The Weekly Newsletter of Team Mopar Tuesday, December 16, 2003 News
Going That Extra Mile To Research, Develop & Prove New Powerplants - Mopar Leaps To The Top In Open Wheel Racing
Mopar. The mention of the word alone has generated vibes in motorsports and automobile inner circles for generations. Grandfathers have been handing down tales of the legendary Hemi® engine for as many years as speed and raw power have fascinated automobile enthusiasts.
With a decorated and colorful past in auto racing, it came as no surprise when Mopar reemerged as a force to reckon with on the racetrack. What did come as a surprise was the brand's leap into open-wheel racing dominance.
The 2003 racing season brought with it the promise of history-making possibilities. The early buzz was that Team Mopar was gunning to take the other open-wheel racing manufacturers by storm.
It didn't take long for speculation to become fact. The prowess of the Mopar 410-cubic-inch sprint car powerplant became the focal point for many as J.J. Yeley, Cory Kruseman, Jay Drake and Danny Lasoski were making waves in the USAC National Sprint Car Series and the O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series. In addition, Drake and Tracy Hines were flying high in the USAC National Midget and Silver Crown Series, while Dave Steele was busy schooling his USAC National Midget Series competitors.
When the dirt stopped flying and the smell of methanol lifted from the air, Team Mopar's Yeley had captured the USAC National Sprint Car Series championship, and Danny Lasoski finished second in WoO points during a season in which he authored sweeps of the season finale at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Harvest Classic, and a little event known as The Knoxville Nationals. Hines, Drake and Steele kept busy earning pole awards, heat race wins and feature events.
Team Mopar's drivers are each unique in personality and driving styles, but they share one common goal: they race to win, and do so often.
"The race drivers that compete under the Mopar banner are among the best in the business," said Kevin Miller, Senior Manager - Mopar Brand Excitement . "Their position of leadership in the motorsports industry goes hand in hand with Mopar's success in the sport. We are proud to sponsor these outstanding competitors."
Mopar's dominance throughout 2003 came as a surprise to some, but for most it had simply been a matter of time. Whichever side of the fence competitors and fans were on, the message was clear. The brand meant business, and Mopar stepped up to the plate swinging for the fence. This was most obvious to winged and non-winged sprint car competitors, as they were left almost defenseless against the powerful Mopar engine.
While it was frustrating for the competition, the engine strength wasn't lost on USAC and World of Outlaws Series team owner Tony Stewart.
"I haven't heard the drivers talking about them [the engines,]" Stewart commented prior to the Mopar Million Sprint at Eldora. "While that might not be great for Mopar, because I'm sure they want the drivers talking about their engines, it's good for us. Because in racing, when a driver isn't talking about a certain topic, that means they're content with it and happy with it. So when the drivers aren't talking about the motors, that means they're content and very happy with the performance they're getting.
"The things they are talking about are all the other variables on their minds that they have concerns about. I know that they're both very happy with the power they're getting and they're very, very excited with the reliability. Like I said, they just don't talk about them - and that's a good thing."
As if garnering the reputation of "the car to beat" in open-wheel racing series nationwide didn't attract enough attention, the brand also left its mark on the sport through event sponsorship. Though the motorsports entity sponsored several reputable racing events during the 2003 season, Mopar found another niche in the motorsports arena by inking a deal that named the brand as the major sponsor of open-wheel racing's largest non-winged sprint car event in history. The Mopar Million Sprint at Eldora became reality on Sept. 19-20.
"We were happy to be able to support a sport which is a showcase for Mopar innovation and a platform for our authentic motorsports program," Miller said. "Sponsoring the Mopar Million [Sprint at Eldora] let fans and racers know of Mopar's leadership position in the sport of sprint car racing and our dedication to making Mopar the powerplant of the future."
Happy with the results of the Million, Mopar has announced that it would follow up their efforts in 2004 with the Mopar Thunder Sprint at Eldora. The event will feature two nights of winged sprint car action, with a finale featuring the non-winged warriors at Eldora Speedway over the dates of August 5-7, 2004.
In addition to making the brand's presence known through powerplant performance and event sponsorship, Mopar took an additional step to imprint their mark on the public. The mobile Mopar Speedshop, an interactive display that promotes the highly touted Mopar brand name, will travel the country again in 2004. Fans and competitors alike will be able to tour the exhibit, which features a fantastic array of parts from Mopar Performance. The educational and entertaining presentation will also feature a wide variety of DaimlerChrysler show vehicles.
The Speedshop is the ultimate experience for any gearhead or automobile
enthusiast. The Speedshop, which travels more than 50,000 miles annually,
is viewed by millions of people nationwide. The cutting edge display
features the following:
* Super-sized Mopar part replicas built into the display
* Life-sized cutaway models of Mopar engines
* Over 650 square feet of display space
* Plasma video screens
* In-display air conditioning
* An LED "Color Blast" light show
"The traveling Mopar Speedshop has had an incredible impact on the public," said Scott Barone, Senior Manager, General Repair, Powertrain and Remanufactured Parts Portfolio. "People who visit the Speedshop can have fun with all the interactive displays while learning about Mopar's heritage and latest product offerings. More importantly, everyone has an opportunity to view the Chrysler Group production and concept vehicles, including the ultimate American sports car, the Dodge Viper."
While the Mopar Speedshop provides aficionados with a hands-on link to the nuts and bolts of the brand's motorsports program, it is the repeated on-track dominance that has revamped Mopar's image as an open-wheel racing powerhouse. New for 2004, Mopar plans to add another keystone to its open-wheel stable. A 410-cubic-inch aluminum block sprint car engine will make its debut in the early summer, adding to Team Mopar's USAC and World of Outlaws Series arsenal.
As if the added threat of another innovative Mopar powerplant wasn't enough to leave the competition scratching their heads, the brand will also expand their efforts to the late model divisions. A 400 hp engine will be available to racers nationwide in 2004. The newest member of the Mopar stable will take to the track in several late model racing series, including the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series. If its open-wheel cousin could be used to predict the success of the new kid on the block, the Mopar late model engine is a sure hit.
Mopar Performance has also reinvented itself in 2003 to embrace the three unique Mopar enthusiasts: Muscle, Street and Speed. The new product catalogs are a showcase for Mopar innovation. The new performance products are homegrown right out of DaimlerChrysler's Performance Vehicle Operations (PVO) group, the same group that brings the Viper and SRT line of vehicles to life.
Along with the announcement of new motorsports technology introduced by Mopar comes the question of affordability. Everyone would like to get his or her hands on an advantage over the competition, and the new powerplants that the brand is developing is just that - an advantage. Motorsport has long been a sport that tests the theory of a level playing ground, and Mopar feels that the racing community will be pleased with the cost and availability of their new brainchild.
"Speed costs money," Miller said. "Mopar has gone and will continue to go the extra mile to research, develop and prove our new powerplants. It is that dedication and innovative technology that gives Mopar a distinction from the other manufactures. There will always be costs involved in motorsports, but I believe that our consumers will be very pleased with the pricing of our products."
As the 2004 racing season quickly approaches, Mopar will work harder to go faster and finish better than the competition. Success is marked in Mopar's past, and a constant in the present.
While the brand is building on its reputation as the manufacturer to beat, one thing is for certain. In the future, Mopar will be there.
For more information regarding Mopar, log onto www.mopar.com or www.moparspeed.com.
Mopar Speed Note:
(Reprinted with permission from Area Auto Racing News, Nov. 18, 2003, pages 22-23.)
Written by Misha Geisert