by Patrick Rall
After seeing pictures of the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat above, with a unique exterior design and big mud tires on the back (often with plenty of mud), I began hunting around for more information on this unique Mopar muscle car.
Since the owner of this Hellcat Challenger clearly plays in the dirt with the car, some critics are quick to complain that the car is “ruined,” while others praise the owner for doing his or her own thing. After seeing all of the conversation, I was eager to learn more about the Dodge Challenger RallyCat, and after speaking with the owner, the story behind this supercharged muscle car only gets better.
First, as you might imagine, the most common questions that people have when they see the RallyCat are:
The owner of this Hellcat Challenger, known as the RallyCat, is Rachel Shroyer, who also owns Nubs Customs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Shroyer has spent years building wicked 4x4 vehicles for herself and clients, and was an active offroader during all of her years driving. Unfortunately, Shroyer’s life changed in April 2014, when she was involved in a car accident that left her in the hospital, struggling to overcome the injuries caused by the accident. It was also in April 2014 when Dodge introduced the Hellcat Challenger SRT, and Rachel set a goal for herself – to live through the injuries of the crash and reward herself with a 707 hp muscle car.
Rachel Shroyer was able to live through the aftermath of the crash and, on May 6th, 2015, she purchased her Hellcat Challenger from a dealership near Washington D.C and drove it 2,500 miles back to her home in New Mexico.
Having made the Hellcat Challenger a goal of sorts which required Shroyer to live through the injuries, this is more than just a car to her – this Mopar muscle car was part of her inspiration to come back from the near-death experience. In her own words, the RallyCat is a “reminder to me that I survived something that should have killed me and that I am a fighter.”
The next four questions about the RallyCat Challenger all focus on the modifications and the way that Rachel Shroyer enjoys her muscle car, so I’ll include them all in one simple statement.
Yes, she does take the RallyCat offroading, hence the tires and the unique exterior appearance; and she did this to her car because she loves her Hellcat and she loves offroading, so for Shroyer, this car is the ultimate combination of her passion for performance and playing in the dirt. When her accident left her without a vehicle that she could enjoy on the road and in the dirt, she made some simple changes to her Hellcat so that it could serve as her plaything in any condition…and the RallyCat was born.
When Shroyer purchased her Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, it was Pitch Black with black wheels, black leather interior, red seat belts, and a 6-speed manual transmission. Other than the huge rear tires and the exterior appearance, the RallyCat is stock, but Shroyer plans to add some more power in the future. For now, she is too busy enjoying the stock power whether she is blasting through the dirt or down the road.
The unique exterior design is a wrap, produced by Skepple Inc in California and installed by Southwest Speed in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Shroyer’s goal was a car that had the barn find patina to it, but with the addition of the big rear tires, many people online believe that she was shooting for a Mad Max look. While she wasn’t trying to make the RallyCat look like something from a post-apocalyptic world, she likes the Mad Max look and embraces the opinion that the RallyCat would have been a welcome addition to those movies.
In addition to picking a wrap over a custom paint job in order to get the unique appearance, Rachel Shroyer went with a vinyl wrap thanks to the protective quality offered when offroading. All of the stones which kick up and branches along the path will put little scratches in the paint, but under this wrap, the RallyCat’s Pitch Black paint should be relatively flawless.
Now about those wheels and tires out back.
When people look at pictures of the RallyCat online, the feature which stands out the most is the huge mud tires mounted on the rear of Rachel Shroyer’s Hellcat Challenger. Rather than the factory P Zero tires, the RallyCat wears a set of 245 65 BF Goodrich KO2 tires mounted on 17 inch steel wheels borrowed from an offroading Jeep. These wheels clear the rear braking system (you can still see the red calipers), and the off-road tires – which measure roughly 29.5 inches tall by 9.5 inches wide – fit perfectly inside the wheel wells of the Hellcat without any modifications to the body or suspension.
Rachel added these tires because they offer much better grip on dirt paths than the standard Pirelli tires, allowing her to make better use of the 707 horsepower when trying to get traction in dirt of mud. These tires with their large sidewalls are also much safer when driving through rocks, dirt or mud, so in addition to getting better traction in less-than-ideal conditions – the BFGs are also safer in rough footing. She has kept the front wheels and tires because the huge Brembo brakes don’t allow for smaller than a 20 inch wheel and there are no 20 inch off-road tires which would fit on the wheels and in the wheel wells.
Rachel still has the original tires on the factory wheels, and she will occasionally swap from one set of wheels/tires to the other, but she points out that the BFGs don’t handle street use all that badly. She finds that they are a little easier to get spinning on paved roads, but the K02s were designed to be among the best on the market, so it should come as no surprise that these tires do well on paved roads. After all, most BGF K02 owners have them on vehicles which are driven on the road every day, so while they don’t see much work with 707hp on the other end of the driveshaft, these tires are capable of being comfortable on the road. However, Shroyer points out that she doesn’t take the car over 100 miles per hour with the truck tires, and when she heads to the drag strip, she runs a set of Hoosier drag radial tires (which have helped her run respectable 11.60s with the stock, manual transmission Hellcat Challenger at a track with an elevation of over 5,000ft).
So, in short, Rachel Shroyer’s RallyCat is “just” a stock Hellcat Challenger with a manual transmission, wrapped in a unique design and fitted with off-road tires on steel wheels. The car isn’t “ruined” as some might suggest, as she takes great care to keep the car safe when playing off road and in the event that she wanted the car to look like it did when it rolled out of the factory – all she has to do is swap the wheels and peel off the wrap.
Finally, I asked Shroyer if she had run into any problems while playing in the mud with her RallyCat Challenger. She clarified that she doesn’t actually taking it “mudding,” as the mud getting packed into odd places can have serious negative ramifications on the suspension bits. Instead, she sticks to dirt paths, unpaved roads and field areas where the dirt is thinner and less likely to get packed in the suspension components and – more importantly – the cooling components lining the front of the Hellcat Challenger.
Whenever she is playing in the dirt with her Challenger RallyCat, even in thinner dirt with less risk to the cooling system, she makes sure to closely monitor the engine operating temperatures via the gauge screens and if the temps get too high – she makes sure to let the car rest and cool down. She does, however, occasionally hit a mud puddle or two on the way to a car show in order to give the RallyCat an extra rally-ish look. After spending time playing in any type of dirt or after getting it dirty for a show, she makes sure to rinse any dirt out of the suspension and undercarriage.
The only damage that has been sustained to Shroyer’s RallyCat Challenger was the front splitter, but that didn’t happen when driving off road. While driving on the road recently, a Ford F350 wandered across the center line, forcing Rachel to run off of the road with the RallyCat. Unfortunately, the difference in height between the road and the dirt caused the splitter to be damaged. She has since removed the damaged unit and bought a new one, but she likes the higher ground clearance and the rugged look of the RallyCat without the low-hanging front spoiler. In the meantime, she is considering a skid plate which would protect the Hellcat Hemi from anything kicking up while playing in the dirt.
So, while I wouldn’t buy a Hellcat Challenger to go play off-road, I applaud Rachel Shroyer’s decision to use her Dodge Challenger in a way that she enjoys the most. Some of us drag race our cars and some of us road race our cars – both of which can result in all sorts of damage. Shroyer likes to play with her RallyCat in the dirt and if it should be damaged, that is just the cost of using a car as more than an appliance to get from Point A to Point B.
I love the look of the RallyCat and I love the story behind it. It is certainly different, but that is what makes this Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat so different and so very cool.
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