The 2009 Dodge Challenger LC22R Drag Pak
The 2008 re-launch of the modern-era Dodge Challenger SRT8® resulted in the sale of 7,118 units and paved the way for over 300,000 additional units (and counting) in the decade since. Few on the scene back then would have predicted Challenger’s huge success story and how it would eventually evolve into the wheel-standing 2018 SRT® Demon, the world’s first – and only – 9-second production car and also the world’s quickest mass-produced 0-60 sprinter (2.3 seconds).
For those who may not remember the Challenger’s exciting 2008 launch, Dodge maximized the energy surrounding its re-born pony car by offering it exclusively with the 425-horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI® V8 backed by a Pistol Grip 6-speed or 5-speed automatic. The more mainstream V6-powered SX and 5.7 HEMI-powered R/T models were held back until 2009. By launching with full strength and image in its inaugural year, Dodge established Challenger’s solid high-performance reputation without the distraction of mainstream models. But halo cars only go so far. The less potent but still exciting V6 and 345-horsepower 5.7 HEMI R/T models quickly attracted greater sales volume and are still going strong a decade later, while also adding the world’s first all-wheel-drive pony car – the Challenger GT – to the menu.
But while the Challenger SRT8, R/T, GT and SX were general-use high-performance offerings, 2009 also brought a welcomed return to the more specialized Dodge Package Car dynasty in the form of the LC22R Drag Pak. Though delivered to buyers in non-running, semi-complete form, the LC22R revived the Dodge Package Car legacy and once again put successful Dodge drag racers in the NHRA Stock and Super Stock classes. This was all done to perpetuate the golden automotive marketing rule of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”
For its part, the NHRA was smart to establish classes like Factory Super Stock for these wildly popular modern pony cars to strut their stuff. Ford stepped up first with its 2008 Mustang M-FR500-CJ program packing DOHC V8 power. Then came Dodge’s 2009 Drag Pak with Gen III HEMI and even LA-series 360 small block power options. Then, finally, Chevrolet’s Fifth-Gen Camaro-based COPO drag racer arrived, sporting Gen III pushrod V8s in various naturally aspirated and supercharged configurations. And three soon made a crowd as hundreds of NHRA sportsman racers took the bait and campaigned their Mustang CJs, COPO Camaros and Drag Pak Challengers in open competition. The fans and sponsors loved it, and it continues to grow.
In the decade since the arrival of the first LC22R Drag Pak, more highly evolved versions with more complete drivelines – and even Viper V10 power – made the scene and kept the Dodge Package Car ball rolling along. Though the Drag Pak Challengers, M-FR500-CJ Mustangs and COPO Camaros all lack federal VIN numbers for street registration and use, their racetrack exploits fuel spectator desire to go out and buy a street-legal version. It’s just like the Supercar Sixties all over again!
Visit past Packaged Performance Installments:
- Packaged Performance
- Straight-Line Thinking (1962-1964 Max Wedge)
- Less is More(1964-65 330 and Coronet Race HEMI)
- Junior Dynamite (1966 D-Dart)
- Stripped for Success (1967 WO23 Lightweight Street HEMI)
- Dodge Drops the A-Bomb (1968 LO23 HEMI Dart)
- The Ultimate Big-Cube-Engine-In-Small-Car Offering (1969 Dart 440)
- They Are Not Race Cars (1969 ½ Super Bee Six Pack)
Future Packaged Performance Installments: