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Mopar boss talks Drag Pak and the future of the brand

by Patrick Rall on

The biggest news from Ma Mopar at the 2019 SEMA Show was the introduction of the newest Dodge Challenger Drag Pak. This track-only, 7-second muscle car was introduced by Mark Bosanac, the new Head of Mopar North America.

We had a chance to sit down with Bosanac to talk about the Drag Pak and the future of the Mopar brand. We were joined by Chad Seymour, Brand Manager for the SRT brand and former Dodge Challenger Brand Manager. Bosanac knows Mopar and Seymour knows the Challenger, so this sit-down presented a great chance to ask some questions about the newest Drag Pak.

Talking Drag Pak

Since the Drag Pak was the hot topic, that was the key focus of our discussion. Many people have asked me why Mopar doesn’t issue a new Drag Pak every year, so that was my first question to Bosanac and Seymour. They explained that there isn’t a new Challenger Drag Pak every year because each car has significant improvements over the previous version, and those improvements take time

For example, the Challenger Drag Pak that debuted at SEMA took roughly two years to develop and when the car was introduced last month, there was still work to be done. Mopar worked with Don Schumacher Racing and driver Leah Pritchett. Pritchett won the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown championship in 2018 with her third generation Drag Pak, but the newest Mustang Cobra Jet has proven to be too much for the “old” Challenger.

Working with DSR and Pritchett, Mopar developed the new Hellcat-based body, the integrated wheelie bars and parachute, the new suspension setup and the new wheel-and-tire package to make this Challenger better than the previous version. They also added a roll cage that is good for runs as quick as 7.50 in the quarter mile, so this quickest Drag Pak is also safer for the driver.

Next, I asked about the 426-cubic inch engine that was offered on the previous Drag Pak. Bosanac and Seymour explained that they were “focusing on the 354”. The supercharged 354-cubic inch Hemi is the engine used in the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown class while the naturally aspirated 426-cubic inch Hemi was also offered during the previous generation of the Drag Pak. They didn’t come right out and say that the 426 was not being offered for the fourth generation car, but they stressed the fact that the team is focusing on the supercharged 354.

Speaking of the 354, I asked what supercharger will be mounted atop the monstrous Hemi, but that information is not yet available. The second generation Challenger Drag Pak with the 354 runs a 2.9-liter Whipple supercharger, but there have been rumors that other superchargers are being tested and considered for the third generation cars. The fact that Mopar literally padlocked the hood of the Drag Pak on display at SEMA made it clear that they really, really didn’t want anyone to see what was under the hood.

Sadly, we don’t know for sure when we will get the full details on the engine of the fourth generation Challenger Drag Pak, but we know that these cars will be in the hands of NHRA race teams in time for the 2020 season. The 2020 NHRA season begins in early February, but the first event that includes the Factory Stock Showdown class is the Gatornationals, running from March 12th through the 15th. Based on that, we figure that the cars will go out sometime in February, if not January, to provide proper test and tuning time for the teams.

Future of Mopar

Next, I asked Bosanac what we can expect from Mopar in the future. While once nothing more than a line of dealership fluids, Mopar has grown to be an international brand that includes replacement parts, performance parts, repair facilities and even uniquely branded FCA vehicles. He explained that while Mopar will continue to do what it has been doing for the past decade, the brand is planning more connectivity in the future. Working with companies like Harman Kardon and Google, Mopar is working on more programs that work through connected services. One example is the Mopar App, which allows you to check the location of your vehicle, or to see if it is due for any service.

Like other automakers, FCA is working to add high tech applications to the vehicle’s infotainment system, bringing similar functions to what you have on your cell phone to your vehicle. Of course, Mopar is always hard at work making sure that our cell phones connect and communicate smoothly with our vehicles, which is sure to continue going forward.

During our discussion, Bosanac pointed out that many of their product offerings are based on customer input. That is what makes Mopar upgrades so popular in the Jeep community, as the Mopar team listens to what owners want along with paying close attention to the most popular aftermarket upgrades. Using the information gathered, Mopar designs popular aftermarket products that can be ordered at the point of sale and installed prior to the vehicle being delivered.

The best example of Mopar’s constant push to please customers is the new Jeep Gladiator. The long-awaited pickup had more than 200 Mopar accessories available when it went on sale. This was possible due to the similarities between the Gladiator and the Wrangler, coupled with popular aftermarket items in the midsized truck segment. As a result, the Jeep pickup is currently the leader across all FCA models in terms of Mopar parts offered and ordered.

That led me to my next question. My wife’s 1994 Ram 1500 had a Mopar Performance engine computer that made it considerably quicker in the quarter mile. The Neon SRT-4 in the early 2000s had a trio of stage kits that added serious power and most recently, the Scat Pack stage kits for the Charger and Challenger offered varying levels of power increases for those models with the 5.7-liter Hemi. However, Mopar has never really offered any performance upgrades for the Hellcat Challenger and Charger. I explained that Hellcat owners have plenty of aftermarket tuning support, but like Jeep owners, some Dodge owners would prefer the ease of ordering more power at the dealership. Something like a stage kit that comes with a smaller supercharger pulley and an ECU with a high performance tune already loaded up would be great for many owners.

Bosanac smiled and simply replied with “stay tuned”.

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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