RON CAPPS IN CHARGE
Ron Capps thrashing a blue Dodge Charger isn’t unusual
at weekends. But this is a Tuesday and it’s not a drag strip…
powerful and torquey (but also
rev-happy) V8 engine, rear-wheel drive,
and an aggressive, distinctive body shape.
For some of us, this writer included,
that list amounts to more than half the
ingredients necessary for automotive
happiness. So the Charger SRT –
complete with 470hp Hemi, RWD and
the most instantly recognizable styling of
any sedan on sale in America – ticks the
right boxes, even on the spec sheet.
But that’s the mortal’s view. Less easy to
impress will be Ron Capps, a true race ace
who’s used to piloting a 9,000hp NHRA
Funny Car. Will there be enough power?
Will the torque curve be flat enough?
Will the steering be sufficently direct for a
guy whose main purpose in his “regular”
job is to keep his wild beast of a Dodge
Charger FC pointing straight for 1,000ft
while hitting 320mph in four seconds?
There’s a less tactile angle, too. Capps
was an impressionable eight-year-old kid
when manufacturers stopped building the
original muscle cars back in ’ 73. It could
be interesting to gauge how he feels
about the Charger name being used on a
modern four-door, and whether it really
Ron Capps was pleased by
the SRT Charger’s eager
response to having its
familiar yet distinctive
snout aimed at the apex of
turns on a tight road course.
can live up to its purpose of being a
muscle car for the 21st century.
Capps answers that as he throws the
car around Willow Springs Raceway’s
Horse Thief Mile course, which is shaped
like a fetal lizard, and features major
elevation changes, two open curves and
four helpfully cambered switchbacks.
“Right from the time Dodge announced
the Charger for 2006, it was clear they
were recapturing the look of Chargers
from the late ’60s and early ’70s,” says
Capps. “Then the SRT team took the car
to another level of performance.
“SRT stands for Street and Racing
Technology, and that’s how it feels when
you drive this Charger – it goes, looks and
sounds like a racecar, but you can pull out
onto the highway in a car that seats five
and has all the amenities you’d want for
a luxurious long trip.”
After a few more more apexes clipped
and corner exits taken with the Charger
balanced expertly on the throttle,
Capps warms to his theme.
“Perhaps the thing that may surprise
people is that this Charger’s split personality
doesn’t hurt either side of its ability. What
The fact that Ron
Capps pilots a Don
NHRA Funny Car for
a living wasn’t the
only reason he was
a natural choice for
this test. Ron loves
muscle cars, loves
patient on photo
and video shoots.
DO RUN RUN RON
WORDS David Malsher IMAGES Marc Gewertz