Ever since the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon came out, there’s been a lot of chatter on who would be the first private owner to get one into the nine-second zone at their local drag strip. There have been many enthusiasts who were skeptical and trolling the internet questioning the SRT Demon’s capability to cover the quarter-mile in under 10 seconds in basic stock form and in the hands of a private owner. While the SRT Demon has run a 9.650 @ 140.09 mph during testing, what kind of success would private owners have?
That barrier has officially been broken as one SRT Demon owner, longtime Dodge enthusiast Ron Silva, took his new, unmodified, Challenger SRT Demon to his local drag strip and broke into the nine-second zone.
Dodge Garage had a chance to connect with Ron to find out a little more about his passion and get more details about his historic nine-second run.
Dodge Garage: Tell us about yourself and when your love affair of Dodge began.
Ron Silva: I bought my first Mopar in 1982. A ’69 Dart with a 440 swapped into it. I knew right then that Dodge engineering was a cut above everything else. I have been drag racing and into cars ever since I could drive. I saw my first late model Challenger Concept at the Mopars at the Strip event in Las Vegas. I knew right then I had to have that car. I bought a 2009 SRT Challenger 6 Speed and I have had seven since then, including a 2005 SRT 392 and a 2016 SRT Hellcat that I put 272 passes on. The [SRT] Hellcat still drove like BRAND NEW when I sold it. You could literally not tell it was raced. These cars are truly amazing.
DG: What went through your mind when you first heard about the new 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon?
Ron Silva: As soon as I heard about the Challenger SRT Demon, I knew I had to have one. To have a street-legal Challenger that was drag race focused was a literal “dream come true” for me. When the Hellcat was first announce and released, I was not able to secure one right away so I had to wait until all the fuss died down to get my first one. But with the [SRT] Demon, I was ready, and I made it a mission to get one and it had to be at a reasonable price.
DG: You had numerous Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcats that were fast. Did you apply any of that experience to your SRT Demon?
Ron Silva: Yes, the experience with the [SRT] Hellcat helped. Especially trying to hook at my local track, Irwindale Drag Strip. But I am finding with the [SRT] Demon suspension and possibly the launch assist, I can make salvageable passes that the [SRT] Hellcat would not have fared so well. I am running a smaller 305 series Mickey Thompson ET Street R tire, and at Famoso Raceway, the [SRT] Demon hooked really well. I only spun once out of 15 passes. I was not expecting that. I also found that the car was getting a wheelie even foot braking, so that was a pleasant surprise.
DG: How soon did you take your SRT Demon to the drag strip after taking delivery of it?
Ron Silva: I know what components in the car need a real careful break-in. I feel the first 100 miles are critical for the differential, and after that, I might have raced the car. Another goal is the 300-mile mark. You do not really want to hammer the brakes right away. But I waited until I had 500 miles on my [SRT] Demon. I wanted to be able to use the drag race features. So I drove the 500 miles the first few days just to get it out of the way. All back roads and city and maybe 10% freeway. My car had 495 miles on it the first time I left my house to go to Irwindale Drag Strip and that was the first Thursday after I took delivery. I have raced there every Thursday since.
DG: Tell us about the day at the track when you made your nine-second run. What prep did you do, what was the density altitude (DA) and temp, did you foot brake or use the transbrake?
Ron Silva: I actually drove 140 miles from Pasadena to Famoso Raceway to make my first quarter-mile runs. I used the [SRT] Demon Track Pack System exactly as intended. So I showed up running on the stock front Nittos and then went through tech inspection. Then I changed out the front tires to the [SRT] Demon Skinnies with M&H RaceMaster 4.5/28.0-18 tires. I used the kneepad, torque wrench and [SRT] Demon Jack to do the change out. I made sure I had the proper fuel for the HO 840 tune and I was set. I did not want to use up my stock Nittos drag racing, so I had 305/45R18 Mickey Thompson ET Street R’s on the car when I drove up there. I set them at 15 PSI cold and then kept adjusting them to 16.5 PSI hot thereafter. I never really had the ability to practice the transbrake, so I was just foot braking. The car ran faster every pass for the first four passes, but the best was a 10.009 @ 135.82. After that run, I parked the car to let it cool down and take a break. I knew the DA was going up, so I knew I needed something more. So my friend Dan and I agreed we should take the last few pounds of items out of the trunk. I like ballast, but it was worth a try. Next pass was the FIRST nine-second pass in private hands (that we know of) as it ran a 9.972 @ 136.18. You can tell the DA was off a little by the speed, but the weight reduction was what got it done. Then, near the end of the day, around 4:30 p.m., I was able to improve on that to a 9.941 @ 136.47.
DG: You have the honor of being the first private owner to put a stock Challenger SRT Demon into the nines. How does that feel and what’s next for the car? Will you try to lower the ET even more?
Ron Silva: I am really grateful that Dodge built this car for me and that NHRA came out with the late model rule so we can enjoy these cars to the fullest. My goal was to run 10.00 in the summer and I think that is entirely possible. Many drag strips are going to want you to slow down if you go in the nines or install a cage. My style would not include mods for more power or installing a cage. I am just extremely happy to be able to drive around anywhere I want and then, when I feel the urge, go crack off a 10.00 and the occasional nine-second ET. I do have some ideas based on my experience from the 15 passes I just made at Famoso. I did try an 808 HP pass and I did a 10.240 @ 132.46 foot braking. So, I am super happy with that. I also did one practice run on the transbrake and I “forgot” to enable the 840 tune. But even then, it was faster at 10.237 @ 132.23 via a better 60-foot by .03. So that transbrake works. I also ran 133. 32 mph on the 808 tune on another pass where I got way up on the converter foot braking. So I need to test and verify some things to fine-tune my runs. I am saying there is more in the car for sure. I believe the 9.97 pass was at 500-foot DA. I have raced every week since I got the car and it now has 47 passes. I picked up my car on December 22, 2017, and it was ordered on the first day the order banks opened.
Check out Ron’s nine-second run in his Challenger SRT Demon!