Leah Pritchett, the driver of the Don Schumacher Mopar/SRT NHRA Top Fuel Dragster, has successfully raced the first supercharged Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in a full slate of 2018 SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown events. This new stand-alone class (similar to the old Super Stock), is a showcase for factory-built race cars from Dodge, Ford and Chevrolet.
Pritchett's 354-cubic-inch HEMI engine-powered Drag Pak was prepped and maintained by the Don Schumacher Racing Team, led by crew chief Kevin Helms. Helms brought years of experience driving and tuning a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak to his new role, including a 2015 NHRA Stock Eliminator World Championship and 2017 NHRA Stock and Super Stock runner-up finishes.
In selecting Pritchett to be the Drag Pak driver, Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA said, "We're excited that, in addition to competing under the banner of the Mopar and Dodge brands in the NHRA Top Fuel class, Leah Pritchett will also carry our colors into NHRA Factory Stock Showdown competition…(she) is a fierce competitor and a great brand ambassador, and we look forward to cheering her on in double-duty at seven events this year."
With engineering support from SRT, Pritchett’s Drag Pak went on a search and destroy mission for anything wearing a Bowtie or Blue Oval. Her 8.107-second, 169-mph (0.038 reaction time) win at Dallas, on October 7, over some tough COPO Camaros and Mustang Cobra Jets, clinched the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals. Leah picked up a pair of trophies, one for winning the Factory Stock Showdown event and one for taking the season championship in that division. This was her first championship in this class. Previously, she captured the 2000-2001 Jr. Dragster Division 7 championships and the 2010 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series Championship in the Nostalgia Funny Car class.
The crown was the second earned in less than a month by a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak driver, following the championship claimed by Geoff Turk in the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) Factory Super Cars class on September 23.
Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America, remarked, “This NHRA Factory Stock Showdown championship is a testament to the drive and commitment of Leah Pritchett and also to the domination of the Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak, our modern-day version of the factory-built ‘package’ car. Leah fought through a hectic schedule to compete in both the Factory Stock Showdown and Top Fuel classes at seven events, and to wrap up the year with the series championship, to go along with three consecutive wins and the first seven-second range pass in the history of the class is truly an amazing accomplishment for her and the Don Schumacher Racing team.”
Pritchett’s Dodge Challenger Drag Pak named “El Bandito,” was the very first Drag Pak ever built by Mopar. The car has gone through several different powertrain combinations in its lifetime, but current has an all-aluminum 354 cubic-inch supercharged HEMI under the hood. It was the first car in the Factory Stock class to break into the 7-second pass at a sanctioned NHRA event.
The Drag Pak car uses a GM Turbo 400 transmission, mostly because of its aftermarket support in the drag-racing world. It also uses a live rear axle, as opposed to the Challenger’s independent rear. The interior also has some minor alterations to make it ready to race, like a 10-point cage, extra gauges and a switch panel to control different functions.
Here are a few more details about the car:
1,100-1,300 hp. (blueprinted motor)
Twin Whipple supercharger
109mm Throttle Body
3,675 lbs. (with driver)- min. NHRA weight
15X4 MT tires on front and 15X10 MT tires on rear
4" drive shaft
Kirkey racing seats
Uses 60 lbs. of ice for cooling before each run (engine is at 55F degrees before race)
Pritchett was excited at bring home the championship for Mopar. She said, “This championship ranks at the top of the list. I might be holding this Wally right now, but 100 percent this is Dodge and Mopar and the technology they pour into this class. I just get to drive the car…I know I probably speak for the whole class, but a huge thank you to SAM Tech for sponsoring the Factory Stock Showdown Series. It’s really become one of the most exciting, grassroots classes out here. I get to hold it, but this Wally is definitely going home to Mopar.”
Factory Stock Showdown will return to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2019 and will expand to eight races. The popular category that has attracted fans and racers, many from the Pro Stock class, will be on the schedule at Richmond, VA, and Topeka, KS.