contributed by Joe
It was October 29, 2005 at the Mopar Eastern Classic at Maryland
International Raceway. The event drew classic Mopar muscle cars from
all over the East Coast. There were Hemi cars, Cudas, Road Runners,
Dusters, Chargers, Super Bees, Neon SRT-4s, Ram Trucks, big blocks and
small blocks. There was even a very fast late 1960s Pontiac Firebird
with big block Mopar power.
One car that was drawing lots of attention was a brand spanking new, 425 HP, Chrysler 300C SRT-8. The black 300C
SRT-8 had been blistering the track with solid high twelves all
afternoon. That got everyone's attention.
In the second round of Trophy Class racing, a 1969 Road Runner, 440 6-barrel was matched up with the new SRT-8. A classic race was shaping up, old
school brute power vs. modern technology and Hemi muscle. The Road
Runner dialed in at 11.80 and the SRT-8 dialed-in at 12.78. The SRT-8’s
dial-in would give him almost a full second head start on the quicker
On green, the SRT-8 jumped out quickly and was tearing down the track. For the first half of the race, the Plymouth struggled to
catch the surprisingly quick Chrysler. At the 8th mile mark, the big
block started to come into its own and closed the gap.
The Road Runner
caught and edged in front of the SRT-8 with about 20 yards to spare for the win. The SRT-8 actually ran faster than his dial-in with a 12.759 @ 105.61. The Road Runner was on the brakes with a 11.802 @ 113.73 and nearly broke out as well. In bracket racing, if you go quicker than your dial-in, you automatically lose.
In retrospect, the SRT-8 has nothing to be ashamed of in losing to the old Road Runner. Bracket racing is all about handicapping and being consistent. It has little to do with who is actually quicker. If it was “heads up” racing where both cars started at the same time, in current
form the old Road Runner would beat the SRT-8. But consider the facts:
The Road Runner was modified with headers, Edelbrock heads, and
the Mopar Purple Shaft .484 lift cam, 440 cubic inches of 10:1 1969 RB,
and of course, triple two-barrel Holleys. While this is a very mild street combination, it is not stock. Primarily a street car, the Road Runner is no slouch and does see limited track time. It has run a
best of 11.79 at 114, through full exhaust.
If both cars were stock
(this Road Runner began life as a 383 4 speed car with air conditioning) and both were on street tires, the SRT-8 (with traction control) would
have easily blown the doors off the old bird. A stock 383 Road Runner
is a solid 14 second car. What is even more amazing is the fact that,
according to the owner, the SRT-8 comes in at a portly 4500 lbs, almost
600 pounds more than the Road Runner (a not so svelte 3900lbs itself).
It's hard not to be impressed with any car that runs 12s. The fastest
muscle cars of all time, 426 Hemis, 440 6 packs, 454 LS6 Chevelles, 428
Cobra Jets, 455 Buicks, and GTO Judges, were all mid to low 13 second
cars at best. The "average" stock 383 Road Runner, Z-28, SS 396
Chevelle, GTXs, 400 GTO, 340 Dusters and Demons Boss 302 etc... ran high
13s to high 14s. Sure, everyone knows that Max Wedges and factory
light weights were very capable of mid-low 12s, and we've all heard
plenty of Hemi "urban legends" of amazing quarter mile times but, these
were the exceptions. The fact is, the SRT-8 would have smoked just about
every stock muscle car that came out of Detroit in the 1960s and 1970s.
Mopar got this one right. Time slips don't lie.
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