On Saturday, August 13, the seventh Roadkill Nights by Dodge will be held at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan and on the stretch of Woodward Avenue running adjacent to the road racing facility. For the sixth time, Roadkill Nights will include legal street racing on Woodward Ave, serving as the most key attraction of the event. Really, the legal street racing is what has made Roadkill Nights so unique since that program was introduced back in 2016, with cars in the field that can run 6- and 7-second quarter mile times laying it all out on the public road.
For the past few years, the racers have been chosen on an application basis, with the organizers selecting both drivers and vehicles which are safe to participate in the street racing program. Although the program is sponsored by Dodge, the racing program is not all Dodge vehicles, but you will see more Challengers and Chargers than Mustangs or Camaros.
That being said, many of the heaviest hitters in the field are Drag Week competitors, most of which rely on some sort of GM power. However, most of the quickest actual street cars – as opposed to race cars with safety features added for legal street use – are Dodge products with some variation of the Hellcat engine architecture.
In addition to the “normal” racing program, which is broken up into big tire and small tire classes, Dodge has held some sort of celebrity shootout at Roadkill Nights. For the first few years of the celebrity grudge match racing, Dodge provided identical vehicles for the celebrities to drive, but that didn’t lead to particularly great racing. It did lead to Richard Rawlings crashing one of the cars and there were some interesting match-ups along the way, but those celebrity racing programs weren’t all that exciting.
Last year, Dodge sent Challengers and Chargers to a handful of YouTubers who were free to do pretty much whatever they wanted to the cars with a $10,000 budget, but they had to keep the engine and the body. That led to a far more interesting racing program, as a few of the teams went all-out, creating monster race cars that cost far more than $10,000 while some others spent very little on their build. That shootout was won by Alex Taylor, whose build would have cost well into the six figure range, but the car looked great and ran great, and she got it down the slick track.
For 2022, the celebrity shootout is called the Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Match and it features last year’s winner and eight other competitors. Returning from 2021 are Freddy Hernandez, Westen Champlin and the Throtl team of Mickey Andrade, Rickie Fernandez and Quinn Clark, along with Alex Taylor. The list of new racers for 2022 includes Herman Young (better known as Demonology online), Tony Arme, Christina Roki, David Patterson and Collete Davis. If you don’t recognize many or any of the names, don’t feel bad.
We had to search to see who most of them were as well, and in doing so, we found that some of them don’t have any drag racing experience and others have never driven a thousand horsepower, rear wheel drive car, but they are going to have to launch a race car with upwards of a thousand horsepower on Woodward Avenue.
A fun change for the 2022 celebrity grudge racing program is that the competitors can use the vehicle of their choice. Rather than a field of new Challengers and Chargers, there is a unique spread of new and classic Mopar vehicles. Last year’s winner, Alex Taylor, is bringing out a ‘50s Plymouth Savoy and Collete Davis is coming with a ‘60s Dodge Lancer.
Freddy Hernandez is coming with a modern Charger with a two-door pickup truck conversion while Throtl is putting the provided drivetrain in a second generation Viper. David Patterson is building a Redeye-powered Magnum and Tony Arme is putting his supercharged Hemi in a classic Challenger. Herman Young and Christina Roki will be piloting modern Challengers and it appears as though Westen Champlin will be back with another wicked modern Charger.
The big twist for this year’s grudge match is that they are all required to use a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission behind the Hellcrate Redeye Hemi. They are allowed to modify the engine, so they will all be making far more than the standard 797 horsepower output of that supercharged crate engine. They will be using Direct Connection components, so if nothing else, the Stage 2 kit will put them all up around 900 horsepower. After proper tuning, we are likely to see a field of 1,000 horsepower cars.
So, a handful of YouTubers who have never drag raced anything – let alone a rear-wheel-drive car with a manual transmission on the street – will have to figure out how to keep the cars straight in front of the Roadkill Nights by Dodge crowd. The Roadkill “drag strip” is tricky for experienced racers who have literally spent years practicing, so it should really be interesting to see this year’s field work with the combination of big power, a slick surface, rear-drive and three pedals.
If you live in the Metro Detroit area and you are a fan of Dodge or Mopar performance, the odds are good that you have attended Roadkill Nights in the past and you know that it is truly one of the most unique automotive events in the world. If you live outside of the Detroit area and you are a fan of Dodge, Mopar or drag racing in general, I promise that Roadkill Nights is worth the trip to the Motor City.
The hand-picked field of racers, with some of the quickest street legal machines in the world, makes for an exciting day of racing while the venue of Woodward Ave creates a challenge for the drivers that is unlike any dedicated drag strip.
Finally, in addition to all of the legal street racing, Roadkill Nights has a gigantic “cruise-in” field that is Dodge and Mopar heavy, but there are some vehicles from other brands on display. Much like the racing field, the show field is mostly Mopar, but there are always some nice Chevy, Ford and import models as well.
There is also a huge collection of food trucks with all sorts of food for purchase, a handful of Dodge displays where you can buy apparel, a children’s area with bounce houses and the Dodge Thrill Rides – which allow attendees to ride shotgun in a Hellcat car that is being piloted by a skilled stunt driver on the road course or on the skid pad.
The racing registration was closed quite some time ago, but general admission tickets for adults (13-and-older) are still available for $25, while kids under 13 get in for free with an adult. There are also still tickets for the cruise-in area available for $125, which includes parking inside of the track facility and admission for two adults.