Mopars At The Strip: Taking A Look Back On What Happens In Vegas

15matsleadartEvery year there’s a show in Las Vegas that has Mopar enthusiasts flocking by the thousands to the city that never sleeps. It takes place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and that’s not by accident. Although it’s a huge car show and swap, the activity that keeps them coming back is the battle on the drag strip.

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No matter which direction you turn, there’s another cool ride. This is the Mopar lovers Paradise.

The show is known to Mopar enthusiasts as Mopars At The Strip (MATS), but due to some legal issues it’s called Muscle Cars at the Strip. For enthusiasts – Mopars will do just fine. For year after year we’ve heard the collective, “Next year, I have to attend this,” and for those who don’t they’re missing out on something awesome. When you do go, you don’t regret it because it’s more than just Mopars At The Strip, it’s more than just a big car show, and it’s more than just drag racing.

For many, it’s a chance to get out to Vegas and hob nob with other Pentastar fans, but for some it’s like summer break after finals. It’s a chance to relax, to enjoy some cool cars, and to get your fix on the 1320. This year at the show, it was also a time to get some ride along action with Vipers and Hellcats; Dodge brought out the big SRT rig with some cool cars and some professional drivers to show everyone willing to strap into the seat what it’s like to go fast, turn around, and go fast again.

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For Mopar enthusiasts, it was a very welcome sign to see Dodge making a presence this year. We talked to a friend at FCA and he told us that it’s been too long and they really felt like they needed to reconnect with all Mopar owners. We saw them at the LX Festival in Irvine and their involvement there is huge, and while talking with them we got the feeling that Dodge and Chrysler truly want to get back to their roots and be involved with owners and die hard fans. We also hear that Chrysler is wanting to participate huge and we hope to see them out at the show next year.

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The Thrill Ride: riding shotgun in a wicked fast Hellcat Challenger or slithering through the cones in a Viper.

It does make sense to see Dodge getting back into MATS. The campaign this past year has been about Dodge’s 100 year anniversary and their TV spots showing us John and Horace Dodge mixing it up with various musclecars through the latter five decades. Those are the cars that started the craze and the love for Mopar musclecars, and it’s that spirit that the 100 year campaign seeks to encompass.

After all, MATS has always been very strong in the classic musclecar department. MATS has never shut out the modern musclecars the way some other events shut out the classics, but if you’re into the 1960s and 1970s Mopars, you’ll get your fill – and then some – at MATS. This year, we headed out to MATS with a borrowed car from FCA, and cruised in style in a 2015 Scat Pack Shaker Challenger, and took it through the autocross a couple of times. Let us just say that anyone who thinks the new Challengers can’t handle worth a damn has probably never driven one. We hit the course and for a car that is directly off the showroom floor without major modifications it did very well, all things considered.

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Special guests this year included the Golden Commandos. It was a group of Chrysler employees with one goal: make a Plymouth go fast.

We spent the weekend there, however, many of our long-time friends and readers had been there for a couple of days by the time we arrived. It’s really just a three-day event, but arriving early and getting situated at the local hotels and setting up at the show required a little more time. The swap area had everything from ashtrays to z-bars for the clutch, and the vendor’s alley brought out some of the coolest products and parts for Mopars of all years.

Our first order of business was meeting up with old friends – and catching up on the latest news and information. Since we arrived very late Friday night, we missed out on being a part of one of the many cruises that begin at various locations in the country. Dozens of owners meet up at a specific location, or they pick up the cruise on the way into Vegas. The first night of the show, we also missed out on the car show at the Cannery Hotel where select cars made it into the courtyard for everyone to see some of the best cars at the show. The quarter-mile of Mopars lined the street behind the Cannery and it was another show both Friday and Saturday night at the Cannery.

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Joe and Mopar Belle tie the knot at Mopars at the Strip, 2015.

At the show Saturday morning, we watched and listened as musclecar madness cruised to the staging lanes on a regular basis. The drag racing didn’t let up for very long, with the exception of the wedding ceremony taking place Sunday just behind the burnout box.  Mopar Belle (Priscilla) and her fiance Joe Morgan tied the knot in front of the entire spectator crowd between burnouts and quarter-mile passes.

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How often do you get to see a Panther Pink first gen Charger?

We’ll give you a few details about the entire show, broken out in sections below. Our first stop was the car show area where we found too many incredible cars to tell you about each one, but we did manage to pick out a few that really stood out. There were collector cars, show cars, race cars, and even a giveaway Richard Petty clone.

Not missing from this show was just about every color possible that came on a Mopar from Carl Kessel’s 1929 Dodge to the latest 2015 Scat Pack Challenger that we brought along with us. Some cars were painted a favorite color that might not have been available for that model, and others stayed true to the car’s original color and resprayed it to match.

You can also imagine that multiple carburetors were present: cross ram intakes, long ram intakes, dual quads, six packs, two barrels, four barrels, EFI – it was all represented very well. And let’s not forget that it didn’t matter if you had an old beater wagon or the Hemi ‘Cuda convertible, they were parked within walking distance of each other in the same parking lot.

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Yep. That's about eleven million bucks worth of cars. Right. There.

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Edelbrock, Mickey Thompson, and TTi Exhaust were just a couple of the companies that were found in vender alley.

If you were at the show looking for new parts, old parts, aftermarket parts, hard to find parts, or even NOS parts for your Mopar, you can bet that someone at the event had what you needed or it simply wasn’t available any longer. The vender alley brought out big names like Edelbrock, Mickey Thompson, TTi Exhaust, and many more to help Mopar owners get the latest information and tech on their performance needs. If you needed slicks mounted to your wheels, Mickey Thompson kept busy with mounting and balancing slicks all weekend.

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At the other end of the lot past the autocross was the swap area where you could find anything from antennas to fiberglass to complete cars that were for sale. We made a couple of passes through the swap area and got some great ideas for upcoming projects, seeing companies like AMD (Auto Metal Direct) with replacement sheet metal for rusted out cars.

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The drag strip was more than side by side racing, we were entertained by a couple of wheelie cars and fire-breathers, too.

The drag racing was probably one of the busiest events throughout the weekend and the biggest draw. We saw wheelstanding stage coaches and classic gassers, as well as the famous Hellcat-P85D Tesla rematch. You’ll just have to trust us on this one: the rematch was not very exciting; the Tesla driver either fell asleep at the wheel or it was rigged. Either way, the Hellcat took the win without much competition. With all the hype, we fully expected more of a reaction from the crowd. Perhaps the lack of YouTube and butthurt Hellcat haters present is one reason the excitement level was so low.

Marv Reiser took the class win for AFX/NSS, putting a huge smile on his face.

For the AFX/NSS class, Marv Reiser from the Mopar Club San Diego took home the win with his 1965 Dodge. This was his first time winning his class, and it was a sweet victory considering he was close to missing the show entirely. He had company within his car club, as three other club members were also out on the strip with their vehicles. We also came across a real throwback with a Plymouth Arrow sporting rear tires bigger than the interior (almost). Lots of great cars kept lined up all weekend, and plenty of eye candy in the staging lanes.

The drag racing at the event wasn't limited to Mopar - if you had a desire to line up with a Mopar and run against it, the opportunity was there.

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