These are the words from Jim Wilder, the vehicle development manager of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, that echo through our head as we slide behind the wheel of the car for the first time. He was warning us about driving beyond our abilities, and keeping the car out of the wall. With 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque on tap from its supercharged, 6.7-liter V8, the Demon does 0-60 miles per hour in 2.3 seconds, and 0-30 mph in a second flat. If something does go wrong, it’ll happen quickly.
Following that talk, we had our guts sloshed as a passenger in a blurry eighth-mile run, giving us a taste of the G forces (the Demon can pull 1.8 G in a straight line) we’d feel when we got in the driver’s seat for our own pass down the drag strip. We’re already sweating.
It had rained – you could describe it as torrential – the day before. The grassy parking areas surrounding Lucas Oil Raceway were still flooded, but any water on the pavement had evaporated and hung in the air. Combined with the heat, we were sticky and uncomfortable.
In Drag Mode, the Dodge Demon’s air conditioning turns off. Any condensation that it could leave on the track would be a problem, plus we need to reduce parasitic power losses for a faster run. The system is still working, though, the refrigerant diverted to the chiller system cooling the air coming into the engine. There’s still condensation, but the Demon collects it on a catch pad to keep it from ending up on the pavement.