Brock Yates’ One Lap of America is, without a doubt, the toughest open road event in the United States. Void of fancy hotels, lifestyle journalists and swanky “look-at-me” types, One Lap is the last bastion of competition for the world’s most die-hard petrol-heads looking for an adventure. We’re talking about 11 racetracks in eight days; over 3,500 miles of transit legs; breakdowns and roadside food that’s been known to make the human body do things science still can’t comprehend. It’s not for the weak, timid or those with thimble size bladders. Instead it’s made up of some of the greatest automobile enthusiasts you’ll ever meet who’s only goal is to race, drive, rinse and repeat.
We had done the event twice already and decided to come back for a third time with One Lap first-timer and AutoNation writer, Greg Fink. AutoNation was a title sponsor of this year’s event, and Dodge was kind enough to provide Team AutoNation with a 2015 392 Challenger R/T Shaker Scat Pack and a 2015 Durango R/T as a support vehicle.The Durango R/T was strictly a media vehicle used for gear, luggage and members of the One Lap media circus. The Challenger, however, needed to pull double-duty as our track car and mobile WiFi hotspot for the duration of the event.
Over the years, we’ve clocked thousands of miles in Dodge vehicles. Tested Hellcats at over 180 mph, drifted SRT Chargers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and even ran a classic 1968 Dodge Charger on the One Lap of America some years ago.
The Dodge Challenger is an amazing road car regardless of its configuration. Its large, stable and has a long wheelbase, equaling a long-distance driving experience that’s hard to beat. Its refined American muscle with the heart and soul of a Detroit iron worker. Imposing, brash and in your face, the Challenger also has all the elegance and modern conveniences one could ever want. We’re talking 485 hp and 475 pound-feet of torque from the 6.4L 392 HEMI, a new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and three different drive modes (Normal, Sport & Sport +).
Out of the gate, handling characteristics are much better than you’d expect from a car running on a 116.2-inch wheelbase and weighing in at just over 4,000-pounds. This is not a race car, but set it up properly in a corner and it’s amazing how competent the Scat Pack suspension is. Truth be told, we just weren’t expecting the well-rounded Challenger to deal so well with everything we threw at it over the course of our approximately 3,800-mile test drive.
The only incidents we had with the car involved tire damage. We picked up a nail in one tire shortly before the start at the Tire Rack Wet Skid Pad in South Bend, Indiana. Then in Colorado we noticed the left rear tire on the Challenger was low, and upon further inspection we found what appeared to be a screw embedded deep in the tread. But here’s the thing. As luck would have it, we were on our way to Denver, Colorado where there are no less than Four AutoNation Chrysler stores! The distance was only about 65-miles; however with some ominous clouds ahead, the last thing we wanted was to be stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow. We managed to get the Challenger to AutoNation Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM Southwest, where we found a service department that was immaculately clean. Meanwhile, the technicians who worked on the Challenger couldn’t have been more accommodating during our impromptu pit-stop.
Long distance runs are where the 392 Challenger R/T simply dominates. The heated and cooled seats are sublime, the suspension is perfectly suited to (theoretical) high speed open road cruising, and the glorious exhaust note makes you feel as though you’re part of a 70s car-chase movie every time you flat-foot the throttle. Runs like this are what we live for and they define why cars like the Dodge Challenger need to exist.
We’ve driven through bad weather before, but never have we driven through tornado-like conditions. Our 187-mile journey to Oklahoma was supposed to take a little less than 3 hours. Thanks to Mother Nature though, we spent nearly 9 hours driving through the hardest rain and wind we’ve ever experienced. Through flooded streets, flying debris, extreme wind and near black-out conditions, the Challenger never faltered. Never once did a warning light come on, never once did we lose traction and never once did this big green muscle machine get tossed around by cross-winds. Our Challengers tenacity places it on our all-time favorites list and if Dodge corporate would put it up for auction, we just might bid!
The final event was a dry skid pad at the Tire Rack facility in South Bend, Indiana. If you’re in contention for a class win, then you take it seriously. If not, then this event is all about tire smoke and showmanship. We obviously chose the latter. With all the electronic nannies disabled and the throttle firmly planted, it was time to let the 392 HEMI sing its final song. This 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 is a muscle car. It’s meant to do burnouts and donuts, and then transport you at triple digit speeds anywhere you wish to go.
We entered the course in a full-on drift with the back tires nearly on fire and the exhaust bellowing to the hot-rod heavens above. Tire smoke filled the air, we laughed like children, and the outlying crowd of spectators erupted in cheers and laughter. This is what the Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker was made for, and quite honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Until our next adventure, be sure to check out all of our pictures and videos of the experience and follow us on the next event.