ChallengerFest 7 April 8 - 10, 2016
As I sit in my office writing this article, I'm amazed it's been 7 years since ChallengerFest was born. It seems like they come around faster and faster, and this one was the fastest of all. I started planning in October 2015, next thing I knew it was Christmas, and boom, April and I was driving to Bowling Green, KY excited for another year's event.
I should take a moment to thank the volunteers who help make this event a success each year. Mrs. Lisa, the lovely red head who runs registration at the event is also a keystone in the event planning. I could not have such a smooth event without her. Phil who runs the car show and helps with vendor setup at the track while I handle the initial rush at the track gate is also paramount to the event's success. Phil's lovely wife Dianna and my own Mrs. Speedy work with Lisa at the always hectic registration table on site to get folks checked in. Finally we have Greg who always makes sure our BBQ vendor is lined up and has a setup location for the car show and track, as well as Kevin who just jumps in wherever needed. This year we also had a couple of folks just see a need and start helping out such as Amy from Martin Dodge and Jenny, one of our yearly attendees. Thanks to all of you for your support.
Billet Technology was our TITLE SPONSOR again for 2016. They do so much for our community I sincerely hope you guys let them know how much they are appreciated. They sponsored the ENTIRE car show all the way down to furthest driven and furthest trailered, as well as helped me cover some extra things I wanted to do this year to benefit the attendees. Everytime I've reached out to Heidi at Billet Tech she has simply said "let me know what I can do to help". Just amazing people over there. Mr. John Burleson was on site representing the brand, and everyone who meets John loves him, he's the right man for the job. He did an amazing job racing his Magnum at the track as well, being sure to set the groceries out before going down the track :)
ChallengerFest 7 Car Show Winners. As you can see the prizes are SUBSTANTIAL!
|1st||BT $500 Cert||#33 Tammy Parker|
|2nd||BT $250 Cert||#121 Joe Spcier|
|3rd||BT $100 Cert||#69 Glen Dearing|
|1st||BT $500 Cert||#109 Chris Waters|
|2nd||BT $250 Cert||#513 Rich Sprinzl|
|3rd||BT $100 Cert||#65 Jonathan Moss|
|1st||BT $500 Cert||#105 Drew Thompson|
|2nd||BT $250 Cert||#19 Howie Rumjahn|
|3rd||BT $100 Cert||#1001 Todd Raserts|
|Furthest Driven||$250 BT Cert||#16 Amy Dahl (1100 miles)|
|Furthest Trailored||$250 BT Cert||#212 Murray Armstrong (900 miles)|
|Best of Show||$500 BT Cert||#424 Michael McHugh|
|Best Engine Bay||$500 BT Cert||#59 Bill Scata|
The racing was a TWO DAY event for ChallengerFest 7. We teamed up with the Modern Street Hemi Shootout who ran their program on Friday, then we had our car show Friday night, and ChallengerFest racing on Saturday. Mother Nature really tested the racers this year. It was unseasonably cool with highs in the upper 40s on Friday with cloudy skies and a brisk wind. MSHS racers had to dial their cars to the track conditions, and weather, and to say it was a challenge, no pun intended, is an understatement. With the MSHS program in full swing, Mother Nature threw us a curve ball about 1:30pm when it started to HAIL, OUT OF THE BLUE! Pea size hail began to fall. This only lasted about 20 minutes, but due to the temp, clouds, and safety concerns, the track decided to call the day. Beech Bend Raceway was great to work with and agreed to run late on Saturday to allow MSHS to make up their lost time after the ChallengerFest program completed.
I can't say enough about the folks at Beech Bend. They did a great job running the track, and keeping things moving as best they could considering the conditions. They had to have an additional tech on the track to mop behind cars as they left the line due to the exhaust condensation contaminating the surface. Their track announcer, Smokin' Joe, did a great job keeping us on our toes with his commentary, and they're just an all around great group of people.
Miraculously, after the brief 20 minute hail shower the skies cleared as we prepared for the ChallengerFest 7 Car show with over 200 cars in attendance at the host hotel Holiday Inn Convention Center. There was delicious BBQ provided by JJ&M on site and some pretty wild Crazy Cooler races as well! As the night cooled, we eased in to the welcoming lobby of the hotel as well as the special meeting room they had setup for us to gather and share stories about the day, tell tall tales, and just enjoy the fellowship of spending time with like minded individuals.
Saturday morning the track opened back up at 8am for ChallengerFest 7 racing. We were greeted with clear blue skies and a crisp 35 degree temperature. We hurried to get in the gate and get setup while the track personnel inspected the track, laid the prep, and got ready for our program. We began with two hours of test and tune for attendees to just enjoy and get used to the track and find out how their cars would perform. The large crowd of 500 plus spectators in attendance was awarded with seeing Harrison's 8.50 jeep make some killer passes at over 162MPH. Seeing all four wheels pour smoke in the burnout box had folks ooogling. John Lewis in his 8 second Challenger was a crowd pleaser as well. Mani surprised us with some 10.4x passes at over 140MPH in his home built 6 speed Challenger as a bonus. This set the Modern HEMI 6 speed record on fire. Mani traveled all the way from Canada to join us at ChallengerFest 7 and the poor guy and his lovely wife drove home to be greeted to snow!
After the TNT, the racing kicked off with the Drive Shaft Shop 6 Speed Shootout. This is a heads up race class for 6 speed manual transmission Challengers. We had only 11 contenders brave enough to pilot their 6 speeds in this no holds barred class, with a couple of Hellcat's in the mix for good measure. In the end we had Chad Feyerabend in his 2015 Hellcat red light against Mani in his home buitl 6 speed 10 second hot rod. This left Murray Armstrong, the Australian from Texas, left with his highly modified 2012 6 speed against Mani. Mani bested Murray with a 10.534 @143MPH, against Murray's 12.996 @107.09MPH. Murray had developed 4th gear issues late in the day, but I doubt that would have made any difference against Maini's twin turbo beast.
OST Dyno sponsored track prep for the entire day insuring our racers had the best possible racing surface. The track was prepped about every 20 minutes with a mix of rubber and "gold dust" to keep the coefficient of friction VERY high during our racing.
Next we moved in to the Modern Mopar Forum Unlimited Class. This is a run what ya brung heads up class for the big boys. We had 17 participants in this leave it all on the track class, and they're the fastest of the fast. As the rounds came to completion we had Jason Epling with his modified Hellcat run a 9.96 @138 take down Geoff Bracken's 10.35 @131. Next Harrison Zauke with his VERY fast 2007 Jeep SRT8 won against John Lewis with a red light. Final round found Harrison Zauke lining up with Jason Epling who red lighted with a -.004 allowing Zauke to coast to an easy win.
We took a short break for lunch, then moved in to the A2Speed/B&G Performance Bracket Race. This had record setting attendance with 62 cars in the field all hoping to take home the winnings offered by A2Speed. As the drivers worked their way through 5 rounds, we ended up with 20 something Kate Tout, a vicious competitor in her supercharged 2010 Furious Fuscia Challenger paired with Alan Pederson, owner of Modern Mopar Forum. Kate's dial was 11.56 to Alan's 11.60 and Kate hit all the marks with a 11.574 besting Alan's time of 11.585 on a reaction time of .045 vs. Alan's .090. Next we had Glenn Graham vs. John Govenettio, last year's winner. John red lighted with a -.080 giving Glenn the win. Final round was Kate Tout vs. Glenn Graham and Glenn took the win with a 10.319 on a 10.20 dial with a .220 RT vs. Kate who broke out with an 11.486 on an 11.56 dial and .179 RT.
Finally, we had the big one. The OST/HRH PERFORMANCE Engine Shootout. A winner take all bracket race for a forged 426 Jeff Taylor built short block with all the goodies built for boost. This class also had record competitors at 60 cars. Again, after 5 rounds of competition we found Kate Tout vs. Alan Pederson with Kate taking the win with a 11.757 on a 11.56 dial and .061 RT vs. Alan's 11.58 on a 11.60 dial with a .167 RT. Final round had Rich Sprinzl vs. Kate Tout with Rich taking the win with his 12.518 on a 12.50 dial and .574 RT with Kate AGAIN breaking out with a 11.486 on a 11.56 dial and .195 RT.
Solo-Performance sponsored our best reaction time of the day which went to John Govenettio with a .000 (perfect) light.
Summit Racing sponsored our best 60' of the day which went to John Lewis with a 1.31 60'.
HEMITUNER Performance sponsored the worst run of the day, which went to a gent who dropped his rear diff on the track as well as the Fastest Female Racer which went to Linda Tout in her pullied down 9.90 Hellcat Charger. HEMITUNER Performance also sponsored a 4th place surprise bracket race prize with a custom E-mail tune.
Here are the ChallengerFest 7 Race Class Winners
|Quarter Mile Performance|
|Best 60'||Summit $100 gift card||#5939 John Lewis 1.31|
|Best Reaction Time||Solo Catback Exhaust||#362 John Govenettio .000|
|Worst Run of the Day||HEMITUNER Performance Trinity||#58 Dave Crockett (dropped diff on track)|
|Best Burn Out||THITEK Performance $150||#314 Greg Colum|
|MMF Unlimited Shoot Out|
|1st||MMF $575 Cash||#2005 Harrison Zauke|
|2nd||MMF $475 Cash||#111 Jason Epling|
|3rd||MMF $375 Cash||#308 Geoff Bracken|
|DSS 6 Speed Shoot Out|
|1st||DSS $750 cert||#1620 Mani Sehmbi 10.53 @ 143MPH - 6 speed record holder for ET|
|2nd||DSS $500 cert||#212 Murray Armstrong (with a missing 4th gear) 12.9 @ 107MPH|
|3rd||DSS $250 Cert||#31 Chad Feyerabend (Hellcat 6spd stock!) 11.16 @ 129MPH|
|A2Speed/B&G Bracket Race|
|1st||A2Speed $500 cert||#106 Glen Graham|
|2nd||A2Speed $300 cert||#388 Kate Tout|
|3rd||A2Speed $200 cert||#426 Alan Pederson|
|4th - SURPRISE||HEMITUNER Performance E-Mail Tune||#362 John Govenettio|
|Fastest Female Racer|
|1st||HEMITUNER Performance TCM||#405 Linda Tout (9.90 Charger Hellcat)|
|HRH/OST Engine Shootout||HRH 6.4 426 Short block||#513 Rich Sprinzl|
|2nd - SURPRISE||BFNY Performance Converter||#388 Kate Tout - donated to R4V Charity Auction|
We had several vendors on site sponsoring ChallengerFest 7. These included Petty's Garage, Crazy Coolers, Martin Dodge, Muscle Car Apparel, Barton Industries Shifters, High Horse Performance, Eastcoast Moparts, Performance by Design, BFNY Performance, and HEMITUNER Performance. These folks had displays showing off their products and builds and were on site to help contenders as well with any questions or car issues. This is really a great community. The City of Bowling Green, KY Convention Center and Visitor's Bureau also sponsored your event. It's nice knowing we have a car friendly town welcome us each year.
With the racing concluded we headed back to the hotel to clean up for the Thitek Performance Driver's Dinner and awards ceremony and the Racing4Vets Charity Auction. Thitek not only sponsored the driver banquet, but also donated a set of their Thitek Billet Custom CNC'd heads for the auction ($3500 value) AND sponsored $150 in to the best burnout of the day.
With the generous contributions of several sponsors like High Horse Performance, MSHS, East Cost Moparts, HEMITUNER Performance, Barton Industries, Modern Mopar Forum, and the VERY generous attendees this event brings, we collected over $15,000.00 with 100% going to Racing4Vets during the Charity auction, an event RECORD. Just the 50/50 tickets alone brought in over $1000 which shows just how generous this community is.
That's a wrap on ChallengerFest 7. I'm already starting to plan ChallengerFest 8, so be prepared for April 2017!