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426 Hemi-based Challenger Drag Pak unveiled

by Bill Cawthon on


On Thursday evening, Mopar continued the celebration of the 426 Race Hemi’s 50th anniversary by inviting Challenger Sportsman racers to meet drag racing legends Don Garlits, Roland Leong, Ted Spehar, Herb McCandless, and members of the original Ramchargers — Tom Coddington, Al Adams and John Wehrly — to preview the first 2015 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak test vehicle.

The new Challenger Drag Pak is a descendant of more than 150 V8 Challenger Drag Paks, an additional fifty V10 versions, as well as 426 Race HEMI upgrade kits. Mopar’s Challenger Drag Pak is the only modern-era package car to win the Stock Eliminator title at the U.S. Nationals.


The white test vehicle is built on the 2015 Dodge Challenger platform and sports a vintage stripe package and Hemi badging. It also has the SRT front and rear fascia trim, a rear spoiler, and an NHRA-spec roll cage.

Under the hood sits a 426 CID Race Hemi engine with an aluminum block, steel liners, and custom engine calibration. The engine sends power to the rear wheels through a Chrysler-based 727 automatic transmission, a race-style stick shifter with integral line lock, and an aluminum driveshaft. The vehicle has a weight box in the trunk and a trunk-mounted 12 volt battery.

The car rides on 28-inch diameter by 4.5-inch-wide front tires and 30-inch diameter by 9-inch-wide rear tires. Both front and rear tires are mounted on 15-inch wheels. Stopping power is provided by Precision Performance front and rear brake rotors, calipers, and master cylinder.

The front suspension uses the 2015 Mopar K-member and strut suspension, with adjustable compression and rebound; the rear has a four-link suspension with a Panhard bar, rear solid axle with 9-inch aluminum third member, rear shocks with adjustable compression and rebound, and an anti-sway bar.

The interior is based on the 2015 Challenger SRT, with added gauges, lightweight racing seats, safety nets, and five-point harnesses.


Specifications are preliminary and subject to approval by the NHRA. Mopar is also seeking feedback from the “Sportsmen” themselves.

The Challenger Drag Pak can be seen Friday and Saturday at the Mopar display in the manufacturer’s midway area at the 60th Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, under way in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is the last event in the 2014 Mello Yello NHRA drag racing regular season.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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