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  • Writer's pictureNick Cavanaugh @Car_Sick_Nick

Dodge Celebrates HEMI Day

Giving Fans a Behind-the-scenes Look at Challenger SRT Demon 170’s Helicopter-drop Reveal

To celebrate HEMI Day on April 26, the Dodge brand is launching a 22-minute video, “Dodge Demon 170: Devil in the Details,” capturing the stunning reveal of the 1,025-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 in Las Vegas last month. Dodge owners, fans and enthusiasts will learn how the epic stunt came to life at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 20, 2023, and hear from Dodge executives, including Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis, the manager of the Challenger SRT program, the helicopter pilot who safely delivered the Demon 170 onto the track, and insiders. including Jay Leno, who describe their inspiration behind the reveal and passion for the Dodge brand. "Dodge Demon 170: Devil in the Details" can be viewed on DodgeGarage.com.


Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand CEO, said at the event, “There was no way we were going to let this era end quietly. We wanted to go out with a bang, and our goal with the reveal of the Demon 170 was ultimately about celebrating our 13 million-plus fans and giving them pride in ownership.”


Added Kuniskis about the helicopter reveal with the Demon 170 hovering high above, “I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous when the car was rotating but you can’t practice something like that, you gotta go ‘no net.’ So, it kind of fits with the car, right?”


Some facts and details of the event include:

  • The Demon 170 at event was elevated at the rear end prior to its reveal on the track and run for three to four miles to get the transmission, the driveline, the differential, all the grease, all the metal pieces that are spinning, warmed up to temperature, so that when it was on the track hot, the Demon 170 was ready to go

  • The milestone completed for testing the Demon 170 on the dragstrip was 100 passes

  • Helicopter pilot Neal Jenson needed to be in constant contact with Nellis Air Force Base, as he says, “Their runway is right over there. The problem that (Nellis Air Force Base has) is their planes are taking off or landing, I’m right in their path”

  • The K-MAX helicopter was originally designed and produced by Kaman in the early 90s and began production in 1995 in Bloomfield, Connecticut. It was bult to lift external loads. Sixty K-MAX helicopters were produced over 30 years

  • K-MAX helicopter blades are unique. The rotor blades are made out of wood. They absorb the twist. Wood is the only material that can absorb that twist and maintain its strength

  • The generator used for the daylong event could power a town of 50,000 people

  • The production truck, built specifically for live television, could handle up to 22 cameras

  • The event took place at the Las Vegas Speedway, which is near the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and home of the Thunderbirds, the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron assigned to the 57th Wing

“Drag testing is difficult because every pass on the dragstrip is a different surface. The temperature may change. The rubber and the glue on the surface may change. Did you warm the tire up to exactly or very close to the very same temperature during your burnout? Did you line up cross track, left, right, in the same spot? And then on top of that as the driver, am I applying the throttle at the exact same rate to get consistency?," said Jim Wilder, vehicle development manager, Challenger SRT program. "Being consistent is super, super important. Putting performance out there in a product is one thing, but putting the performance out there in a car that lives is an absolute must. If you can run down the track 10 times and set crazy track times and performance ... if that car dies, that’s not a production car. This is a VIN car that’s going to drive to the grocery store.”

Conrad Piccirillo, director of Dodge Last Call Powered by Roadkill Nights Vegas: “First of all, nothing can go wrong. We have a helicopter carrying a 1,000-horsepower car near an air force base over a track. So, what we want to have happen is simple. Things that fly, we need them to fly. Things that drive, we need the rubber side down. That’s it.”

“You break a lot of eggs making an omelet, right?," added Wilder. "It’s the old saying, and we have. We’ve broken a lot of engines, we’ve broken transmissions, we’ve broken prop shafts, we’ve broken differentials. At the end of the day, we come together, we put all the pieces together, and we end up with the fastest, quickest, most powerful Challenger muscle car in the world, mass-produced car.”

Car aficionado Jay Leno: “They always talk about the 60s as the Golden Age of the muscle car. This is the Golden Age of the muscle car.”

The Dodge brand unveiled its seventh and final “Last Call” special-edition model in a dramatic helicopter-drop debut during the Dodge Last Call Powered by Roadkill Nights Vegas performance festival at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 20, 2023. The 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 pulls the highest G-force acceleration of any production car at 2.004 gs, hits the 60-ft. mark in 1.24 seconds, and reaches 60 mph in 1.66 seconds on its way to a quarter-mile elapsed time (ET) of 8.91 seconds at 151.17 mph.

A replay of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 entire reveal, as well as event highlights from Dodge Last Call Powered by Roadkill Nights Vegas event, is available for viewing at DodgeGarage.com.

Production of the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 will begin this summer and total series production volume will be limited to not more than 3,300 units, with 3,000 for the U.S. and 300 for Canada. Actual production volume could be less depending on production capacity and component availability.

HEMI Day is a reference to the numerical version of the date, 4/26, which corresponds with the displacement of the 426 cubic-inch HEMI V-8 of 1964-1971 known as "The Elephant."


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