Arkansas native Lloyd Wofford, whose 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Super Stocker was featured here on Dragzine prior to its debut back in 2010, earned perhaps the biggest victory of his driving career on Saturday afternoon at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, as he scored a win in the ever-popular Mopar HEMI Shootout and took home the $15,000 check to go with it.
Wofford, who qualified forth in the 22-car field with an 8.604, took on Fred Henson in round one, advancing with an 8.59 to Henson’s 8.74. He then used an 8.61-second, 153 mph lap to out Jim Pancake. In round three, top qualifier Gary Wolkwitz handed Wofford a gift into the semis, as he fouled out at the starting line, allowing Wofford to simply cruise to the stripe.
Another 8.61 in the semifinals was enough to dispose of Mark Howes, punching Wofford’s ticket into the marquee matchup under the lights on Friday evening. That final round, unfortunately, didn’t come to fruition, as rain showers forced the cancellation of the evening’s activities before the HEMI Shootout finale could be run.
“We were prepared for the final last night, and then the rain came down. This morning I woke up at 5 a.m., wide awake. The anticipation – the clock was just crawling. I was probably as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life. I’m thinking, ‘Please don’t do anything stupid, drive the car and do what you know how to do.’ My wife (Linda) was a great help. She told me to take a deep breath and do your job. I got up, staged the car and did my job. And now we’re here.”
Wofford’s final round opponent was a surprising Gus Mantas, who had qualified just behind Wofford in fifth with an 8.63. Mantas had taken down Russ Campbell, Ken Warburton, and Jim Daniels on his path to the final, where he went red by more than two-tenths, handing the easy win to Wofford.
“It’s been great and it’s been a rush,” Mantas said. “We thrashed hard. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. That track has been a variable continuously with the weather, and it’s been a tuning challenge. But it’s been great. This is our fourth Indy (Mopar HEMI Challenge) and we’re coming along, considering that we’re independents. We’re doing it on a budget, we work hard and our motor runs strong.”
Wofford legged his Barracuda out in the final despite already having the victory in-hand, using an .015 reaction time and another consistent 8.621-second pass at 152.62 mph to cement the title.
Complete HEMI Shootout eliminations from Robzneed4speed
“It just goes beyond explanation because we’ve worked so hard – six years, and we finally made it,” said Wofford, who purchased and began to prepare his ‘Cuda for competition in 2009. “I’ve got one of the best crews in the world. I don’t think I would be any more elated and excited if I won the Super Stock eliminator. This to me is the pinnacle, to win the Mopar HEMI Challenge, and in its 15th year. I just love a HEMI car – best car ever.”
“This is what started Pro Stock,” added Wofford. “When people in the crowd see these 1968 ‘Cudas and 1968 Dodge Darts, it takes them back to 1968 and to racers like Dick Landy, Ronnie Sox, Herb McCandless, you just name them on and on, the HEMI guys that started Pro Stock. And that’s what this is all about.”