Dodge Muscle Took Over Woodward Avenue and It Sounded Oh so Sweet

Roadkill Nights powered by Dodge brought high-stakes, street-legal drag racing to metro Detroit.

With more thrill ride experiences in the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat models, additional celebrity showdown races and a larger than ever overall $40,000 purse, Motor Trend Group’s “Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge” returns to iconic Woodward Avenue Saturday, Aug. 11., to take over M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich. 2018 marks the fourth year of the popular street drag racing and car festival and third consecutive year the event is to be held at M1 Concourse, kicking off Southeast Michigan’s week-long celebration of classic cars and car culture.
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Few sounds make me want to bang on my chest like King Kong while defending his damsel in distress from the bad guys more than a Dodge Hellcat engine being wound up to 6,000 rpm. The rumble of the Hemi V-8 and whine of its supercharger produce a sweet melody of power and destruction that is beautiful as it is intimidating—much like my experience at Saturday's fourth annual Road Kill Nights event in Pontiac, Michigan.

Dodge brought out the big guns and put on a huge show for tens of thousands of folks who congregated at M1 Concourse to see home-built, shop-built, and factory-built muscle cars duel it out on the legendary Woodward Avenue, the birthplace of drag racing. From underdogs to street legends, everyone with a passion for putting the pedal to the metal signed up to get their share of a $40,000 purse distributed across two main classes: big tire and small tire.

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Drag racing on Woodward Avenue.

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Dodge's shindig.

“Last year, more than 40,000 enthusiasts celebrated performance car culture at ‘Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge’ in an epic kick off to a week of cruising events,” said Steve Beahm, head of Dodge SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat. “With drag racing, thrill rides and music, Roadkill Nights gets people on to a track run by professionals, so they can really show how their hot rods perform in a more controlled environment.”

One of the highlights of the day was witnessing reality-TV star and owner of Gas Monkey Garage Richard Rawlings put on a smoke show at the wheel of a new Dodge Challenger Hellcat, right up until the moment when he lost control of the 707-horsepower monster and crashed it against a concrete barrier. The loved-or-hated celebrity was competing against NHRA superstar Leah Pritchett as part of the celebrity showdown that was ultimately won by former WWE wrestler Bill Goldberg.

Seeing a Hellcat-swapped Toyota Prius beat a Dodge Demon at the quarter-mile was almost as comical as Rawlings little stunt, but witnessing a Duramax diesel-powered Silverado rocket down Woodward and beat seriously prepped muscle cars was by far one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Well, actually, that honor might go to the flame-throwing trucks, which fired 40-foot-tall flames into the dead of night courtesy of their alcohol-burning contraptions.

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Flame-throwing truck.

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Richard Rawling sof Gas Monkey Garage interacts with the fans.

In all, the highlight of Roadkill Nights may have been what Dodge refers to as "Thrill Rides," where my son and I got to ride in a Charger Hellcat as a pro driver drifted around a skidpad until his rear tires shredded into tiny little pieces—quite literally. But there was also that moment when Goldberg picked up Dodge and SRT Head of Design Mark Trostle with one arm, put him on his back, and pretended like he was going to body-slam him. And I can't forget about the nitro-fueled dragsters and funny cars that blew people's hats (and eardrums) with their monstrous horsepower. In retrospect, there were too many awesome experiences to crown a single one as the coolest of them all.

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Bill Goldberg picks up Dodge designer Mark Trostle.

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Leah Pritchett's top fuel dragster.

Unfortunately, a couple of rain showers forced the action on the drag strip to come to a premature close, so each class winnings were split evenly between the top eight racers. As for me, after enjoying almost 12 hours of racing and racing-related entertainment, I found myself covered in mud, smelling like burnt rubber, and just a bit dizzy from inhaling exhaust fumes. Overall, a mighty fine day.

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