There’s an old saying among drag racers that “spinning ain’t winning!” Man is that true as many championships, grudge races and even “exhibitions of speed” on public roads have been won or lost based on getting off the line first and not blazing the rear tires. For all the horsepower and torque an engine can harness, it’s worthless if you can’t plant it on the drag strip’s starting line. There’s so much going on that depends on a rear tires’ willingness to work on gripping the pavement. From shocks to springs, gearing and torque converters, it’s all related to traction and launching the car repeatedly run after run.
With the introduction of the 2023 Challenger SRT® Demon 170, there was a great deal of thought and consideration that went into designing a tire package that could handle anything its 1,025-horsepower/945 lb-ft of torque 6.2L supercharged HEMI® engine could throw at it. Whether at the drag strip or going down to the local fast-food joint for a sack of cheeseburgers and fries, the Challenger SRT Demon 170 still has to live on the streets, freeways and highways, while providing its occupants with three-season driving manners. But, if the driver decides to bury their right on the accelerator, all bets are off. To achieve these goals and meet the performance goal of the Challenger SRT Demon 170, both the Dodge//SRT and Mickey Thompson engineers sat down and put their collective minds together. This was a union of dedicated and passionate individuals that was years in the making. Their goal was to make a drag radial that could handle just about anything the Challenger SRT Demon 170 threw at it. Based on the wheels-up launch during testing, and the 8.91-second ETs, the engineers accomplished their mission.
Nothing shrinks time and distance like tons of horsepower, gobs of torque and a good set of Mickey Thompson Drag Radials. “We upped the power, so we had to up the grip,” said Jim Wilder, SRT Vehicle Development Manager. “We began working with Mickey Thompson three years ago on developing a drag radial that could handle the Challenger SRT Demon 170’s tremendous horsepower and torque. We went with Mickey Thompson’s biggest off-the-shelf tire, the ET Street R P315/50R17 Drag Radial. It has a great contact patch and is consistent. The compound and construction is basically unchanged, we just revised the tread pattern slightly to accommodate better water management. This is a street car after all and has to meet all the Federal Safety Standards,” said Wilder. To accommodate the massive 315 tires mounted on the 17 X 11-inch wheels in the back, more clearance was needed within the chassis and wheel wells. SRT engineers spec’d out new rear spring to raise the ride height just slightly to clear everything. “Because the Mickey Thompson Drag Radials work so well, we retuned the suspension and made it stiffer. Tires were crucial to the car, and the Mickeys work so well on the Challenger Demon 170,” noted Wilder.
When it came to front tires, Mickey Thompson engineers also developed a unique design that would do the job. The ET Street Fronts have a tread pattern designed to work in conjunction with the ET Street R Drag Radials for street use. Especially when it came to managing water extraction. Measuring 245/55R18, the ET Street Fronts get mounted on an 18 X 8-inch wheel. The whole wheel and tires package makes the Challenger SRT Demon 170 look even more sinister. “The whole process on working on a tire package to handle a car as unique as the Challenger SRT Demon 170 that will see street and strip usage was a major undertaking. The folks at Mickey Thompson were great, and it was always two-way collaboration with the product teams and engineers,” said Wilder.
“Nobody puts power to the ground like Mickey, and nobody creates power like Dodge,” said Dominick Montouri, President of Mickey Thompson. “Dodge values record-breaking performance as much as we do, and they truly broke every barrier with this vehicle.” For the record, the Challenger SRT Demon 170 will also be the first street-legal production car to come standard with Mickey Thompson tires.
The “Last Call” 2023 Challenger SRT Demon 170 will have many claims and break many performance barriers. It’s the last of the breed before extinction and heads off into the sunset of the internal combustion engine. But the tires it’ll roll on will always plant its spirit, soul and essence deep within the hearts of millions of high-octane swilling passionate gearheads everywhere.
Check out these exclusive pics from the Challenger SRT Demon 170 tire test session!