Rory Ward pilots the legendary Mickey Thompson “Challenger IV” to its first win!
Rory Ward piloted the legendary Mickey Thompson “Challenger IV” car to its first ever win at the 2016 Polaris RZR Mint 400 presented by BFGoodrich Tires. The last race that that the “Challenger IV” competed in prior to its resurrection was the 1980 Mint 400 where it was only able to complete one lap.
Built and designed in 1977 by Mickey Thompson, the “Challenger IV” was a game changing vehicle in off-road. At the time, VW powered vehicles were the dominant platform in off-road. Mickey coupled high horsepower Chevy V8’s with increased suspension and radical weight balance change assisted by the signature huge rear wing.
Adding A-arm suspension to the front, Mickey was able to get nearly double the wheel travel of his closest competitors, with 15 inches of wheel travel in the front and 18 inches of wheel travel in the rear, allowing the vehicle to travel at higher speeds over the insanely rough terrain of the Nevada desert.
The Mint 400 had two separate vintage classes with over 12 different entries. The new “Open Vintage” Class allowed modified vehicles built in 1992 and earlier. The “Vintage” Class is for cars 1982 and older which are period correct and have not had any significant modification from their original state.
“Mickey Thompson was our hero as a racer, a businessman, and as a creative being. He had a massive impact on racing and automotive culture but most importantly he embodied the spirit of American ingenuity and hard work. It’s amazing to me that 28 years after his death and 39 years after he built this car, it’s still racing and winning, thus proving that his ideas were so powerful that they live on. You may have killed the man but you can’t kill his ideas! I am proud to be friends with Rory Ward who was crazy enough to spend countless hours and self financing to re-build and race this car. To me that’s the coolest thing about vintage off-road racing vehicles is that you can still race them,” stated Matt Martelli, Mint 400 CEO.
“I can’t tell you what it means to me to get this historical racer to the finish line, in 1st place for that matter! Mickey knew he had a winner with Challenger IV but it just took a little longer to prove it…..another 36 years to be exact. The Challenger IV had some unfinished business at the Mint 400 and I’m ecstatic that we were able to come away with a win for Mickey, Trudy and the rest of the Thompson family,”stated Mint 400 Champion, Rory Ward.
Rory Ward is sponsored by: Mickey Thompson Tires, MasterCraft Safety, Racers Only Motorsport Designs, Allcoat Powder Coating, Howe Performance, Holley Performance, King Shocks, Collins Motorsports, Accel ignition, Baker Precision, Come industries, K&N filters, TRH Wiring, GS Performance, Wilwood Brakes, Pyrotect, Baja Designs, Ntense Tees, and SBP Motorsports.
About The Mint 400
Known as “The Great American Off-Road Race™,” The Mint 400 is the oldest, most prestigious, and most challenging off-road race on the planet. This annual four-hundred mile marathon between the top off-road racers in the world includes over three hundred and fifty race teams in twenty-four different classes of off-road vehicles. Established in 1967, The Mint 400 is steeped in American lore. Thousands of racers and celebrities from around the world have attempted to tame the brutal Nevada desert, but less than half of them have ever finished the Mint. An entire week of events lead up to the famed off-road contest in and around Las Vegas, including a vehicle parade down the Las Vegas Strip, a drivers meet and greet, a pit crew challenge contest, the Miss Mint 400 beauty pageant, massive parties, a qualifying race, and a huge ten-block “contingency” gathering on Fremont Street East. Over forty-thousand spectators gather to watch the worlds best off-road race teams do battle at The Mint 400!
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