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.