This year marks the 40th anniversary of the factory-built drag race package cars from Dodge and Plymouth. To commemorate those HEMI-powered drag cars, Mopar announced it will unveil its new Dodge Challenger Drag Race Package Car at the 29th Annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, CO, on Sunday, July 13.
Featuring separate paint schemes, the first two Challenger Drag Race Package Cars built by Mopar will be revealed at approximately 2 p.m. MDT (after eliminations and before finals). Mopar, Chrysler LLC’s original equipment parts manufacturer and distributor, announced its Challenger Drag Race Package Car at the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Oct. 2007.
The first drag-race-only, factory-prepped package car built in 40 years, the new Challenger Drag Race Package Car by Mopar builds on the heritage of the 1968 HEMI-powered Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas. The limited-edition ’68 package cars represented a significant point in Mopar’s history solidifying the brand as a quarter-mile force. A watershed moment in drag racing history, they were also a major milestone in the evolution of the second-generation HEMI powerplant (426 HEMI engine). Some of drag racing’s biggest names drove the crowd-favorite ’68 package cars like Ronnie Sox, “Dandy” Dick Landy and Jack Werst, just to name a few. Mopar’s popular HEMI Challenge racing series, operated in conjunction with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), features these ‘68 package cars in quarter-mile competition all over the country today.
Based on the Challenger SRT8, Mopar’s modern, factory-prepped Challenger Drag Race Package Car will begin with a special Body-in-White (BIW) from Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario, Canada assembly plant. It has been updated for modern racing conditions. Special weight-reduction modifications were made by eliminating unnecessary components and systems. To accentuate the weight savings, it will also feature added composite, polycarbonate and lightweight components designed for drag racing. The engine was repositioned and the wheelbase was shortened to improve the driveline angle/clearance and weight distribution.
“Mopar worked with the NHRA the world’s largest and loudest auto racing organization to approve our race-prepped Challenger for drag race competition,” said Sunil Lahoti, senior manager – Mopar Marketing and Brand Strategy, Chrysler LLC. “Engineered to race, our Package Car has what an NHRA drag racer needs to thunder down the strip in competition. It’s made for straight-line, drag-strip acceleration and is prepped to score victories off the Tree.”
Drag racers will have a choice of three engines to power the Challenger Drag Race Package Car for race competition. Mopar will build a minimum of 100 Package Cars to meet NHRA requirements. Each will carry an identification plate with sequential serial number.
Mopar built the first two Challenger Drag Race Package Cars for development and testing. Each Package Car ran successfully in June as proof-of-concept and for NHRA certification.
At the Mile-High reveal, Mopar will announce details including vehicle modifications, engine options, NHRA/IHRA categories and class eligibility, pricing, availability and distribution. A build book/owner’s manual will be available as well as a collector’s “coffee table” book.
70 Years of Mopar
When Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928, the need for a dedicated parts manufacturer, supplier and distribution system to support the growing enterprise led to the formation of the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation (CMPC) in 1929.
Originally used in the 1920s, Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for a line of antifreeze products in 1937. It was also widely used as a moniker for the CMPC. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s the muscle car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth “package cars” equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of “Special Parts” for super stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use.
Today, Chrysler LLC’s Global Service & Parts division is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of nearly 250,000 authentic Mopar replacement parts, components, restoration parts, accessories and performance parts for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles sold around the world. To assure quality, reliability and durability, all Mopar parts and accessories are designed in strict adherence to Chrysler engineering standards.