Gallery: Roadkill Nights New Location Does Not Disappoint

Since Roadkill Nights was first Powered by Dodge back in August 2015, the festival of all things horsepower has been held in Pontiac, Michigan. That first year, it was held in the parking lot of the now-demolished Pontiac Silverdome.

From 2016 through 2022, Roadkill Nights was hosted by the M1 Concourse road racing facility in Pontiac while the drag racing program took place on the stretch of Woodward Avenue that borders the east side of the track complex.

However, due to an ongoing roadwork project near M1, Roadkill Nights 2023 had to move further north into downtown Pontiac to a section of Woodward Avenue called “The Loop”. Rather than the road racing facility, Dodge used a large parking lot as the headquarters of the event, while more components of Roadkill Nights were moved onto local streets.

In addition to the legal street racing program, one of the Dodge Thrill Rides was located on a stretch of Woodward Avenue while a second Thrill Ride area was offered inside of the venue. The Cruise-In area was moved outside of the venue, allowing the “show cars” to line Saginaw Street, so on the west side of the huge parking lot you had racing and drag racing-type thrill rides while on the east side, you had the Cruise-In vehicles.

The main area of 2023 Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge housed the racer pits, rows of vendors, a multitude of food trucks and other concessions, a large section of grandstands to view the racing program, the aforementioned Thrill Ride area, the VIP area and Direct Connection Alley.

In Direct Connection Alley, event attendees could check out all of the Dodge Last Call cars, along with a fully carbon fiber-bodied classic Dodge Charger, a modern Challenger Body-in-White, a Challenger Drag Pak, an array of Hemi crate engines and display boards of many other Direct Connection performance parts.

There was also the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon drag racing simulator while at the southern edge of the property, you could sign up to test drive the new Dodge Hornet around Pontiac.

While the layout of Roadkill Nights was different, all of the main attractions from the past years were there, and best of all, it was almost dust-free and mud-free. One of the downsides of the M1 Concourse is that large sections of the grounds are dirt, so in past years where there was no rain, the dust has been horrible.

By the end of the day during those dry years, most of the Cruise-In and display cars would be covered in a thick layer of dust. In the event that it rained, all of that dirt turned to mud and that led to a huge mess in high foot traffic areas. It poured rain for about an hour this year, but since almost all of the downtown Pontiac is paved, there was no mud and no dust prior to the rain.

That rain caused a delay of about two hours for the racing program, so they had to eliminate some of the time trial/qualifying time, but the Roadkill Nights track crew did a great job of drying out the track as soon as the rain stopped.

When the sun came out, the jet dryer started making slow passes up and down each lane, followed by a tractor that laid down fresh rubber. The rain surely made things a bit more slippery than earlier in the day, but the organizers still fit the whole racing program in before the concert began at 7:30.

That concert was the latest addition to Roadkill Nights, as the Dodge brand works to constantly keep the event fresh. At the Roadkill Nights Las Vegas event earlier this year, Diplo performed to end the evening.

The Michigan event, they brought in legendary rap superstar Ice Cube. He played for about an hour, playing many of his most popular songs to a large, energetic crowd and he put on an incredible show.

While Roadkill Nights is Powered by Dodge, 2023 brought about another year where the winners of the Big Tire and Small Tire classes were not powered by Dodge or Mopar engines. For the second year in a row, Jimmer Kline won the Big Tire class, this time driving his son’s 1966 Pontiac Acadian.

The Small Tire class, Mikael Borggren drove his LS-powered 1987 Volvo wagon to victory – also for the second year in a row. Jimmer Kline and his son have dominated the Roadkill Nights Big Tire class over the years and as one of the quickest cars in the Hot Rod Drag Week lineup, Borggren’s Volvo is known for being one of the quickest street cars in the world.

In addition to crowning a winner in the Big Tire and Small Tire classes, Dodge awards $5,000 to the Quickest Dodge in each class. The Quickest Dodge in the Big Tire class was the 1968 Dart, driven by Lenny Melton, who also took home the Quickest Dodge titles in 2017 and 2022.

In the Small Tire class, Peter Bokedon’s 1972 Dart took the Quickest Dodge title for a remarkable fifth-straight year. However, neither of the two Quickest Dodge winners qualified for the Quick 8 shootout in either of the classes.

The one class where Dodge products did shine on the track was the Direct Connection Grudge Match. Six teams of mentor-and-rookie pairs were selected to compete, with each given a HellCrate Redeye engine and $15,000 to build a race car.

The only rules were that they had to use the Redeye engine and they had to build a Dodge or Plymouth vehicle, so the rules were similar to last year, except for 2022, the teams had to use a manual transmission. That rule was removed for 2023, so five of the six teams went with an automatic, including both of the cars in the finals.

The six teams and the vehicles for the 2023 Roadkill Nights Direct Connection Grudge Match are as follows:

Team Sick Bastards

  • Mentor: Tom Bailey
Rookie: EJ Naegeli
  • Vehicle: 1965 Plymouth Belvedere AFX
Transmission: TH400 Automatic

Team Soul Snatcher

  • Mentor: Herman “Demonology” Young
  • Rookie: Lee Carter
  • Vehicle: 2009 Dodge Charger
  • Transmission: Rossler Transmission Turbo 400 Automatic

Team Throtl

  • Mentor: Rickie Fernandez
  • Rookie: Quinn Clark
  • Vehicle: 1st Gen Dodge Viper
Transmission: TH400 Automatic

Team Corruptt

  • Mentor: Tony Arme
  • Rookie: Kayla Rundle
  • Vehicle: 1968 Plymouth Barracuda
  • Transmission: TH400 Automatic

Team Truck Yeah

  • Mentor: Justin Keith
  • Rookie: Lacey Blair
  • Vehicle: 1995 Dodge Ram 1500
  • Transmission: TH400 Automatic

Team Dahminators

  • Mentor: Rob Dahm
Rookie: Erica Schrull
  • Vehicle: 1971 Dodge Challenger
Transmission: T-56 Manual

The first round of the Direct Connection Grudge Match at 2023 Roadkill Nights saw Team Soul Snatcher take on Team Sick Bastards, Team Dahminator battled Team Throtl and Team Truck Year went against Team Corruppt.

In the race between Team Soul Snatcher’s Charger and Team Sick Bastard’s AFX car, there ended up being no real race when the 1965 Plymouth threw the blower belt during the burnout. When the track crew refused to let Tom Bailey quickly replace the belt, Demonology’s rookie driver got to make a single pass to the next round.

In the other two first round races, the Team Throtl Viper beat the Team Dahminator ‘71 Challenger and the Team Corruppt Barracuda beat the Team Truck Year Dodge Ram to advance to round two.

In the second round of the Grudge Match, Team Soul Snatcher’s Charger lost to the Team Throtl Viper while Team Corruppt made a single pass to advance to the finals.

In the finals, Team Throtl rookie Quinn Clark and the Viper went head-to-head with the Team Corruppt rookie Kayla Rundle and the Barracuda. Both cars got away from the line cleanly and it was a close race early, but by half-track, Team Corruppt’s Plymouth pulled ahead and secured the victory.

In total, 2023 Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge drew more than 42,750 attendees, making it the largest single-day Roadkill Nights event thus far, while more than a million viewers watched online. The new location had its own challenges, but it did not hurt the attendance. We will be ready to see what next year brings.

20230811_115833 DSC_2483 DSC_2491 DSC_2495 DSC_2507 DSC_2509 DSC_2523 DSC_2530 DSC_2575 DSC_2670 DSC_2683 DSC_2730 DSC_2740 DSC_2746 DSC_2749 DSC_2756 DSC_2770 DSC_2778 DSC_2891 DSC_3101

Share this post

Patrick Rall

Industry News Editor Patrick entered the Mopar world when he bought his 1983 Mirada back in 1994, installing a mild 340 a year later that would eventually be built up into the range of 500 horsepower. Today, Patrick daily drives a Hellcat Challenger, but he still has his 340-powered Mirada, as well as a 1972 Demon 340 and a Hemi Ram.

Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products
Powered Voltage Emoji by Caddy