Most fun I ever had at school
That’s because the topic was one of my favs, cars, and in this instance I would learn how to drive one on racetrack. The car was the 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody and the racetrack, GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. It was hosted by an organization that I belong to, Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and sponsored by Dodge and Jeep who also provided the 2019 vehicles myself and the other automotive journalists would drive. They included several Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebodys, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Dodge Durango SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. My ride for the day would be this cool blue Challenger. “The MAMA Track School was started as an effort to ensure MAMA members are properly skilled and comfortable when driving on a racetrack, especially since we host two popular track events each year,” said MAMA President Jill Ciminillo.
More zoom, less dollars
With the debut of the R/T Scat Pack Widebody, not only do buyers get the Hellcat Widebody’s aggressive looks, it also costs them about 40% less. Sure you could sell buying this car to your wife because it can carry a couple of kids in the back but don’t tell her that this is probably the best Challenger suited for the track. Shhhh!
The Scat Pack is an option you would add to the R/T-level trim, and it’ll set you back around 42 grand but that includes the destination fee and a gas-guzzler tax of $1,000 on manual-transmission equipped models. You can avoid the tax by getting the automatic transmission but in the end it becomes a wash. The optional automatic transmission avoids the gas-guzzler tax, but its extra cost negates any advantage there. The Widebody package adds another $6,000, throw in leather interior, technology packages and other fun stuff will continue to bump the price well into the high $50,000 range. However, take notes, it’s nearly $20,000 less than a fully loaded Hellcat and provides about as much fun even though the Hellcat has 232 more horsepower.
On the track
R/T Scat Pack plus Widebody equals FUN! Under the hood is the 6.4-liter Hemi V8, putting out 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. Add the 305mm Pirelli P Zero rubber that comes as part of the Widebody package and it’s good for zero-to-60-mph in roughly four seconds when equipped with the eight-speed automatic in the car I drove.
Scat Pack models get a specially tuned version of the three-mode adaptive suspension system that uses stiffer front springs, special shocks, larger sway bars at both the front and back, and big six-piston Brembo front brakes and makes this a fun drive. I experienced this first-hand on the two-mile track with driving instructor Elvis Komskis from CGI Motorsports. Our track training session covered everything from braking techniques, vehicle weight management, vision instructions and appropriate driving position. First Elvis drives showing me the course, then I drive. Then we head back and he shows me way to improve in the sessions that followed.
While I can drive Road America blind folded, at least in the beginning, I drove at GingerMan Raceway like I had one on. But I eventually got the hang of it and managed not to harm Elvis in the process. The layout simulates the full spectrum of driving situations: high-speed straights and short sprints, long sweeping corners and tight apexes, heavy and light braking, and elevation change. It’s a fun course!
The Scat Pack Widebody is a fun car combining the Challenger’s retro styling and the road of a Hemi. It makes for a great track car and gives up very little in terms of everyday drivability to get there. OK, now go sell your wife.
For those that admire the Challenger’s retro style and Hemi roar but have pined for a sharper instrument, look no further. While it’s still more GT than sports car, the Scat Pack Widebody proves that this big coupe can hold its own when given the right tools to work with. And, .