Tuesday afternoon at SEMA—at 4:26 to be exact, show goers got a peek at the new 2015 Mopar Charger R/T Funny Car. The new Funny Car is slated to make its official on-track debut at the 2015 season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, California. Behind the wheel will be Don Schumacher Racing’s driver, Matt Hagan.
Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO — Mopar Service, Parts and Customer Care told us, “The process of designing and building this new race car has been a true collaborative effort between our own engineering team (the same one that designs our production Charger and Challenger street vehicles) and Don Schumacher Racing. It’s just another great example of Mopar’s continuing commitment to provide quality engineering and performance parts, while staying true to our roots of racing innovation in a year that we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic 426 Race Hemi engine.”
Although it is a Funny Car, it does retain some of the characteristic Charger cues, like scalloped sides, and a front and rear end that make it easily recognizable to fans. The first test runs by DSR driver Matt Hagan were done at NHRA race tracks in Norwalk, and Indianapolis. Hagan’s first impressions were overwhelmingly positive. “The opportunity to test drive the 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car has been just phenomenal, and I can’t get in it again soon enough.”
“We’re very excited with the results of our efforts and look forward to seeing the new-look DSR cars make their debut in the 2015 season opening race,” said David Bailey, Senior Manager – SRT Motorsports Engineering and Design. “A lot of planning and work went into designing and building the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car. From the first steps of creating Computer Aided Design (CAD) models into a package model by the FCA Engineers, to working with designers from the Product Design Office (PDO) to include proportions and style cues taken from the production version of the 2015 Dodge Charger, it all came together nicely.
“Through all these design reviews, engineering changes were made to the theme with the primary goal of improving the durability, strength and aerodynamic performance of the new vehicle while maintaining all NHRA dimensional requirements. I think we can all be happy with the results,” added Bailey.
Not only was the development of the new Funny Car body a result of in-house engineering, but the project tapped into outside resources as well. FCA worked in conjunction with the University of North Carolina on an extensive study to improve the strength and durability of the body composition. The engineering team was challenged to carryover the aerodynamic properties of the previous version Charger design, while making the new body more lightweight.
Sight-line studies contributed to the new design by incorporating geometry changes that moved the windshield and greenhouse (cockpit area) back, in order to provide improvements to driver visibility, which is critical at the 300 mph. Another major benefit of the redesign includes minimizing of the effects of destructive forces on the car by providing proper clearance for the injectors, blower, and engine, all while maintaining the series’ sanctioning body’s extensive list of guidelines and standards.
“A lot of effort has gone into developing this new body during the past year, and Don Schumacher Racing is blessed to have the kind of wonderful partners we have with Mopar and Dodge to commit internal expertise and invest in this project,” said Don Schumacher, owner of the Don Schumacher Racing team. “Increased visibility, downforce and reduced resistance are key elements of this new Charger body that will enhance performance of our team in both elapsed time and speed. In nine seasons with the current body, we won 68 national titles, and two Funny Car world championships. We’re looking to excel from there with this exciting new vehicle.”
The new 2015 Charger Funny Car design was developed with the team of engineers who worked on the 2014 Dart Pro Stock vehicle that was introduced earlier this year. The 2015 car was then validated with aerodynamic wind tunnel testing at the company’s facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Matt Hagan let us know, “The new Mopar Funny Car designers, engineers and our fabrication shop at DSR did a phenomenal job on this piece. The car — how mean it looks, the way it handles, the way it runs on the race track— is simply amazing. It’s also so much brighter [inside], with the biggest improvement for me being visibility. When I sat in it, my lights [reaction time] improved. I really think it’s going to improve the driving ability of anyone fortunate enough to get behind the wheel of it. Making Friday night qualifying runs with the new body is going to be so much fun”.
The current Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car was introduced in 2006, and to date has won two consecutive NHRA Funny Car World Championships, one with Matt Hagan in 2011 and one with Jack Beckman in 2012. The Charger Funny car has also earned 68 NHRA Funny Car national titles, 77 Runner-up finishes, 44 No.1-qualifier positions, and is responsible for 12 of the 33 three-second runs in Funny Car history, including the very first one (3.995 seconds) posted by Hagan at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina, in September 2011.
“The current [Charger] we’re running is great,” said Hagan. “It was the first Funny Car in the ‘threes’ [to run under four seconds] and has run 320-mph many times. But this new body is definitely an improvement, and I’m really excited for the future with this new race car. It’s great for our sport to have Mopar invest in our sport. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new car during competition next year. I just wish we could have it at Pomona for the Finals to help us win another championship for Mopar and this great team that I work with at DSR.”
Images Courtesy Chrysler