ROCKINGHAM — No powerplant is more synonymous with American hot rodding than the iconic Chrysler hemi.
From the debut of the raised deck 392 in 1957 to the second generation 426 in 1964 and the modern 5.7 liter version that power’s today’s Hellcats, the hemi has achieved an almost mythical status that is celebrated every time Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep enthusiasts get together to strut their stuff as they will this week at Rockingham Dragway.
The Griffin Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep “Mopars at the Rock,” the largest all-Chrysler event in the Carolinas, will for the 28th year not only showcase the top-performing Dodges, Plymouths, Chryslers and Jeeps on the planet, it also will put a spotlight on some of the best appearing vehicles in the country.
In addition to the Bob Reed Memorial Hemi Shootout, champions will be crowned in special Chargers-only and Challengers-only classes, in a combined Pro ET/Footbrake bracket class and in Trophy class. Plus, there will be ample opportunity for newcomers to sort out their own street hemi vehicles in a test-and-tune format.
Off the track, there’ll be a Mopar swap meet and a massive car-and-truck show recognizing the best of the best in 26 different professionally-judged classes expected to showcase everything from Plymouth Roadrunners, Barracudas and Belvederes to Dodge Vipers, Chrysler Sebrings, Chrysler LeBarons, RAM trucks, Dodge Durangos and all manner of Jeeps.
Of course, the Jeeps featured both on and off the track aren’t exactly your grandpa’s Jeeps. There’ll be some traditional Jeeps, sure, but there also will be a fair representation of modern Jeeps on steroids like the hemi-powered, 707 horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.
Documenting all the activity, on and off the drag strip, will be Cliff Gromer, editor of “the hemi bible,” MOPAR Action Magazine.
Gates open Saturday at 9 a.m. with time trials at 9:30 and racing immediately thereafter. Adult tickets are $20 with children 12 and under free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. Parking, as always, is free in Rockingham’s main lot.