A fitting end for the Hemi and I get to drive it!
Mark and I have gotten several great opportunities to drive really fun cars but one of two came recently at a media event at Road America. We go to this annual event, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally. There the manufacturers have cars we can drive, some on Road America’s fantastic four miles. We both love this track.
So we get the list of cars and on the list is the Black Ghost. Dodge has always had a knack for pounding big V8s into its cars and this one is a true classic. Besides the handling upgrades, they shoehorned an 800 hp Hemi into it. What makes this special edition so special is that it’s the final call for the Challenger and they only made 300 of them. This was number 7! I’ve never driven a car this rare and might not ever again.
For you Mopar fans this is a throwback to Challengers of the 70s when they offered special editions like this that rocked street racing. The 23 edition is based on the widebody SRT Hellcat Redeye model, but it boosts the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8’s output by 10 ponies to a total of 807 horsepower.
The Black Ghost appropriately comes in Pitch Black with a black faux-gator-skin roof vinyl that mimics the look of the original. It also features a chrome “Dodge” front badge, a white stripe on the rear fender, and chrome script “Challenger” badges on the grille, front fender, and rear spoiler. It rides on 20-inch Satin Carbon wheels, and stopping power comes via black six-piston Brembo brakes.
I know what you’re thinking, enuf yacking, what about the drive? I’m getting to it. For cars like this, we get a professional driver that rides along with us. This is fantastic because they know the track way better than we do and can give us the entry, exit, and apexes. They also know how the car brakes and where we should pour on the beans to get the best experience driving a fantastic car.
Ok so here’s how it works. We line up at the end of the pit road and are let go at intervals so that we don’t overtake the car ahead of us. There’s no passing on the track. We are reminded several times before we go out and reminded that this is not a race. We also want to give the car back to its manufacturer at the end of the day in one piece.
So I get the green light and immediately mash the throttle down to the floor. Good Geeze! The tires screeched, engine sounds roars, and I get pinned back into my seat! My reaction was to start laughing hysterically like I was on a thrill ride. Btw, I love those. We rocket toward turn one where I put on the binders and turn in. A turn later we’re rocking down the Moraine Sweep but slowed down by a cone kink. Think I hit 125. But bleeding off the speed we picked up and then making a hard left and up under the Corvette bridge then another hard left and then a right to Hurry Downs building up speed and hitting the binders again hard and turning right into the long sweeping Carousel. Here my coach tells me to apex late in the turn. Now we blast to the kink where there’s another set of cones to slow us down. I can almost hear the car asking me why.
Our last chance to hear the engine roar is Kettle Bottoms where I get the speedo to hit 129 before another cone kink then onto Canada Corner, turn 13 and finally turn 14, up the hill and back into the Paddock area where the ride ends. Wow, what a ride, what a ride.
Smiling ear to ear it’s a ride I will never forget. Oh did I mention that the car I drive before that was a brand-new Corvette? Another fantastic ride but the cars couldn’t be farther apart. The Vette is more like a professional athlete, with toned muscles, and can run a 440 in 45 seconds while the Challenger had plenty of muscle but was more like a hooligan you’d find in an Irish bar. Both you’d want in your corner as one of your buddies.
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Which would I buy, if money was no object, and it is? Probably would lean towards the Corvette since it’s the total package even though it costs more. It’s fast, handles like a dream, and looks so darn cool. It is a car I have lusted over since it came out in 2019. Mark and I had one out on a Sunday drive up to a local small airport I frequent and the trip was magical. It had just come out and everyone looked at it. Yup, we were the cool guys in the new Vette for one day.
If you’re lucky enough to have 100 grand and be one of 300 Black Ghosts, you will own a piece of history since this is the end of the line for the Challenger and the Hemi. You can thank the numbskulls in Washington for essentially making cars like this go away and try to replace them with EVs claiming that will save the planet, which it won’t. Yup, I’m wearing my feelings on my sleeve but for me once you take an internal combustion engine out of a car and replace it with an electric, it has no sole. Sure you get great acceleration but there’s no rumble at start up and roar when you punch the gas peddle. Cars like the Black Ghost will rocket in value in the coming years while a comparable EV will just fade into the sunset.
Thanks for stopping by and putting up with my politics but hey, I’m a Petrohead. Check back next Friday for another one of my spots along with some of its history. Have a great weekend.