2nd Roadkill Nights by Dodge - 2nd Huge Success
If you are somehow unfamiliar with the Roadkill Nights by Dodge, here is a quick explanation. It is a pop-up car show and drag racing event that was first held at the Pontiac Silverdome in August 2015. The event was free to racers, free to show cars and free to spectators, with 8th mile racing, a huge car show area and a long list of free Dodge-themed displays…including thrill rides in the Hellcat Challenger, the Hellcat Charger and the Dodge Viper. As you might imagine, the first Roadkill Nights by Dodge event was a big success, with over 10,000 people in attendance.
For the second year of Roadkill Nights by Dodge, they added a second event in Kansas City and moved the Michigan event from the parking lot of the Silverdome to the newly constructed M1 Concourse road racing facility along Woodward Avenue in Pontiac. The folks at Dodge were expecting more racers, more show cars and more spectators at the new facility and they succeeded in every way. This second Detroit area Roadkill event was 3 times the size and while that created some headaches in terms of parking, once spectators were inside the M1 Concourse gates – it was another incredible automotive event.
The 2016 Roadkill Nights by Dodge event officially opened to the public at noon on Friday, August 19th and with Woodward Avenue being closed to accommodate the racing program, traffic congestion was to be expected. However, it was far worse than anyone imagined. My drive to M1 generally takes me about 45 minutes, but on the day of the event, it took me closer to 3 hours – and the last two hours were spent within a mile or so of the venue. At first, there was absolutely no traffic control of any kind and when the police finally showed up to try to get things moving, they had no idea where to send the vehicles. Some people who were fighting the traffic to race ran out of gas while waiting. Some people who had planned to show their vehicles gave up and parked wherever they could, walking into the track instead of driving. One car behind me in line burst into flames.
In short, getting into the event was very frustrating and I know that some people who were headed to Roadkill turned around and went home when they got tired of trying to navigate the traffic.
However, once we finally got parked and got into the M1 Concourse, there was really no downside to the event.
When you entered the M1 Concourse for the Roadkill Nights by Dodge event, you walked up a path lined by various sponsoring manufacturers. When you cleared those displays, the event opened up around you. On your left was a collection of Roadkill-built cars and trucks. In front of you was the sprawling tarmac area used for the Dodge Viper and Hellcat thrill rides. To your right was a long line of food trucks with a wide variety of tasty options. Beyond the Thrill Rides and the Roadkill vehicle display was the gigantic show n shine area with more than 1,000 vehicles and out beyond the food trucks was the racing area – right on Woodward Avenue.
Four large grandstands lined the M1 side of Woodward while the 350 registered race cars lined the other side of the street, with the southbound lanes serving as the burnout box, the 8th mile drag strip and the shutdown area.(More on Page 2)
The show n shine area was very impressive with a Mopar-heavy mix of vehicles and the free Dodge displays – including the chance to take a high performance ride in the Viper or Hellcat cars – were all very cool, but the star of this event was the racing program.
Dodge promised heart-pumping street racing on Woodward, and they delivered.
Roadkill Racing on Woodward
Since the cars were literally racing on the street at the Michigan Roadkill Nights by Dodge event, the traction was problematic all day long and many cars struggled to get down the track quickly – although there were very few incidents of any kind. A few cars got a little close to the wall, a couple cars broke engines or transmissions and one Ford Mustang had the majority of his exhaust system fall off at half track. Other than that, the slippery street surface only had a real impact on preventing the quickest cars from turning their quickest times.
While the racing program was designed to cater to Dodge cars (with a $10k cash prize for the quickest Dodge in attendance), there was a nice mix of all sorts of high performance cars. Among the many Chrysler, Ford and GM vehicles in the staging lanes, there were a few Nissan GTRs, a Toyota Supra or two, a quick Mitsubishi Evolution 8 and a few other foreign imports. Although the slick track was a problem for racers, the occasional smoke show made the action even more exciting for the 30,000+ spectators in attendance. We didn’t know what the vehicles were running, but we could see the difficulty in getting down the track and that led to some great racing action. The troublesome traction actually played to the advantage of the AWD imports and a few seriously quick Jeeps, but at the end of the day, the race came down to the Dodge Fast Four.
During the course of the racing action, no times or timeslips were given to the drivers, but the track officials were monitoring times and keeping track of the four quickest Dodge products in the field. By 7pm or so, the Dodge Fast Four had been established, including a 1969 Dodge Dart with a sprint car engine, a twin turbo Hemi-powered 1969 Dodge Charger, a 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
In the Dodge Fast Four, each competitor would have a round where they got lane choice against each opponent, so you ran each other car 4 times. The winner got 5 points and the loser got 3 points, unless they redlit, in which case they got zero points.(More on Page 3)
The fast qualifier was the wicked twin turbo 1969 Dodge Charger owned by Mike Moran, followed by the 1968 Dodge Dart owned by Greg Charney in second, the 2015 Charger Hellcat owned by Tom Drago (shown above slaughtering the Roadkill Corvette) in third and the 2015 Hellcat Challenger owned by Michael Cole. These four cars went head to head, over and over, until they had all made their runs in the lanes that they wanted and when the final figured were tallied up – Moran and his twin turbo Charger took the win and the $10,000 prize. The videos at the end of this piece show Moran and Charney going head to head, followed by a clip of Drago and Cole racing.
Charney in the Dart took second and $5,000, Drago in the Hellcat sedan took third for $2,500 and Cole in the Hellcat coupe took fourth and $1,500.
Congrats to Dodge for putting on another amazing event that drew massive numbers to see a huge car show and the first ever legal street racing in Metro Detroit.