Autoweek recently published an article highlighting how the average Joe can take their $85,000 demon, add $3,000 worth up “enhancements” and run their Demon with the best of the NHRA’s best.
The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, which is a good and righteous car, is also too quick and too fast to be NHRA-legal off the lot.
Or at least that’s what Dodge said when it pulled the covers off the thing earlier this year. It had the numbers to back up the boast: With a certified ET of 9.65 seconds at 140 mph, a stock Demon is, at least when driven at its limit by a professional, too fast to participate in NHRA-sanctioned event — which certainly adds to the car’s mystique.
Hype aside, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get turned away from your local strip if you show up in one. The average Demon owner (if there is such a thing) likely has little to fear if they’re an occasional racer, and even if they’re a little too quick on the asphalt to run the car stock, the Demon can easily be made NHRA-legal.
The NHRA rule book is dense, and negotiating it can be tricky for the uninitiated. To help clear things up, we spoke with NHRA VP of technical operations Glen Gray, who was kind enough to take the time to fill us in on what it would take to make the Demon good in the eyes of the racing organization.
What it takes — and how much it costs
Surprisingly (or not), there’s nothing super special about the Demon in the eyes of the NHRA. It’s more or less like any other fast car, Gray explains. “Where it would end up is in our ’sportsman’ section. In our book, it’s section 4a. It’s for ET bracket racing, basically … It’s not necessarily an official NHRA class.”
A stock Demon, then, would potentially run afoul of regulations when it comes to its quickness and speed. Namely, any car that runs a quarter-mile in 9.99 seconds or faster and/or is capable of exceeding 135 mph requires certain safety equipment.
First and foremost: a roll cage. Yes, a full cage, not just a bar. We suspect Dodge didn’t install one from the factory because metal tubes in the cabin of a road car — and the Demon, no matter how fast it might be, is very much a road car — can be dangerous to un-helmeted drivers in the event of an accident.
Fortunately, since this generation of Challenger has been around for nearly a decade, plenty of suppliers can set you up. To pick a midpriced example more or less at random, RPM Rollbars — which already highlights compatibility with the Demon on its website — lists a six-point mild steel roll bar for $1,545, plus a $795 extension to make it into a full cage. So figure $2,340, plus shipping and installation costs. Other sources sell kits for substantially less. If your buddy is a fabricator or you’re handy with a welder, you can buy a more basic kit, or you can cut and bend your own, then spend your savings on extra tires.
Don’t forget to add a padded head protector for that cage, though. It’s required.
As a driver, you’ll need a full-face helmet and a neck color or head-and-neck restraint device — two pieces of gear required for all cars running under 10 seconds, along with a suit, gloves, a head sock and boots or shoes. Figure $150 for a basic firesuit, $100 for gloves, $100 for shoes and $170 for a helmet — maybe $500 for a HANS device and associated hardware, provided you’re happy with entry-level equipment.
And you’ll need an NHRA competition license; the Sportsman Level 6 license, which covers quarter-mile runs from 9.99 seconds down to 7.50 seconds, costs $150 per year.
Assuming it takes $3,000 to bring the car up to spec, and you’re out roughly $1,200 for gear and licensing, you could still be good in the eyes of the NHRA for less than the cost of the Demon’s optional sunroof ($4,995).
Still a little confused? The NHRA would be happy to set you on the right track. “You wouldn’t even need to buy a rule book, Gray says. “Email or call us if (you) have any questions.”
Alternatively, any respectable fabricator should know how to prep the car to meet the regs.
The main thing to note about Dodge’s “banned from competition by the NHRA” talking point is that it doesn’t cover all of the 3,300 Challenger Demons set to be produced — it only applies to individual cars that break into 9-second territory. Pick yours up from the dealership and head straight to the strip with 91-octane gas in the tank, and realistically, you’re not gonna break that barrier. You won’t even have to sandbag.
When Dodge laid down its headline-making runs, Gray says, “Obviously they had a professional, qualified driver driving it. They were set up, they tested, they made multiple runs, they were running on race fuel — which they’re allowed to do.” Remember that you’ll need to be running 100-octane race gas — and have the performance ECU from the $1 Demon Crate installed — to unlock all of the car’s 840 hp.
“If you came out here for a Wednesday night test and tune running pump gas,” Gray says, referencing the popular weekly event at to Lucas Oil Raceway near his office in Indianapolis, “and you didn’t push it, you’re not going to run below 10 seconds.”
And if you do manage to break into the nines, it’s not like the NHRA impounds your car or banishes you from competition. “As soon as that car runs faster than 10 seconds, before you come back to your local racetrack, you’d have to make the modifications,” Gray says.
“But I think there’s plenty of fun you can have without making them. You could probably run pretty close to all-out and not get into an area under an ET or above a speed where you’d have to do that.”
Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/how-make-your-dodge-challenger-demon-nhra-legal-and-why-car-great-sport-drag-racing#ixzz4i3DnCqJU