Getting a chance to drive the Dodge Challenger Demon is a thrill. Whether you’re a seasoned drag racer or a novice, a car that can run the quarter-mile in less than 10 seconds straight from the factory is quite the achievement. When you drive the car at a Dodge event, there’s some structure involved to make sure you don’t inadvertently kill yourself. Our time with the car included 9 total runs.
Our 8th run was our fastest of the day, according to the onboard computer. While we’ve launched some pretty fast cars as part of our jobs, we’ve never really drag raced at the strip before. We don’t consider ourselves novices, but we kinda are.
Here’s a recap of our first 7 runs leading up to our fastest of 10.7s.
Run 1: Holy Shit
The first run is done with an engineer behind the wheel. He’s there to show you how the Transbrake work, how the Line Lock works, and to show you just how fast the car really is. Launching in that car is unlikely anything we’ve experienced to that point. Sure, there are fast cars out there, but unless you drag race hyper-modified cars, it’s unlikely you’ll have felt acceleration like this in a street car before.
Since there’s two people in the car, Dodge only lets you run the 1/8th-mile.
Run 2 and 3: Learning the Transbrake
With the engineer riding shotgun, it was time to learn how to use the Transbrake to launch. We opted to pass on Launch Control or just torque-braking the car to launch. The Transbrake is unique to the Demon, at least in factory production cars, and is the fastest way to get the car moving. It makes sense to learn it.
It all happens in Drag Mode;
- Left foot on the brake.
- Pull back both paddles and hold them.
- Apply throttle to between 1,500 and 2,400 RPM and hold it there.
- Release a paddle. We prefered the left one.
- Release the brake. The car holds position on its own while you maintain revs.
- Release the other paddle. The car launches.
- Figure out the best time to get the go pedal to the floor without spinning the tires.
Since the engineer is in the car, we’re again limited to the 1/8th mile.
Run 4: Don’t die
Our fourth run we decide to go solo. That means we can run the full quarter-mile. It also means that there’s nobody there telling us to not screw up. While we are pretty sure we’re not going to crash and cause a massive fire, it doesn’t mean the thought didn’t cross our minds.
So when do we apply full throttle again? Our 11.4s run suggests we don’t know the proper answer to that question. Maybe dying would’ve been more dramatic?
Run 5 and 6: Don’t embarrass yourself
Oh great, another journalist wants to attach his GoPro to the car to record some runs. He wants to record YOUR runs. Now your launch technique is going to be criticized by 35-year old men living in their mom’s basement for the rest of time. Yay.
Here’s the video our friend and fellow journalist Paul Strauss recorded after putting the cameras on my car. The exterior video of the passes where on the car I was driving, the internal shots were of different runs.
11.2s and 11.4s, respectively.
Run 7: Go for broke
You’re starting your last three runs of the day. You’re pretty confident you aren’t going to kill yourself, and the track is getting pretty sticky. It’s time to put that foot to the floor and get into the 10 second range.
We set our launch RPM a little higher — around 2,000 RPM — and dip into the throttle earlier. The launch feels really good. As you pass the quarter-mile cones you look down and see you ran a 10.9s pass.
Now you realize that you finally understand the car, you have a good idea when to launch, and you know you’re not going to die. Now you just focus in on getting the launch right and you’re all set!
Ultimately, as we said, we ran a 10.7s for the day on run 8. Our 9th run was another 10.9s. Another batch of runs and we probably could’ve hit 10.5s. Considering at the beginning of the day we really had no idea what we were doing in that car, we’ll take it as a successful day at the track.
Stay tuned for our full write-up of the Dodge Challenger Demon!