There are those days where I really love my job. That’s almost every day, but there are those special ones where I get to play on race tracks with cars that I have been dreaming about getting behind the wheel of. My day at the office couldn’t get much better than trying out Chrysler’s latest lineup including Viper, Challenger, Charger and even off-road vehicles like the Jeep Renegade.
Below is a nice sampling of the current Chrysler lineup with a few standouts and even a first time off-road experience.
Dodge Viper GT:
My first outing of the day was in this grey Viper. Being one of the more powerful cars in the lineup, this one required a professional driver to ride shotgun.
Only being my second time putting tires to the pavement at Willow Springs, I wanted to be sure I learned my lines before adding significant speed. The Viper is such an easy car to gain confidence in while on track. Torque delivery is progressive and the power delivery felt never-ending and constantly fast at any speed. The transmission suits the massive motor with smooth, satisfying shifts.
After just my second lap in the car I began to feel confident enough to push it. Heading onto the front straight, I caught a quick glimpse of the speedo which read somewhere in the 120 MPH range.
The look and feel of the interior is just as awesome as the exterior with plush leather and bold stitching throughout. I loved the Viper graphics in the instrument panel and the overall driver centric feel inside the car.
Check out the video for more (no car sound due to high wind noise):
Dodge Charger Scat Pack:
The second car I had a chance to jump in was the Dodge Charger Scat Pack. This time, I was able to drive, and ride, with a fellow Journalist friend (sitting passenger in the video).
Now that I’d had some time on track I felt more comfortable with my line and even began to pick up some significant speed. Having tested a Challenger Scat Pack, I’d been wanting to give the four-door Charger a try.
I was impressed by the ultra-quick torque delivery and impressive power output. Opting for paddle shifting, I felt more in control down shifting and up shifting in and out of each corner. Again, I was getting speeds in the 120 MPH range on the front straight but was feeling all-around more confident.
Being that I hadn’t been in the Challenger Scat Pack since late 2014, I was impressed all over again with this car. As much as I love the body design of the Challenger, the Charger looks pretty awesome in Plum Crazy.
Dodge Challenger Hellcat:
The most powerful of the cars I had the opportunity to drive was the Challenger Hellcat. It is pretty hard to top 707 HP. While it may look like your average Challenger from the outside, it’s anything but.
By the time I got in this bad boy I’d worked up enough practice to really push it during my two laps. Being as powerful as it is, I had another professional sitting passenger while I drove.
Immediately I could hear and feel the Supercharger wailing with every press of the throttle. Thrilled to finally be behind the wheel of this car, I asked my co-pilot how I was doing. He said I had gained about 20 MPH in the back chicane and was consistently driving the correct line. And with a good line comes more speed. In this car I was hitting in the 130 MPH range on the straight.
In this video, my camera decided to flip upside down during my lap. The angle is actually pretty cool, though (no car sound due to high wind noise):
Hot Lap in a Dodge Viper ACR:
Just when you think you’re going pretty fast, get in the car with a pro driver and you’ll feel like an old lady. That’s just what happened after I got harnessed into the ACR.
We were going into corners so fast and so hard that the aero bits at the front would scrape. It went so incredibly fast and the driver even had the confidence to talk me through the lap as he flogged the thing. I asked how many G’s this car could get going into a corner and he said 1.5 but he was going about 1.3 just to play it safe. I couldn’t stop from smiling.
The video probably doesn’t demonstrate the insane speed I was experiencing, but you’ll get a pretty good idea:
Off-road in the Jeep Renegade:
Most people would say I’m nuts for going around a racetrack. Well, I have to say that I feel more confident driving at 130 MPH on a track then going off-road at 5 MPH. I attempted off-roading for the first time in the Jeep Renegade.
The course set for the Jeeps was challenging to say the least. Portions had the Jeep two wheels up on massive rocks and there were even several points at which I could not see if there was any ground in front of me. Hands down this was the scariest thing I participated in all day.
Other than not being able to see the path in front, each time the Jeep hit an odd angle the differential made a terrible noise that scared me more than the actual angle we were in. According to the Jeep expert sitting next to me, this sound was normal…I’ll take his word for it. Naturally, when going over a large dip you tend to want to take it slow but applying a little throttle is actually what’s advised.
The video will give a better picture of what I was seeing. While this experience was a good one, I think I’ll stick to the track from now on (no car sound due to high wind noise):