Mopar is pulling out all the stops for this weekend’s 39th annual Dodge Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway outside Denver, Colo. The traditional start of NHRA’s tough three-races-in-three-weekends Western Swing, Dodge and Mopar are celebrating 30 years sponsoring this 14th race on NHRA’s 24-race calendar by unveiling their 2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat NHRA Funny Car body.
The new body makes its competitive debut this weekend at the hands of Don Schumacher Racing’s (DSR) two-time Funny Car champion Matt Hagan, who has captured the last two contests on the schedule and is looking for three in a row on the Bandimere family’s mountain dragstrip. The balance of DSR’s Funny Car team, Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. intend to make their transitions to the new Funny Car body during the season. All DSR Funny Car bodies are constructed by Roush Industries, then finished, fit and prepped at the team’s Brownsburg, Indiana facilities.
The new Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car body has design keys that have been purposed to enhance the drivability of the car. A new front splitter increases downforce while retaining similarity to Dodge’s street-driven production Charger SRT Hellcat. Deeper bodyside scallops, too, mimic the production Charger SRT Hellcat’s look while assisting in exhaust header positioning and, hopefully, stopping the scarring from exhaust heat. The car’s burst panel has been relocated over the engine compartment so that it releases energy more effectively and efficiently, according to Pietro Gorlier, head of Mopar parts and service.
“Our job at Mopar is to put the best race car underneath our drivers and keep them winning,” Gorlier said. “We know this new body, developed in collaboration with the Dodge//SRT brand and Don Schumacher Racing, will do just that. The changes made to this new Funny Car body will improve on-track performance and help us carry on the Mopar brand’s long tradition of success at the dragstrip.”
Hagan, whose entire 10-year career has come behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge Charger, is honored to be first to compete with this new car. “The new Funny Car body is something that Mopar and Dodge//SRT have put a lot of work and support behind, from R&D to wind tunnel testing. We improved on the body design. It was already a great design, a great body, but now we’re going to have a little more downforce, a little more traction on these racetracks, and it will be a huge performance advantage. We will be able to press harder, with more downforce on the nose, which translates into huge amounts of downforce on the run.”
Hagan confirmed that some changes needed to be made to the DSR chassis to accept the new body, which has more of a slope to the nose area than the current, 2015 machine. The front half of the chassis needed to be amended to accept a new fuel tank and adjusted to permit opening of the car’s body for ingress/egress. The bodies each need a two-week gestation at Roush’s Livonia, Mich. factory and then arrive in Brownsburg for fitting to the chassis.
In Hagan’s first four pulls of the new body/chassis combination after the Norwalk, Ohio race that he won, he said the new combination ranks strongly and straight down the dragstrip. Aware of the responsibility of driving the only new Charger SRT Hellcat available to the team, the Virginia cattle farmer says he and tuner Dickie Venables will take care not to blow up two bodies as he did at this track in 2017.