Dodge Built a Durango Hellcat Redeye and This Guy Is Turning It Into a Drag Racer

Backed by 710 horsepower, the Durango Hellcat, which Dodge only built 2,000 examples of back in 2021, is already one of the world’s most powerful SUVs. However, with the brand’s other two products, the Challenger coupe and Charger sedan, also packing 797 hp Hellcat Redeye versions, the three-row SUV skipped this looney version, or so we thought. Actually, Dodge did build a Durango Hellcat Redeye, and you’re looking at it right now.

The man showcasing the supercharged-and-then-some Durango here is Tom Bailey, a proeminent name of the drag racing scene. Among others, Bailey has built what many describe as the world’s quickest street-legal car (the 1969 Camaro Sick Seconds), while constantly attending and organizing drag racing events.

His reputation is the reason why Dodge gave him the Durango Hellcat Redeye, which he labels as a one-off. Bailey, who already owned a regular Durango Hellcat (the grey car in the video below), tells quite a story on how he got the more powerful beast.

Last year, the enthusiast placed an order for a second Durango Hellcat, with the aim of turning this into the quickest/fastest (think: Elapsed Time/Trap Speed) out there. Alas, the vehicle got stolen off the corporate lot around Christmas time, and since production had ended, Bailey though that would the end of it.

Nevertheless, earlier this year, Dodge offered Bailey this non-standard model, whose only exterior clue towards the added power is the red dot marking the eyes of the Hellcat badge, as it would on a production Challenger or Charger. And we believe this is an older project that now has a fresh chance to shine.

This Durango Hellcat Redeye was probably a circuit racer first

Back in 2019, the Durango range was topped by the 475 hp naturally aspirated SRT model. And the SRT division of FCA (this was prior to the FCA-PSA merger that led to the birth of Stellantis) that got disbanded last year, took such a Durango and gave it a Hellcat Redeye motor.

In addition to fitting the high-output version of the supercharged 6.2L HEMI, which is described as a straight swap by Dodge Garage, the engineers also added a bunch of other high-performance parts.

For starters, the engine got Kooks long-tube headers with high-flowing catalytic convertors for a bit of extra muscle. This would explain why Bailey states that the vehicle packs over 100 extra horses compared to the standard Hellcat, when a comparison between the two stock engines would lead to an 87 hp gap.

Bailey also mentions that the one-off sports “beefier axles and beefier everything”. And he’s probably refering to the vehicle’s TorqueFlite 8HP95 eight-speed automatic transmission and MP 3015C transfer case, both of which are shared with the also-standard-Hellcat-wielding Jeep Grand Cherokee Hellcat. Remember, the Durango Hellcat hadn’t been introduced when this project was put together.

Another detail mentioned by the drag racer is the “throatier” exhaust sound, which would fit the 2019 vehicle’s high-flow Mopar cat-back exhaust system.

We must also mention the Brembo brakes (15.75-inch front rotors and 13.78-inch rear discs), which are larger than those of the Durango SRT, matching the hardware on the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and Durango SRT Hellcat.

The 2019 project also got Mopar concept lowering springs that drop the ground clearance by 15 mm (0.6 inches), along with custom 20×11-inch wheels shod in 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires from the Challenger Hellcat Widebody (here is the FCA Stellantis press release listing the items).

Those wheels and tires appear to have been replaced, and we’re not sure about the dampers. For the record, the project was initially built to see SRT and Dodge Garage competing in One Lap of America—this is basically the modern, legal version of the 1970s crazy New York to California coast to coast run.

Nowadays, the event involves battling the stopwatch on race tracks (here’s another example of a super-SUV gone circuit racer) and with the vehicle’s newfound drag racing purpose (more on this below) we expect a different suspension setup.

Of course, the Durango Pursuit cop car livery and siren Dodge had used have also been removed. Apparently, so has the roll cage, while the rear seats had been thrown back in, at least for now. Now, if you’re interested in the vehicle’s previous form, which used the Durango SRT Pursuit “Speed Trap” label, you can see this being thrown around on the track and even drag racing in the second YouTube clip below.

It’s (almost) time to set drag racing records

When Dodge can’t extend its usual horsepower madness—the production Durango Hellcat was axed over emissions—it comes up with creative ways of giving more muscle to the people.

So, just like YouTubers such as Tavarish and Westen Champlin got Charger Hellcat Redeye pre-production hardware that escaped the mandatory crushing to build amazing cars using road vehicle shells, Bailey received the Durango Hellcat Redeye for a reason. The man is now pursuing his initial goal of turning this into the quickest Durango Hellcat in the world.

In his mission, Bailey will “break it trying or get there”, with his initial goal being to complete the project in time for Sick Nights, a series of events he’s holding this August.

Meanwhile, he’s helping us indulge in the fantasy of comparing the Durango Hellcat to this Redeye iteration. So, in what he calls baseline testing, he hooned the two in the 1/8-mile. The Durango Hellcat Redeye delivered a best run of 7.53s at 92 mph (148 mph), which is 0.3s quicker—gained in the initial 60-foot stage of the stunt—and “a few mph” faster than the regular Hellcat.

What’s next? Others have obviously massaged Durango Hellcats, with the best 1/8-mile result currently sitting at 6.3s, according to Bailey. However, the man is willing to take this bad boy into the 5s and he’s even ready to build the SUV into a four-second athlete, so expect an extra topping of hooning this summer.

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