Mopar is bringing the iconic Dodge Challenger muscle car to National Hot Road Association (NHRA) drag-racing competition. Mopar built the first two Challenger Drag Race Package Cars for development and testing for its new Challenger Package Car program. Based on the Challenger SRT8, the prototypes were finished in Stock Eliminator configuration. They ran successfully in June 2008 as proof-of-concept and for NHRA certification. Mopar dropped approximately 1,000 lbs. off the production Challenger SRT8 by eliminating major production components and systems. To accentuate the weight savings, they also feature added composite, polycarbonate and lightweight components designed for drag racing that will be part of the new Package Car program.
The engine was repositioned to improve driveline angle and weight distribution. The 116-inch wheelbase was shortened by ½ inch. They also feature a front cradle with bolt-in crossmember and solid engine mounts. “Today is a great day for Mopar, Dodge, SRT, drag racers and motorsports enthusiasts everywhere. Not made for the streets, our drag-race-only Challengers will be running soon in NHRA competition—the best grassroots racing series in the world,” said Sunil Lahoti, Mopar Marketing and Brand Manager, Chrysler LLC. “And who better to drive our new Challenger Package Cars on their inaugural track run than ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Miss Mighty Mopar’—the greatest drag racer of all time and a female pioneer of the sport.”
The first drag-race, factory-prepped package cars built in 40 years, the new Challenger Drag Race Package Car by Mopar builds on the heritage of the limited-edition 1968 HEMI powered Package Cars. Those ’68 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas solidified the Mopar brand as a quarter-mile force.
Mopar will build a minimum of 100 Challenger Drag Race Package Cars to meet NHRA requirements. Based on the production Dodge Challenger SRT8, Mopar’s modern factory-prepped Challenger Drag Race Package Car will begin as a special Body-in-White (BIW) from Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario, Canada, assembly plant. The body sealer, sound deadener and undercoat will be eliminated. To reduce vehicle weight, major production component and systems will also be eliminated including: windshield wiper assembly, complete HVAC system, all airbag components, rear seats, power steering system, exhaust system and underbody heat shields, cross-car and side impact door beams, rear bumper beam and rear deck lid spoiler.
The drag racer has three engine options—6.1-liter or 5.7-liter HEMI or 5.9-liter Magnum® Wedge—as well as manual or automatic transmission. A build book/owner’s manual will be provided to document the modifications made to the Challenger SRT8 as well as provide recommendations to finish the Package Car for Stock Eliminator competition. To accentuate weight savings, there are unique drag-race components in the Package Car program including: composite lift-off hood with functional scoop, Viper-style front seats, polycarbonate door windows, lightweight cooling module with electric fan, manual rack and pinion steering, special cable-operated deck lid release, special lightweight front brake assembly and special cable-operated throttle linkage and pedal assembly.