John Tedder’s piece of HEMI class-racing history at the U.S. Nationals

Late last night at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Steve Comella claimed a long-sought victory in the HEMI Challenge over fellow finalist and four-time winner Jimmy Daniels. The win was particularly sweet for Comella, who was runner-up last year in the specialty race that brings together an assortment of beautifully badass 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda HEMI-powered entries for heads-up, side-by-side racing. It’s quite a show, and one that shouldn’t be missed if you’re ever fortunate enough to make it to “the Big Go.”

Steve Comella, near lane, defeated four-time HEMI Challenge winner Jimmy Daniels in the final round of the 2021 edition of the specialty event. Photo courtesy of NHRA

With the winner of this season’s HEMI Challenge decided, we did a little digging in the Auto Imagery archives and found this awesome photo that has a little bit of a story behind it.

Chrysler executive John Tedder, shown with “Mr. MoTech” lettered on the side of his 1968 Barracuda at Indianapolis in 1981, won the NHRA National Championship in Super Stock AA Division in 1972. It was a fine warm-up for winning class with his HEMI ‘Cuda at the U.S. Nationals in both 1973 and 1974.

Here’s the tie-in: Class eliminations at Indy for this particular group of vintage Super Stockers is now known as the HEMI Challenge.

Warren, Michigan-based Tedder raced for 30 years, and the “Mr. MoTech” lettering on his racecar was a nod to his success in recruiting for MoTech Automotive Education Center. Tedder actively visited high schools in the region with his 1968 Barracuda to entice youth to pursue a future in the automotive industry, and who knows how many futures were shaped by his clever approach.

Although Mr. Tedder died in 2014, two years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he will forever be part of HEMI history and class racing at the U.S. Nationals.

John Tedder and his 1968 Barracuda in 1981 at the U.S. Nationals. Photo: Auto Imagery

This photo and more are available for purchase, in digital and print, at AutoImagery.com.

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