For the first time, sportsman racers will have the choice between a 354 or 426 HEMI.
Mopar is taking its Drag Pak Dodge Challenger to new heights, adding a new supercharged engine option to the successful package car drag racing program. Sportsman racers in NHRA (and other sanctioning bodies) will now, for the first time have the choice of either a 354 cubic-in supercharged HEMI engine for their Dodge Challengers - or they may opt for a naturally aspirated 426 cubic-inch HEMI engine.
Orders begin next month for these new engines available in the new Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. The new Challenger, revealed for the first time today at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) Chelsea (Mich.) proving grounds, is designed for passionate Sportsman racers. It features the latest evolutions in Sportsman racing technology, a huge number of upgrades and improvements from the prior generation’s Drag Pak - and unique heritage exterior design cues.
'New page in performance playbook'
Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO for Mopar Brand Service, Parts and Customer Care said at the car and engine reveal, “Today we write the next page in our performance playbook. The Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak offers, for the first time, a supercharged engine that provides our racers more options. Our brand,” he confirmed, “is committed to supporting Mopar drivers who compete at all levels.”
Last season Mopar debuted a new Dodge Dart NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series professional Pro Stock car that won its first race in Gainesville, Fla.. This season’s debut of the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA pro Funny Car saw that race car win its first time out as well, on the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona dragstrip. “Now,” Gorlier stated, “Mopar is supercharging our Sportsman racers.”
The proof is under the hood of the Challenger, with the cast iron block (aluminum heads), supercharged 354 HEMI engine boasting a forged steel crankshaft, Mopar-spec camshaft and custom engine calibration that’s geared to increasing performance. The 354 name pays homage to the early Gen 1 HEMI engines, which had 354-cubic-inch displacement.
The naturally aspirated 426 Race HEMI engine is built from a Mopar aluminum block with pressed-in steel liners; it has aluminum cylinder heads and, like its supercharged relative, the 426 HEMI also includes custom engine calibration. The new Drag Pak Challenger - using either the 354 and 426 iterations - features a race-prepped automatic transmission that has been upgraded from the previous generation.
Each engine carries a unique graphic identification package, with the supercharged Challenger displaying a Mopar Blue stripe and “354 Supercharged” graphic insignia; the naturally aspirated Drag Pak has a horizontal black stripe along its side with a “426 HEMI” engine graphic. There are other special trim pieces on the car and the redesigned full roll cage has been fabricated specifically for NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman competition.
More about Mopar's new Challenger
The new Mopar Challenger - with either engine - has a new rear-hinged hood that should make servicing between rounds a far easier task. There are also integrated trailer tie-down loops at the front and rear of the hot rod, as suggested by racers.
The new generation Mopar Dodge Challenger features unique Mopar K-Member and suspension geometry, with double adjustable compression dampers and rebound struts at the front. Rear four-link suspension features a Panhard rod, Strange Engineering 4-inch solid axle with 9-inch aluminum third member with 40-spline gun-drilled axles, dampers with adjustable compression and rebound, together with an anti-roll bar. The Challenger’s rear axle mounting has been strengthened from the prior Drag Pak for faster, harder launches.
Development of the new Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak has taken nearly a full year. Mopar showed a prototype at the 60th annual NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals last August in a bid to get feedback from the many Sportsman racers on-site for the biggest race of the year.
“We are extremely pleased with the results obtained during our testing,” said Dale Aldo, Mopar motorsports marketing manager. “In the first runs, the new Drag Pak ran consistently in the eights (eight seconds) while improving [on previous] times at the 60-foot mark and also performing very well in the quarter-mile. Once our customers get the car on track, we feel it’s going to be a clear winner.”
Ordering begins - through authorized Dodge dealerships - just as the NHRA Mopar Mile-High Nationals gets underway in Golden, Colo. on July 23rd. Suggested retail price for naturally aspirated 426 version is $99,426; the supercharged race car retails for $109,354 MSRP. Ordering info is available HERE.
The most recent Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak V-8 factory-prepped package cars came to competition in 2008 and were updated in 2010 to include a 6.4-liter HEMI engine. In 2011 Mopar introduced a race-ready V-10 Drag Pak, becoming the first OEM to offer a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag package car.
The new car adds to Mopar’s package car heritage, ongoing for more than 50 years and marks the first offering of a supercharged power plant to racers. The new generation 354 Gen III HEMI supercharged engine and the 426 Gen III Race HEMI take aim squarely at quarter-mile success.