Radford Racing School Drag Racing Program

Radford Racing School is primarily known for its many road racing programs, but the Phoenix-based facility also has one of the few drag racing programs in the world that can take a beginner and shape them into an NHRA licensed competitor. Of course, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon is the cornerstone of this program and it is that 840-horsepower muscle car that led to the introduction of the drag racing program, but five years since being introduced, there is really no other school with a program like this.

“What a rush! The looks on the drivers’ faces when they launch the car for the first time on a specially prepared drag strip! Everyone is amazed at what they can learn in just a day out here,” said Danny Bullock, Chief Instructor. “We see people from all walks of life signing up for this class, and I am confident that we make drag racing and Dodge fanatics out of every one of them!”

Classroom Time

Every Radford Racing School instructional program includes some measure of Ground School and while the Drag Racing program has less to cover than the road racing programs, the day with the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon starts in the classroom. During this half-hour session, the instructor will make sure that every student has a basic understanding of how the sport of drag racing works, along with the key components of car control skills, weight transfer through throttle control and proper vision techniques. For students who already have some experience with drag racing at the track, not everything will be new information, but the Radford instructors go over all of the key aspects of track action before anyone gets into a car.

The Skid Car

The first drive time in the Radford Racing School Drag Racing program isn’t in an SRT Demon but instead, in a specially prepared Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack. The Radford Skid Cars are equipped with a unique hydraulic secondary suspension and wheel system on the outside of the body. Using a set of buttons inside of the car, the instructor can raise or lower the front and/or rear end of these Chargers, forcing extreme understeer or extreme oversteer.

Typically, understeer is not an issue in drag racing, but when you launch a car like the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon with 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque, a sudden loss of traction can lead to pretty substantial oversteer. If you can’t control that oversteer, you might end up in the wall, so before hitting the straight track with the 840-horsepower SRT Demon, students have to be able to control the 485-horsepower Charger on the oval skid pad. By lifting the back end of these Chargers, the instructors can cause the car to oversteer very badly due to the fact that there is no weight pushing down on the drive wheels.

Once the students can control these Dodge Chargers with no weight over the rear wheels, they are ready to move onto the SRT Demon.

TransBrake and Line Lock Practice

Two of the features of the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon that make it unique from any other production road car when it was introduced are the TransBrake and Line Lock systems.

The TransBrake holds engine power back when the driver is preparing to launch at the starting line, leading to far more initial torque than launching without the system. TransBrakes have been used for decades in the world of drag racing, but the SRT Demon was the first production road car to offer this system.

Line Lock is another common feature of cars built for drag racing. In fact, Line Lock is far more common than the TransBrake, but the 2018 SRT Demon was the first production road car to come from the factory with this system. With the push of a button, this system locks the front brakes, allowing the driver to do a big burnout before a drag strip pass. Without this type of system, the driver has to hold the brake pedal down, which engages the front and rear brakes, even though the rear wheels are spinning like crazy. This system makes for easier burnouts and less wear and tear on the rear brakes.

These systems are both very well engineered and very helpful in getting consistent 9-second quarter-mile times, but they can be a little tough to use for someone who doesn’t have much experience with these types of systems. I attended the first media drive event for the SRT Demon back in 2017 and a great many other writers on hand had no real idea of how the TransBrake or Line Lock worked or why they were needed. We had to learn on the track, in the burnout box and at the starting line with a crowd of people watching and a bunch of our peers waiting in line for their next turn. It was very intimidating for some, especially those who had no drag racing experience, and that high-stress experience is exactly what the Radford team is looking to avoid with time dedicated to practicing the use of the TransBrake and Line Lock features.

Since the Line Lock system is used when the car is stationary and the TransBrake system can be used in a relatively small space, the first seat time in the SRT Demon does not take place on the drag strip. Instead, students learn how to use these unique systems on an open tarmac, without the pressure of then turning a good quarter-mile elapsed time.

Drag Strip Time

After a lunch that is provided by the school, it is time for students to hit the drag strip. Before getting into the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and hitting the track, the instructors provide details on how to do a burnout in the water box, how to approach the starting line, how the Christmas tree works and what each of the lights mean and how to time their launch for the best possible reaction times.

Once this portion of the program has been explained, the students have all of the information needed to make a safe run down the drag strip in the 840-horsepower SRT Demon. Over the course of the next four hours, the students all take turns making 8th mile passes, using the information from instructors to improve their elapsed times as the day goes on. During their 8th mile runs, students getting the most out of the SRT Demon will be running in the mid-to-high 6-second range with a speed in the area of 105 miles per hour.

Finally, after the drag strip action, the Radford Drag Racing program ends with a quick Q&A session with the instructors in the classroom, followed by the graduation ceremony, which includes a certificate that states that each driver has passed the course.

“I highly recommend Radford Driving School! We were there with our son while he did the drag racing school and from booking the class to our entire day at the facility was nothing but first class,” said the parent of a drag racing program graduate. “The staff and the instructors are professional,  knowledgeable and friendly. The skills my son learned today not only achieved a dream but will assist him in his daily driving. I will do this school again for my son and husband! Thank you everyone at Radford!”

9-Second Certification

After completing the introductory Drag Racing Program, some students may want to go on to get their NHRA license to legally race and compete in the 9-second range. Fortunately, Radford has a program for that as well.

The Radford Racing School 9-Second Certification class can be added onto the initial drag racing program and it entails making a handful of passes down the full quarter-mile track. To get to this class, students will have had to prove that they know how to handle the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon on the 8th mile track before running the car hard down to the quarter-mile strip. To pass the test for the 9-second license, students have to make two clean passes in the 9-second range with a trap speed of over 135 miles per hour – neither of which are difficult for a properly driven SRT Demon.

Really, the most difficult aspect of getting down the drag strip efficiently in the 2018 SRT Demon is the launch, so students who have gotten the feel for the launch technique during the 8th mile portion shouldn’t have too difficult of a time staying into the throttle for the extra 660 feet. Those who make two clean passes will finish the day by getting their NHRA drag racing license.

Whether you want to learn the basics of drag racing or you want to get your competition license, there is no program in the world that offers the curriculum of Radford Racing School.