Mopar Unveils New 2015 Dodge Charger R/T for NHRA Funny Car Competition
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) 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 Feb. 5-9 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.
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,” added 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, 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 race tracks in Norwalk, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Ind. 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, 44 No.1-qualifier positions, and is responsible for 12 of the 33 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.”