Roadkill Nights: A Closer Look at the Grudge Match Racecars

Since its inception, Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge has featured a Grudge Match program and for 2023, the new mentor-rookie format was introduced. Each of the six teams has a rookie who will handle the driving duties while the mentor provides assistance for the build and the racing action itself. Each team is responsible for providing their own car, but they were given $15,000 and – most importantly – a supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcrate Redeye crate engine from Direct Connection.

The key guidelines for the 2023 Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge Grudge Match are that the teams have to build a Dodge or Plymouth Brand vehicle and they have to use the Hellcrate Redeye engine. The teams were also required to use a 6-speed manual transmission last year, but this year, they can use whatever type of transmission that they prefer – and it looks like everyone will go with the smart choice and run some sort of automatic.

Over the past few weeks, we have spoken with representatives from each of the teams about the details of their Roadkill Nights Grudge Match car and today, we bring you a look at the specifics of these six racecars. Keep in mind that these cars are all going head-to-head, so most of the teams were relatively brief with what they are doing in terms of the build, as to leave some mystery for their competitors. As a result, the level of detail provided by each team varies, but we put together the provided information on each vehicle below.

Team Sick Bastards

First up, we have Team Sick Bastards, which is comprised of mentor Tom Bailey and rookie EJ Naegeli. They have prepared a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere AFX car, which for those of you who do not know, is a classic altered wheelbase racecar. Back in the mid-1960s, the precursors to the modern funny car were factory cars with the front and rear wheels moved forward, and that is what Team Sick Bastards is building for Roadkill Nights 2023.

The Direct Connection Hellcrate Redeye engine in their 1965 Plymouth will be mated to a TH400 automatic transmission and upgraded with components from Holley, Cam Motion and Aeromotive. Billy Briggs Racing is involved with the engine build and AJ Berge – the original HemiTuner – will be providing the custom engine calibration needed to make big power. They will be running XS Power batteries, a Powermaster starter and alternator, cooling components from Be Cool, fans from Delta PAG, shocks from AFCO, tires from Mickey Thompson and safety items from Shroud.

Team Throtl

Team Thortl is back to compete in the Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge Grudge Match for the third year in a row and, like last year, they will be competing with a Dodge Viper.

As was the case last year, they will be running the Direct Connection Redeye crate engine, but they have swapped out the 6-speed manual in favor of the TH400 automatic. Their Redeye engine is not stock, as they have added a 2.65-inch upper pulley, Magnaflow custom headers and exhaust, and an E85 tune, along with “possibly a little nitrous”. Aiding in traction is a collection of Penske suspension components and a set of Hoosier slicks out back.

Team Soul Snatcher

Next up, we have Team Soul Snatcher, which includes mentor and 2022 Grudge Match competitor Herman Young – better known as Demonology on social media. This year, Team Soul Snatcher is campaigning a 2009 Dodge Charger with support from the Nyle Maxwell Dodge Power Brokers dealership in Austin, Texas, and Baily’s Hyperformance.

The Direct Connection Redeye crate engine in this car will be mated to a Rossler Transmission Turbo 400 with a Neal Chance torque convertor, and in speaking with Young, he explained why he went the direction that he did with this build. As a very active member of the modern Mopar® community, you can see that Young wanted to share as many details as he could, without giving away too many secrets ahead of the big race.

“I decided to go with Baily’s Hyperformance, which is known for his Dodge Demon that currently has the world record and the Trackhawk record (at the time), which was also the first Trackhawk to ever make an 8-second pass. Baily’s Hyperformance has been in the performance industry for 16 years and one of the biggest things he stressed to me was making sure we put safety as a priority when going fast. So they stripped the Roadkill Nights car down, completely did a makeover on it and sent the car to Carlin Fabrication in California for a 6.50 NHRA certified cage. My tuner is Duane Biddle from Biddle Motorsports. I chose him because he is the #1 Holley Dominator tuner in Texas and has 15+ years of experience tuning cars for street/no-prep.

“My previous RKN car was rebuilt by Baily’s Hyperformance once we returned from RKN last year. We then decided to turn it into a tribute car to the original Black Ghost. This new build should be just as fast as the Black Ghost on a street/no-prep surface. Now the car is together and making amazing track times by picking 4 tenths of a second off our previous best times. With Baily’s Hyperformance building this car, Biddle Motorsports tuning the Holley Dominator system, and my previous experience gives Team Soul Snatcher a very high chance of taking home the win at Roadkill Nights.

My biggest brand partners are Holley, Nitrous Outlet and Mickey Thompson. They are the 3 companies that really stepped up the most to help support me with this build. I have partnered with Holley in the past on several builds (my original Soul Snatcher and Black Ghost). I was so excited to have a familiar partner contribute to this build for RKN because Holley’s products under all of their brands are, in my opinion, key factors in both winning races and safety. Nitrous Outlet is not just a place to get nitrous, they make complete nitrous kits for all platforms that make for some of the easiest nitrous installations you can ask for. They have great support and the best customer service in the nitrous industry. Mickey Thompson Tires have been supporting me with drag tires for several years now, and I wholeheartedly believe that they are superior when it comes to drag racing. We have a saying at our local tracks that ‘Mickey is Sticky’.

My other brand partners are (in no particular order): Brinson Chrysler Dodge Jeep® Ram, Rossler Transmissions, RaceQuip, Biddle Motorsports, 1st Class Graphics, Texas Speed and Performance, Cleveland Power and Performance, Innovative Machining Solutions, BMR Suspension, Precision Performance Products, Fuel Injector Clinic, RC Components, King Wheel and Tire, Neal Chance Converters, The Driveshaft Shop, Flo Supply, Fellers, Cheetah Wrap, Precision Shaft Technologies, Davis Technologies, Per4mance Development, ZPE Griptec, One Ethanol, Driven Racing Oil, Mass Acceleration Motorsports, Optima Batteries, Dring Air, Earl’s Performance Plumbing, Wesley Motorsports, RaceWire Solutions, Aeromotive Inc., AAD Performance, African American Automotive Association and Carlin Fabrications.”

Finally, Herman Young explained how he was helping to prepare his rookie driver for racing a 1,000+ horsepower car on Woodward Avenue.

“I will be personally teaching Lee Carter from Scraplife Garage how I race the car with footbraking and how to come up on the converter, as well as all the secret little tricks I use. We’ll also go over how to use a transbrake to make sure he knows everything he needs when race day comes around.”

Team Corruptt

Team Corruptt is another with previous Roadkill Nights Grudge Match experience, with mentor Tony Arme returning from last year’s field to assist rookie Kayla Rundle as they take on the field with a 1969 Plymouth Barracuda.

The Direct Connection HellCrate Redeye engine was first sent to SRT® Autoworks, where the engine was torn down and ARP head studs were installed, along with a custom spec camshaft. While it was apart, the 2.7-liter IHI supercharger was upgraded with the SDG Motorsports Trifect package, adding a custom proprietary snout and a 108mm throttle body. American Legends then reassembled the 6.2-liter HEMI® engine, adding an ATI damper, the front drive system with a smaller-than-stock pulley, a Holley oil pan, FIC fuel injectors and “a few other little secrets”. Arme said that they are running “all the boost”.

In addition to the items mentioned above, the Team Corruptt Dodge Dart is equipped with a full Aeromotive fuel system with a 5gpm pump, filter and regulator with -10 feed and a -8 return, stock factory exhaust manifolds that have been modified by American Legends, a Dodge ECU tuned to run E85, an ATI custom TH400 transmission, RC Comp 15×14 beadlock wheels out back and 17×4 front runners, Mickey Thompson ET Drag radial rear tires (32×14) and a suspension setup featuring custom double adjustable coilovers front and rear with a double A-arm front suspension and a 4-link rear setup.

Team Truck Yeah

Perhaps the most unique vehicle in this year’s Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge Grudge Match is that of Team Truck Yeah.

As the name might suggest, they are bringing a truck – a 1995 Dodge Ram 1500 regular cab, short bed pickup that has just 60,000 original miles on the odometer. The Direct Connection Hellcrate Redeye engine will be mated to an RPM Transmissions TH400, with Aeromotive fuel system components providing a steady flow of E90 as a Holley Dominator ECU controls all of the electronics. The truck will be “drag race inspired”, with a full custom rear suspension setup and a Weld drag pack.

Team Dahminator

Finally, Team Dahminator is competing in a 1971 Dodge Challenger. We were not able to get details on this car, so all we know is that they have a classic E-body with a Direct Connection Hellcrate Redeye engine.

We’re curious to hear who you think will win, so head on over to @DodgeMoparMotorsports and take the poll! Tomorrow, we find out who comes out on top and who takes a big shot of humility!