2021 Drag Pak: The First Contender Hits The Strip!

Not so very long ago, the world was different. Reflect on a simpler time and place – SEMA 2019. The automotive aftermarket is various and thriving just as the horsepower war has crested its peak. Mopar, Ford, and Chevy fend their stance on the battlegrounds as the companies remain entrenched in a significant arms race. While Ford delivered the GT500 as its response to the Hellcat Redeye, Mopar threw a wicked set of slicks at its showcase.

These slicks belonged to a well-renowned and crowned model that only falls into production as a reminder of who’s in charge. Dodge refined and introduced the 2021 Drag Pak, and the car is finally in the hands of the first contender. It’s time to hit the strip and find out all about the driver and his Drag Pak’s endeavors.

The Drag Pak Program

Image Courtesy of Caricos.com

For those who are unfamiliar with the highlights of the Drag Pak’s past, here’s a quick purge to get you all caught up: It began in 2008 when Dodge reintroduced the production of a factory-prepped package car dedicated specifically to the ¼ mile. It was deemed the DragPak. Dodge produced 100 cars in 2009 and promptly old out. In 2010 and 2011, they built 50 cars a year, and they sold out as well. Dodge had many firsts in this era, such as being the only company to have a V10-powered Factory Stock car. In 2013, a 426 HEMI model Drag Pak took the first win for the team in NMCA racing.

Production spiraled downward for the Drag Pak. They only made 50 more units in 2015 and likely stopped to focus on the mass-production of Hellcats and Demons. To no one’s surprise, the new engine platform was incredibly versatile and drag-race-ready. Before long, the new block was dropped into a Drag Pak and topped with some notable accessories. By 2019 it was on the SEMA showroom floor.

Dragpak Dennis

Dennis made his first pass in the Drag Pak at the Texas Motorplex. Taking charge in the Lonestar State!

It takes a man with a lot of determination and strong willpower to handle a 7.50 certified rocket of a race car. Most of all, it takes a niche love for racing and a certain lack of sanity. Dennis is the perfect mix to be a Mopar man, and he always has been.

Ever since Dennis was a young lad, he’s been out in the garage with tools in his hands. Like many of us, he was hands-on with cars, even before he knew how to put the vehicle back together. Dennis labels himself “an enthusiast to all domestic car brands”; however, his interest always levitated towards that of the Mopar variety. Dennis owns an infamous 2018 Dodge Demon deemed “FALLEN,” as well as a 1972 Dart Demon known as “Mr. Norm.” When Dodge announced that it would introduce the new Drag Pak to the market, Dennis made a pact with himself – it was time to go to the greatest level and get competitive.

Why The Dragpak?

Needless to say, Dennis is a man of culture. Since he’s the owner of a limited production model Drag Pak and Demon, he’s a part of the brotherhood. His affiliation with the Legion of Demons and the Mopar Direct Connection attests to this. Despite all this evidence, a certain question still simmers. Why did Dennis pick the Drag Pak over the higher production Cobra Jet and COPO Camaro models?

Dennis claims “all of these cars are very capable in the Factory Stock class, but there’s so much more novelty in the Drag Pak.” And he’s right. Mopar has been an underdog in the previous years of Factory Stock. Limited production has led to limited press for these cars. They’ve also been handicapped since 2018 after the “Blackbird” Drag Pak broke into the sevens. In short, Dennis is attracted to the lore and rarity this race car contains.

Everyone wants a piece of  victory.

The Application

Even getting a chance to receive an opportunity to buy a Drag Pak was harsh. This car was and still is highly sought after, which means that only the enduring and prepared customers got a chance to request one of these cars.

For those who don’t know, the Drag Pak program requires you to call and request the application. The application is sent one day by email, and all the customers have roughly 1 minute to enter before all of the cars are spoken for. There were over 1,000 applicants for the 2021 Drag Pak. Only the first 50 were chosen.

Dennis told his application story. He said, “I was at work. I sat there for three to four hours, clicking the refresh on my email. When the application hit my inbox, I typed so quickly that I spelled my name wrong.” Afterward, “there was a phone call from Mopar telling me that my application was accepted and I successfully reserved a car!”

Watson Racing

The Drag Pak awaiting the pickup from a secret Watson Racing location.

Time passed, and updates came. Dennis eventually heard from the Drag Pak engineers over at SRT and Watson Racing that his car would be ready in late March for pickup. Unbeknownst to him, his car would be the first to roll off the production block to the public. His car was the third in line!

Without disclosing certain information, there are only some details currently aloud to be displayed to the press. Long story short, there was an extensively secret set of steps that had to be followed in order for Dennis to get to the pickup location for his car. Dennis humored the process as it “felt like a confidential meeting with the Secret Service.” It was here where Dennis truly fell in love with his car. He got in and started the supercharged 354 HEMI. “When hearing that car, I smiled in a way that I’ve never smiled before. This was the best day of my life.”

The First Pass

Dennis pit driving the Drag Pak to prepare tune for a 1/4 mile pass.

The moment finally came, and panic began to churn as Dennis entered the water box. “I’ve never driven a car with this level of potential before. It felt as though there was a high expectation to live up to.” Dennis marked up a strategic plan. Since he didn’t know how the car would perform, he chose to simply launch the car and get it through second gear before shutting down the pass. The burnout brings on an audible ensemble of open-header RPM. After pre-stage, he put the Drag Pak’s torque converter to the test. A high RPM launch put the car clean through the 60-foot mark. Dennis describes the first two seconds of speed as “you’re simply holding on for dear life.”

What Dennis didn’t expect was how easy the Drag Pak would be to control for its speed. Instead of proceeding with his original idea, Dennis laid into it for the whole quarter. His first pass ever was a 9.1-second run. “From then on, I knew I was hooked. This car has a lot more in it!” He says.

Viva la Victoria!

Dennis’s cars side by side. #3 Drag Pak and the “FALLEN” Demon

Dennis practiced another run. On his second pass, he got the car down into the 8’s with an 8.28 run. It was proof that with some refining of his reaction, shift points, and properly heated traction, this dragster could go beyond the 8-second zone. By now, his numbers had been seen by some followers. This is when the Demonology callout hit his inbox. Demonology is a YouTuber that is seen as a heavy influencer on the Mopar racing scene. Demonology runs a heavily modified 2018 Demon, so the competition only seemed natural.

The time slip from Dennis’s third pass in his race against Demonology.

As seen in the Instagram video, there is a massive crowd hastily waiting to watch this showdown. At this moment – Dennis made his best run and reaction yet. The Drag Pak passed the stripes in the 8.1 territory with a 0.087 reaction time. Very close to a perfect launch. The pass was made all the better when he outran Demonology at every marking.

What’s Next For Dennis And The Dragpak?

Dennis posing to have his genuine reaction photographed with his new ride. A smile only horsepower could cause!

Dennis says, “I hope to get the car out to the NMCA races this year” since he believes this is the ultimate test of its ability. “I’ve been in contact with the SRT team. We want to try and get me prepared for some Factory Stock events,” especially since Dennis would be the only 2021 Drag Pak in the mix currently. Dennis is enthusiastic about his opportunities with the car, and all of his followers are staying close behind to cheer him on.

Only one question remains, and even Dennis is unsure. We were all thinking about it when we saw the car in 2019…

Is the Drag Pak capable of surpassing the 7.50 index? And if so, then what will happen next?

About the author

Matthew McMurray

Matt McMurray is a young writer, photographer and entrepreneur with a passion for the modern world of all things automotive. Having grown up in his dad’s garage, he spent extensive time at the drag strip – both behind the wheel and under the hood.
Read My Articles

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