a personal note, I want to thank John “Johnnybee” Chiboroski, Rob David, and all of the rest of the great folks at Space City LX for being great hosts and fantastic event presenters. And I heartily recommend that any LX or Mopar fan make plans to attend the next one. I can’t think of anywhere that five bucks will buy a better time.
For more information about the Space City LX Club or Lone Star Mopar Fest, visit the club website at www.spacecitylx.com.
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