A CHALLENGER HELLCAT & A HOT LAP AT BONDURANT HIGH PERFORMANCE DRIVING SCHOOL
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been on the track – so when I thought I was showing up to a media event to learn about the new management that operates the Bondurant High Performance Driving School with a featured ride along in their 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat, I was in for a bit of a surprise when they told me to grab a helmet and get in a car. Granted, this said car featured the black key which only allocated 500-horsepower from the 6.2-liter Supercharged HEMI V-8 SRT engine.
Our original purpose for this event had to do with the movie Ford v Ferrari staring Christian Bale and Matt Damon. This was to be a meet, greet and questionnaire for the racing instruction Rob Knipe who taught Bale how to drive for the movie. Considering our track experience is limited, it was enlightening to hear the simplest techniques of driving we use every day are applied to track use – just on a much grander scale. Things such as elevating your eyes for a wide angle perspective, look where you want the car go, resist temptation for target fixation. These are key elements that go into driving on a track along with considering weight transfer with acceleration; better grip comes from less application from the gas pedal, and taking in consideration of nose diving upon braking.
Little did I know it was these fundamental facts I would have to take to the track later that evening. With six Challenger Hellcats on the track, four where student cars and the other two were the instructors lead car (those had the red key.) Out of those two, one featured the six-speed manual TREMEC transmission while the other had the intensifying, quick shifting, TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic. Set for the track – the instructors were not about to go easy on us. After all we should have some driving experience. They set off with us to follow and the 500-horsepower from the black key was surefire enough for me. Within the first lap I soon discovered how easily relaxing the Challenger Hellcat is to drive. Its demeanor quickly terrifies you, but after seeing how easily controllable it is, it makes you want to see how far you can push yourself.
We only had three laps in the car and they were over faster than its 0-60 mph time. But the sensation will last at least as long as its quarter mile run.
With Dodge being the official supplier for Bondurant, we were greeted with their newest 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat that now encompasses a Widebody design. This new Hellcat Widebody allows for the Challenger and Charger to have fatter 11-inch wide rubber on its 20-inch rims. Fatter tires also distribute a quicker 0-60 time with 3.6-seconds on the clock and 10.96-seconds in a quarter mile– don’t blink. The Hellcat also comes equipped with a new electric power steering system for improved steering feel and easier control at lower level speeds. But the Widebody isn’t just for the Hellcat, it is also available on the R/T Scat Pack that features its own list of upgraded suspension, drive modes, and tires with quicker performance.