By on October 3, 2017

_dsc0751-610

There’s only one reason for the Dodge Demon to exist, and that’s to go fast in a straight line, preferably at a dragstrip.

Which is why I haven’t fully understood the point of the car, at least up until now. And maybe I still don’t. I mean, how many dedicated drag racers are out there that want to spend a pretty penny ($85K, give or take) on something that’s factory-ready for the strip and easily streetable? Back in the muscle car days, sure, that was a thing, but today’s drag racers are probably either finding a cheap Fox-body Mustang and decking it out, or, if they have the means, going whole hog and buying something from an OEM that isn’t street legal.

That’s just a guess on my part – I’m not as in tune with those who drag race on weekends as I’d like to be. Maybe there’s been a clamor for a car just like the Demon for a long time. Either way, Dodge isn’t going to build many – just 3,000 for the U.S. and 300 for Canada.

I can understand why the Challenger, including the Hellcat version, exists – it looks cool on Woodward, the V8 models sound badass, and it’s the closest thing FCA has to a “pony car” (in my ideal world, Dodge would sell a true pony car alongside the Challenger, but I’m no Sergio). But unlike most sports cars, which can give you at least a taste of their track prowess on the right public road, the Demon’s skillset can’t be safely applied to the street.

That doesn’t mean I think the car should be banned – Automotive News got that wrong – just that, on paper, I didn’t quite get the hype.

Then someone tossed me the red key.

Full disclosure: Fiat Chrysler put us up in a lovely hotel in southwest Michigan that had a stunning lake view, fed us three nice meals, and offered a Demon-logo baseball hat that I might’ve brought home had I not forgotten. They did not fly us to the event, as it was a relatively easy drive, so sorry boss, I have a fuel receipt to expense.

I don’t have much drag strip experience, so being sat in an 840-horsepower, 770 lb-ft of torque vehicle and told to drive it as fast as I can, without wrecking it, was a bit unnerving. Dodge did provide professional instructors who taught us how to work the line-lock system in order to do burnouts, how to work the transmission brake system for better launches, and just to give general tips regarding both the car and drag racing.

_dsc0594-610

If you haven’t already figured it out, this won’t be a typical review. I’d intended to do it as a first drive, but Dodge had to set two cars off to the side for mechanical/technical issues of a mysterious nature (unclear if the wounds were journalist-inflicted or not), meaning the car tagged for street duty had to be shifted to the track. Meaning I didn’t get to drive a Demon on public roads.

By now, I assume most TTAC readers are familiar with the Demon’s specs — the passenger seat and rear seat can be removed, the car has a “drag mode” that sets it up properly for racing (including killing the a/c while the mode is active), there are drag tires, the engine is beefed up with parts such as a forged steel crankshaft, an a/c chiller helps the engine cool down between runs, the twin-screw supercharger runs 14.5 psi of boost, the final drive ratio is 3.09, et cetera. The list goes on. One note – the engine specs above are with 100-octane gas. The Demon makes 808 horsepower and 717 lb-ft on premium fuel.

_dsc0660-610

Even though I wasn’t able to take it off property, I suspect that the Demon drives much like other Challengers – just with more power. It might have been informative to see how the mods (beefier trans, drag tires, et cetera) affect the car on regular roads, but I think I learned more by sticking to the track.

I certainly had a hell of a lot more fun. Acceleration is addictive. Not to mention that avoiding even the slightest risk of an encounter with the local law was a nice bonus.

While I’ve dragged a production car a time or two before, I’ve never had the chance to do a proper burnout before launch. On this day, though, I was shown how to use line-lock to give the Demon’s rear tires a nice smoking before staging. It’s trickier than it looks, and I screwed it up at least once (two left feet and all that), but damn if it isn’t satisfying to fry some rubber when you get it just right.

_dsc0706-610

The other trick track feature the Demon possesses (heh) is a transmission-brake feature. It involves a complicated dance involving both shift paddles and both pedals, but get it right, which I did on my second try, and you will launch more smoothly and save time as opposed to simply using a traditional brake-torque launch.

Oh, that launch. Get it right and the car sort of lurches ahead, slowly at first as you feed in gas, but then the hood pitches up, the rear tires catch and “holy shit it’s a cannon it’s a missile keep it straight keep your right foot floored oh damn the run is over I better lift.” My first two or three runs passed in a blur, but oddly, as I became more comfortable with the car, the launch process, and the effects of Newton’s Second Law, my brain eventually caught up and each trip down the strip felt less overwhelming and more manageable, even as my times shortened.

_dsc0688-610

Dodge didn’t give out timeslips, probably to keep journalists from doing something stupid in the name of pride, but the car lets you know your time if you remember to set up the Performance Pages app correctly. I didn’t in the first few runs – although I caught sight of 135 mph on the dash as I hit the quarter-mile mark – but I did later. My best time that I know of was 11 seconds flat, which was on par for our group – I heard chatter of a few folks running a tenth or two quicker.

Yeah, the world doesn’t need a car that has a “drag mode.” Yeah, the Demon probably won’t be much more fun than a Hellcat on a public road unless you live near Death Valley. Yeah, it’s expensive. Yeah, FCA builds good performance vehicles but needs to do better with the more mainstream parts of its portfolio (except for Jeep) and needs to finally catch up when it comes to green cars. And yeah, FCA still has reliability issues to worry about.

That all may be true, but eh, f*ck it, Dude. Let’s go drag racing.

[Images © Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

17 Comments on “Draggin’ in the Dodge Demon – One Hell of a Good Time...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Good review – that would be a fun time.

  • avatar
    civicjohn

    I would have taken the hat! That’s an awesome experience because I would imagine that very few buyers are using them at the track.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Never been to a drag race, never was really that interested . . . . . but I would have happily killed you to take your seat.

  • avatar
    raph

    I wonder how the peanut gallery would shake out when sorted by location and proclaiming there isn’t a market for drag cars? Id imagine they are mostly in the upper northeast and mostly west of the Rockies where good roads abound with lots of curves and elevation changes and not infested with mobile revenue generators looking to keep the local hamlet from going tits up.

    From the mid Atlantic and on down drag racing is immensely popular ( anybody who has been to the local drags on say a Friday night and managed to get three runs in a four hour period after collecting their slip and immediately lining back up knows,what I’m talking about ) and it also seems popular in the mid west as well.

    Not only does the at terrain lemd itself to that sort of racing but I can’t think of a cheaper form of racing to get into. Show up with a car that passes tech (which amounts to making sure the lugs are tight, the tires aren’t showing belts and a helmet of sort and unlike a road course it can be a cheap motorcycle helmet instead of a dedicated piece ) and your in wether the car runs a 20 second quarter on up to whatever the track can handle for 15 to 50 bucks.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      In my area, the dragstrip is much better attended than autocross and there’s very few people that you see at both.

      I’m not a big drag racer but I’ve done the test and tune a few times. It’s enormously accessible for motor sports. And it’s pretty humbling.

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Drag racing as it was invented in California back in the 40s and 50s was and still is the purest form of motor sports. Line ’em up and give ’em hell. Going for pink slips? That’s optional.

  • avatar

    A single-purpose drag car, running on fuel you can’t buy at normal stations, which is so reliable that two of them break down at the press event.

    Sign me up!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      My question: was BTSR there to livestream it?

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      It runs just fine on 91 octane and will provide 808 HP. If you want 840 then you need to fill up with 100+ octane.

      Not sure what stations don’t provide at least 91.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      If you can call something which you can drive to work 5 days a week with 4 people in it, go around a twisty road without skittering off, and probably drive it to 100,000 miles, a “single-purpose drag car,” then your definition of “single-purpose” differs from mine.

      A press event where ham-fisted journalists run cars nipping into the 10s on a drag strip for hours on end, and you’re going to pretend that a couple of them having issues is a failure? Please.

      I’ll echo others in calling you out for criticizing a car which makes 808 hp on 91 octane. The fact that it can take advantage of 100 octane fuel is a feature, not a bug. The fact that it makes the kind of power that it does on pump gas is stupefying.

      I’m not a drag racing kind of guy, and I wouldn’t be too tempted to buy one of these even if I had the money to burn, but as a car guy I think Chrysler should be praised for creating this thing. It’s magnificent.

      • 0 avatar

        Doesn’t come with other seats unless you have them add the seats back in.

        It couldn’t go on the road because the electrics were broken.

        When two of three provided are broken because some journalists drove them like they’re *intended* to be driven, it’s an issue.

        “Echo others,” that’s one (1) person. Maybe chill it out.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Nope, still don’t get it. I guess I am immune to acceleration addiction. Just seems like car abuse to me. But I do live in one of those Northeastern areas where there are good roads and minimal cops, at least in the summer these days.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      I am not at all immune to that addiction, but I find it significantly more accessible in the realm of liter-class motorcycles. Two to five grand will get you a ten-second-class bike that conveniently handles both curvy roads and road courses with equal aplomb.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        As a petrol-head, I really, really want to like bikes. But my father died on one in 1969, through no fault of his own other than being in the wrong place at the wrong moment. Hard to get past that.

        Plus I have a feeling if I did get into bikes, I would end up with like 20 of them in my garage. Too cheap and too tempting.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Myself, I am not their target. I am, however, a player for a nice used 392 Challenger that I can cruise on the interstate at high speed in comfort and relative safety. I hope they are successful with it, but I’m guessing this will be the Ford GT, circa 2005, when they sat without love, on many showrooms. Someone needs to do a doctoral thesis on what changed between 2004 and 2017, pertaining to that car. One sits and one is by permission only. I am with Groucho on anything with contrived exclusivity – “I will not join any club that would have me for a member”.

  • avatar
    Fred

    What’s the ratio of collectors vs drag racers that will buy this car?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • YeOldeMobile: But a Mercedes can do the ‘Ring AND be luxurious! Or at least, that’s the counter-argument.
  • slavuta: Elantra Sport brakes feel super good. Even better than 2011 Mazda3 and on par with 2017 Mazda6. I had 1990...
  • sirwired: I’m surprised by this. The CR-V is a well-received and fresh design, while the RAV4 is pretty far...
  • YeOldeMobile: 1. I actually saw a new Lincoln Continental being driven by a little old lady the other day at the...
  • IBx1: Nail. Head. Hit.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States