Since the fall of 2017, only two cars have held the title of the World’s Quickest SRT® Hellcat car.
In October 2017, the Epling Garage “007” Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat ran an 8.91 at 156 miles per hour in the quarter-mile, making it the first 8-second SRT Hellcat car in the world. Almost two years later, in August 2019, the Epling Challenger ran a 7.87 at 176 miles per hour, making it the first 7-second SRT Hellcat in the world. From the time when they first cracked into the 8-second range through mid-2021 when the car was running in the low 7-second range, the Epling Challenger was the quickest SRT Hellcat in the world.
In October 2021, the “GRMPYCAT” Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, owned and driven by Kevin Helmick, ran a 6.99 at 200.05 miles per hour, making it the first SRT Hellcat in the 6-second range. At that point, Helmick and his Challenger held the record for the quickest and fastest SRT Hellcat in the world in terms of quarter-mile action. Helmick held that record until January of this year, when the Epling Challenger ran a 6.96 at 200.47 miles per hour.
In short, since the fall of 2017, either the Epling or the GRMPYCAT Dodge Challengers have held the title for the World’s Quickest SRT Hellcat, but the two have never gone head-to-head. That will all change in late March during the Muscle Cars at the Strip event in Las Vegas, where “007” and “GRMPYCAT” will go battle it out on the quarter-mile to see who truly has the quickest and fastest SRT Hellcat in the world.
World’s Fastest Hellcat Challenge
The World’s Fastest Hellcat Challenge will be held on the weekend of March 18-20 at Muscle Cars at the Strip in Las Vegas. That event was formerly named Mopars at the Strip, but to give Mopar® vehicle racers something else to beat up on the drag strip, the organizers have opened the field to other American performance cars as well. As a result, the drag racing, autocross and car show field all have a Mopar-heavy mix of vehicles, offering plenty of entertainment for every muscle car lover.
The World’s Fastest Hellcat Challenge will consist of three quarter-mile drag races between the Epling 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Kevin Helmick’s 2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Over the past 7 years, the Epling car has been driven by owner Leon and his son, Jason, but for the big match race, Jason will be handling the driving duty against Helmick. The first driver to win two out of three will be named the World’s Fastest Hellcat.
As mentioned above, the Epling Challenger has run a best quarter-mile time of 6.96 at 200.47, while the Helmick Challenger has run a best time of 6.99 at 200.05. Based on those times, we can expect a close race, but it is unclear what kinds of elapsed times these two cars will run in Las Vegas. When they ran their best times, they were at a more power-friendly elevation with better air, so the cars won’t be making as good of power as they were at better altitude.
Fortunately, both the Epling and Helmick teams are aware of this and in an effort to lay it all on the line, both cars will be turned up to levels like we have never before seen. Both teams want to make side-by-side 6-second passes and we expect that is exactly what they will do.
A Look at the Competitors
As you likely guessed, it takes a long list of modifications to put a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in the 6-second quarter-mile range. Both cars have been modified in just about every possible way, leaving few factory components in place, but it should be noted that these both rolled off of the Brampton Assembly line as factory production SRT Hellcat Challengers. Over time, both cars have been progressively modified to get quicker and quicker, adding power and removing weight. As a result, the cars look very different from when they were first shipped to the dealership, but these are both heavily modified SRT Hellcat Challengers.
We had a chance to speak with Leon Epling and Kevin Helmick to get the key details on these two wicked Dodge Challengers. Mind you, neither guy wants to reveal all their cards before the big match race, so they held back the specific details, but here is a look at how both of these cars make the power needed to run in the 6s.
Epling Garage 007 Challenger
The Epling Garage “007” Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is powered by a 426-cubic-inch Epling/Hensley Street series HEMI® engine with a cast block with the water jacket. ThiTek cylinder heads, a Garrett turbocharger and an in-house Epling Garage piping system help to feed the engine. The tuning is handled by Jason Epling with Holley EFI tech, with help from tuning mastermind Tim Barth. This turbocharged HEMI engine is making around 2,000 horsepower.
The Epling Challenger sends the power to the ground by means of a 5-speed Liberty manual transmission, a Driveshaft Shop chromoly driveshaft, a Moser rear differential, RC Comps 15×13 rear wheels and 315-millimeter-wide Mickey Thompson drag radials.
On the outside, the Epling Dodge Challenger retains most of the factory sheet metal, including everything except for the doors, which are fiberglass. The factory hood, fenders and front fascia have been converted into a lightweight one-piece design and a piece of plexiglass was added to help aerodynamics at over 200 miles per hour. On the inside, the Epling car has the factory center console and the factory dashboard, along with an aftermarket racing seat and all of the safety gear needed to run in the 6s, leading to a curb weight of 3,335 pounds.
Jason Epling with bring 20 years of racing experience with him to the cockpit.
Kevin Helmick’s “GRMPYCAT” Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is powered by a 426-cubic-inch HEMI engine from Demon Performance, using a TKM BGE block, ThiTek cylinder heads, a Forced Induction Solutions turbocharger and a piping system from Brazzer Performance Fabrications. The tuning is handled by Kevin Mullins of TKM using Holley Dominator tech and, like the Epling car, Helmick is making around 2,000 horsepower.
All of that power is sent to the ground by means of a TH400 automatic transmission, a PST carbon fiber driveshaft, a Strange rear differential, Bogart 15×14 Alumalite wheels and a set of 315-millimeter-wide Mickey Thompson drag radials. The biggest mechanical difference between these two Mopar monsters is the transmission, with Epling’s using a manual transmission while Helmick runs an automatic.
Helmick also has a slightly longer list of changes that help cut weight, including a fiberglass front end, fiberglass doors and a carbon fiber deck lid. He also has a fully aftermarket interior, so there are no factory interior parts. When coupled with the extra effort on the outside, the GRMPYCAT weighs slightly less than the Epling car, tipping the scales at 3,300 pounds.
Kevin Helmick has 4 years of experience racing.
There is currently no hard schedule as to exactly when these two Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat cars will go head-to-head at Muscle Cars at the Strip, but both drivers plan to race on Saturday, March 19. That gives them time to prepare and practice on Friday while leaving some time on Sunday, should Saturday not work out.
Don’t worry, we are going to be watching this battle unfold and will definitely let you know who comes out on top!
Author: Patrick Rall