March 28-30 saw the return of Mopars to the Las Vegas area with the inaugural Mopars at the Strip show. Organized by local dealership owner Phil Painter, the show brought over 400 cars to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mopar fans from every state but Hawaii, all over Canada, and six other countries proved there was a real need for a show out West. "I had been going to the Nats since 1988 because there was nothing big out here," Painter said. "I was surprised by the [attendance] numbers, but it showed there was a pent-up demand. Now we get to fine-tune. The good thing is the things we need to fix are simple to fix."

The show cars competed in over 40 judged classes, while the racers battled it out in eight categories. Of course, Mopar Muscle was interested in the cars that could do both, and kicked off the show Friday morning with the Mopar Muscle True Street Challenge. In the evenings, The Cannery Hotel and Casino hosted cruise-ins with food and live music. Friday night, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway held its regular Midnight Madness races, as the Mopars mingled with a mixture of licensed racecars and street-legal challengers, and anything else that showed up to run.

Action at the dragstrip stayed hot all weekend. Johnny Gilbert of Hesperia, California, drove his '91 Daytona to a 9.564 at 139.13 mph to capture the weekend's biggest prize, edging out John Britton for the Quick 16 championship. In addition to the race classes, the dragstrip was the stage for some special guest exhibition passes. Bob Riggle's Hurst Hemi Under Glass reared back and wowed the crowd, while the McDonald's Coca-Cola Nostalgic Race Team appeared for the first time with all three if its cars completed.

The manufacturer's midway and swap meet areas afforded guests at Mopars at the Strip a wide variety of new and used parts, as well as plenty of other goodies, from clothing to toys to books. Editor Bolig couldn't resist making a few passes up and down the swap meet, and picked up some much-needed rubber for Project Valiant Effort from Tom Race's R/T Specialties.

"We had more vendors than I thought we would," Painter said. "Indy Cylinder Heads was on board from the beginning, and that brought us a lot of credibility.

"Most of the [attendees] I talked to were just glad to have a show. They knew that even though it was a first-year show, they had to support it from the beginning to continue to have one out here."

Mopars at the Strip Complete Race Results

Super Pro Winner: Randy Holly (Las Vegas) '73 Barracuda 11.959 sec./119.59 mph Runner-up: Richard Nedbal (Morgan Hills, Calif.) '64 Plymouth 10.982 sec./137.23 mph

Slant Six Winner: Romeo Furio (Boulder City) '67 Dart 16.895 sec./78.95 mph Runner-up: Steve Magnante (El Monte, Calif.) '62 Valiant 15.724 sec./84.71 mph

Stock/Super Stock Winner: Glenn Person (Regina, Sask., Canada) 11.514 sec./110.81 mph Runner-up: Earl Blake (Las Vegas) '68 Barracuda 11.633 sec./112.60 mph

Pro Winner: Chris Thompson (Costa Mesa, Calif.) '70 Swinger 12.327 sec./103.63 mph Runner-up: Anthony Hickman (Northridge, Calif.) '73 Duster 12.215 sec./108.36 mph

Quick 16 Winner: Johnny Gilbert (Hesperia, Calif.) '91 Daytona 9.564 sec./139.13 mph Runner-up: John Britton (Hastings, Neb.) '33 Wedge Roadster 8.690 sec./158 mph

Front Wheel Drive Winner: Dempsey Bowling (Orem, Utah) '89 Caravan 14.642 sec./89.77 mph Runner-up: Mark Spencer (Provo, Utah) '89 Daytona 14.610 sec./95.73 mph

Trophy Winner: Mark Beavin (Mesa, Ariz.) '02 Startus 18.557 sec./75.33 mph Runner-up: Kelly Painter (Mesa, Ariz.) '69 Roadrunner 12.263 sec./114.09 mph

Trucks Winner: Phil Ross (Lebec, Calif.) '99 Dakota 15.743 sec./86.34 mph Runner-up: Bill Dudley (Las Vegas) '91 Dakota 18.111 sec./69.26 mph