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Pritchett’s Challenger Drag Pak isn’t a Demon

by Patrick Rall on

This past weekend, Don Schumacher Racing Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett participated in a grudge match race with the guy who owns Papa John’s Pizza. She ran a Dodge Challenger Drag Pak with the Air Grabber hood from the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, and sporting emblems from the upcoming muscle car. However, contrary to some clickbait YouTube channels, the car which ran this past weekend at the Gatornationals was most certainly not a new Demon.

Leah Pritchett drives a top fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, and while Pritchett’s dragster isn’t technically a Mopar, she is part of a factory-based Mopar team. She is also sponsored by Papa John’s Pizza; since Papa John Schnatter is a hardcore Camaro fan, Pritchett and Schnatter set up a series of grudge match races for charity. This series kicked off at the Gatornationals last weekend, with Schnatter will be piloting his modified second generation Chevrolet Camaro while Pritchett is driving a Dodge Challenger Drag Pak.

The Drag Pak is a factory-built race car, engineered to participate in stock-based drag racing classes alongside the Chevrolet COPO Camaro and the Ford Racing Cobra Jet Mustang. This Drag Pak has been specially prepared for the charity series, with the supercharged 354 cubic inch Hemi providing the power — and, yes, the Air Grabber hood and an eye-catching paint job prominently display the new Dodge Demon logos.

The appearance of the car, and a YouTube video claiming that the person filming the video spoke with a “Dodge rep who stated that this was a Demon,” led to a great many people believing that this was the car which will debut next month in New York. Even so, the car which Leah Pritchett drove to victory against the Camaro was nothing more than a dressed up Challenger Drag Pak.

That is well illustrated when we look at the features of the Challenger above and what we know about the Demon so far. First, Pritchett’s Challenger Drag Pak clearly has the 1971-esque upper grille design and the lower front fascia of the non-SRT Challengers. However, we know the new Demon will have the wide-open upper grille design and the unique lower fascia of the Hellcat Challenger. Pritchett’s Challenger might have the hood, but it has the wrong grille and the wrong front fascia when compared to the 2018 Demon.

Next, the Challenger Drag Pak has brightly polished 5-spoke wheels with a deep-dish design in Hoosier skinnies up front and Hoosier slicks out back – just like the Drag Pak cars which Dodge showcased at other events. The 2018 Challenger Demon will have black wheels wrapped in special Demon-branded Nitto NT05R tires. If Dodge is going through the headache of ordering unique drag radial tires for a car, they aren’t going to swap to different tires for a high profile charity event.

Leah Pritchett’s Challenger also doesn’t have the Demon body flares, the Demon rear spoiler, or the standard UConnect infotainment system; but it does have racing bucket seats, a roll cage, and an aftermarket-style ratchet race shifter.

Finally, there are pictures floating around Facebook and Instagram showing this Challenger in the garage area at the Gatornationals with the hood up — showing a supercharged 354 cubic inch Generation III Hemi, just like the rest of the current Drag Pak cars.

Leak Pritchett’s Challenger Drag Pak might have the Air Grabber hood and the fender logos of the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon, but this car has all of the wrong interior components, no flares, no rear spoiler, the wrong wheels, the wrong tires, the wrong front and end – most significantly – the wrong Hemi engine. It is clearly not related to the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, except for being based on the Dodge Challenger.

Still, Pritchett smoked Schnatter’s Camaro, laying down a 9.560 seconds at 148.54 miles per hour while the Camaro sputtered down the track in a losing effort. The next of the five races in this grudge match series is on April 29, during the Four Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.


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