Dodge Showcases Scat Pack, Hellcat & SRT Performance on Track

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Dodge SRT Hellcat Scat Pack Challenger Charger Trackhawk

School is in session! SRT teaches new journalist how to really get the most out of Dodge’s vehicles.

Vehicles produced by Dodge today are astonishing in their power levels. In fact, they are so powerful that often they are unable to be fully utilized on the street. While some journalists are able to snag one of these rides for a few days in order to get a review, some of them are even more lucky and they are able to drive them on a race track to fully exploit them. Ever seen a commercial with a “driver on a closed course?” In this instance, that is the Dodge / SRT Track School at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.

Behind the scenes perspectives are the best, and SRT employed the use of professional instructors to show new and veteran journalists how high the performance levels are on their products. In fact, I was one of those instructors. Challenger Scat Packs, Durango SRTs, Charger Hellcats, Grand Cherokee SRTs and more were on offer to drive on track. I was assigned to instruct in one of the Scat Pack Challengers, made even more exciting by the available 6-speed transmission.

The location of the track was appropriately in Michigan, but on the other side of the state compared to Detroit. Gingerman Raceway is found in South Haven, Michigan, and this 1.9 mile track features tight turns, sweeping turns and a few long straightaways. A perfect test for any car, and a unique test for cars that pride themselves on straight-line prowess.

Classes were split up between morning and afternoon sessions, with drivers in the morning being less experienced and drivers in the afternoon knowing a bit more about how to handle a car on track. Both were amazed at the Scat Pack’s track prowess, however.

Now that the Scat Pack is available in wide-body form, the Challenger is able to sit on extremely wide 305 section tires. Though the car is still undeniably heavy, it can move itself around corners surprisingly well, and even have the grip to help mask some mistakes made by new track drivers. Even more impressive is the brakes. Large 6-piston Brembo brakes are equipped on the front axle, along with brake discs of floating rotor design to help dissipate heat. Despite long 25 minute sessions including heavy brake use all day long, the brakes stayed firm and strong.

Dodge SRT Hellcat Scat Pack Challenger Charger Trackhawk

Drivers who are new to the track are always entertaining to instruct. There’s a lot of street driving habits that need to be broken in order to drive swiftly and safely. Those habits include turning into a corner too early, riding the brakes, shuffling hands on the steering wheel, letting a hand rest on the shifter, letting a left foot hover over the clutch pedal, and so on. Luckily the Scat Pack’s 392 Hemi V8 has deep reserves of torque, and for the driver not to be overwhelmed, the whole course can be driven in third gear. To make things a bit interesting, a light drizzle really tasked the beginning students with appropriate smooth driving, and to respect the V8 beast under the hood.

Afternoon sessions featured experienced drivers, and these drivers are the ones who want to push a car to its extremes as often as possible. The journalist I had been assigned to instruct was there with another colleague, and the ensuing dog fight was a riot. Still even with a student who’s comfortable with car control, there’s ways of showing them how a heavier car like the Challenger can be even faster. Better lines through some of the sweeping corners can actually use the car’s weight to its advantage. With work mates battling for office supremacy, my student was eager to learn how the weight of the car can be used to its advantage… and this was only the first session!

Surprisingly, even after being worked very hard by the experienced drivers at the end of the day, the cars were fine. It’s almost strange to think of a Scat Pack or a Hellcat, or even a Grand Cherokee SRT as a car that you can take to a road course, but you can. And not one journalist was left unimpressed with the cars.

While everyone’s attention was on the performance models, Jeep and SRT touched on some recent brand news. Wide body Challengers were, of course, now available on Scat Pack models, Scat Pack models also now deploy the use of the vented Hellcat hood. The Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye both now use a dual-nostril hood, and the Demon keeps its unique wide intake hood. Less apt to road course use and more so for the drag strip is the Challenger Scat Pack 1320 edition. Drawing the name 1320 from the number of feet in a 1/4 mile, this model offers a few things that were a buzz about the Demon. Specifically that it comes with an interior with just a driver’s seat, but you can order the rest of the interior for just $1.

As well, SRT showcased the new Hellcat Redeye. Pushing the power boundaries to 797 horsepower, don’t think of it as a Demon on a power diet. Instead think of it as a Hellcat “possessed by a Demon.” Line-lock is still there, but the drag-racing biased suspension is not carried over. But as a benefit, Dodge has said they’ll make as many Redeye models as people want to buy, as opposed to the limited run of Demon models, which are all sold out.

When you see reviews of new SRT models out there in the local paper or on the internet, now you know how those journalists are introduced to these incredible machines. They don’t just get to oogle them from afar. Instead, they get to delve into every horsepower and drive it like it was meant to be driven.

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Patrick Morgan is an instructor at Chicago's Autobahn Country Club and contributes to a number of Auto sites for Internet Brands, including MB World and 6SpeedOnline.

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