Lifestyles Defined by the Mopar® Shade of Blue
Automobile culture is woven into the fabric of America. Can you imagine having passion for any other machine we use on a daily basis? The parts, accessories and customization for vehicles are nearly endless.
What’s truly amazing about the Mopar® Brand is the idea that our immense following and culture is not a celebration of the automobile as a whole, but of the parts that make the whole.
This unique proposition has helped make Mopar one of the strongest brands in the parts, service and accessory business.
Although the Mopar Brand began with a line of antifreeze products in 1937, the Mopar enthusiast bug took flight with the introduction of the 1st Generation 331 HEMI® engine. As the 1960s emerged and the horsepower increased, the Mopar Brand following gained as much firepower as the 1964 2nd Generation 426 HEMI engine. And by this time, the vehicles that housed those engines were, to the people who drove and admired them, their Mopar ride. They still are today.
The raw power of the classic Mopar rides did more than boost a brand, win races and sell cars, it molded lifestyles, built friendships, relationships, and even communities. It brought together a group of people who shared a common passion for good old-fashioned American muscle powered by Mopar and defined by the color blue.
Blue-zing it up
The Mopar® enthusiast mantra “Mopar or No Car” is a mainstay of their vernacular. For them, it describes
the blood, sweat, tears and passion invested in their vehicle, aka, all of the things that make Mopar a part of their DNA. These are the people who spend countless hours in their garage so they can show off their Mopar rides on the road and at shows, events, swap meets and any other gathering that afford them the opportunity to feed a hobby that powers a lifestyle.
Take Paul Immo, a guy who embodies the concept of Bleeding Mopar Blue. Immo’s enthusiasm for Mopar
started when he was a child. His grandfather worked for Dodge, and, in the mid-1960s, his parents met at a Dodge dealership where his dad worked as a parts manager.
Fast forward to 2006, when Immo bought a Charger SRT8®. “Driving my Mopar ride is an indescribable
emotion,” said Immo. “Being able to push a pedal to the ground, being thrown back in the seat, feel the rear end breaking loose. Nothing can mimic it, it’s intoxicating. It takes all the stress away.” (Immo now drives a Plum Crazy Charger. Key Red.)
It was that feeling, he said, that prompted him to make friends who shared his passion. Immo started a club and later a charity car show event. This event began with “about 80 cars and a way to get people together locally to a show that now draws in a crowd nationwide,” said Immo. “And that’s kind of the point. It took on a life of its own, pretty much by word of mouth by people who love this brand.”
Case in point, just 10 years later, in 2018, the show draws hosts and vendors rain or shine and has donated
over $150,000 to the Fisher House, a non-profit organization that provides military family housing that is
close to a hospitalized loved one.
Dan VanHorn is another Mopar fan who felt the need to share his brand enthusiasm with people cut from the same blue cloth. Of course, in his case, he also felt the need for speed. So he founded a grassroots drag racing series for late model Generation3 HEMI® engine cars (Charger, Challenger, Magnum, 300C, SRT® Jeep® Brand vehicles, Ram and retromods). To date, the event features five core events and a non-point winter event — just to shake the snow off.
“We started in 2007 as a small group of forum friends looking to get together and compare our mods and how they performed at the same track – all together on the same day,” said VanHorn.
Unfortunately, the group found that tracks were mostly catering to the larger groups and they experienced long wait periods. They sought to become one of those big groups but lacked the car count to warrant the “celebrity” treatment. So, instead of giving up, they ponied up and held private events at ATCO Dragway in New Jersey. Those events started in 2009 with 10 cars and, when word got out, grew fast. So fast that in 2010, they held their fi rst grassroots drag racing event at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
To date, that group of 10 cars has grown to about 150 in addition to vendors, press and a $13,000-in-cash purse for each event, plus over $25,000 in championship prizes.
“The series is all about the people,” said VanHorn. “I wouldn’t run it if it wasn’t for the lifelong friends I have gained from this hobby. Our sponsors are small businesses – all who have fl ourished from our racing
community. And, to date, we have raised thousands of dollars for numerous charities.”
The commonality among participants was their need for speed and their appreciation for Mopar.
“It’s kind of amazing,” said VanHorn, “that all of this came from a bunch of people whose common thread is the Mopar Brand.”
“I think Ralph Gilles (Head of Design at FCA) put it best,” said Immo, “You come for the cars, you stay for the people.”
FCA US LLC is not affi liated with any of the clubs, groups or events mentioned in this article.