Imagine getting a letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation saying your car is banned from public roadways because it’s too fast.
That’s exactly what the editors at Automotive News magazine would like to see happen.
Earlier this year, editors of the automotive trade magazine wrote the Dodge Charger Demon puts 840 horsepower into the hands of drivers untrained to handle such power as they head onto highways, which happen to be filled with fellow travelers who have no idea that one slip of the foot launches your car into traffic like some demonic video game.
What Automotive News did not comment on are the numerous crashes and deaths already attributed to the deadly combination of high speeds and drivers’ lack of experience, a discussion that needs to include the 707 horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
Not only are Hellcats and Chargers popular on the road, there are many more sitting at home that drivers can’t seem to keep on the road. So many in fact that TheDrive.Com has been dedicating columns to the art and science of using the totaled cars’ engines as powerful rebuilds for project cars.
The most popular column featured a wrecked Hellcat with only 18 miles on it. 18 miles.
As they wrote, the “poor slob” probably didn’t even make it home from the dealership.
Two guys in Colorado wanted to test drive a Hellcat at the Buena Vista Regional Airport. With permission, the 71 year-old and 76 year-old enthusiasts raced their rocket a good 650 feet beyond the end of the runway in a dramatic end-over-end crash.
As Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze (understated), “They went a little too fast.”
Four teenagers stole four super cars from a Missouri dealership early one recent morning. Two of the cars were Hellcats. Three of the drivers made it less than a mile before crashing.
Another problem is that quite a few people are unable to avoid obstacles, like a police car in Detroit, and the fear is that these drivers will be plowing into more and more people, like the police officer inside the police car in Detroit.
There have always been speed enthusiasts torqueing their cars large and small for illegal and legal racing. What makes this different is that you don’t need to have any automobile knowledge to exceed 200 miles per hour. Just stomp on the gas pedal and avoid as many obstacles as possible.
The popularity of factory-produced super-cars has surprised manufacturers, with Fox News reporting, “Dodge has been selling more than twice as many as expected...”
The folks at Automotive News have it wrong, though.
They maintain the Demon needs to be “banned” because it’s so dangerous that it’s been “banned” by the National Hot Rod Association.
“Dodge is wrong to offer a purpose-built drag racer as a road-legal automobile,” editors pointed out. “From its barely legal slick tires to its monstrous acceleration, the Challenger Demon introduced in New York this month (April) is the result of a sequence of misguided corporate choices that places bragging rights ahead of public safety... the Demon -- as delivered from the factory -- has already been banned from regulated drag strips by that sport’s sanctioning body, the National Hot Rod Association, allegedly for being ‘too fast.’”
Aside from the fact that the Demon is allegedly “too fast” for even the NHRA being a fantastic marketing piece to encourage sales, these editors omit some important facts, such as the part about being “too fast” means if you’re running your car at 9.9 seconds or better at 140 mph or more in a quarter-mile drag race, your car needs to have a roll cage and you have to be wearing special protective gear to continue racing.
The key words are “as delivered from the factory.”
As long as the cars are street legal, there’s no reason to ban the cars simply because they are too powerful for some of people.
These are race cars. Special training is strongly recommended. Blame drivers for their behavior, not the object for its potential.
Rick Jensen is an annoying, award-winning Delaware talk show host and equally annoying national columnist. Email Rick@DBCMedia.com.