On Wednesday, Chevrolet Performance announced the ZZ632/1000 — a naturally aspirated 632-cubic-inch (10,348 cc) V8 producing 1,004 horsepower and 876 lb-ft of torque on pump gasoline.
While 100 hp per liter may not be an engineering marvel today, delivering a crate motor that’s sized to embarrass every other powertrain installed into a production vehicle is an achievement in itself. This 10.3-liter behemoth makes the 8.4-liter V10 installed in Dodge’s Viper (rest in peace) look like it’s supposed to be fitted to a riding lawnmower. Of course, it’s also huge in comparison to literally every powertrain we’ve seen on a project car that didn’t source its parts from vintage aircraft.
They say that drag strips are for fast cars, while racetracks are for fast drivers. That may be true, but this is a premier, top-shelf car enthusiast blog, however. We’re all friends here, and we’re all just delusional enough to believe – if only a little bit – that we were all but a go-kart or midget sprint or jr. dragster away from motorsports greatness at one point in our lives, and that’s the real allure of the drag strip: it’s an easily accessible, relatively affordable way to experience motorsports firsthand.
Ready? Let’s get started.
With reports coming out everywhere that American muscle cars will be revised into electrified sedans or crossover vehicles, you might find yourself in the market for the biggest V8 you can find before they’re made intentionally scarce. But perhaps you’re keen to enter the drag-racing scene and find the Dodge Demon’s supercharged 6.2-liter insufficient for what could be the last gasp of petroleum-powered insanity.
Chevrolet believes it has you covered with the 2022 COPO Camaro, which can be ordered with an enormous 572-cubic-inch (9.4-liter) motor or a couple of LS-based, small-block alternatives.
If you have a chip on your shoulder about electric vehicles, this ought to help brush a little closer to the sleeve.
For the first time in history, and EV (that isn’t a motorcycle) posted a quarter-mile trap speed above 200 mph, setting a new world record. Built by Huff Motorsports, the all electric dragster recently zipped down Tucson Dragway in Arizona, posting a speed of 201 mph and destroying the previous record set by racing legend Don Garlits last year.
Ford has dropped a teaser image for its 2018 Mustang Cobra Jet, which is set to challenge the Dodge Demon for drag-strip supremacy.
Certainly, it won’t be for sales supremacy, as the Demon’s production run has come to an end and Ford won’t make nearly as many Cobra Jets. Oh, and the Cobra Jet won’t be street legal. So there’s that. But die-hard dragsters won’t care – getting a factory-prepped car that can tear up the quarter-mile will make those few who can snag one happy.
And if the initial reports prove true, this new pony will run.
NHRA drag racer and 16-time Funny Car champion John Force has been released from the hospital after a moderately heinous crash Sunday evening at the Arizona Nationals. The 68-year-old strip veteran was going head to head with Jonnie Lindberg when his engine exploded just feet from the finish line.
Fortunately, John won the race but the explosion blew apart the car’s bodywork and sent him into Lindberg’s lane. The vehicles collided as Force’s Chevy-powered dragster slammed into the far wall. Lindberg’s car, slowed by the initial impact and now entangled in the other vehicle’s parachute chord, was hit from behind a second time before both vehicles skidded to a stop against the opposite wall. The much older Force was transported to Chandler Regional Hospital as a precaution, while Lindberg was given a clean bill of health onsite.
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.
Then someone tossed me the red key.
Did you notice that TTAC was short one article by yours truly this week? Probably not — but if you did, allow me to explain the reason. I’ve spent the entire week doing testing for Road & Track’s Performance Car Of The Year issue. Today, I drove 10 mostly brilliant and remarkably capable vehicles against the clock around the NCM West course, ranging from a Honda Civic Type R to a Lamborghini Huracan Performante and a McLaren 720S.
I think that a lap around NCM West is a good indicator of a car’s speed, insofar as it includes everything from a straight-line drag race to some unpleasant off-camber turns that can send a car sideways at freeway speeds or well above. If you asked me how fast a car was, I would suggest you let me drive it around NCM West — only then would I be able to tell you.
Since doing that is expensive and often impractical, most people measure automotive speed the old-fashioned way: they read Car and Driver. But that still doesn’t settle the issue: what is the proper yardstick of automotive pace?
Dodge dropped another unsubtle hint at the drag-focused Challenger SRT Demon’s power output this week, inserting it in a teaser that showcased the car’s unique performance data recorder for its Uconnect infotainment system.
After saying “nothing is a coincidence and everything means something” in an earlier press release, Road and Track speculated that a stamped serial number, reading 0757, was likely the the number of horses hiding beneath the Demon’s hood. Today, FCA let loose another video that showed the “Performance Pages” application in action, with the clock set for 7:57.
FCA has issued loads of cryptic messages over the last couple of months, but with the biggest question seemingly answered, perhaps it will be a little more straightforward when it comes time for the next announcement. I wouldn’t bet on it. As for the performance app, Dodge says the Demon will have graphical interfaces for just about everything a spec-hungry amateur drag racer could want, along with some extra bells and whistles for the strip.
Dodge has been parsing out minor details on the Demon, slowly shaping its identity, for what seems like decades, when it has actually only been about a month. In today’s publicity sprig, Fiat Chrysler indicated that — unlike the Hellcat — the Demon will be strip-focused with a suspension setup specifically designed exclusively for straight-ahead speed.
With Dodge claiming that the Hellcat is the “ultimate do everything muscle car” with an intention “to strike that perfect balance between drag strip brute force, road course competence and street car civility,” I am left wondering just how streetable the Demon could possibly be. Like most purpose-built cars, dragsters are wonderful at doing exactly one thing and absolutely terrible at everything else. For Dodge’s new hype machine, the added forward momentum might come at the expense of hanging a right.
Our recent post asking what possible relevance most automobile racing has to the consumer side of the auto industry has me thinking about a race series idea that’s been percolating in my head for a while. The goal of the concept is to come up with a racing series that will resonate both with consumers (read: auto manufacturers) and racing enthusiasts. So far, I have a pretty good idea of what kind of cars, rules, tracks and schedules would be involved, but as yet I haven’t come up with some kind of catchy acronymic name.
To begin with, it would be based on production cars in North America and the races would be run in all three countries that make up the continent — Canada, Mexico, and the United States. That should get some manufacturers involved, if not fielding works teams, at least in terms of funding, PR, and technical support.
Motorsports enthusiasts sometimes don’t realize that behind the glamour of car and motorcycle racing we see on television there is an extensive support industry that makes everything from specialized dipsticks to complete racecars. Much of that industry is located in three locations around the globe. England’s so called Motorsports Valley is where 8 of the 11 F1 teams have their race shops within about an hour’s drive from the Silverstone track, in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and the South Midlands. About 45,000 people in the UK make their living from motorsports. In the U.S., the racing industry is primarily centered, not surprisingly, around Indianapolis, Indiana and Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR, respectively. It should also come as no surprise that Indiana’s Purdue University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have both examined the economic impact of motorsports in their states. Purdue reports that more than 23,000 people are employed directly by the motorsports industry in Indiana which in turn are responsible for another 423,000 indirect jobs. A decade ago UNC Charlotte found that motorsports then contributed $5 billion to the North Carolina economy.
I was there when Ford debuted its new-for-1999 Mustang Cobra with its “revolutionary” new independent rear suspension. The IRS was a first for the Ford Mustang, and it was a move that Ford’s brass believed would allow the “new edge” Cobra to compete with cars like the BMW M3 for supremacy in the budget super car market. I also remember the very first question that was asked: Will a Ford 9″ bolt in? It was the first question, right out of the box … and it seems like someone at Ford remembers. The new-for-2015 Mustang is going to hit dealers with a new independent rear suspension late next year, and it seems like Ford Racing will have a 9″ live axle option ready.
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