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 yesterday in Las Vegas. The new race car is destined to make its official on-track NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series debut in Funny Car competition at the 2015 season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals Feb. 5-8 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Following the reveal, the new race car was put on display in the brand’s exhibition area for the SEMA Show, which goes through Nov. 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 carry over 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 at the 300-mph or more speeds that the Funny Cars attain during competition. More than 10 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 minimization 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, 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 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, Mich.
Further confirmation of the data took place with a number of test runs by DSR driver Matt Hagan at NHRA racetracks in Norwalk and Indianapolis. 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 racetrack — is simply amazing.
“It’s also so much brighter, with the biggest improvement for me being visibility. When I sat in it, my lights 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 Hagan in 2011 and Jack Beckman in 2012; earned 68 NHRA Funny Car national titles, 77 runner-up finishes, and 44 No. 1 qualifier positions; and is responsible for 12 of the 33 three-second runs in Funny Car history, including the first one (3.995 seconds), posted by Hagan at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte in September 2011.
“The current piece we’re running is great,” said Hagan. “It was the first Funny Car in the threes 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 for the [Auto Club NHRA] Finals to help us win another championship for Mopar and this great team that I work with at DSR.”