I recently got back from a little road trip up to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway to attend the SRT Track Experience that comes with buying the car, and I thought I'd share my experience with all of you.
First off, it was a fantastic day! As all the attendees began to arrive it ended up becoming a semi-SRT car show as the entire fleet was represented. Even a brand spanking new 2013 SRT Viper was in attendance.
When we eventually got indoors we were greeted by the very many SRT team members (I would say roughly 15) who set us up with breakfast and registration where we all received a SRT credential along with a flash drive which is used in each vehicle to record video and audio of yourself. To my surprise the breakfast was excellent…as was the lunch later in the day.
After a short introduction we were broken up into two teams, Team Psycho and Team Shake n Bake. This was a way to divide and conquer the events, but we were also competing against each other via lap times.
I was on Team Shake n Bake, and our first event was the 'Autocross Challenge.' In this event we were required to race individually on a very tight course indicated by cones…if you knocked a cone over, that was two seconds off your time. We did two laps in Challengers and two laps in Grand Cherokees. This was my first time driving in a Grand Cherokee, and I gotta say it is a very impressive machine, off the line it would honestly destroy a Challenger. That said, I did happily set the fastest Challenger time
This event was too fun.
Next up was 'Driving Dynamics' which was very similar to another event we did called 'Performance Drive,' the only difference being that in 'Performance Drive' we pushed these cars as hard as we possibly could :2:
This involved small teams of three, the track itself and every car in the fleet, minus the Viper. A professional driver would take the lead vehicle and guide two of us along the best route. Again, we tore the cars up in this event! This is where we could see how these cars really perform, where we could do all the things that we wish we could do in our own cars.
The track was complete with straight aways where we pushed 110mph as well as sharp hard braking drifting curves…I'm actually a little surprised that I never spinned out.
|| view from the onboard cameras recording to your flash drive ||
Afterward was the most competitive event of the day, 'Face Off.' Here is where two drivers took the track at once for a little drag race and a little autocross. Basically we would drag race to a stop box where we needed to come to a COMPLETE stop, then we continued on a small autocross course full of 90 degree turns. The winner was the fastest to complete the course without any penalties, ie. no cone hitting and no rolling stops. We did five rounds with Challengers and Grand Cherokees.
The last part of our day was a ride along on the track. This is where a professional driver would embarrass us and show us how to REALLY drive these cars, all the while engaging in some idle chat, "So what do you do? Are you having a good day?" This was awesome, and sometimes a little sketchy.
At the very end there was a little award ceremony where the fastest drivers on the autocross were given a prize (SRT merchandise). If you didn't win you could still buy merchandise. THEN the winning team was announced which was determined by the overall fastest times on the autocross…it was Team Shake n Bake!
We beat the hell out of these cars and got to see just how good they are, and as such my faith in the SRT brand as well as my own car is stronger. The Chrysler 300 was the deciding favorite amongst the majority of the attendees as well as the crew, and for good reason, it's an excellent car…but the Challenger definitely proved itself to me. I'm not sure what I really expected, but this car handled every event like a champ and was so much fun as it did so. Overall the SRT Track Experience was excellent and something that I would highly recommend to anyone, SRT owner or not. The crew was friendly, the food was great, the events were competitive and fun, and you get to meet some really awesome fellow owners.
Random side note, I started the six hour trip (total) averaging 14.7 mpg and ended with my highest ever, 21! Which is actually more than I generated on a similar trip when I owned an auto 392.