Ready to Launch – Dodge Strike Force Blasts the Competition at NHRA US Nationals

The NHRA US Nationals is the most iconic and prestigious drag race on the planet. It’s the drag racing event every racer wants to win. It has been the scene of quarter-mile history on the massive grounds of the historic Indianapolis Raceway Park for over 50 years. For Dodge, it all started back in the early 1960s when a group of factory engineers, on their spare time, went to Indy and shocked the competition by winning the Super Stock Eliminator title. 
 

 

It was at that defining moment that Dodge became a performance brand to be reckoned with and feared by their crosstown rivals. If you wanted to connect with young, performance-minded gearheads, drag racing was the place to be and not just show up. Having the fastest cars on the track was important in winning over young minds and building brand loyalty. And that’s just what Dodge has done for over 50 years. Cars like the 1963 426 Max Wedge 330, 1968 Super Stock 426 HEMI® Dart, and today’s Drag Pak Challenger, they carry the same DNA that continues the drag strip dominance of the Dodge brand. 
 

 

Speaking of HEMI Darts, the traditional Mopar® HEMI Challenge was once again a hit with the crowds and racers during this year’s US Nats. Since 2001, Mopar has paid tribute to the baddest of the bad, the 1968 HEMI® Darts (and their cousins, the HEMI® Barracudas), and awards the winner with $15, 000 and a cool HEMI V8 cylinder head trophy. It’s mind blowing to think these purpose-built racecars from 1968 are still competing and winning today. 
 

 

There was also the Factory Stock Showdown in which late-model modern muscle comes to play. Two-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders was at the wheel of her 2015 supercharged Mopar Drag Pak Dodge Challenger. She had the fastest Drag Pak on the grounds of Indianapolis Raceway Park with a blistering 8.77 ET, and went three rounds in Stock Eliminator competition. 
 

 

Heading to NHRA US Nationals was almost as fun as watching these high-horsepower machines yank their front wheels off the starting line. Our mode of transportation was a candy apple red (or as the factory calls it – Redline Red) 2016 Challenger SRT® Hellcat pumping out 707 horsepower with its 6.2L Supercharged HEMI® V8 and devouring anything that stood in its way. We had a chance to cruise the pits and check out the latest Mopar Drag Pak Dodge Challenger with its own unique Supercharged HEMI® engine. The Drag Pak might have 300 horses more than our Hellcat and travel the quarter mile in under nine seconds, but we have awesome standard features like premium Laguna leather-trimmed SRT® front seats that are heated and ventilated, an 18-speaker premium audio system with a subwoofer, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps, heated steering wheel, and more creature comforts than a luxury condo. 
 

 

So, if you’re going to the NHRA US Nationals, remember to go big. After all, it’s been known as the “Big Go” among racers and diehard fans for over half a century, and with a HEMI® V8 motivating our Hellcat, we accomplished our mission of striking fear in our competition. 
 

 


7 Comments

  • David
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    It’s good to know there’s at least one Challenger on Earth that doesn’t have a ‘shark fin’ roof antenna. Myself, when I see one, I don’t think of a shark fin — I think of Alfalfa from the Little Rascals. What a design and what a place to put it — it lacerates the eye. The Challenger has beautiful lines from many viewing directions and it boggles my mind that intelligent persons could do such a thing to the car’s design (why wasn’t it hidden away in the rear spoiler so that it could not offend the higher senses?). The 2016 Challenger R/T Scat Pack I recently ordered is going to have one of those things and every time I think about it I reach for a pry bar and hacksaw. It especially bothers me since I had to purchase a satellite radio I didn’t want and will never listen to, and the same goes for all the rest of the communications electronics — I just want to drive a performance car on the road, not pilot a space ship bound for Mars. Is there a nondestructive way to get that miniature horseshoe crab off of my roof and then plug the festering hole?

    • David
      Posted September 21, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I got rid of mine with an industrial grade high-speed orbital sander (coarse grit disc) and then finished-up by caulking the roof hole. The car looks 200% better from the front, 400% better from the back and 600% from each side. It’s a small thing that made a big difference.

    • David
      Posted September 26, 2016 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      I experience a similar melancholy when encountering a perfect woman with nose ring.

  • David
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    According to my research (which may contain errors), if you had purchased a base SXT or R/T with standard Uconnect 5.0, with or without the satellite radio option, you would have gotten the least hideous roof antenna. But select the option for Uconnect 8.4 NAV (or even Uconnect 8.4 plain in the case of the Scat Pack) and you’ve bought the offending exterior appendage. My guess is it’s due to the additional ‘Access’ and/or ‘911’ features activated from the rear view mirror. You’ll be further pleased to know that all this stuff you don’t want, in a very big way, costs about $2,000 when combined with the required upgraded sound system. Sorry about that.

  • David
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    This is not a total solution, which is not now possible with a hole punched in the roof (entropy you know), but it may be good enough to anesthetize the demons. Investigate the antennas used on the base SXT and R/T with Uconnect 5.0, with and without satellite radio, and get their part numbers. Also get the part number for the antenna used of the Canada version of the Scat Pack with Uconnect 8.4 NAV (which probably doesn’t have ‘Access’ and ‘911’ features) as it also appears to have a far less offensive antenna configuration. Make the optimal selection from the alternatives and use it to replace the eyesore. If your left with an extra transmission line or two that can’t be attached to the new antenna, it should be terminated with an impedance matched element to prevent reflections (you want to achieve a low voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) on each unaddressed line). This would require advice from the RF engineers that work on that part of the system (at Dodge and/or Uconnect and/or Garmin and/or SiriusXM) — good luck trying to get that help.

  • David
    Posted September 25, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    This will really make you squirm. I suspect (though confessedly without knowing) if you had been afforded the latitude to select only the most basic antenna-requiring system (i.e., an AM/FM radio) and speaker configuration in your beloved Scat Pack, it would arrive from the plant with its roof undefaced: no hole punched through it and no abominable protuberance attached. You would have been as happy as a lark and about two grand richer.

  • David
    Posted September 26, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    The problem is best solved through a process of addition, not substitution or elimination. Before taking the car home, have the dealer install a roof rack and a rear trailer hitch. This action should decrease the likelihood, via clever diversion, of the antenna’s presence hooking your eye.

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