Charlie Westcott Jr. had hopes that hard work in the offseason would pay off Saturday night in the finals of the Mopar HEMI Challenge Series at the 8th Annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion at historic Beech Bend Raceway.
Despite giving up a .64-second advantage to David Barton of Robesonia, Pa., off the starting line, the Parma, Mich. native used some of the horsepower he built into the engine of his new ’68 Plymouth Barracuda last winter to drive around at the finish. Westcott’s 8.512 pass at 157.63 mph bested Barton’s ’68 ‘Cuda run of 8.633 seconds at 153.51 mph for the win.
“We worked really hard all winter,” Westcott Jr. said. “The Barton’s really stepped up their program last year and had basically caught up. We’ve always had, I believe, a horsepower advantage. We’re making more horsepower than we ever have and the car is getting down the track really well.”
Westcott Jr. and his father, Charlie Westcott Sr., build performance racing engines as a business, much like David Barton and his father, Ray Barton. The tandems have had their share of battles on the track throughout the Mopar HEMI Challenge Series history.
“He’s (David) beaten me a couple of times and I’ve beaten him a couple of times,” Charlie Jr. said. “I think the Westcotts have the advantage in victories, at least for now.”
Westcott Jr. made his way to the finals in relatively easy fashion after qualifying No. 1. He had a single pass in the opening round of eliminations after Russ Campbell broke the motor in his new ’68 ‘Cuda on Friday. He also had a single pass in the second round after his father’s car broke a transmission in his first round run. In the semifinals, Westcott Jr. beat Team Barton driver Gary Wolkowitz of Annandale, N.J., in a ’68 Dodge Dart with a run of 8.562 at 156.81 mph vs. 8.697 at 152.49.
Barton made his way to the finals by downing the ’68 Cuda of Don Bales of Connersville, Ind., in round one 8.773-9.097 and the ‘Cuda of Larry Perkins Sr. of Collegeville, Pa., in the quarterfinals with an 8.650 second run. Barton had a single pass in the semifinals to set up the showdown with Westcott.
Westcott Jr. pocketed the $5,000 purse for the event. The Mopar HEMI Challenge Race Series also will visit the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 3–6, and the Jegs Northern SPORTnationals, Sept. 25–27, at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio.