ChallengerFest 5 April 4-6, 2014


ChallengerFest's fifth annual event kicked off in Bowling Green, KY the weekend of April 4-6, 2014. Even though unpredictable spring weather was a bit on the wild side with strong thunderstorms encompassing most of the northern U.S., attendees still traveled from all over the United States and Canada to make the event. We were blessed again this year with fantastic weather just in time for the event with skies clearing early on Friday for the car show and nice cool temps in the mid 50s on race day.



The registration table opened up about 2pm on Friday so folks could get checked in. The wind had picked up out side, so the Holiday Inn brought out some tables and let us setup in their lobby, which worked out great. Event volunteer Lisa Nicholson, who handled swag bags among other things, helped at the registration table a long with Debbie Wallace who drove all the way from TX to hang out with us, my better half Malena who got folks their t-shirts as they checked in, and Dianna Williams who used her school teacher back ground to help keep things orgnaized. Everything went smoothly and everyone was checked in well before the 5pm car show kicked off.


Billet Technology sponsored the entire Friday night car show again this year covering all prizes for stock, modified, and custom classes as well as furthest driven, furthest trailored, best engine bay, and best of show. The prizes offered by Billet Tech totaled nearly $4,000.00! Thunder Designs sponsored people's choice with a nice plaque and custom car show poster for the winner. For the third year in a row Richard and JJ&M BBQ have catered the car show, thanks to volunteer Greg Colum for heading that up, and as usual JJ&M did a fantastic job on the food. They brought plenty of ribs, pulled pork, chicken, sides, and drinks. Event volunteer Phil Williams handled organizing the car show judging enlisting the help of Kevin Ohare, Howie Rumjahn, and Greg Meeks. Heidi Tetzlaff and her staff from Billet Technology judged best of show for us this year.


The winners of each class were as follows:


Car Show




1st BT $500 Cert Jon Eisz
2nd BT $250 Cert Jeff Lafountaine
3rd BT $100 Cert Jenny Barger


1st BT $500 Cert Chis Watters
2nd BT $250 Cert Ray Herrick
3rd BT $100 Cert Ron Fortney


1st BT $500 Cert Zac Chmielewski
2nd BT $250 Cert David Bernath
3rd BT $100 Cert Tracey Balrie
Furthest Driven $250 BT Cert Bill Meredith
Furthest Trailored $150 BT Cert Denis Roy
Best of Show $500 BT Cert Joseph Mayer
People's Choice Thunder Designs Dave Gibson Kevin Ohare
Best Engine Bay $500 BT Cert Dave Bernath



After the car show, the temperature had turned a bit cool, unseasonably so, and our host hotel the Holiday Inn University Plaza had us covered with a meeting room to use to "hang out". AJ Berge, aka HemiTuner, and Eric Hruza, president of Arrington Performance our title sponsor for 2014, had a round table discussion on all things tuning including both current and future. It was a casual open Q&A and a lot of questions were raised and answered. AJ gave us all a little insight in to how to read a spark plug and some in depth information around what it takes to tune the modern HEMI.


After the hour and a half Q&A things progessed back to the host hotel parking lot for some gawking at all the hot rods and sharing of some adult beverages for those so inclined.


Things started early on Saturday morning with that being the track day and Beech Bend opened the gates promptly for us at 8am. We were met with an on time and well prepared staff, beautiful blue skies, and cool temperatures in the upper 40s! The naturally aspirated cars were sure to run some good times. The track workers were busy preparing the track after the week's rain, and getting us ready to go down the track right at 9am. Smokin' Joe was on the track's PA system doing a fantastic job of keeping us entertained while we prepped our cars for race day.


Open test and tune ran from 9am to 11am, then we kicked off the GForce 6 Speed Shootout sponsored by GForce Engineering, makers of all things drive line for our Modern HEMI platform. These guys make fantastic hard parts built to take some abuse. The 6 Speed Shootout is a heads up class for the fastest 6 speed manual transmission Challengers. Lisa Nicholson won 1st in the 6 speed shootout against Denis Roy who red lighted and aborted his run. Denis had run a 11.527@120.75 in a previous round. Howie Rumjahn came in 3rd with a 12.17 and all three winners got some very nice prizes from GForce.


The winners of the GForce 6 Speed Shootout were:


6 Speed Shoot Out




1st Gforce $750 cert Lisa Nicholson 11.53@127.40
2nd Gforce $500 cert Denis Roy red light
3rd Gforce $250 Cert Howie Rumjahn 12.179@115.93


After the GForce 6 Speed Shootout we ran another 30 minutes of test and tune, then broke for lunch with some more good food from JJ&M BBQ who brought their setup out to the track to feed us. Absolutely delicous food.


During the lunch break the track workers were busy prepping the track for the PWR Unlimited Shootout sponsored by Performance Werks Racing. These guys offer racing engines custom built, and currently in some of the fastest HEMIs, and sell other supporting mods as well. You can get race tires, wheels, tuners, and they even have shops for installations. If you need more power be sure to check them out. The Unlimited Class is a no holds barred, bring your A Game, first to the finish, racing class. Kent Irwin was bested by Stan Richards leaving Brad Fielder and Stan to go head to head in the final round. Stan got Brad at the light with a .167 reaction time vs. Brad's .358 giving Stan the win even though Brad actually ran faster, making for a nail biting final round on this ladder race setup. To top off the Unlimited Shootout, PWR came to me right before the awards ceremony and said they wanted to give away a forged short block! We put everyone's car number in a hat shook it around and had one of the kids present draw a number. Ray Taylor from middle TN won the short block!


The winners of the PWR Unlimited Shootout were:


PWR Unlimited Shoot Out




1st PWR $500 Stan Richards 10.422@126.70
2nd PWR $400 Brad Fielder 10.314@133.12
3rd PWR $300 Kent Irwin 11.026@133.30


During all the racing and test and tune the track was kept up to snuff via sponsorship from Track prep isn't cheap as it costs for material AND labor and Mike covered all track prep for the complete ChallengerFest 5 event. Mike specializes in tuning platforms, not just HEMIs, to perform at their best and uses a methodical and intelligent approach to keep things safe. Mike's tuning allows me to drive my 10 second 6 speed manual transmission Challenger to work during the week and crack off some fantastic times at the track on the weekend. Be sure to give him a call if you want some fantastic custom tuning whether in person on his dyno or via e-mail. I took the e-mail route and saved a bundle on travel and dyno time. Due to his tuning abilities, Mike may be a bit backed up on tuning work, but believe me he is worth the wait.


After the PWR Unlimited Shootout we went to another 30 minute test and tune session, then moved on to the High Horse Performance Bracket Race. High Horse Performance offers everything from fuel systems to full on built engines, installation, and tuning. I've purchased several items from HHP and have always had a high level of customer service and fast shipping. Be sure to ask for Don, as he will take care of you making sure your order is accurate and shipped efficiently. Don goes the extra mile and we really appreciate him in the HEMI community. In the racing event Alan Pederson in his 426 superchargd Challenger came in third against Jon Dalton, a famous bracket racer, who broke out with a 14.408 on a dial of 14.50 in his naturally aspirated Magnum. Steve Tyranski came in first against Denis Roy in his lethal Magnuson supercharged stock 5.7 6 speed Challenger with Steve running a 12.69 on a 12.65 dial vs. Denis' 11.93 on a 11.45 dial.


The winners of the HHP Bracket Race were:


HHP Bracket Race



1st HHP $500 cert Steve Tyranski
2nd HHP $300 cert Denis Roy
3rd HHP $200 cert Alan Pederson


Immediately after the HHP Bracket Race we moved to the Arrington Performance / Magnuson Supercharger Bracket Race, our TITLE SPONSOR race, for a package worth over $10,000! The package included a Magnuson Supercharger, free installation by the experts at Arrington, free tuning from Arrington, Arrington Performance upgraded fuel system, Arrington Performance cold air intake, Arrington Performance catch can, and Arrington Performance strut tower brace, and tuning with the new to market SCT Tuning equipment with the tuner included! An amazing package for one lucky, or skilled :) , winner! Arrington offers NASCAR performance for the street with their extremely well built engines. They have a full machine shop and CNC equipment at their disposal and experts on site that know how to use them. I have one of Arringtons 6.0L VVT stroker motors in my car that has been flawless for going on FIVE years, and has run some blazing times in the quarter with the Magnuson Supercharger (10.92 @ 128) time and time again worry free. I race it on Saturday and drive it to work Monday through Friday. Arrington Performance offers turn key hot rod solutions with full install, tuning, and fabrication under one roof! This amazing package was a winner take all race and Ron Polidora won against Jon Dalton who red lighted with a -.027 reaction time!



SpeedLogix sponsored a special "Ladies Only" class we affectionately refer to as Fastest Female Racer. All ladies that run down the track at the event are eligible and hand in their best time slips at the end of the race day for consideration in this class.


This year's winners were:



Fastest Female Racer



1st Speedlogix $200 cert Bobbi Kimak
2nd Speedlogix $100 cert Jenny Barger
3rd Speedlogix $50 cert Kristy Steelman



The racing awards rounded out with prizes for Best 60' sponsored by Summit Racing with a $100 gift certificate which went to Brad Fielder who had a 1.41. Best Reaction Time sponsored by Solo Performance Exhaust with a full stainless cat back awarded to John Eisz on a .002. Finally, worst run of the day awarded to Guy Dalton for melting down a forged NA motor that was setup at 14:1 compression which earned him a toilet bowl trophy for his efforts, all in good fun.


The racing finished up about 3:15pm and we had the track until 4pm, so another 45 minute open test and tune session ran until the staging lanes were emtpy. Folks attending had gotten all the runs in they cared to do, and started breaking down to head back to the Holiday Inn to get cleaned up for the awards ceremony.


Everyone got cleaned up and headed down to the banquest hall for the awards dinner. Modern Mopar Forum and Thitek Performance Cylinder Heads went in together and sponsored the entire dinner which was great. Generous sized all beef hamburgers, brats, hot dogs, chips, brownies, cookies, and drinks were all on the menu. Having the dinner covered and at the host hotel made it extremely convenient for the event participants as it was just an elevator ride away from their rooms. Modern Mopar Forum is one of the most informative modern HEMI platform forums on the net with a bunch of great folks who are active on the forum answering questions and just talking hot rods, how to go faster, and solve issues. I got to spend some time with Craig, the owner of Thitek, and he is very passionate about performance and knows his stuff. If you want to make big power he's the guy to talk to about cylinder heads. Craig has custom programs setup to machine his heads that are top secret but proven on the track.


Once the awards for the car show and racing classes were handed out, and everyone was fat and happy from the great eats, we transitioned in to our charity auction. Several vendors stepped up to offer items to be auctioned with 100% of the proceeds going directly to our official event charity Racing4Vets. I vetted this charity out last year and these guys are the real deal. They sent four of their members to join us and they brought their racing carts to show off to everyone. They are just a great bunch of guys and this charity puts 100% of it's proceeds back in to helping the service wounded veterans they aim to assist. They do cart programs, business training, job placement, and even housing, to help these vets not only have purpose, but restore their happiness, drive, and will to live. I had a long phone call with their President, Lawrence, who is extremely passionate about their mission, and he shared some things with me that let me know they are certainly the charity I need to sponsor each year. The track owner even let them take their carts down the quarter mile for a couple of passes and I saw one of them hit almost 62MPH in the traps. I drove one of those carts around the host hotel parking lot and they are a blast. If you're reading this and didn't get a chance to be involved with this charity during ChallengerFest 5, or even if you did and want to do more, please consider sending them a donation to help them out. It is a tax deductible donation.



Chris from GForce Engineering offered a set of their Level 5 Axles for auction which retail for $1699, Frank from The Drive Shaft Shop donated a carbon fiber drive shaft worth about $1600 to be auctioned, Michael from Hop Not donated three of their stage 1 kits and one engine torque strut brace with a retail value totaling about $800, Larry from G&K Performance donated one of their Hurst Shifter upgrade kits, event attendees Chuck and Lisa Nicholson donated a brand new Dewalt cordless impact, drill driver, and drill they purchased just for this auction that retails for about $400, event attendee Dale Olson donated a brand new aluminum racing jack that retails for $160, Dan VanHorn with MSHS Racing Series donated two entry fees in to the four remaining racing events which had a $500 value. We also held a 50/50 drawing that collected a very nice amount for the charity. Mike Haislet donated a Cruisin' Cooler that Thunder Designs did some special decal work on that was a hot ticket item as well. That cooler was a blast to ride around and I was disappoitned I was out bid, well not really it is for a good cause after all. A few other folks mailed me checks after the event for the charity and in total we collected right at $8,000! Thanks to all the vendors and attendees that donated, it really does make a difference.


Finally I want to thank the remaining vendors who sponsored ChallengerFest 5 in some way to help me make it a quality event. Lee from Laukemper Motors who gives amazing deals on Mopars, Eric from ProPrepShotBlast who does anything and everything in regards to concrete prep, Nashville Dodge who also give fantastic deals on Mopars and parts discounts as well, Muscle Car Apparel who have some very cool Mopar attire, and Griot's Garage who make cleaning up your car fun.


Without all of our sponsors the event wouldn't be ChallengerFest. Please consider the sponsors who support you in this event first as they really are behind you.


That's a wrap on ChallengerFest 5. The event was a huge success and that goes to all the folks who travel many miles to get there and the vendors who allow me to keep the event one of high quality. The Holiday Inn was great to us this year, and Beech Bend Raceway ran the track wonderfully. Thanks again to all the sponsors and volunteers, and especially all the attendees who took their time to attend this event to make it such a success. I'm already planning ChallengerFest 6!




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