Of all the benefits of participating...
Of all the benefits of participating in the judged show arena, perhaps none are more valued as the restoration information gleaned through the judging process. Mark Herbstrith of Utica, Illinois, bought this '70 R/T Challenger in 1986. The restoration had already been started by the previous owner, so Mark inherited the dreaded "boxes full of parts." He planned to rebuild and drive the Challenger, but after discovering its relative rarity, decided to restore it to showroom condition. In 1994, the car made its debut in the original restored class. There, Mark discovered many things that had to be redone, thanks to the critical eyes of his judges. Mark would like to take the Challenger to higher levels, but now finances may be the limiting factor.
The Mopar Nationals (that ultimate wing-ding for Pentastar enthusiasts worldwide) is the end-all, be-all gathering of the Mopar hobby. Whether you seek drag racing action, show competition, rare parts, or simple camaraderie, you'll find it here.
What you'll also find is something many folks view as a curious separation, both physically and "spiritually," within the ranks of the Mopar faithful. We're talking about the judged showfield arena, where restored, modified, and original classics of all flavors compete against each other, and themselves, for recognition and perfection. The perceived dichotomy stems from two facets of the showfield scene: physical location, and a more nebulous notion we'll call philosophy.
Mopar National attendees come to this annual event for any number of reasons, and show organizers do their best to accommodate their varied needs. Show cars that are competing for points and class awards have special requirements, such as a safe showfield with traffic control, minimal dust, and ample room for judging. Thanks to the layout of National Trails Raceway, in Columbus, Ohio, these needs are met, but at the expense of isolating the judged showfield from fun field participants and other venues. It's a necessity-the nature of the show car beast, if you will-not a choice of the judges or participants.
This physical separation has also led to a seemingly philosophical division of Mopar Nationals attendees. The idea that one relatively small group is treated to "special accommodations" while the rest of the participants are relegated to the "dirty back 40" has done much to create an emotional rift between judged and non-judged participants. From here the misconceptions and misunderstandings between the two groups continue to grow. The reality, however, is something entirely different. Perceptions aren't always what they seem, and differences are often not always so different after all.
Drew Park of Mechanicsburg,...
Drew Park of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, is the owner of this '70 'Cuda. Purchased in 1991, Drew had his 'Cuda ready for showing in 1994, but admits that the project is...ongoing.
"Judges pick things," says Drew. "You fix them, then they pick something else. Funny how judges miss things. That's the reason the work is 'ongoing.'"
Drew's advice is, unless you're rich, to do as much work as you can by yourself. The judging process, even if it's sometimes a drawn-out prospect, is one of the best avenues for obtaining restoration info.
"Better be serious if you want to do it," Drew warns. "Nothing is standardized in this hobby. Not like the Corvettes!"
Because we feel that everyone who owns a classic Mopar and is interested in its preservation and continued use can benefit from participating in judged show competition, we wanted to give those readers who have pondered the possibilities of stepping up to a more competitive showing level an idea of what to expect and what can be gained. This article will attempt to explore what the judged showfield arena is all about and illustrate how everyone can participate and benefit from this unique Mopar experience.
Judged Competition Overview
There are three distinct areas of show competition at the Mopar Nationals: Modifieds; Stock, which also include the Senior Division; and OE Certified, with The Paddock being the primary sponsor of all the judged show classes.
Most popular are the Stock classes. Here the cars are assigned by body style and year, and compete against each other for First, Second, and Third places. Cars participating in the stock classes are evaluated against a set of standards by teams of judges who are extremely knowledgeable about the cars in those particular classes. Once a car places First in its Stock class, it can no longer compete in that class, and is only able to display in subsequent years, or must move on to the next level-Senior Division.
Senior Division is the next step up in the Mopar Nationals show hierarchy. Unlike the Stock class, Senior Division cars are not competing against others in their class. Instead, these cars are competing against an even more demanding set of standards. You are competing against yourself, trying to earn the highest possible points score as determined by your judging sheet.
Senior Division participants can remain in this class as long as they like, but at some point they often choose the next and final judging class-OE Certified.