HEBRON — Thousands will descend upon Licking County this weekend for the annual Mopar Nationals at National Trail Raceway.
The celebration highlighted by the 50th anniversary of the 1972 model year begins Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday. Local law enforcement are asking drivers to stay alert with the typical big crowd expected.
"Traffic will be heavy at times going north and south on (Ohio 37) and east and west on (U.S. 40) right at that intersection, and we will have officers there at the light to help run people through the light, so it doesn't back up," Licking County Sheriff's Capt. Jay Cook said. "It's a great event every year. We will be inside working and out on the roadway to help with the situation. Obviously if you have to go through that area, we encourage people to use caution, watch for stopped traffic and if they know a different or better route, they might want to take it."
Joe Zolper, star of the hit TV show Garage Squad, will be a featured guest. He will make exhibition passes in his popular Dodge Charger Daytona Pro Mod both Friday and Saturday while also meeting fans.
Legendary Top Fuel driver and owner Darrell Gwynn, whose world championship driving career was cut short by serious injury in 1990 but has since inspired and raised money to fight paralysis, also is expected to be in attendance as is Butch "The California Flash" Leal and Raymond Kohn making a return with his General Lee.
In addition to activities at the track, events will be held around Licking County throughout the weekend as roads and restaurants are expected to be filled each evening.
"The Southgate plaza area has restricted parking to people doing business there because they have had so many cars that it prevented people from going to their business," Heath Police chief Dave Haren said. "We will be monitoring those lots in the area of Giant Eagle, (Buffalo Wild Wings), BestBuy. We will direct people further south to where they can observe the vehicles going by."
The Survivors tent always is a highlight for Mopar enthusiasts, and a special area for barn finds has been added to this year's event. More than 1,500 vendors are expected for the swap meet.
It will be an action-packed weekend. Local law enforcement want to keep it a safe one, too. Hebron will join Heath and the sheriff's department in having an increased presence on the roads.
"There are going to be some wonderful cars and priceless equipment to see," Haren said. "It's great they go out and do the parade part, but I can't afford to have them out here racing or burning their tires up and damaging our roadways. We want to keep that under control and keep our citizens that want to see all of these wonderful cars safe."
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Mopar enthusiasts urged to use caution on Licking County roadways