Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) Mopar and Dodge brands introduced its new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T drag racing vehicle at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show this week in Las Vegas.
The new vehicle will make its official on-track National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series debut in Funny Car competition at the 2015 season-opening Winter nationals event Feb. 5-9 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
The race car will be on display in the brand's exhibition area at the SEMA show at the Las Vegas Convention Center from Nov. 4-7.
FCA production and race engineers and the Don Schumacher Racing team designed and developed the new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car on a virtual platform, by using the same production-based technology and tools applied to the street vehicles, according to the automaker.
"We're very pleased to further demonstrate Mopar's commitment to providing quality performance parts and reiterate our dedication to NHRA drag racing and our Mopar fans with the introduction of this new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO -Mopar Service, Parts and Customer Care in a statement. "The process of designing and building this new race car has been a true collaborative effort between our own engineering team (the same one that designs our production Charger and Challenger street vehicles) and Don Schumacher Racing, and we are very excited with what we have brought to fruition. It's just another great example of Mopar's continuing commitment to provide quality engineering and performance parts, while staying true to our roots of racing innovation in a year that we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic 426 Race HEMI engine."
Project engineers worked hard to make sure that styling from the production vehicles of the 2015 Dodge Charger was reflected in the Funny Car with similar design cues that fans will recognize like scalloped sides and front and rear ends.
The team decided during the design process to add durability and increase strength to the construction of the one-piece body by using composite materials like Kevlar and carbon.
"We're very excited with the results of our efforts and look forward to seeing the new-look DSR cars make their debut in the 2015 season opening race," said David Bailey, Senior Manager - SRT Motorsports Engineering and Design, in a statement. "A lot of planning and work went into designing and building the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car. From the first steps of creating Computer Aided Design (CAD) models into a package model by the FCA Engineers, to working with designers from the Product Design Office (PDO) to include proportions and style cues taken from the production version of the 2015 Dodge Charger, it all came together nicely.
"Through all these design reviews, engineering changes were made to the theme with the primary goal of improving the durability, strength and aerodynamic performance of the new vehicle while maintaining all NHRA dimensional requirements. I think we can all be happy with the results," Bailey added.
The Funny Car was a result of in-house engineering expertise and top-level outside resources by working in conjunction with the University of North Carolina on a study to improve the durability and strength of the body composition.
The engineering team was presented with the task of carryover the aerodynamic properties of the previous version along with making the new body more lightweight.
Studies contributed to the design by including geometry alterations that moved back the windshield and greenhouse (cockpit area) to provide improvements to visibility for the drivers, which is key since the vehicle can reach 300 miles per hour (mph) or more during competition.
Another benefit of the redesign is that the designers minimized the effects of potential destructive forces on the car by providing proper clearance for the injectors, blowers and engine.
"A lot of effort has gone into developing this new body during the past year, and Don Schumacher Racing is blessed to have the kind of wonderful partners we have with Mopar and Dodge to commit internal expertise and invest in this important project," said Don Schumacher, owner of the Don Schumacher Racing team based in Brownsburg, Ind. "We have developed a remarkable relationship over the years. Increased visibility, increased downforce and reduced resistance are key elements of this new Dodge Charger body that will enhance performance of our team in both elapsed time and speed. In nine seasons with the current body, we won 68 national titles and two Funny Car world championships, and we're looking to excel from there with this exciting new vehicle."
The current Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car was introduced in 2006 and to date has won two consecutive NHRA Funny Car World Championships with Matt Hagan in 2011 and Jack Beckman in 2012.
"The opportunity to test drive the 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car has been just phenomenal, and I can't get in it again soon enough," said DSR driver Hagan, winner of the 2011 NHRA Funny Car World Championship and contender for the 2014 title with just one national event left in the season. "The new Mopar Funny Car designers, engineers and our fabrication shop at DSR did just a phenomenal job on this piece. The car - how mean it looks, the way it handles, the way it runs on the race track- is simply amazing.
"The current piece we're running is great," said Hagan. "It was the first Funny Car in the 'threes' [to run under four seconds] and has run 320-mph many times, but this new body is definitely an improvement, and I'm really excited for the future with this new race car. It's great for our sport to have Mopar invest in our sport. I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the new car during real competition next year. I just wish we could have it at Pomona (Calif.) for the Finals to help us win another championship for Mopar and this great team that I work with at DSR."