Mopar to Celebrate 25th Anniversary as Title Sponsor of Mile-High NHRA Nationals
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ —
- 25th Anniversary of title sponsorship of the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver
- Mopar legends Scelzi and Schumacher will serve as Grand Marshal and Honorary Starter at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
- 12th edition of the popular Mopar Block Party to be held once again in downtown Golden on Thursday, July 18
- Mopar Block Party to feature driver autograph session, display of classic and race vehicles, and live concert
- Fans invited to play a newly launched “Mopar Drag ‘N’ Brag” video game
Mopar and Bandimere Speedway will be celebrating their Silver Jubilee at the 34th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals held at the scenic Rocky Mountain drag strip on July 18-21. The brand’s 25-year relationship with the Bandimere’s family Thunder Mountain track and continuous support of the national event is the longest running title sponsorship in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and among the longest in all of motorsports.
“We are very proud of our long-standing relationship with the Bandimere family, their wonderful facility and the passionate fans that attend the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals every year,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Since 1989, this historic track has become our home-away-from-home because of a common passion for this family-oriented sport, grassroots racing and commitment to sportsmen. Through thick and thin over the past 25 years, the Bandimere Family, their track and this annual national NHRA event have become an integral and valued part of our Mopar racing tradition.”
To help celebrate the quarter-century mark as title sponsor, Mopar has invited drag racing legend Gary Scelzi to take on the role of Grand Marshal, and Hall of Fame driver and owner Don Schumacher to serve as Honorary Starter at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
A fan favorite, Gary Scelzi, nicknamed the “Wild Thing,” enjoyed a 12-year run as a professional NHRA racer earning enough wins, championships and milestones to cement his reputation as a legend in the sport after completing his racing career behind the wheel of a Mopar HEMI-powered Funny Car at the conclusion of the 2008 season.
“I’m humbled and excited to be asked by Mopar to serve as Grand Marshal and be part of such an amazing event once again,” said Scelzi who earned a win at Bandimere Speedway in a Don Schumacher Racing Mopar Funny Car in 2006. “There are only a few NHRA nationals that have prestige and meaning and where winning really means something extra special. I’d put the Mopar Mile High Nationals amongst the Gatornationals and Englishtown. It’s special not just because it has been around forever and is extremely difficult and challenging, but also because of the Bandimere family. They go out of their way to make everyone, from the fans to the competitors, feel at home. They think of everything and make you really feel like you are part their family and their home.”
Following a successful early start to his drag racing career in the sportsman ranks, Scelzi became a four-time NHRA world champion after winning his first title as a rookie pro racer in 1997, the first of three earned in the Top Fuel class. In 2002, Scelzi successfully transitioned to the Funny Car ranks and went on to drive his Mopar Dodge to the world championship title in 2005 with Don Schumacher Racing. He became just the second driver in NHRA history to capture overall titles in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes. With 37 NHRA wins and 44 No. 1 Qualifier spots, Scelzi ranks in the top-20 overall in both categories.
“My history at Bandimere was actually quite horrible,” Scelzi added. “I don’t think I made it out of the first round much but I just loved coming here regardless. It was a huge challenge on track but it was always about family and fun and was always an event, a party everyone looked forward to. When I did finally win with Mopar in 2006, it just had so much meaning and to be invited back to celebrate their 25 years with the Bandimere family is really exciting.”
A longtime ambassador for the Mopar will serve as Honorary Starter at brand’s signature event; Hall of Fame NHRA drag racer and team owner Don Schumacher’s legacy with the Mopar brand began with his first trip to the winner’s circle behind the wheel of a Plymouth ‘Cuda Funny Car at the 1970 U.S. Nationals. Nicknamed “The Shoe” when at the top of his game in the early and mid-1970s, Schumacher earned five NHRA national event wins and is remembered for an unequaled record in match races across the country.
Schumacher’s loyalty and passion for Mopar continues in his current role as team owner, where his track record is as equally impressive as that of his racing career. His racing team, one of the most successful and respected organizations in the NHRA, has won 209 NHRA national event titles and 11 world championships. Amongst those, three of his drivers — Gary Scelzi (2005), Matt Hagan (2011), and Jack Beckman (2012) — have claimed NHRA Funny Car championships for Mopar aboard HEMI-powered Dodge vehicles. For his many contributions to the NHRA and motorsports, Schumacher was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame earlier this year.
“I’ve had a relationship with Mopar and Dodge since the early 1960s when I first started to drag race so to be honored by them and asked to be the Honorary Starter for the MOPAR Mile-High Nationals at Denver is an incredible honor,” Schumacher said. “I’ve always either been inside a car driving it or behind watching my teams. Now for the first time I’ll be right next to them as the Honorary Starter. That will be a unique experience for me.”
To help kick off the Mopar Mile High Nationals in style will be the 12th edition of the popular Mopar Block Party festivities held on Thursday, July 18th, from 6 to 10 p.m. (MT) between 11th and 13th street in downtown Golden, Colo. Fans will be treated to large variety of free activities including an All-Mopar driver autograph session featuring:
- Allen Johnson, reigning NHRA Pro Stock World Champion
- Jeg Coughlin Jr., four-time NHRA Pro Stock World Champion
- Vincent Nobile, Pro Stock driver
- V. Gaines, Pro Stock driver
- Matt Hagan, current Funny Car points leader and 2011 NHRA Funny Car World Champion
- Jack Beckman, reigning 2012 NHRA Funny Car World Champion
- Johnny Gray, Funny Car driver
- Ron Capps, Funny Car driver
- Gary Scelzi, Grand Marshal and four-time NHRA World Champion
- Don Schumacher, Honorary Starter and Hall of Fame driver and owner
On display at the party will be Mopar’s NHRA race cars, classic cars and special display vehicles, as well as product demonstrations. Highlights will also include a live concert by The Steve Thomas band with local Golden vendors offering food and drink for purchase.
Fans will also be invited to play a newly launched “Mopar Drag ‘N’ Brag” video game where they’ll be able to virtually strap in and hit a drag strip themselves aboard a Mopar hot rod. The new mobile application game, available in the iTunes app store, puts race fans behind the wheel of their favorite race machines, including those of Team Mopar stars Johnson, Coughlin and Hagan. Mopar Block Party participants, as well as fans visiting the Mopar display at Bandimere Speedway, will get a chance to test drive the app to experience thrilling burnouts, test their lightning fast reaction time, and then brag about their times on social media to compete with friends.
About Mopar Motorsports
Mopar’s commitment to professional motorsports competition was established in the 1950s when a partnership ignited with drag racing pioneer Don Garlits, resulting in the breaking of numerous speed and performance barriers in HEMI®-powered vehicles over the next several decades. In 2013, Mopar looks to defend its two NHRA 2012 World Championship titles in Pro Stock and Funny Car categories, and celebrates 25 consecutive years as title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Colorado. While Mopar remains involved in a various professional motorsports series, it continues to honor its roots by being a proud supporter of amateur racing within the NHRA with its sponsorship of the HEMI Challenge and Mopar Sportsman Cup.
Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand and distributes 280,000 parts and accessories. With the creation of the industrial alliance between Chrysler Group and Fiat S.p.A., Mopar is extending its global reach, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Mopar’s global portfolio includes more than 500,000 parts and accessories that are distributed in more than 130 markets. Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for Chrysler Group brands as well as Fiat brands.
Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory-authorized vehicle specifications for Chrysler Group and Fiat vehicles – a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at www.mopar.com.
Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
- Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with customers
- Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format. First to offer complete vehicle-information kits in Spanish
- Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot
- Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices
- Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with interactive vehicle tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based on pre-set parameters
- wiAdvisor: first to provide factory-connected tablet technology in the service lane for instant vehicle diagnosis
- wiTech: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network
- 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-race package car
More than 75 Years of Mopar
Mopar (a simple contraction of the words Motor and PARts) was trademarked for antifreeze product in 1937. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s – the muscle-car era. The former Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth “package cars” equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of “special parts” for super-stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use. The brand has expanded to include technical service and customer support.
SOURCE Chrysler Group LLC