GRR

Video: Racing a Dodge Challenger through the night looks like all kinds of fun

30th January 2020
Laura Thomson

It’s pitch-black. Thundering engines converge around you as brake lights fade in the distance. You chase the snaking tarmac, flat out – despite the limited visibility.

You don’t feel in control of your car, but that’s okay, for the scene is unfolding in a video on your screen, an 18-minute onboard from the Le Mans Classic.

The car in question is a 1974 Dodge Charger, the driver Christophe Schwartz. He’s competing in the 2014 event, in Grid 6, which features the youngest cars allowed to take part. I say youngest, but these machines date from 1972 to 1981, with this particular Charger celebrating its 40th birthday that year.

There’s a good story to the car, too. In 2003, Schwartz discovered a photograph of the ‘Helpless Hulk’ – Doug and Herschel McGriff's Olympia Beer-liveried '72 Dodge Charger in the 1976 Le Mans pits. Determined to recreate the unlikely Le Mans challenger as authentically as possible, he sourced a 1974 Charger in Oregon and started a little project.

Built on a custom Petty 115-inch Grand National chassis, it had actually won the 1977 USAC Championship. With assistance from original team mechanic, Dick Pierson, Schwartz’s team added a four-speed manual transmission, Hurst/Airheart disc brakes, and the period gold and silver livery. The car debuted at the 2006 Le Mans Classic, and has competed, with varying results, ever since.

This video shows a lap from each of Grid 6’s three races, starting with the night time event, so if racing in the dark isn’t for you then skip forward to 6m 14s, when the second race picks up the baton and you to see the Dodge’s magnificent opponents in daylight.

Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a mid-morning helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day.

  • Video

  • Onboard

  • Le Mans

  • Dodge

  • Challenger

  • Elevenses

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