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Demon TransBrake: tricky to get right

by Patrick Rall on

Many poor performance times have been reported for the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon; one of the key reasons is the puzzle that is launching the new Mopar muscle car with the TransBrake feature.

The TransBrake and Torque Reserve system play key roles in turning the best times with the new Demon, but the TransBrake takes a fair amount of practice to master. Doing it right leads to easy low 10-second runs in good air; but a miss can lead to the car coasting away from the starting line, or, on the other side, roasting the tires.

Here is how you launch the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon for the best possible quarter mile times:

With the car set in Track Mode, the Torque Reserve system and the TransBrake system are automatically active. Engage the TransBrake by pulling back on both of the shift paddles, with the brake pedal fully down. Then activate the TransBrake by bringing the engine up to 1,500 rpm — still with both shift paddles and the brake pedal down.

At this point, as you get that wicked Torque Reserve grumble and to prepare to launch, continue to work the throttle with your right foot — but release one of the two shift paddles (either one) and the brake pedal. The car will not move, since the other shift paddle is the release trigger for the TransBrake, but this is not as easy as taking the RPM up to 1,500 and letting the TransBrake rip you out of the hole.

During our testing time at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the track was too slick for us to launch the Demon at 1,500 rpm, even with the sticky Nitto drag radial tires. Because of this, to launch the car with the best results, you had to bring the engine up to 1,500 rpm to turn on the TransBrake, but after releasing one of the shift paddles and the brake pedal, you had to drop the engine speed down to 1,100-1,200rpm before releasing the other paddle.

The tough part is that if engine speed drops below 1,000 rpm, the TransBrake and Torque Reserve system both shut down. When the TransBrake kicks off, since you have removed your foot from the brake pedal, the Demon just gently rolls away from the starting line.

So, once you have engaged the TransBrake and you are ready to launch, bring the engine speed down by a few hundred RPMs; but as soon as you release the TransBrake, climb back into the throttle – but not too quickly, as that will shake the tires and kill the run.

This video shows someone failing to properly execute a TransBrake launch. After a good burnout, the driver stages, activates the TransBrake, and then, as the car in the other lane begins to do a burnout, the white car in the near lane just coasts off of the line.

To summarize the launch process of the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon, it was depress both shift paddles, depress brake pedal, bring engine RPM up to 1,500, release brake pedal and one shift paddle, lower engine RPM to 1,100-1,200, release other shift paddle to launch, apply the throttle as aggressively as possible through first gear; when you get to second, you can pretty much run wide open.

A properly executed TransBrake launch with fairly light throttle as I left the line allowed me to run a 10.5 at 132 miles per hour, but I made several runs where I launched without the TransBrake system because I let the engine RPM drop too low and the system deactivated. When launching just with my feet (after I had botched the TransBrake launch), I was able to run 10.8 at 128, but the TransBrake feature really blasts you out of the hole – when it is properly executed.

Launching a traction-limited car with 840 horsepower is no simple task to begin with, but adding a unique feature adds an extra element to learn in order to get the best possible times with the new Demon.

I was fortunate enough to make a half dozen or so runs down the quarter mile with the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon; while I was pretty happy with my best time of 10.5, I was still not happy with my launches. The Demon is easier to launch “normally” than the Hellcat, due to the sticky tires and the drag-friendly suspension setup, making 10-second runs a breeze with a little practice, but mastering the TransBrake/Torque Reserve launch well enough to get into the 9s is going to take some serious practice.

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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