Gallery: The Demon 170 Proves its 8-second Mettle in the Real World

Dodge began shipping the first examples of the 2023 Challenger SRT Demon 170 back in October and it didn’t take long for owners to get into the 8-second range. By early December, a few Demon 170 owners had gotten into the 8s and in mid-January, a group of Demon 170 owners ran in the 8-second range at the Legion of Demons event at Texas Motorplex, leaving no question that the final special edition Dodge Challenger of the modern era is a legitimate 8-second street car.

The First Few Demon 170s in the 8s
Late in 2023, we saw three Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170s run an 8-second quarter mile, starting with the Octane Red muscle car of Lee Saunders, who ran an 8.947 on December 6th, becoming the first private owner of a 170 to run in the 8s. He had a full interior and positive density altitude, with the changes from stock being a bump in shift RPM and aftermarket wheels and tires.

Since he had that bump in shift RPM, some people don’t want to see it included in the discussion, but at the end of the day, Lee Saunders was the first Demon 170 to run an 8-second quarter mile. Saunders has since gotten his best time down to 8.89.

The second person to run in the 8s with a 202 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 was Ron Silva, who ran an 8.962 on December 8th. His muscle car is a one-seat car and he had performed some weight reduction, removing items like the front sway bar, the bumper supports, the washer bottle, the wiper motor assembly, the passenger’s side mirror, and the engine covers. He has also installed a lightweight battery from Darrell Cox Racing and a Kirkey race seat, along with switching to aftermarket wheels and tires.

The third person to run in the 8s with a new Challenger SRT Demon 170, and the person who did so with the fewest changes from factory form, is Doug Reddicopp. On December 19th, while racing in Florida, Reddicopp laid down an 8.993 and, when compared to a stock one-seat Demon 170, the only difference with this car is the aftermarket wheels. This run was made in positive density altitude, unlike the Dodge record time of 8.91, which was run around -308 feet.

Legion of Demons 2024
Over the past few years, the Legion of Demons events have been the largest annual meeting of 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon owners for the purpose of racing (not just on display). These events, run by Byron Godbee, have seen countless 2018 Demon owners run their personal best times, with many achieving similar times to the official Dodge elapsed time. The first Legion of Demons event for 2024 saw the introduction of the SRT Demon 170, so it comes as little surprise that owners of the 1,025 horsepower Challenger also ran near-record times at Godbee’s race in Texas.

Legion of Demons events are generally held in January in an area that doesn’t get “real winter”, so the racers can enjoy cooler air without the thread of snow and freezing temperatures. This year, it was unusually cold, dipping down below the freezing point during prime racing hours. While this very cold air is great for making big power, it is not great for putting that power to the ground in an efficient manner, so the cold actually worked against the racers at this Legion of Demons event at Texas Motorplex. As a result, traction proved to be challenging, but that didn’t stop a collection of Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 owners from running their personal best, with a handful running in the 8-second range.

Of the 24 Challenger SRT Demon 170 owners at the Legion of Demons event, 21 of them ran a 9.21 or better, with 11 running in the 9.0 range and three running in the 8s. Those three 8-second Demon 170 racers were Mike Mulder, Jim Marino and Nephtali Garibay.

The cars owned by Mulder and Marino are nearly identical, both in how they were ordered and how they have been modified prior to racing action. Both cars came from the factory with cloth seats, but they have both removed the two factory seats and replaced them with a single lightweight driver’s seat. They also both have lightweight front and rear bumper supports, no front sway bars and they both have a Drag Pack setup with skinny front wheels.

Marino’s Demon 170 has a lightweight battery while Mulder is running the factory battery. When they hit the track, Jim Marino’s car weighed 4,300 pounds with him in it while Mike Mulder’s weighed in at 4,240 (it should be noted that Jim Marino weighs about 90 pounds more than Mulder).

Mike Mulder ran a best elapsed time of 8.95 at 151.59 miles per hour and Jim Marino ran an 8.99 at 151.09 miles per hour. Mulder also made a pair of 8.97 runs, with his best trap speed being a 152.19.

Finally, Nephtali Garibay and his 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 laid down an 8.945 at 151.56 miles per hour at the Legion of Demons event in Texas, making him the quickest 170 racer in attendance. On that run, he recorded a 1.242 60-foot time and got to the 8th mile stripe in 5.708 seconds at 121.72 miles per hour. That time was recorded with a density altitude of 250 feet.

Garibay’s Demon 170 came from the factory with two cloth seats and no options, leading to a factory curb weight of 4,235 pounds. Prior to the Legion of Demons event, he removed both stock front seats and installed a lightweight driver’s seat, removed the front sway bar, installed a lightweight front bumper support, swapped out the stock battery for a lightweight unit and swapped from the stock wheels to a Drag Pack setup.

This led to a weight of 3,985 pounds without the driver, and Garibay added 165 pounds for a total weight of 4,150 pounds when he hit the track. He is still using the footbrake method to launch, not the TransBrake, and he believes that once he gets more familiar with the TransBrake launch, he may be able to keep the front end down and get further into the 8-second range.

While critics of the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 will focus on the fact that the cars mentioned here all have at least a few little changes, owners are showing that with a switch to different wheels and pulling a few pounds, these cars can run in the 8s without extremely low density altitude – something that no other rear-drive car in the world can do.

As we get into the spring and more owners have a chance to get to the tracks when they open for the 2024 season, we are guaranteed to see more 170s in the 8s, but for now, the owners mentioned above have gotten into the 8s with minimal seat time and only minor modifications.

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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.

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