West Coast Challengers club member, Bill (aka CrankCase), took his 2011 Inaugural Edition 392 Dodge Challenger out to the Mojave Air and Space Port in the high desert of California for the inaugural running of the Mojave Magnum event, a 1.5 mile speed contest.

After arriving Friday afternoon, Bill took his car in for tech inspection which lasted about 15 minutes. Everything passed inspection and he was given his race number to attached to the outside of his car. Wrist bands were then attached to both arms.

Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m., the gates opened and racers drove down the taxi way of the airstrip to their favorite pit location along it’s edge. The announcement came over the loud speaker of an imminent drivers meeting and track drive so there was little time to prepare the cars. The meeting was held to explain safety issues and procedures. All of drivers were instructed to follow the director, in caravan style, over the entire course and to see the flags at the end of the 1.5 mile mark as well as the return road.

At the driver’s meeting, they encouraged everyone to make their first pass an 80 percent run in order to get a handle on the the track at this faster speed. Bill made his first run and recorded a 167.2 mph speed which is where he was thinking he would be at full throttle. He became really optimistic after that.

Bill running the Mojave Magnum 1.5 Standing Mile Event in his stock 2011 Inaugural Edition 392 Dodge Challenger

Bill returned to the pit area in order to let the car cool down a bit. Although Bill brought along some 109 octane fuel, he was still running 91 octane pump gasoline, and on his second run down the mile and a half course, he ran a speed of 174.7 mph. “I stopped to pick up my speed slip and it read 174.7 mph. This was 4.7 mph faster than I’m allowed to go since my car is tech’ed for a maximum speed of 170. At this point I was given a warning,” Bill said. Because he knew the car was not nearly at it’s peak yet but he had already topped out mile per hour wise in his speed rating class, he went over to speak to the race director. So long as you do not exceed your class speed by more than 5 mph, you are ok. However, if Bill were to approach the 180 mph mark, he would be penalized and possibly ejected from the event. Of course, anything over 5 mph your speed rating prevents you from actually receiving a record of your speed. You are simply told that you were over your class rating. In Bill’s case, he was in the 170 mph A-1 class, so anything under 175 mph, he would be given his recorded speed. Anything over 175 mph, and he would receive nothing but would know that he went over the 175 mph mark, just not by how much, which is actually little solace to the racers.

Mojave Magnum 1.5 Standing Mile Event - Official 174.7 mph run. Stock 2011 Inaugural Edition 392 Dodge Challenger

Bill returned to the pit area contemplating his dilemma. He had traveled all this way and has basically become hobbled. Not by the speed of his car but rather by the speed of his class. To go up to the next higher speed class, 180 mph, Bill would need to install a roll cage as well as a variety of other safety features to the car in order for it to pass tech inspection for the next fastest class. Keep in mind, this is a stock Dodge Challenger 392 and Bill already has another Dodge Challenger built specifically for racing (426 Hemi complete with 4.2L liquid cooled Kenne Bell supercharger) outfitted with all of the features required for the higher class and there is no sense to make the modifications to a second car.

Mojave Magnum 1.5 Standing Mile Event - Record Setting 174.7 mph

After mulling the situation over for a while, Bill decided to give it one more shot. He poured some 109 octane racing fuel into the gas tank of the Challenger and drove it over to the staging lanes for another run.

Crossing the finish line at the top of 5th gear, Bill glanced down at the tachometer, 6,000 RPMs, right where he wanted and expected it to be. He later recalled, “This run was scary fast!” He already knew that it was a good run, but that was only half confirmed when he went to pick up his recorded speed slip. “Sorry, you went over 175 mph so we can’t give you your speed,” the track adviser informed him. Well, that was it. The car wanted to run like the wind and had a lot more to give but the event rules prohibited him from ever finding out what the car is truly capable of, absent making a full race car out it, and Bill already has one of those and doesn’t need another.

Mojave Magnum 1.5 Standing Mile Event - 234.4 mph run. R.J. Gottlieb's 1968 Camaro known as Big Red

With one check pass and two full runs under his belt, there was nothing more that Bill could accomplish. Unless he wanted to scale back the throttle and make some “fun runs,” then there was really no point in continuing. He was already knocking on the door of the maximum speed threshold and could only better his speed by a mere 3/10th mph. Instead, he visited with other racers and watched a few of the others run down the track, including R.J. Gottlieb with his 1968 Camaro known as “Big Red” (234.4 mph).

This was a two-day event, but Bill ended up leaving Saturday afternoon after having accomplished all that he could there. On the drive home, he couldn’t help but wonder what his speed was on that last run. It was nagging at him. Even while still at the track, he had tried to coax the speed out of the track adviser but that proved futile, “That’s the penalty for going over,” the adviser explained. Yeah, yeah, but just like in the movie Dirty Harry, “I gotsta know.”

Mojave Magnum 1.5 Standing Mile Event - Bill's Unofficial 177 mph run. Stock 2011 Inaugural Edition 392 Dodge Challenger

Fresh off of the track and onto the highway heading home, Bill called another club member to fill him in on the day’s events. The call ended with Bill reiterating that he sure would have liked to have known what the speed was on that final run. Five minutes later, Bill’s cell phone rang. It’s his fellow club member, “Hey Bill, doesn’t the car retain the top speed?” he asked. So excited about the day, Bill had forgotten about that nifty little feature installed courtesy of Chrysler. Much to his happiness, top speed — 177 mph. Whoa!

Mojave Magnum 1.5 Standing Mile Event - Official 174.7 mph run.
1st Place A-1 Class. Stock 392 Dodge Challenger

Bill’s official 174.7 mph run set both the bar and a track record at the Mojave Magnum standing 1.5 mile event in his A-1 class rating and it also earned him first place in his speed class — Congratulations Bill.

Results for the two day Mojave Magnum event can be found here.

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