Images courtesy Dodge.com
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is a car that was designed to be at home on the road or on the track. It’s got an impressive list of achievements and firsts for a production car. Better yet, with only a few modifications, it can be made NHRA legal.
Dodge’s Demon Is a Mean Car All-Around
Other than the Corvette and maybe Dodge’s Viper, you don’t expect to hear the name of a production American car mentioned in the same breath as some of the world’s best supercars. However, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is definitely being mentioned alongside the likes of the McLaren, the Viper, the Vette, and others. It also has a list of achievements that are leaving its competitors shaking their heads and dragging their tails.
The Demon has the highest horsepower output of any production car with a 6.2 L HEMI engine putting out 840 HP. The Demon can also corner like nothing else: It generates an incredible 1.8 G at launch, the highest ever by a production car. Wheelies at NHRA events are nothing new. However, every car you’ve ever seen doing a wheelie has been heavily modified. The Demon, with its Drag Radial Tires that help generate up to 40% more launching force than the Challenger SRT Hellcat did didn’t need any mods to generate a wheelie during launch.
The world’s best supercars, like the Pagani Zonda R, the Koeniggsegg Agera R, and the Porsche 918 Spyder can get from zero to 60 in under three seconds. So can the Demon. In fact, the Demon is the fastest production car zero to 60 at an incredible 2.3 seconds (only 5.1 seconds to 100 MPH). Finally, it has an NHRA-certified fastest ¼ mile time for a production car of 9.65 seconds at 140.09 MPH. Again, this is production car. By contrast, the heavily-modified Camaro I used to drive had a certified fastest pass of 9.8 seconds.
Built from the Ground Up to Dominate the Track
Dodge made a big to-do with the introduction/unveil of the Challenger SRT Demon recently. Their spokesman told the crowd that the car had been built from the ground up to dominate at the track. Dodge’s engineers filled with go-fast goodies to back up that statement. The supercharger intercooler system uses the air conditioning system to chill the intake air from ALL THREE functional intakes by 45 degrees because cooler air holds more oxygen and is thus able to make more speed.
They used heat treated A383 aluminum to build the third member/center section in the independent rear suspension. Most performance axles may use special high strength streel, but most of them also only have 31 splines. The Demon’s axles have 41 splines, giving them more strength. The two section driveshaft is also made from “increased capacity high strength steel. Finally, knowing that the car would be taken to the track, they installed a four point harness system with a harness bar for safety with the Demon logo.
Stock, the Demon Technically Isn’t Legal for NHRA Competition
This statement won’t surprise anyone, but one of the reasons why the Demon isn’t legal for NHRA-sanctioned events will be extremely surprising. Completely stock and with a professional-caliber driver behind the wheel, the Demon is actually too fast for the NHRA! Most NHRA amateur classes cut off at a ten second ET, while the Demon is capable of doing 9.65. NHRA VP of technical operations Glen Gray said “Where it would end up is in our ‘sportsman’ section. In our book, it’s a Section 4a. It’s for ET bracket racing basically….It’s not an official NHRA class.”
Get Out the Pocketbook to Compete in Sanctioned Events
According to the rule book, any car that goes that fast, whether in ET or top speed, has to have certain safety equipment. Item number one on the list of safety requirements is, of course, a roll cage. This doesn’t mean a roll bar; it means a full multi-point roll cage. Although Dodge summoned the Demon to dominate the strip/track, it’s still a street legal car. I can tell you from experience, having a roll cage in the car but not wearing a helmet can get painful, and in a wreck at normal street or highway speeds can actually be deadly, even one that’s more than properly padded Thus, Dodge didn’t include one.
However, since this generation of Challenger has been around for a little while, and Dodge has been making the Challenger and Charger more and more race ready, there are plenty of roll cage options on the market. Just remember, both the cage itself and the installation have to be approved by the NHRA. Also remember, your cage must be equipped with a padded head protector. This can set you back in the range of $2000-$3000 unless you can do the work yourself.
Personal Protection Equipment Requirements
Base images courtesy simpson.com
If you’ve got a run of the mill car, like a Challenger or Charger SRT, or a Corvette, you can usually run as long as you’ve got working seatbelts and a helmet. However, your Demon isn’t a run of the mill car. This means you’re going to need a full firesuit like you see the pros wearing. You just won’t need to have dozens of sponsor names on it. Your firesuit will have to include a fireproof head sock, boots, and gloves. These will also have to be NHRA-certified. You’ll also need a full face helmet (again, like the pros) plus some sort of head and neck restraint system. You’re looking at about another $1000 here.
Not just anyone can drive up and enter an NHRA-sanctioned event. You’ve got to have a valid license for the state the race is held in. Additionally, because you’re entering the hallowed grounds of ‘sportsman class’ racing, you need an NHRA competition license. Specifically, you’ll need a Sportsman Level 6 license which currently runs $150 per year.
Gray says that if all this is confusing, don’t worry. Just drop them a line and they’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have. Or, you can ask your local fabricator and if he’s worth a wit, he’ll be able to give you the scoop on what you need.
Remember, these requirements only pertain to a car that has been clocked going under 10.99 or faster than 135 MPH. Unless you shell out extra money at the dealership to “unlock the chip” you’re not going to have access to the advertised 840 horses under the hood. Also, even if you do shell out the extra bucks, if you’re running on pump gas, you’ll never break the ten second mark. You’ll need a minimum of 100 octane racing gas to do that.
Gray added that you’re not automatically going to be banned if you break the ten second barrier. “As soon as that car runs faster than ten seconds, before you come back to your local racetrack, you’d have to make the modifications. But I think there’s plenty of fun you can have without making them. You could probably run pretty close to all-out and not get into an area under an ET or above a speed where you’d have to do that.”
See you at the track!