And it happened at the Space Shuttle runway, too.
We’ve seen many cars blast down the former Space Shuttle runway to make a top speed run at Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds, but we’ve never seen a race at the historic location. Technically speaking, this wasn’t an actual race – like previous vehicles, this bone stock Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye lined up in the Florida sun for a flat-out pass on over two miles of smooth concrete. With 797 horsepower (594 kilowatts) under the hood, Dodge says the beefy Hellcat can hit 203 mph. As it turns out, the muscle car can also humiliate small aircraft flying overhead.
The video plays out like any other Johnny Bohmer pass. We see the Redeye launch from the outside, with the view switching inside the car showing telemetry data. After an easy rollout, the velocity builds very quickly past 100 mph. The Challenger isn’t graced with high-speed aerodynamics, however, and the pace slows noticeably at 160 mph. In fact, the 14 seconds it takes the Redeye to go from 180 to its best speed of 191.3 mph is roughly the same time it took to go from 100 all the way to 160.
Gallery: Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Top Speed Run
Ordinarily, that would be the hook of this story – the Challenger Redeye falling well short of its advertised top speed. However, look closely in the upper right corner of the video and you’ll see a light aircraft appear just after the Challenger sets off. It’s a single-engine low-wing airplane, and though we can’t identify it specifically, we’re guessing it was cruising around 120 mph. That’s because the Redeye quickly closes the gap between its unofficial airborne competitor north of that speed, and at around 165 mph, the aircraft completely disappears from the camera. Viva La Hellcat!
We don’t know what the airplane was doing, be it getting footage from the air or simply flying past the field at just the right time. We highly doubt it was an intentional contest, but regardless, the Redeye showed it taillights – sort of, anyway – to an airplane in flight. That’s pretty cool.
It’s also possible the Challenger could’ve gone a bit faster with more room to run. 2.3 miles of the total 3.2-mile strip were used in this pass, presumably because a stock Hellcat doesn’t come with a parachute for slowing down, and its brakes aren’t as capable of ultra-high-speed deceleration as those of, say, a Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Still, it was fast enough to beat an airplane already cooking in the air above the Space Shuttle runway, so bragging rights for this contest are well-earned.