"It's been 16 great years," Alderman said. "I could sit here and thank Mopar all evening. The Mopar fans are great everywhere, but they're really special here in Colorado.
"The time has come for me to get [my back problems] corrected and take off the rest of the year," the three-time NHRA Pro Stock champion continued emotionally. "Really the future is in doubt but I can't say enough about Mopar and these great fans who've stuck with me through thick and thin."
Mopar's Christine Cortez, Senior Vice President - Global Service and Parts, then gave Alderman a 340-horsepower gift. After reminiscing briefly about his lengthy career with Mopar and his admirable character, Cortez abruptly asked: "Darrell, how many years have you been driving a Hemi?"
"Well Ö since 1999," Alderman replied, indicating the season that Mopar Pro Stock teams began racing under the current Hemi engine program.
"Five years?! Is that enough time for Darrell Alderman to drive a Hemi?" Cortez asked the crowd in the streets of Golden. "We won't worry about next year. We want to give our tribute to you now. And that is our tribute," Cortez said, gesturing to a brand new Inferno Red Hemi-powered Dodge Magnum R/T and handing him the keys.
Alderman's beaming trademark grin highlighted his appreciative response.
Since he first signed a factory deal in 1988, Alderman has been instrumental in bringing Mopar and Dodge back to the forefront of professional drag racing. Alderman, who has been with Johnson & Johnson Racing since the beginning of the 2003 season, missed the first event at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway this year because of his back, where Team Mopar driver Shaun Carlson from the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Series filled in.
Alderman has brought home three NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championships for Mopar and Dodge and roped in 28 victories along the way, all the while maintaining a true passion for drag racing which he has passed along in one way or another to his three children.
"We've not only lost a great Mopar driver from our sport, but a true friend who's like a brother to me," said Allen Johnson, owner of Johnson & Johnson Racing and driver of the second Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T on the team. "I have looked up to Darrell for years and tried my best to match his abilities. I know this isn't the end of our friendship, but it will be sad to not have him in the pits with us this weekend and for the rest of the season."
In his glory years, Alderman's presence and skill was unequaled in the Pro Stock garage. When DA won a race, the excitement level surpassed that of when any other driver in his class claimed a victory.
Mike Corvo, Jr., who has driven Pro Stock Dodge vehicles for the last few seasons, will take Alderman's seat at Bandimere Speedway during the Mopar Mile-High Nationals this weekend.
"I'm so excited to represent Mopar at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals," Corvo said. "I'm honored to fill in for Darrell, but there's no way I can replace him. We'll do our best to make him proud."
Darrell Alderman and Team Mopar win the Pro Stock Event at the Gatornationals (March 17, 2002)
"Itís been way too long," said an elated Alderman. "This is the most competitive fields that Iíve seen since Iíve been racing in NHRA Pro Stock. I certainly couldnít have done it without the help of all the Mopar engineers and the guys from Nickens Brothers Racing. They work around the clock trying to build horsepower for these cars. And I canít say enough for my crew chief Rickie Smith and how heís been able to keep the car going up and down the track."
Alderman used equal parts horsepower and starting line skill to reach the finals, blistering second-best qualifier Tom Hammonds in the second round, then getting a holeshot win over reigning NHRA POWERade champion Warren Johnson in the semifinals, stopping The Professor despite his 6.899sec pass.
Alderman had less trouble with Coughlin, who had his first solid event of the year in typical fashion, hanging a near-perfect .404sec reaction light on Jim Yates in the second round, then nipping Mark Whisnant in the semis. Whisnant reached his first-ever NHRA semifinal round after getting a red-light win over Ron Krisher and then beating V. Gaines on a holeshot with a 6.926 effort.
Alderman and Coughlin left with identical reaction times but the horsepower told the tale, as the 52-year-old Alderman carded a 6.924 at 200.77mph to take the win. "This category is extremely tough," Alderman said. "It wouldnít surprise me if there werenít a whole lot of different winners this year. I hope that I can visit victory lane again before the year is over with. When itís as competitive as it is now, just anybody that qualifies, they have a chance to win out there."
Darrell's 2000 Mopar Avenger
Darrell's MOPAR Dodge Avenger
Darrell "staging" the MOPAR Dodge, preparing for a run.
Darrell was born November 16, 1949 in Paintsville, Kentucky. He has three children, and resides in Morehead, Kentucky. Darrell works with his father's construction business when he's not racing.
Darrell began his racing career driving an unsponsored IHRA stockcar. In 1986, he finished second in the IHRA points; Darrell won his first IHRA Pro Stock title during the IHRA Winternationals at Darlington, S.C. that year. This was not Alderman's first national-event win; he had won the 1984 AHRA Gateway Nationals at St. Louis aboard Gary Duckworth's Camaro. In 1987, Darrell was tapped to fill the driver's seat for Wayne County Speed Shop's retiring racer David Hutchens.
In 1988, at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, Darrell's Dodge Daytona, sponsored by Dodge Motorsports and MOPAR Performance Parts, marked Chrysler's return to NHRA drag racing after a long absence. 1988 was a season of on-track research and development, and the effort paid off in 1989 with Darrell putting the MOPAR Parts Daytona in the winner's circle at the Gatornationals. He went on to win two more NHRA events that season.
The hard work finally paid off in 1990, when Darrell won his first NHRA Winston Pro Stock Championship. In 1991, the team dominated the competition on the way to a repeat championship title. Enroute to that, he scored 11 events in 14 final-round appearances. Darrell qualified number one 7 times, and never gave up first place during the entire season.
In 1994, Darrell won five events enroute to the championship, with his strongest competition being Scott Geoffrion.
1995 started off quite well, with wins in 3 of the first 4 races; then a break-in and vandalism at the team's Wayne County Speed Shop effectively stopped Darrell's winning run. All of the team's engines were destroyed, and the remainder of the season was disheartening as the team had to work on developing a new engine program.
In 1996, Wayne County withdrew from racing, never having recovered from the problems caused by the break in. Darrell continued to work with the Dodge teams, and in 1997-98 was involved in testing the Pro Stock Dodge truck for the NHRA circuit.
In 2000, Darrell has not been as active in Pro Stock; however, he has qualified at several of the events he has attended, and his Mopar Avenger made it to the final round at the late September event, the Advance Autoparts Nationals in Topeka, Kansas. He was defeated in the final round by current Pro Stock Points leader, Jeg Coughlin.
In 2001, the Mopar Team regrouped and Darrell qualified for several events. He narrowly missed getting his 28th career win in October 2001 at Joliet.
Darrell's MOPAR in the Don Garlit's Museum in Florida.
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This page was on July 27, 2004.
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