Introduced in 1969, the first-generation Dodge Challenger was more than just an awesome muscle car . Chrysler also fielded modified versions of the two-door coupe in various motorsport events, including the Trans Am Series. Although it failed to win against strong competition from Ford and AMC in 1970, the AAR-built Challenger finished the season ahead of Chevrolet , Plymouth and Pontiac , a fantastic achievement during one of the most disputed Trans Am seasons. In 2014, 44 years since its debut, the Challenger returns to Trans Am with the facelifted, third-generation model.
The Challenger joins the series mid-season, with only five of 11 races to go, as Miller Racing, last year’s champion in the TA2 class, switches manufacturers from Chevrolet to Dodge. The two Sublime Green-painted Challengers — they’re wearing the same livery as the 1970 entry — are driven by Cameron Lawrence and Tommy Kendall. 21-year-old Lawrence leads the TA2 class with a 35-point margin over second place and will retain his points. Kendall, on the other hand, returns to Trans Am, a competition he already won four times, after 10 years.
The all-new, SRT-prepped Challenger makes its Trans Am debut at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 16th.
Click past the jump to read more about the Dodge Challenger SRT Trans Am.
Although it retains the overall shape and styling of the production car, the Challenger SRT Trans Am features a tube-frame chassis and and a shell built to meet the series’ TA2 class regulations. Just like NASCAR, Trans Am TA2 cars resemble their production counterparts without actually sharing factory specification. That being said, the Trans Am Challenger features a lowered engine hood, a huge splitter attached to a slightly remodeled front bumper and flared wheel arches.
Around back, a rebuilt, much simpler bumper and a large fixed wing set it apart from the regular muscle car. Naturally, the coupe rides on Trans Am-spec wheels wrapped in Hoosier, high-performance tires.
The livery mirrors the paint scheme seen on the 1970 Challenger T/A. Finished in a similar shade of green, this year’s Trans Am contender also borrows the classic model’s black side stripes and black hood. Even the "1" and "11" competition numbers on the doors are designed to resemble the "77" designation used 44 years ago.
Interior and Engine
Unfortunately, SRT did not release any details on the car’s interior, but we figure the Challenger’s cabin was stripped out and fitted with Trans Am-compliant equipment, including a rollcage and a fire extinguisher. Engine specs are absent as well, but the HEMI V-8 sounds like a natural choice. Currently, both fuel-injected and carbureted V8’s are allowed in the TA2 class.
The Chevy Camaro is the car to beat in this year’s Trans Am Series. Until Miller Racing switched from Chevrolet to Dodge, no less than 25 of 29 competitors in the TA2 class were driving Camaros, with the remaining four being Ford Mustangs. There’s only one Mustang driver in the Top 15 of the drivers’ championship, which says a lot about Chevy’s dominance at Trans Am this season.
Just like the Challenger SRT Trans Am, the race-prepped Camaro features similar modifications. A revised bumper and large splitter highlight the front fascia, which keeps its production grille, while the rear end benefits from a huge wing. Revised skirts, competition wheels and tires and a side exhaust configuration round off this production look-a-like Camaro.
Gallery Chevrolet Camaro
The third-generation Dodge Challenger received an extensive facelift for the 2015 model year. Visual updates are inspired by the 1971 Challenger and include a split front grille, separate taillights, and a pronounced power bulge hood. The interior features a reshaped, driver-focused instrument panel, refined materials, and an updated 8.4-inch infotainment system.
Engine-wise, the 2015 Challenger continues with the same 3.6-liter V-6 and 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 units, but a brand-new TorqueFlite, eight-speed autobox replaced the dated five-speed transmission. The most important news, however, is the launch of the SRT Hellcat, a 707-horsepower version powered by a supercharged, 6.2-liter, HEMI V-8.
Gallery Dodge Challenger
Gallery Dodge Challenger SRT Trans Am
SRT ® (Street and Racing Technology) Motorsports will make its debut into the Trans Am Series when Miller Racing fields two all-new Dodge Challenger SRTs at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Aug 15-16. Four-time series champion Tommy Kendall makes his re-entrance and first Trans Am start since 2004 in the TA2 series class this weekend.
As SRT Motorsports partners with Miller Racing to enter Trans Am competition for the balance of the 2014 season, Kendall will drive the No. 11 Dodge Challenger SRT while teammate and TA2 points leader Cameron Lawrence will drive the No. 1 Challenger beginning at the Mid-Ohio race, an event Lawrence won in 2013.
The mid-season manufacturer switch by Miller Racing will give the team a more-robust support base. It also brings Kendall back to the series where he won four championships in the 1990s (1990, 1995-1997). The move will also mark Dodge’s debut into the TA2 class of the Trans Am road racing series.
Kendall, who last competed in the Trans Am Series in 2004, is best known for winning championships in Trans Am and IMSA, as well as his victory in the 1995 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The heralded driver also serves as a television analyst for Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports.
“I’ve wanted to return to Trans Am competition for the longest time and then I finally kind of accepted that it wasn’t going to happen,” said Kendall. “It’s funny how things work. Being coaxed back into the Viper GTS-R program back in 2012 helped pave the way to my return. Over the last 10–15 years, I’ve committed to only doing things that are fun. Trans Am was a huge part of my professional life and to get to play a small part in keeping up the visibility here is really exciting.”
Kendall has the third most Trans Am victories with 28, while Lawrence has captured 14 wins in 21 series starts since 2012.
As Miller Racing switches manufacturers to Dodge, Lawrence will retain his TA2 class points. The 21-year-old driver currently holds a 35-point margin over second place.
“We definitely want to continue the success we’ve had and we’re really excited to bring Dodge on board,” said Lawrence. “We want to stay on top and keep the season rolling with the momentum we’ve had. It’d be really cool to get some wins for Dodge and SRT Motorsports this season, and although it’s going to be tough adapting halfway through the season, we’re going to do our best to get the Dodge Challenger SRT to victory lane.”
Miller Racing was formed in 2012 and the team captured the 2013 Trans Am TA2 class title when Lawrence won eight of 10 events, including the last seven-consecutive races. The team has captured 18 Trans Am victories in 26 races over three seasons.
In addition to the Trans Am partnership with Miller Racing, SRT Motorsports also fields two Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and supports a customer racing program with the Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R in the IMSA TUDOR series, Pirelli World Challenge and Supercar Challenge.
The Miller Racing Dodge Challenger SRTs and Kendall will first compete in The 3-Dimensional Services Next Dimension 100 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Friday, Aug. 15. Round seven of the 2014 Trans Am Championship will take place alongside the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Lawrence will look to defend his 2013 Mid-Ohio victory, which was his fourth of eight victories en route to the 2013 title.