2020 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak Is Back to Stalk Tracks
The 2018 NHRA & NMCA world champion returns with myriad upgrades.
Among the three modern yankee-doodle muscle cars available today, we're always tarring Dodge's Challenger as the muscle-bound straight-line beast of the bunch. Sure, the big tires on the Widebody versions deliver respectable cornering, but the challenge these burly Dodges crave most are those that happen in 1,320 feet of straight pavement. Well, for the most serious quarter-mile burners, the ultimate Challenger is this one: the fourth-generation Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. Fifty lucky racers will get a crack at owning and campaigning this turnkey race car, built to sportsman-class specs and sold ready to test, tune, and race. The price hasn't been announced yet, but expect it to fall a bit north of $100,000. The special Challenger was revealed at the 2019 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
The 100 examples of the first modern Challenger Drag Pak in 2009 were powered by a choice of 5.7- or 6.1-liter Hemis or a 360-cubic-inch Magnum Wedge V-8. Then in 2010 just the 6.1-liter Hemi was offered, followed in 2011 by a race-prepped V-10. For 2015, the engine choices were a naturally aspirated (carbureted) 426 Gen-III Hemi or a supercharged 354-cubic-inch Hemi.
For this fourth-gen Drag Pak, only the 354 Hemi will be offered, running Holley Dominator fuel injection and a newly developed supercharger. A Racepak Smartwire system provides solid-state control of the engine and all pumps and ancillaries, negating the need for any potentially troublesome relays. That engine's undisclosed power and torque get routed through a race-prepped Turbo-Hydramatic 400 three-speed automatic (with lighter, lower-inertia internal components) equipped with a Kwik-Shift manual shifter and a lightweight driveshaft to a Strange Engineering live rear axle and a set of Weld beadlock wheels mounted with 30x9 Hoosier drag slicks.
Sportsman class rules require the factory sheetmetal must be retained along with the front suspension design, though here it is upgraded with Bilstein two-way adjustable shocks and a unique engine crossmember that relocates the engine down and back a bit. The rear suspension can be re-engineered; hence the Challenger's multilink rear gives way to a live axle located by four trailing links and—new this year—a control arm in place of the previous Panhard rod. Adjustable coil-over shocks, a stronger new anti-roll bar, and a full wheelie-bar kit round out the package.
The body gets built and painted along the regular production line in Brampton, Ontario, then pulled off and sent to a Mopar upfit center, where an SFI-specification roll cage certified for elapsed times as low as 7.50 gets welded into the body, greatly improving its torsional rigidity. Standard narrow bodywork is augmented with an SRT hood with scoop and air extractors, and the SRT Hellcat's aero enhancements are added (front and rear fascias and decklid spoiler). With trap speeds that could top 170 mph, downforce is becoming crucial, so the Drag Pak body was tuned in FCA's wind tunnel to optimize the body's angle of attack with these permissible stock SRT aero aids. A braking parachute is also fitted from the factory.
Mopar has yet to announce when or how orders will be taken for the 2020 Challenger Drag Pak, but fear not if you miss out on the turnkey cars: The Mopar catalogue can help you largely duplicate the factory effort with judicious ordering of modular kits.