July, 2016 -- Carlisle celebrated its 25th year of bringing Mopars to Carlisle, July 15 - 17, with a record number of registered cars and more than 50,000 spectators. This is one of the biggest years yet, not only because more than 2,700 vehicles from all eras of the Chrysler brand - classics, muscle cars, and high-performance new models - were in attendance, but because 2016 marks a major anniversary date for Chrysler. It has been 50 years since the iconic Charger and Hemi made their debut, and the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals provided the perfect venue for a celebration. Add three days of sunshine to the mix, and you had all the ingredients for one heck of a party.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of the Street Hemi, Carlisle hosted an impressive number of 1966-1971 "wide valve covers" in just about every available factory combination. Two of the most unique (and valuable) cars were a 1966 Dodge Coronet 4-door 426 Hemi (1 of 4 examples built) and one of the legendary '70 Hemi Cuda convertibles. The Coronet had been restored to its show room condition, while the Cuda was an unmodified original, truly a survivor. These were two extremely rare cars in a building full of other Mopar royalty.
It was 50 years ago when the first Charger, in its extreme fastback design, rolled off the Chrysler assembly lines. Carlisle hoisted a special display of each year from 1966 thru 1974, plus later years models. Of course, most of earlier generation cars sported the 426 Hemi option.
In the '60s and '70s, Chrysler marketing probably did more to appeal to buyers through vivid colors than anyone else. Paint color names like Plum Crazy Purple, Top Banana Yellow, Sassy Grass Green, and Hi-C Orange are just a few of the fancy hues. As you looked across the show field at Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, it's as though someone had dropped a giant bag of Skittles. Then, adding more personality to the field of Mopar dream cars were cartoon characters, such as Road Runner, Superbee, Demon, Duster, and Superbird. Wow, what fun! Here's a walk through the show field, packed with both old and new Mopar classics.
Over 300 Mopars were available for sale in the Chrysler Nationals Car Corral, where potential buyers could personally inspect each car, meet with the seller, drive the vehicle and/or negotiate their own deal. Services on the fairgrounds to aid in transactions include notary services, financing, appraisals and insurance vendors.
With approximately 8,100 spaces spread over 150 acres at the Carlisle Fairgrounds, including almost 40 vendors in the manufacturers' midway, we put on our walking shoes to check out all the mopar parts and automotive memorabilia. What a bonanza!
Joining the weekend's celebration were several celebrities, such as Catherine Bach (Daisy) and Rick Hurst (Cletus) from Dukes of Hazard and Rachel DeBarros of All Girls Garage, a big Mopar fan and Challenger owner. And, last, but certainly not least, Richard Petty, showed up Saturday afternoon. The line was at least a block long for autographs and photos with the King of NASCAR.
Pioneers on the track, the Ramchargers were at Carlisle again this year. Members who have regularly attended in the past are Tom Coddington, Mike Buckel, Al Adam, and Dave Rockwell.
The Commandos and their 1966 "Goldfish" Plymouth Barracuda were part of this year's festivities, where they met with fans and signed autographs. Ray Kobe was joined by Evan Ericson, Warren Anderson, Jim Hall, Forrest Pitcock Jerry Carrico and Bruce Lindstrom.
For the first time in 50 years, the Ramchargers and the Golden Commandos reunited with their race cars from 1964. The Commandos' 1964 Plymouth was the first Super Stocker built and the only two-door hardtop with an aluminum nose. The Ramchargers' 1964 Dodge was the first drag car to have a 426 Hemi, and it was the prototype for other cars.
No Carlisle event is complete without the burnout contest. Presented by Petty's Garage, the winner not only got "Carlisle King of the Hill" bragging rights, but he also received a limited edition, autographed replica cowboy hat, similar to what Richard Petty would wear. The hat itself is valuable, but even more so since it has the King's autograph.
Here are some of the award winners of the 2016 Carlisle Chrysler Nationals.
Everyone has heard of Dodge's new 707 HP Hellcat. Hop in and buckle up for a drift-ride in this supercharged Challenger.