Midwest Mopars in the Park 2010 - Drag Pak Challengers Galore!
Drag Pak Challengers Galore!
By Al Meehan
This year’s event is going to be full of surprises. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, we have another one for you. In an unprecedented display, Midwest Mopars in conjunction with Lofgren Auto Specialties is pleased to present the first ever Drag Pak Challenger reunion! Chuck Lofgren of Lofgren Auto Specialties will have three Drag Pak cars in varying states of race readiness in his display at our 2010 event. As you might imagine these cars are very hard to come by and have very low serial numbers – Chuck’s is #22. Larry Curtiss (who works with Chuck and also owns Curtiss Performance) will have his #26 car there as well as club member Fred Hanson with the #11 car.
A little background: The Dodge Challenger Drag Pak is the first drag race, factory prepped package car built by Mopar in over 40 years and builds on the heritage of the limited edition 1968 HEMI powered Darts and Plymouth Barracudas. Mopar first revealed two of these iconic Dodge Challenger muscle cars at the 29th Annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals on July 13 2008 before thrilled fans at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo. Mopar Mile-High Nationals is the longest-running NHRA sponsorship. Few of these cars are in existence and they are rarely seen except as displayed by the factory or by the few that were lucky enough to obtain one direct from Mopar.
“Big Daddy” Don Garlits and our event’s own Judy “Miss Mighty Mopar” Lilly were behind the wheels for their inaugural track run. Garlits drove the car featuring the Stone White paint scheme. Lilly was behind the wheel of the “Mopar Liquid Metal” prototype. NHRA named Garlits the #1 driver of the Top 50 drivers from its first 50 years. His victories and accomplishments are virtually unmatched in drag-racing history. “Miss Mighty Mopar” is one of the female pioneers in drag racing. Spending 12 years on the NHRA circuit, Lilly is the only female driver to win two NHRA national events in one year.
Mopar built the first two Challenger Drag Race Package Cars for development and testing for its new Challenger Package Car program. Based on the Challenger SRT8®, the prototypes were finished in Stock Eliminator configuration. They ran successfully in June 2008 as proof-of-concept and for NHRA certification.
Mopar dropped approximately 1,000 lbs. off the production Challenger SRT8 by eliminating major production components and systems. Two of the cars in Chuck’s display are planned to run in Stock Eliminator ASA (automatic transmission) and one in A class (manual transmission.) The race weight limitation in this class is 3290 pounds including the driver. To accentuate the weight savings, these cars feature added composite, polycarbonate and lightweight components designed for drag racing. The engine was repositioned to improve driveline angle and weight distribution. The 116-inch wheelbase was shortened by ½ inch. They also feature a front cradle with bolt-in cross member and solid engine mounts. The cars arrive with a special Mopar Performance crate motor installed and a core transmission for shipping purposes. Stock compression is 12.6:1 and while the class requires a stock lift cam there are no restrictions on duration.
In Chuck’s case, he plans to use a .585 duration hydraulic roller cam with 1.6:1 rockers. The intake is a 9” tunnel ram with a 1000CFM throttle body sitting atop. This blueprinted configuration will be coupled to a highly modified 904 automatic transmission in front of a Dana 60 rear end and 9×30 slicks out back. Interestingly, these cars are shipped with no rear suspension – only a cradle configuration installed allowing the car to be rolled around.
Greg Friedrich of Gizmo’s High Performance fabricated and installed the intricate roll cage in both Chuck and Larry’s cars. By the time our event rolls around Chuck plans to have his car nearly race ready while Larry’s will be approximately 50% of the way there. Fred’s will be in “as it left Rousch” condition. In case you are wondering what ET’s a Drag Pak Challenger is capable of, Chuck and Larry fully intend to be in the mid 9’s.
It will be a very interesting display to say the least since you will be able to actually see the transition these cars must make to hit the track and we are honored to have three of these cars celebrate our 26th year with us. If you own one of these very special cars and wish to participate, contact Al Meehan at 651-905-7595.