If a road trip with one Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon is good, it can only get better with another! Add in a mint ’09 6-speed Challenger SRT8®, and we had a killer convoy hustling and cruising from Detroit to Hickory Corners this weekend.
The state of Michigan has some of the funkiest weather in the world. Winters are freezing and blanketed in snow, summers are hot and humid, and in between we get, well, everything in between. So when you’ve been planning a road trip for a couple of months and the extended forecast shows temps around 80° with a few clouds, maybe rain, and a light breeze, you’re holding your breath until it’s time to drive.
Early Saturday morning, that time finally came, and the weather gods looked down upon us with favor. It was one of those rare, glorious sunrises that makes you forget how “not perfect” the rest the year is; one of those mornings where living in Michigan seems like the only possible choice. I met up with FCA designers Jeff Gale and Mark Trostle and my friend Steve Gawadzyn in Rochester at 6 a.m. to start the day’s 300 round-trip miles. Jeff was rolling in his HEMI® Orange SRT8, Mark pulled his White Knuckle SRT Demon out of the infamous barn, and I fired up my SRT Demon too.
The Gilmore Museum was the destination, and it sits about 150 miles southwest of Rochester, Michigan, which is a northern suburb of Detroit. The drive was split about down the middle between freeways and country roads. We took I75 north until splitting off on I69 south, which we stayed on until Charlotte. From there, it was the road less traveled due west to Hickory Corners.
The SRT Demon’s “flight manual” lays down a break-in procedure, part of which is no hard throttle until 500 miles. It should go without saying that piloting those first miles with a light foot is a most difficult exercise in self-control. I’d long since conquered that monster. By the end of this trip, I had close to 2,400 miles on the clock. Mark, however, has been traveling for work much of the summer giving him less of an opportunity to wheel the car.
He mentioned something about the struggle, waiting for 500 miles, and I had to rub it in. I punched the pedal and roared by him in the passing lane.
“My god that sounded good!” Mark said.
“How many miles are on your car?” I asked while waiting for the SRT8 and SRT Demon to catch up.
“484,” he replied.
You didn’t need to be a mathematician to know when the last of those 16 miles were up. The white SRT Demon barked and popped and shot forward like a cannonball, and it was very clear that Mark too had shed the shackle of the car’s break-in miles.
It was early, and a Saturday, and the road was mostly ours for the taking. Between the three of us, there was 2,041 hp, and we used every bit of that responsibly, of course. As we closed in on the Gilmore Museum, a handful of other Mopar® vehicles started stacking up in front of us, more gearheads trekking to the show.
Gilmore holds a special place in my heart from childhood (more on that in part 2), and it’s an outstanding venue for any type of show, really. State-of-the-art exhibits, beautifully restored or re-imagined buildings and barns sit on 90 acres of secluded mid-Michigan farmland. This weekend was the “Mopars at the Red Barns” event, and the grounds were stacked with all the Dodges, Plymouths and Chryslers you could shake a stick at.
We arrived fairly early, but still were towards the tail end of a steady, non-hectic line of cars registering to show. There were so many cool rides there, and in part 2, I cover some of my favorites!
There was no mad rush to leave when the show ended, the place just sort of started to empty organically. In fact, nothing about the trip was chaotic; it was one of those rare days that lived up to the billing of car show and chill.
The ride home went by, strangely enough, very quickly. The SRT Demons enjoyed a shot at stretching their legs, and what the SRT8 lacked in power, it made up for in sound and style. All three cars performed flawlessly, and we were back by the time any rain began spitting on the ground. For someone who often seems to be fighting Murphy’s Law, I need to acknowledge when things go well, and this trip was one of those things.