You know, as a car guy you can’t help but be impressed at first glance of the Dodge Demon. It’s a very impressive piece of work, 840 horsepower, 9.60’s from the factory at over 140 MPH. But what”s the reality of this car? Is it as amazing as it seems?
Lets put the performance in terms of drag racing into perspective. This car, off the showroom floor is faster than most Stock class cars, some Super Stock. Quicker than the Super Gas index and less than a second slower than Super Comp. In a car that you can go to a dealer and buy.
But here’s the thing. Should you be able to? It takes a Competition license to drive most of the aforementioned classes, and much more safety equipment than the car comes with, no roll cage, no 5 point harness and does come with for example, a line loc and a trans brake that are not toys, in the wrong hands or malfunctioning they can be downright dangerous. A car that can run these numbers is not a toy, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
If they (Dodge) wanted to make a car with these capability’s why did they not go the extra step and create a car that could at least meet minimum rule standards out of the box? I know why of course, the idea is to build a sick car that could roll off an assembly line quickly, without to much inconvenience and not bother with a hand crafted roll cage or anchoring for a legit racing harness.
The famous letter from the NHRA states “Don’t bring this car to our tracks” Now Dodge for some reason see’s this as a badge of honor. But it’s not. What that means is that as soon as you drive it home, you have just bought a car that is unable to compete at any NHRA sanctioned track. Unless you slow it down to slower than 10 seconds. Which is still impressive, but how do you expect a novice to know how to safely scrub a half second off his ET? I know that I would not like to be in the lane next to a novice running at or close to 140 MPH without the skills to understand the nuances of controlling a car at that speed.
Back at SLP Terry “Zeke” Maxwell had an saying about who we built the Camaro SS and Firehawks for, 1/3 of our cars were for collectors,1/3 were for racers and 1/3 were for the casual car guy to have fun with. Of the 3000 scheduled Demons to be built, 1000 to collectors=ok, 1000 to racers=ok, but the thousand to the novice are the problem. Should the NHRA bend the rules as so many have suggested? absolutely not. These rules have been forged over the years in terms of blood and lives, they are tried and true. And while we do have an occasional incident with an injury, those rules account for a truly staggering safety record when looked at over the whole of the sport. And Just looking at the basic crash test results of a standard Challenger finds it at the bottom of the pony car list (according to the results for the IIHS see link below) and I for one would not want to be in a Challenger at 140 MPH with no roll cage crashing. And it’s the little things, why for instance would they put a 4 point harness into the car, why not take the extra step and put the 5th point in. How do they (Dodge) know that whoever buys the car will have the skills needed to put the Skinny’s on the front properly? It seems to me that Dodge makes a lot of assumptions about the skill level of the average car buyer.
Sure you could argue that anyone can buy a Ferrari or Lamborghini and that’s true, but those cars, while they have impressive performance are unlikely to ever be used in North America to their true capability’s, but this car, any stretch of pavement could get it into trouble, not to mention cars around it.
So to get back to the first question, Is this a great car? Yes, with caveats. It’s a great car in the right hands. In the hands of a drag racer who knows what he’s doing it’s a masterpiece. A true racer will make sure the car has the safety products it needs and the experience to use it. Should the average guy buy one, even a car fan? No way. It’s too much car. In the end, if you want to buy a street pony car to have fun with, go get a nice Hellcat. I know it “only” runs 11’s with 707 Horsepower, but it’ll be a much more civilised ride for daily use.
One last question. If Dodge wants to improve it’s image to the Drag racing world, why didn’t they sink that R&D money into the Challenger Drag Pak program? At the last Factory Stock shootout event (Charlotte) only 1 of 8 cars was a Challenger. As it stands now, the Camaros and Mustangs are running away with the series.
On a side note. If you want to have a little fun between races, be sure and follow Riki Ratchman on his ride across America this year, yes the same Riki from the Cathouse, Headbangers Ball and currently host of Racing Rocks radio. he is raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis and raising money for the Claires Place foundation. A worthy cause that we here at Lit and Loud fully support.
As always, Be Safe and Have Fun.