The much anticipated debut of Mopar’s newest Pro Stock class vehicle, the Dodge Dart, will take place this weekend at the NHRA Gatornationals, following its reveal by Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr. at Two Tails Ranch near Gainesville, Fla., on Thursday.
Joining the Dodge Charger R/T in the Funny Car class and the Dodge Challenger in Sportsman competition, the Dodge Dart was chosen as the next generation Pro Stock vehicle and developed on a virtual platform, using production-based technology and tools used for street vehicles, with Chrysler Group LLC race and production engineers working hand-in-hand with the race teams.
The new Dodge Dart racecar design was validated with aerodynamic wind tunnel testing at Chrysler Group headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., in late February, then made its first test runs at Bradenton (Fla.) Motorsports Park prior to arriving in Gainesville for the third national event on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing season schedule.
Retiring from competition with Johnson’s win at the last NHRA event in Phoenix, the four-door Dodge Avenger ends its run as the most successful of Mopar racecars in its class after claiming a total of 27 NHRA national titles and a record 28 No.1-qualifier positions, in addition to consecutive championships in 2012 and 2013.
Two Dodge Dart cars will make their competition debut at this weekend’s prestigious national event with defending title holder Johnson and five- time Pro Stock Champion Coughlin at the controls, while Vieri Gaines will join the fray in a few weeks upon completion of his new HEMI-powered racecar.
“We are very excited to launch the Dodge Dart, and along with our Mopar fans, to see what Allen and Jeg can accomplish with this new vehicle as they vie for a third championship in the high-performance and ultra-competitive Pro Stock division,” said Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “The new Dart is a testament of how Mopar uses the motorsports program as a technological proving ground with Chrysler’s own leading-edge technology and production processes. We have great expectations for its on-track success.
“Mopar also is very pleased to extend our partnership with Magneti Marelli to include primary sponsorship of Allen’s new Pro Stock in order to continue to raise awareness for our brands and quality products while bolstering our collective support and commitment to NHRA drag racing.”
Johnson’s HEMI-powered Dodge Dart will carry the “Magneti Marelli Quality Auto Parts Offered by Mopar” sponsorship as an extension of Mopar’s partnership with Magneti Marelli. Their racing alliance was initiated in 2012 and developed into a primary sponsorship the following year, sharing in Don Schumacher Racing driver Matt Hagan’s successful runner-up championship season.
“We at Magneti Marelli are very enthusiastic to be the main sponsor of Allen Johnson’s new Dodge Dart NHRA Pro Stock car and team for 2014,” said Pietro Berardi, CEO Magneti Marelli Aftermarket. “We have co-sponsored Allen for two years now and he has proven to be a great asset for our company with his excellent performance of becoming 2012 Pro Stock World Champion and coming close again in 2013 with the second place in the overall championship. Also this year, Allen is off to a great start already with a win in Phoenix under his belt for 2014.
“Allen and his entire team are very gracious with our customers who are always excited to meet the racing legends of Pro Stock racing,” Berardi added. “It is great that the new vehicle will be revealed at the Gatornationals as this is where Magneti Marelli started its very first NHRA involvement in 2012 and Allen has proven to be a great brand builder for Magneti Marelli with the target customer group of racing enthusiasts and independent repair facility workers. We are hoping and wishing for a very successful 2014 season for Allen and his team.”
The partnership between Mopar and Magneti Marelli first came to fruition in April 2011, combining Mopar’s more than 75 years of U.S. automotive parts and service prowess with Magneti Marelli’s 95 years of international automotive parts experience to create an automotive parts giant that provides quality parts for all major make and model vehicles.
The “all makes” parts program for the North American aftermarket gives the Chrysler Group dealership network the ability to service competitive make and model vehicles with high-quality parts at an exceptional value, creating one-stop service and parts shops for customers.
As part of the year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GEN II 426 Race HEMI, Mopar also revealed a special paint scheme on DSR Matt Hagan Dodge Charger R/T that includes a tribute to the HEMI “Elephant,” a nickname given to the legendary power plant. The new look will make its competition premier in July for the NHRA Mopar Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., outside of Denver.