Challenging Challengers

Before the Trans-Am Road Racing Series event at Sebring International Raceway in 2017, a Dodge Challenger had not participated in the series since Sam Posey in 1972. On that weekend in 2017, Jeff Hinkle and his American V8 Road Racing team brought the Dodge Challenger back, and it didn’t take long to start seeing success. “The whole process of bringing back the Challenger started in 2015 when I purchased a handful of former Penske NASCAR Cup series Dodge Chargers,” said Hinkle. “Shortly thereafter, I was approached by Dale Quarterly to help maintain and enhance my team’s performance.”

Jeff Hinkle racing his Challenger
Jeff Hinkle in debut at Sebring Internationals Raceway, 2017

In the summer stretch of the 2017 season, the Destin, Florida, native drove the Dodge Challenger SRT® to 4th place finish in the Trans-Am portion of the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle Park. “It was such a morale boost to run with the best of the best in TA1,” said Hinkle. “We knew we could finish well, but to have done it and have everything go to plan for a weekend was the proof we needed that this program was headed in the right direction.” The Challenger quickly became a proven platform not only with Hinkle, but with drivers such as Adam Andretti and Boris Said. “Chris Wills of California helped design the chassis that formed the basis of our Challenger SRT,” stated Hinkle, “once the design was finalized, former Dale Earnhardt Incorporated fabricator Pancho Weaver built the chassis. In terms of power, I acquired multiple Dodge 5 crate motors that put out 575 foot-pounds of torque and 850 horsepower. It’s a lot of power, more than a modern NASCAR Cup Car. These cars are a handful.”

Jeff Hinkle racing his Challenger
Jeff Hinkle at Virginia International Raceway

Hinkle followed up these front-running performances by earning the 2019 Trans-Am Southwest Series Championship. Not running in 2020 due to COVID-19, Hinkle carried the momentum into 2021 and started the season off with a 9th place overall finish in the Trans-Am season-opener at Sebring International Raceway after having to start at the back, eventually climbing through the field. Looking ahead to Charlotte at the end of March, Hinkle aims to get another top five against ever-growing competition and to keep his Challenger up front.