Though it’s wide in the hips and not the type to avoid that extra piece of cake, the Dodge Charger Hellcat is a formidable car. When put on an intensive diet and driven by Randy Pobst, it becomes a viable contender for a class win at Pikes Peak. As you might’ve predicted, Pobst’s steed for the 2019 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb was 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Concept. Though still fundamentally a street car, this modified example was able to mix with the dedicated track scalpels.
Widening the Footprint
Pobst is no stranger to the Race to the Clouds, but never before had he driven this style of car there. Though he’s familiar with powerful heavyweights like the 700-horsepower Nissan GT-R (which sadly he crashed), his return to the famous peak outside of Colorado Springs . There aren’t many FR cars at top of the time sheet there, so to compensate, this Hellcat wears flares 3.5″ wider, underneath which they stuffed 315-section Toyo Proxes RR tires.
Fortunately, those tires are suited to the specific challenges of the course. Cold and dirty, the course requires the tires come up to temperature quickly. Additionally, the adjustable, street-oriented Bilsteins complement the tires and help the car remain supple enough over the public road—especially at the undulating topmost section which worsens with every year. These items provide a predictable, reassuring setup that helps Pobst push, but as mentioned above, he planned to “get it around the corner carefully, then drag race it down the straights.”
Expanding its Lungs
One of the biggest challenges when climbing the mountain is acquiring the necessary amount of air. In fact, Pobst required an oxygen system to breathe deeply at the uppermost third of the mountain, where the air is so thin even a fit cyclist cannot draw enough in without time spent acclimating there.
Similarly, the engine suffers at these altitudes, which is why forced induction engines tend to dominate. Fortunately, this Hellcat’s motor is fitted with a big supercharger from the factory, but additional help was needed to ensure it could perform over the entire trek to the top. Wesley Motorsports partnered with SRT to give the 6.3-liter V8 a tune to work well at 14,114′, and added a racing exhaust. The result is ~800 horsepower and an exceptionally wide powerband to leap out of hairpins. Such is the benefit of running such a large motor; they didn’t even change the ratios of the factory Torqueflite eight-speed automatic since the torque is available everywhere in the rev range.
Inside, the once-sumptuous interior was scrapped in favor of a Racetech seat, a fire system, an FIA-spec cage, and not much else. Interestingly, the air conditioning equipment and the power windows were retained, as is required by the regulations of the production-ready Exhibition class it joined.
Unfortunately, Pobst’s run this year was dogged by rain and heavy hail. While he wanted to try and beat the old record for street cars, he wasn’t able to meet his aim. Nevertheless, getting a car that size up a sodden Pikes Peak in 11:57.874 is still quite the achievement. While that result didn’t put Pobst on top of the world—figuratively speaking—he could still hold his head high. He was flanked by The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Pikes Peak Hill Climb Trophy by Yokohama cars in the rankings, and when driving one of the heaviest cars in the field, that’s nothing to sniff at.