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2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car burns rubber into SEMA [w/video]

Tue, 04 Nov 2014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is showing off a completely redesigned Dodge Charger Funny Car at this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas and it's ready to blow through the NHRA timing lights next year. Initially, the shape might look like any of the other entrants in its class burning through the quarter mile, but this is the first comprehensive rethink for the racecar's aerodynamics since 2006, says Dodge.

Draped in classy red and black Mopar livery, the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T NHRA Funny Car tries to share the front and rear styling with its roadgoing counterpart, plus the scallops along the side, but this racer is all about crossing the finish line first.

The major goals for the redesign included making the body stronger and lighter without sacrificing aerodynamics, and that has been done with materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber. However, engineers have accomplished even more. By moving the cockpit further back, they've increased engine clearance and improved driver visibility.

To prove that the changes work, the body has undergone extensive wind tunnel testing and done runs at NHRA tracks with Don Schumacher Racing driver Matt Hagan driving. He was rather impressed with the alterations to the look. "It's also so much brighter, with the biggest improvement for me being visibility," Hagan said in the model's announcement. "I really think it's going to improve the driving ability of anyone fortunate enough to get behind the wheel of it."

The redesign still has a lot to live up to, though. The current Charger Funny Car body won 68 national titles and 2 NHRA Funny Car World Championships. What's more, in 2011, the Charger was the first vehicle in its class to manage a sub-four-second run at 3.995-seconds in the quarter mile.

It won't be long before the new drag racer will actually prove itself against the competition. Don Schumacher Racing will give the Charger its maiden outing at the 2015 Winternationals on February 5-9 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, CA. Scroll down to watch an Autoblog video on this new race car and to check out the official press release about a Funny Car that's nothing to laugh at.

Mopar Unveils New 2015 Dodge Charger R/T for NHRA Funny Car Competition

? Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)'s Mopar and Dodge brands reveal a new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car drag racing vehicle at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas

? The new Mopar race car will be on display in the brand's exhibition area for the SEMA Show from Nov. 4–7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center

? The 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car will make its official National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) on-track debut at the 2015 season-opening Winternationals event on February 5-9 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California

? Mopar, Dodge and Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) collaborate to build first new Funny Car body since 2006

? The current Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car has won 68 national titles, two NHRA Funny Car World Championships, 43 No.1 Qualifier honors, and posted the first 3- second run in NHRA history

? Design of 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T is stronger and lighter with no loss in aerodynamic performance compared to the current race vehicle

? DSR driver Matt Hagan helped validate the windtunnel resultsfor new body with test runs at NHRA race tracks in Norwalk, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana

Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov. 4, 2014) -Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)'s Mopar and Dodge brands unveiled a new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T drag racing vehicle at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show today in Las Vegas. The new race car is destined to 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 Winternationals event on February 5-9 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

Following the reveal, the new race car will be on display in the brand's exhibition area for the SEMA Show from Nov. 4–7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car was designed and developed on a virtual platform, using the same production-based technology and tools applied to the street vehicles, in a collaboration between FCA production and race engineers and the Don Schumacher Racing team.

"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. "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 intensely to ensure that styling from the production version of the 2015 Dodge Charger was reflected in the Funny Car with similar design cues like scalloped sides and front and rear ends to make it easily recognizable to fans. Also included in the design process was the conscious decision to add durability and increase strength to the construction of the one-piece body with the use of composite materials including 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. "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," said Bailey.

Not only was the development of the new Funny Car body a result of in-house engineering expertise but the project tapped into top-level academic outside resources as well by working in conjunction with the University of North Carolina on an extensive study to improve the strength and durability of the body composition. The engineering team also was challenged to carryover the aerodynamic properties of the previous version while making the new body more lightweight.

Sight-line studies contributed to the new design by incorporating geometry changes that moved back the windshield and greenhouse (cockpit area) to provide improvements to visibility for the drivers, which is critical due at the 300 miles per hour (mph) or more speeds that the Funny Cars attain during competition. More than ten added degrees of side visibility and a doubling of upward visibility were gained with that design change alone. Another major benefit of the redesign includes minimized of the effects of potential destructive forces on the car by providing proper clearance for the injectors, blowers and engine, all while maintaining the series' sanctioning body's extensive list of guidelines and standards.

"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, Indiana. "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 new 2015 Mopar Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car design was developed with the design process and team of engineers who worked on the 2014 Mopar Dodge Dart Pro Stock vehicle introduced earlier this year. It was then validated with aerodynamic wind tunnel testing at the company's facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Further confirmation of the data took place with a number of test runs by DSR driver Matt Hagan at NHRA race tracks in Norwalk, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Hagan's first impressions were overwhelmingly positive.

"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 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.

"It's also so much brighter, with the biggest improvement for me being visibility. When I sat in it, my lights [reaction time] improved. I really think it's going to improve the driving ability of anyone fortunate enough to get behind the wheel of it. Making Friday night qualifying runs with the new body is going to be so much fun," said Hagan.

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, earned 68 NHRA Funny Car national titles, 77 Runner-up finishes, 43 No.1- qualifier positions, and is responsible for 11 of the 32 three-second runs in Funny Car history, including the very first one (3.995-seconds) posted by Hagan at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina in September 2011.

"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."

Mopar Brand

Mopar (a simple contraction of the words Motor and PARts) was trademarked in 1937 with the launch of an antifreeze product but truly made its mark in the 1960s during the muscle-car era. From Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use, the brand soon expanded to include technical service and customer support.

Today, Mopar is FCA's service, parts and customer-care brand and distributes more than 500,000 parts and accessories in more than 130 markets, integrating service, parts and customer-care operations in order to enhance dealer and customer support worldwide. Mopar is the source for genuine parts and accessories for FCA brands.

Mopar parts are unique in that they are engineered with the same teams that create factory- authorized vehicle specifications for FCA vehicles – a direct connection that no other aftermarket parts company can provide. A complete list of Mopar accessories and performance parts is available at

Mopar-first Features

Mopar has introduced numerous industry-first features including:
? Vehicle-information apps: first to introduce smartphone vehicle-information applications, a new channel of communication with customers

? Electronic owner manuals: first to introduce traditional owner manuals in a DVD and brief user-guide format. First to offer complete vehicle-information kits in Spanish

? Wi-Fi: first to offer customers the ability to make their vehicle a wireless hot spot

? Wireless charging: first to introduce in-vehicle wireless charging for portable devices

? Electronic Vehicle Tracking System (EVTS): first to market with interactive vehicle
tracking device that sends owner a text when vehicle is driven too fast or too far based
on pre-set parameters

? wiAdvisor: first to provide factory-connected tablet technology in the service lane for
instant vehicle diagnosis

? wiTech: first to support vehicle diagnosis and software updates leveraging off-the-shelf
personal computers and a dedicated wireless tool network

? 2011 Mopar Challenger Drag Pak: first to introduce a 500-plus cubic-inch V-10 drag-
race package car


By Chris Bruce

See also: Motorweek goes retro with '80s hot hatch shootout, An inside look at Mopar's SEMA fleet, 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.