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Responsible. Not Responsible: Marketing the Demon to Create Outlaw Image for Dodge Brand

“With Demon, our goal was to build a car that would tattoo the Dodge logo into the subconscious of the general market, beyond even our loyal enthusiasts” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America. “To do so, we had to set records that have never been set before, do more than has ever been done before, go beyond even the legendary Hellcat. The result: an 840*horsepower, 9*second muscle car unlike anything that has ever come before it.”

The quote was from a press release issued by Dodge. If you read other car magazines, you may have noticed that Dodge is running ads with the title “Sorry. Not Sorry” and the tag line “Officially banned by the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association)” to promote the newly released Dodge Challenger Demon and, it seems, to create an outlaw image for the Dodge brand. The ads also include a letter from Glen Gray, NHRA Vice President for Technical Operations. Here it is:

To: FCA US LLC, regarding its Dodge brand
Date: November 30, 2016
This letter verifies that on Monday, November 21st, 2016 at Gainesville Raceway at Gainesville, Florida, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon ran the quarter mile in an elapsed time of 9.650 seconds at 140.09 miles per hour. Both the elapsed time and the speed on this run exceeded the limits on 2008 OEM (Original Equipment Model) model-year and newer production cars and therefore violate our rules. The car exceeded our limits of 9.99 seconds and 135 miles per hour. Therefore, before this car can be run again at an NHRA Member Track, it must be brought into compliance with the rules and regulations found in Section 4 of the NHRA Rulebook. If you have any questions concerning this letter or the rules in Section 4 of the NHRA Rulebook, please contact me.
Sincerely,
Glen Gray
NHRA
Vice President, Technical Operations

We spoke with two law enforcement officers who also happen to have founded organizations to discourage street racing by encouraging people to come out and race with their members at drag strips.

“I know it is a marketing draw,” says Sgt. Scott Graham of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Motorsports organization. “They are trying to be like the outlaws with these cars. Dodge is.

We asked Brown and Graham to weigh in on safety issues and the Demon. "They start selling these cars - it’s going to be less than 30 minutes before there will be major incidents and some fatalities. An 840 horsepower street car - it just don’t make sense to me” said Lt. Tom Brown of Beat the Heat.

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