Rick Houser of Pasadena, Calif., won the Mopar Hemi Challenge portion of the inaugural NHRA Pacific SPORTSnationals event at California Speedway's Auto Club Dragway on Saturday. Houser qualified his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda SS/AH machine in the first position against five other competitors with a pass of 8.826 seconds to set the tone for the event. Other participants included Jerry Jenkins of Modesto, Calif., Mark Vieira of Turlock, Calif., Dave Raybourn of Modesto, Calif., Michael Ogburn of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Bob Mazzolini of Placerville, Calif.
In round one of eliminations, Houser squared off against No. 4 qualifier Raybourn. Houser posted a lap of 9.027 seconds/148.61 mph to defeat Raybourn's red light effort of 8.888 seconds/149.65 mph. No. 5 qualifier Ogburn defeated No. 2 qualifier Jenkins with a lap of 8.947 seconds/147.78 mph. No. 6 qualifier Mazzolini defeated No. 3 qualifier Vieira with a lap of 8.983 seconds/147.63 mph.
In the semifinals, Houser earned a bye round while Ogburn defeated Mazzolini with a lap of 8.890 seconds/148.97 mph. Mazzolini red lighted during the run. In the finals, Houser posted a run of 8.877 seconds/149.56 mph to defeat Ogburn's 8.899 seconds/148.64 mph effort. Houser's run gave him a margin of victory of approximately nine feet to earn the $5,000 payday, courtesy of Mopar.