Making Lifelong Memories – The Demon Drag Strip Simulator

Designing and building a car as outrageous as the 2018 Dodge SRT® Demon is only half the battle. The other side of the coin is promoting and advertising the car to attract buyers. Happily the Demon’s record-setting performance and unprecedented attitude have done a great job of attracting publicity from Hollywood action filmmakers, producers of TV commercials and car magazine editors seeking the latest hot topic. News of the Demon keeps spreading like the automotive wildfire that it is.  
 

 

To help keep the ball rolling, Dodge created perhaps the ultimate interactive automotive publicity generator of all time: the Dodge SRT Demon Drag Strip Simulator. While a set of the latest 3-D goggles can partially recreate the thrill of a 9-second quarter-mile blast at the wheel of a Demon, there’s nothing like the real thing. That’s why Dodge transformed a pair of actual Challengers into full-size ride simulators and took them on a nationwide tour of major NHRA drag races and related car shows.  
 

Starting life as early-production Challenger test cars, they’ve been reconfigured with powerful electric struts at each corner that subject the vehicle – and occupants – to realistic movements meant to duplicate a full-throttle drag strip pass. And since one of the real-world Demon’s most exciting traits is the ability to pull a wheelie, each simulator car is designed to lift its nose a full 14 inches in the air. From inside the car, the effect is incredibly realistic and treats participants to over 1 g of forward thrust.  
 

 

And while the Demon simulator was preceded by road race simulators using similarly modified Viper, Challenger and Charger bodies, the Demon exhibit (like the Demon itself) is focused on the uniquely American sport of quarter-mile drag racing. As such, riders look through the windshield and see a realistic drag strip scene, complete with the Christmas tree starting light, race officials, sponsor banners and grandstands packed with virtual spectators. Activating the Demon’s first-ever-in-a-production-car trans-brake and flooring the accelerator pedal triggers the Christmas tree countdown (three yellows and a green).  
 

When the green light flashes on, you release the right-hand shift paddle and gasp with surprise as the nose shoots skyward. Keeping your wits about you — and an eye on the functional tachometer — tapping the paddle again at 6,500 rpm engages second gear while the realistic soundtrack fills the cabin with supercharged HEMI® V8-sourced automotive music. Throughout the sub-10-second thrill ride, the four-corner active suspension jiggles, swerves and shudders in response to real-time steering wheel and gas pedal inputs.  
 

 

FCA/Demon development engineer Jim Wilder says: “The sounds are all real. We outfitted a Demon test car with microphones under the hood, inside the cabin, by the exhaust tips and other places to capture everything from the stuttering sound of the Torque Reserve function to the shrill whine of the 2.7-liter supercharger at full boost. All of the sounds were generated by a real Demon then captured in digital audio files that play immediately in response to how the driver manipulates the gas pedal and shift paddle.”  
 

Each simulated race has three rounds and the total ride time is about 5 minutes. Over the course of a typical 8-hour day at a car show, about 100 lucky participants will take the wheel and each simulator will rack up about 300 passes. Admission to drive the Drag Simulator is free (drivers must have a valid driver’s license) and passengers are welcomed. In many cases, friends compete against each other in best-two-out-of-three showdowns and kids are allowed to ride shotgun. Those are the best races. Kids never fail to emerge from the Demon Drag Strip Simulator with ear-to-ear grins – and memories of hot Dodge vehicles that last a lifetime.  
 

 

Jim Wilder continues: “When the simulator construction was about done, the engineers brought me in to judge how accurately it represented a true drag strip experience. I race a 1965 Plymouth in my spare time and know drag racing pretty well. I complimented them on how they set up the electronic struts to make the body quiver a little bit at idle and best of all, how you get the best pass by shifting into second and third while the nose is still up in the air.”  
 

One addition suggested by Wilder turned out to be very popular. “I suggested the addition of a win light on the guard rail so it is clear to each driver who won the round from inside the car, and it’s a staple at drag strips. I also asked them to add a display for driver reaction time since many bracket racers cherish any opportunity to hone their starting line skills. The Demon simulator is as valid as any professional practice tree.”  
 

If you see the Dodge SRT Demon Drag Strip Simulator at the strip or car show, be sure to spend a few minutes registering to participate. It’s the next best thing to the real thing.


11 Comments

  • David
    Posted February 19, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    My question is not related to the above article, however, if those ‘in the know’ at Dodge can supply an answer I’d be grateful. I’m putting together a spare tire kit for my 2016 Challenger Scat Pack (to address flats, if and when required, and, also, to allow me to periodically rotate the tires). I’m going to use an 18″ X 8″ wheel and a 225/60R18 tire (28.6″ OD). I’d like to mount the spare tire (and other items such as a scissors jack, breaker bar, etc.) using the trunk cushion insert supplied with the 2018 Demon for its front race tires. Will the Demon trunk insert be available to the general public at some point and, if yes, do you have an approximate date? Thank you.

    • David
      Posted February 22, 2018 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      Why not use a 245/55R18 (28.6″ OD X 9.7″ W)? It’s a closer match to the original equipment 245/45R20 (28.7″ X 9.7″) than is the 225/60R18 (28.6″ X 8.9″).

  • David
    Posted March 31, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I recommend Dodge consider offering the future Challenger R/T Scat Pack in two versions: 1) the 392-cu.in. baseline version currently available and 2) a 426-cu.in., higher horsepower (say about 525-hp, non-supercharged) option version. Of course, this will require installation of two “426 HEMI” hood emblems based on the MOPAR emblem design of 1970 (they whisper “426 HEMI” rather than yell it). The 426 HEMI option, along with a selection of pretty metallic paints (e.g., FK5 Deep Burnt Orange Metallic from 1970) and optional polished/chromed ’60s style wheels (18″ diameter maximum, 17″ if possible) will make the remaining old guys happy (we wanted our performance cars to look sharp and beautiful, not intimidating and aggressive).

    • David
      Posted April 4, 2018 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      Sounds good enough to warrant creation of a new trim level: “The Dodge Challenger 426 Hemi Street Pak.” While the relevant Drag Pak uses a 426 Race Hemi, the Street Pak would incorporate a manageable 426 Street Hemi. In addition to metallic paint and smaller diameter polished wheels, offer an Air Grabber hood scope design as similar as possible to that available on the 1970 Plymouth Road Runner and GTX. Other than that, keep it spartan and obtainable (maximize acceleration, appearance and affordability).

    • David
      Posted April 22, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Back-up plan: P/N P2998800, 2-each.

  • David
    Posted April 2, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to suggest a few topics for future “Redline” articles: (1) A discussion about the exact location of the Challenger’s Lift Points, Support Points and, if applicable, combination Lift & Support Points. Relate these points to various types of compatible jacks and lifts (e.g., scissors, bottle, floor, service garage lift) and jack stands; also, discuss advantages and disadvantages of devices used to protect pinch welds during jacking/lifting. (2) A discussion about Dodge’s engineering position on the use of Oil Catch Cans with the various Hemis. Do they improve, damage or make no difference to the engine’s performance and life. (3) A discussion about the appropriate engineering analysis required to select a fully suitable aftermarket wheel for a modern Challenger. For example, if I want to select a polished wheel with the smallest acceptable diameter (something between 15″ and 18″) to replace the factory 20″ X 9″ wheel (with a 245/45ZR20 tire), what is the full list of factors (i.e., dimensions, tolerances, static 3D geometry/configuration, dynamic 3D factors, etc.) that must be assessed and deemed acceptable before a given wheel can be mounted on either the front or rear of the car? Thanks.

  • David
    Posted April 3, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Will “Redline” please provide information, when appropriate, on the following topic: the status of a Mopar Locking Gas Cap, Tethered, designed for 2016 R/T Challenger use. If a Mopar part number (P/N) for such an item exists, I haven’t been able to identify it so far. The Stant website lists a non-tethered locking gas cap (P/N 10508) for R/T Challengers, however, only up to year 2015. A complete design requires that the gas cap be captivated/tethered to the vehicle, perhaps similar to the method used to captivate the canteen cap on the USGI plastic canteen, OD Green, issued during the ’60s.

  • David
    Posted April 3, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    A future “Redline” article about the Demon’s air intake design will be of special interest to many 2015 and later Challenger owners. A popular modification to 2015 and later Challengers, at all trim levels, is installation of a Hell Cat air-intake lower housing, driver-side inboard-headlamp air duct, and reinforced high-flow air filter. If I have it right, the Demon’s design also routes air from the passenger-side inboard-headlamp to its air-intake lower housing (or does it go somewhere else?). If there’s a way to use Demon passenger-side air-intake parts to add this feature to remaining Challenger trim levels, Dodge can probably plan on producing plenty of them, should these parts be made available to all Challenger owners.

    • David
      Posted April 7, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      Snaking a passenger-side headlamp air duct to the driver-side air intake box pins the coolometer, but there’s likely a near zero return on investment. There may be more value and much less work in using a similar technique to cool an aftermarket Oil Catch Can, should one have been installed. If ducted air flow will lower the catch can’s operating temperature below its unassisted engine-bay operating temperature, it may increase the efficiency of the catch can’s distillation process. Cooler column packing surfaces will aid in condensing the PCV vapor’s oil fraction from vapor phase to collectable liquid phase. The required parts can probably be found in a hardware store (mounts, brackets, shop-vac hose, etc.).

  • David
    Posted April 8, 2018 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Will “Redline” please consider a future article regarding acceptable, customer implemented improvements to the top cover region of Challenger’s air filter housing (non-Shaker version, year 2016 in my case). In particular, the “make-up air (vacuum) hose” is extremely difficult to detach, during air filter replacement, from the hard plastic nipple on the housing cover. The elastic, deformable vacuum hose uses an interference fit to attach to the hard plastic nipple, resulting in a Chinese Finger Trap/Cuff configuration when attempting to remove the hose under tension. Removal of the hose requires primitive and brutal methods that can damage or break nearby parts and assemblies (I am violently opposed to brutality). The cover, however, must be completely free during re-assembly over the new air filter if one is to have good confidence that a proper, air-tight seal has been achieved. Three possible improvement methods are: 1) An acceptable ‘quick connect/disconnect’ coupler spliced in to the vacuum hose. 2) A hand tool that performs the separation, preferably via translation (i.e., similar to the movement of a small vice) rather than rotation. 3) Attaching a rubber vacuum cap to the hard plastic nipple and then adding a separate, small air filter to the ‘make-up air hose.’ If these or any other methods are acceptable, will you please provide component manufacturer names and part numbers necessary to complete the modification. Thank you.

  • Posted August 19, 2018 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Dodge created the ultimate interactive automotive publicity generator of all time!

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