Here’s What VHT Actually Is
Some magic elixirs are worth using.
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The 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 just raised hell with a 1.66-second 0-60, and an 8-second quarter-mile time. But those numbers are sure to inspire their fair share of disbelief as they’re nigh unheard of in anything outside the world of the NHRA. But that comparison is apt given how Dodge achieved such numbers.
In between the normies barking about how irresponsible it is for Dodge to unleash something like this in its 'Last Call' campaign, you'll hear folks, particularly Chevy and Ford fans shouting about these numbers only being achievable on a prepped surface. Those of us that are quick to defend our beloved Dodge will fire back with some sort of trash talk. But there are many in the crowd that will be left scratching their heads, asking, "what is a prepped surface?"
Well, friends, it all comes down to a substance called VHT, and it just so happens we can break down what it is and show you how Dodge achieved those ludicrous numbers. Now let's talk about how VHT factors into the Demon 170's insanity.
What is VHT or TrackBite?
Your car doesn't want to move. It's not special for it, but it's just like any other object at rest as it wants to stay at rest. Or at least that's what some dude named Isaac said about it.
There are a lot of factors keeping your car from hooking up and taking off. The vast majority of us focus our efforts on altering the car’s many systems to help it go when we're working toward improved quarter-mile times. But no matter how good the shocks, springs, and tires are—or how powerful the engine is—all of it is at the mercy of the medium it's racing on.
Many factors separate a drag strip from the streets, but the biggest one is in the prep work done to the track’s surface. Track owners work hard to keep it clean and level and even apply a layer of rubber to help cars hook up. And on top of all of that, they use a compound to help give it even more bite, i.e. TrackBite. Also known as VHT.
PJ1 TrackBite is a specialized compound used to improve traction, and it's something many tracks and racers swear by. It's also something that you can go out and buy yourself, making it a must-have for any serious performance junky.
When all of the power of a car like the Demon 170 is suddenly unleashed, it can easily overcome the tires’ ability to maintain traction. Not only that, but the tires have to contend with that power all the way down the track. Traction compounds add a tacky layer to help. Think of it like a special glue for helping tires stick that you can easily lose a shoe to it if you're not careful.
As much as that might sound like a cartoonish tactic, that’s really what it comes down to. In fact, you’ll find examples of racers using sugary drinks as part of their go-fast home remedies all over the place.
What separates PJ1 TrackBite from home elixirs is that chemists put in the time to come up with an optimal product to get the job done. Most are resin-based compounds and can even be used to do more than provide traction. Depending on the blend, these compounds may even help seal the track.
Traction compounds also aren’t exclusive to drag racing, with options being available for all kinds of applications, including dirt track. The Drive's Jonathon Klein holds the belief that Formula 1 will need to apply a metric ton of the stuff to the Las Vegas track this year, stating, "Have you ever driven on Vegas streets? They're greasy, slick, and dusty things. You can make the tires slip by just breathing on the gas pedal. Imagine trying to hook 1,000+ horsepower from an F1 car on that."
VHT, however, is one of those rare universal speed tricks for achieving optimal performance, including making sure the new Demon 170 can achieve those, ahem, almost unbelievable benchmarks.
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