How You Can Drag Race the Demon Despite the NHRA Ban

NHRA rules require a cage in any car that runs 9s. The Demon doesn't have one, but that won't stop you from racing it.

DW Burnett / PUPPYKNUCKLES

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon runs the quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds. That's great news for drag racing fans—it's the quickest factory-stock quarter-mile car ever built. But as Dodge was happy to point out at the car's unveiling in New York, that means the Demon is technically banned from NHRA events, which require a full roll cage in any car that runs 9s.

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Does that mean you won't be able to run your Demon at NHRA events? Not quite.

"Anything that runs under 10 seconds or over 135 mph requires an NHRA certified cage," Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands at Fiat Chrysler, told Road & Track. "But you've got to remember: We ran 9.65 with [Challenger SRT development manager and experienced drag racer] Jim Wilder driving the car, probably having 500 runs under his belt, having a ton of seat time in the car, on a good prepped track surface.

"For the average owner, the trans brake is a pretty difficult feature to figure out," Kusinskis explained. "It's gonna take the average owner quite a while to get really comfortable with the car [...] before they get into the nine-second range. But they need to know, the car has that absolute capability once they get that technique down and are able to drive it to the absolute limit, and that's the reason we had it NHRA certified."

And luckily for those Demon owners, the nine-second cage rule only applies to individual cars. So if you show up at an NHRA-sanctioned event and the best you can do is a 10.01-second quarter-mile? You're in the clear, and you can run as long as you like. But as soon as you dip into the nines, you'll have to have a cage or you're done for the day.

If you're a serious drag-racing Demon owner, though, don't think of the 9.65 factory time as the absolute limit for your Challenger.

"I know that people are gonna go and put real slicks on it instead of the drag radials, and they're gonna do some of the other things they do in the tuning industry," Kuniskis told R&T. "And that's honestly why we upgraded the drivetrain as much as we did. The drivetrain is really upgraded, and the trans brake is actually set to go to 2350 rpm. On [factory] drag radials you're never gonna launch this car at 2350—you'll launch it below that, so you can spike the converter a little bit. But the guy who's gonna put real slicks on it probably will get up to the 2000-2300 range, so we wanted to give them that capability built in from day one," he told us.

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Just make sure you've got an NHRA-approved cage if you decide to go that route (plenty of which are available through the aftermarket). Because with genuine, non-DOT drag slicks and an experienced driver, the Challenger SRT Demon will undoubtedly run deep into the low nines.

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