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19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

I’ll start. My name is Josh, and I like to party. And by party I mean road trip. I’m sure you like to party too, but I’m not talking about a “up to the lake for the weekend” kind of shindig, I mean a let’s-lunch-in-Detroit-and-be-in-SoCal-tomorrow-for-an-early-dinner kind of dusk till dawn blowout.

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(For all 300+ pictures: Challenger Road Trip Gallery)

Driving, for me, is therapy; cruising cross-country helps to distract and sooth my hyperactive mind. And I’ve needed those diversions, having undergone 4 major arm surgeries that left me unable to work most of the last 2 years.

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So the past few months I’ve set off on a series of road trips. I’ve hit the road to Riverside and Vegas, to Austin, to Appleton. On top of those jaunts, I’ve also undertaken two 8,000 mile journeys. The first was a spur of the moment “Lap of America” in a rental Chevy Sonic this spring. Recently I was able to travel in a bit more style, rocking a 2015 Challenger Scat Pack provided by Dodge as I drove out to Los Angeles to shoot a few videos with Miller Electric and then back east to finish the Hot Rod Power Tour.

You, much like the officers of the law(more than one, less than 10) who found it necessary to pull me over, are probably wondering why the hell Dodge gave me a 500 horsepower, RWD, 8spd, Sublime beast to pilot the equivalent of 10.5 million ¼ miles over the span of 19 days. I’ll tell you what I told them: I’m not exactly sure, but I’m having fun.

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And for me, it’s all about fun. I’m a millwright by trade, currently working as a driver/mechanic in General Dynamics’ prototype shop. I have a license to drive an Abrams tank, which when the “what’s the coolest vehicle you’ve ever driven” question comes up tends to put me at an unfair advantage. But I’m also an artist and a fabricator with my own business, Brown Dog Welding, and that has led to a lot of rad opportunities and the chance to meet some really neat people. This trip with the Scat Pack was one of those opportunities. I was able to catch up with old friends and make some new, all the while having a blast in a slick modern day hot rod.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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I might of lied to the cops, I do have an ulterior motive: I want to bring back the dying tradition of the American road trip. And would the Scat Pack be the right tool for the job?

You can find any number of reviews of the 2015 Challenger Scat Pack by copy/pasting “2015 Challenger Scat Pack” into your favorite search engine and hitting enter. The world doesn’t need another automotive writer checking off the journalist’s mad lib: “What a ______car. I really ________ it. It gets _____ gas mileage, and feels ______ on the highway but ______ in the city. The seats are _____, and the suspension is _______. ” Naw, I want to have an experience. Excursions like this dig beyond a car’s stat sheet and reveal its character, its soul.

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And that’s what gets me going.

Back to getting stopped by The Man. Sublime is not the color to choose if you’d prefer not to. Being the spitting image of a 707hp monster doesn’t help either.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”

Uh, no, actually, I literally had the cruise control set at the speed limit.

“Well you were speeding.”

Wait, what about that diesel dually pickup that just flew by both of us?

“Is this one of them (glances up toward fender badge, dramatic pause) . . . Hellcats?”

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Ahhhhh, and now we get down to it. So let’s get that out of the way…

No, it’s not. Inevitably that was the question that was asked when the Challenger pulled up (or got pulled over). Sorry, no, it’s just the Scat Pack. It only has 500hp. It only runs 11s. It only tops out at 174. (And, hypothetically speaking of course, it doesn’t have any issue getting into that ballpark. I think I read that in one of those reviews. Yes. That’s it). Seriously though, you could swap badges, buckle up 95% of the general public in the passenger seat, put it in Sport mode, hit the gas, and they’d have no reason to believe it wasn’t the Hellcat. It’s quick. It’s brutal. It’s loud.

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And I put 8,100 miles on one. I left on a Wednesday. The first goal was to get to North Hollywood by Sunday night; I was shooting videos with Miller Electric at Bodie’s shop early on Monday morning. I decided on a northern route west. I hit I75 about 1:30PM near Detroit and set off for the Upper Peninsula.

In a way, Michigan is a lot like California: it’s multiple states in one. There was a recent proposal to split Cali into six states, yeah? It’s not quite so severe here, but there are definite distinctions. There’s Detroit. There’s West Michigan. There’s Northern Michigan, and there’s the Upper Peninsula. It always blows my mind how many Detroiters have never been north of Flint. A few hours on 75 and the suburbs disappear, the woods grow dense, and eventually you hit the Mackinaw Bridge where you cross into the U.P. A different world. And it’s gorgeous.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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From early evening to dusk and beyond I was traveling westward along the 28 in the Upper Peninsula. Smooth roads, rolling hills, and the Lake Superior coastline made for a very pleasant drive. I was just getting use to the car, settling in for the long haul, although I maaaaay have tried launch control on a desolate stretch of freeway. Mostly I just left my marks on the asphalt and some smoke in the air. I ended up learning later that while the launch mode is good on a prepped, sticky surface, any other situation calls for a right foot with finesse. Unless, of course, you’re one of those animals who enjoy burnouts that engulf 4 way stops in a fog of vaporized rubber. But me, I wanted to keep some tread on the relatively narrow 245/45/r20 Eagle F1s for the long journey ahead, so I behaved, mostly.

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And my good behavior was rewarded with much better gas mileage than I had anticipated. I’d read a few Scat Pack reviews leading up to my trip, and they all wound up saying 16-ish “em peh geez” was the norm. If I had to guess, they were mostly driving around the city and mostly enjoy the sound of Wide Open Throttle in stop light races with themselves. I knew I’d be better than even high teens, but was still surprised at the 26 mpgs I managed over the first 800 miles. Getting in the mid twenties is not bad at all if you’re budgeting for a highway heavy road trip.

I can’t remember where I stopped the first night; I think it was somewhere in the top of Wisconsin. Nondescript town, late, I was tired. Morning came and I blasted through the heart of Minnesota, and then into North Dakota. It was along the 94 in N.D. where I thought “man, the sky is crazy, the landscape is beautiful, I’m gonna hop off the freeway to get a few photos.”

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As soon as I turned off the exit I realized it was one of those “no re-entrance” kind of jump-offs. Whatever, I figured I’d just snap some shots and drive the back roads for a while. And it was really peaceful. Threatening clouds only partially gave way to showers here and there. Livestock milled around, and I saw one nice lady in a beat up pickup that must have been looking after her cattle; she smiled and waved as we passed ways.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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I took the pictures and looked to iMaps to direct me towards the interstate again. The first right it told me to take…uh yeah, no way that was happening. It was a narrow dirt road that went into the hills and disappeared. Supposedly in a mile it would take me back to 94, but I decided to keep going along on the asphalt.

About 8 miles later my navigation again told me to take a right. Ok. It’s another two track. 1.5 miles off pavement to the freeway. I’ll just take it nice and easy with this 500hp super low with ground effects not at all made for the dirt machine. Then I committed, and that was that. It was a long, slow, bouncy incline, but the Scat Pack handled it. Cool, I can see I94. Nice and easy as the dirt road sloped towards the freeway. Then under the freeway. No entrance. Crap. Now I had to take a dirt road that ran parallel to 94 for 3 miles, according to iMaps. Luckily that stretch was freshly grated. I stopped for a family of ducks as they crossed into a small pond. They seemed surprised and somewhat annoyed to see anyone else on their road. And then, at last, a freeway entrance. I had made it back to the land of asphalt.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

The Challenger had made it through its two tracking with nary a scratch, and I made hay to get close to Yellowstone’s East Entrance by night. By the end of Thursday I ended up in Laurel, Montana.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Friday morning I passed through Cody on my way to the East Entrance, where I came across an old farm with a bunch of cool vintage American iron for sale. A Hudson sedan and scores of Jeeps and Willyses were parked in the tall grass. Cool stuff.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

I headed into Yellowstone; it is beautiful by any measure. I pushed through the tourists; stopped a few times to check out the scenery, and even had a couple of close encounters with Bison, who absolutely know they own the place. You’re best to just to keep clear and take some pictures and be happy that they don’t decide to give you the starring role in a State Farm commercial. I snaked through westward and once I exited the park I went northwest towards a friend’s place in Missoula, MT, where I stayed the night.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Saturday morning I started on a course that would take me near Yosemite. This is where I really started to play with the Scat Pack in Sport mode, which is a real-deal Sport mode. Too many modern cars have you flip from mode to mode and all it does is pop a graphic on the dash in an attempt to get your mind to think something happened. But in this car, pushing that button really transforms it from a quiet, docile cruiser into an angry, angry monster. The active exhaust growls and snaps with each shift, and when you flip the paddles the ZF Torqueflight grabs. It’s hard and harsh, in the best way possible.

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(Exhibit A: This vid is from a day later in Yosemite, but the only one where I got decent audio. I was met by a hilariously displeased middle aged woman on the other side of these tunnels. Tsk Tsk Tsk)

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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It was an absolute riot blasting though the empty mountain freeways near the Montana/Idaho border. Then on to Arco (a bizarre little town where supposedly the high school’s graduating classes write numbers on the hills but I’m pretty sure it’s from aliens), through the Craters of the Moon National Park, past Twin Falls, and then I80 West to 95 South. The best day of driving fun I’ve ever had, ending with a relaxing cruise along Walker Lake at sunset before dropping into Mammoth Lakes.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Sunday was the last day of the first part of the trip, and I made the mistake of thinking I should drive through Yosemite National Park. Don’t get me wrong, Yosemite Falls and the Sierra Nevada are awe inspiring . . . I’d just rather experience them without 10,000 of my closest friends.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Obviously part of that is my fault; if I wanted a more personal experience I could have prepared better and done a bit of hiking, but as a road trip this bit sucked. Two lanes for over 120 miles. PLENTY of turnouts, but nobody reads the sign that says “slower traffic use turnout” and thinks, “well, I’m slow, I should use the turnout.” They think “well, the 3 SUVs and 5 cars and 10 motorcycles and 4 minivans and 1 Challenger Scat Pack behind me are going too fast, I’ll make sure they take a chill pill and follow me, because I am going the perfect speed.”

Yosemite, therefore, was more of a chore. I was happy to get back to multiple lanes and free flowing traffic, and it was pretty smooth all the way into LA. I made it to my hotel in North Hollywood, checked in, and went out for food on foot. I found a California Burrito and a nice contact buzz at Eat That Burger, made it back to the room and crashed for the night.

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Hanging out with my compadres at Miller is always a good time. Monday we filmed with Bodie Stroud at his shop in Sun Valley, Tuesday at Max Grundy’s place in Riverside, and Wednesday with KC Marr’s and his electric bicycles in Newport Beach. We did some rad how-to videos that should be showing up on Miller’s YouTube channel soon.

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Also, did I mention Max currently has two COE projects going on? TWO. COE. PROJECTS. He’s always been my kind of crazy.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Thursday I visited Jonathan Ward at ICON 4x4 and I made sure to bring my camera along, as he’s got approximately 2.5 trillion different projects in progress. From the latest Derelict Desoto, to a Thriftmaster and a supercharged D200 pickup, to a stock ’74 Bronco Ranger, to a pair of all aluminum CJs powered by VW TDIs, to the BRs and FJs that they’re famous for. After getting the rundown on current undertakings, he finished up his work for the day and did what I could to grab some photos that (hopefully) don’t completely suck.

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Dinner and conversation at some hip joint in Burbank ensued, and then . . . ”you wanna take the truck for a spin?”

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Yes, please. It was the third “BR” that ICON had built, back in the LA shop for some TLC. 20k on the odometer; it’s pretty sweet seeing people put miles on these high dollar SUVs. I love Jonathan’s mindset when it comes to hot rodding and building trucks: take inspiration from everywhere, almost excluding the automotive industry. Architectural glass, latches from aerospace, and watch inspired gauges, the list goes on. So I got to tool around town behind the wheel of the BR for a while as we talked about business, art, and life. Good times.

Friday I spent the morning hanging out with Bodie at his shop, and then tagged along for a business meeting he had at The Peterson Museum. The museum is closed for a major renovation, but while Bodie and the Peterson folks were talking business I crept around in “The Vault.”

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I’d visited before, but this was an entirely different view. So much automotive history in one place. Speed Racer’s Mach 5, Birdman’s Batmobile, a MarkIII Gt40, Elvis’s Pantera that he shot when it wouldn’t start, an old Detroit Electric car AND it’s charging station, the list goes on and on. So stoked to see the setup when it re-opens.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

My buddy J.D. Hendrickson is the shop manager at Galpin Auto Sports, and he’d always told me I should swing by to check it out, so Friday afternoon I took him up on the offer. They’ve got two killer showrooms: one is chock full of gearhead stuff you can buy (I picked up a pair of Piloti driving shoes. Where else are those going to be STOCKED?), and the other has GAS Vice President Beau Boeckmann’s car collection on display. Being a fan of the “Kick Ass” flicks, it was cool seeing the Red Mist Mustang up close. The quad engined Mustang Mach IV was rad too, as were the Roth cars. Hornaday’s stock car, the Baja Bronco, and especially Dave Shuten’s Iron Orchid and Grasshopper were slick as minnows, but I’d seen all of them up close and personal at various events over the last two years. Back behind another set of locked doors was the shop, and there were a couple of their new “Rocket” Mustangs getting wrenched on. The outward styling is unique and probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but damn was the interior something else. Sitting in one definitely makes you feel like you’re in the 6-figure car that it is. No test-drives…maybe next time.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Now, I’ve made the best of my medical leave. But when people look at everything I’ve done during my time off and talk about how “lucky” I am, they leave out the part where I’ve had 4 operations that have left me in pain and kept me from what I truly love for the better part of 22 months. It was great on Friday night to spend another late evening just enjoying being in a shop, around work, with Bodie as he was shaping the hood scoop for his Thunderbolt project.

It’s funny, Bodie and I first connected after I had read the Hot Rod Magazine article on him and how to run a shop, and at the same time he had found my artwork through Facebook. We ended up talking at the GNRS in 2011, and it turned out we have a pretty similar outlook on life and what it entails, and quickly became good friends. One of the things it takes to run a successful shop is long hours. Both Thursday and Friday we were there well past 9 before heading out for dinner, and that’s not really considered a “late night” by either of our standards.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

The next morning I had breakfast with Bodie and his family, and then headed into the hills with the Scat Pack. As I began the trek back east to meet up with the Power Tour, I wanted to drive Angeles Crest Freeway.

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As luck would have it, the Angeles Crest entrance was mere minutes from Bodie’s place. I experimented with my new GoPro Hero4 here. Unfortunately for those hoping to see video, it was mostly tarnished by my inexperience. The audio, instead of featuring the snapping and snarling 6.4 Hemi through the upshifts and downshifts while I pushed through the twisties, was mostly just wind noise.

And, to be honest, there was just too much traffic. Not the motorized kind; the cars and motorcycles actually abided by the “slower vehicles move over” mantra. No, here we had a boatload of bicyclists. Once they cleared out there was an entertaining stretch, but 10-15 miles later the freeway became an exercise in not hitting chunks of mountain. There was a lot of rock on the asphalt from about the half way point of LA to Antelope Valley. Still a way cool drive, and I was able to get after it quite a bit, but my Angeles Crest experience was something less than I had hoped.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

My one take away from it was a confirmation of what I discovered the weekend before while kicking it through Idaho’s mountainous Route 93: The Brembos plus the Bilsteins plus the 6.4 liters equals FUN in the corners. I know, I know…but it’s 4,200lbs!

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Does. Not. Matter. I’m not sure if the engineers at Dodge are into black magic or witchcraft or some new physics that the rest of us don’t know about yet, but whatever they do, it works. The big car carves.

KC and I were talking about land speed stuff earlier in the week, and I mentioned that I wanted to hit Bonneville, but that it was sort of out of my way. “Dude, you should just go check out El Mirage.” The dry lakebed wasn’t far off my path, so I swung by, just to say I did it. It was $15 to get in the El Mirage OHV Recreational Area, and for that it seemed like you could pretty much do whatever you want.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

The surface of the lakebed was mostly hard and smooth, but with areas that were chewed up, or soft, or even with some brush growth. I didn’t see any other cars out, but did spot a bunch of dirt bikes, and some quads and buggies.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Considering I didn’t have a support vehicle or spotters and I had about 4 thousand miles left on the trip, I played it safe. A few quick jaunts, some cool photos, and I was on my way. I really wasn’t there long, pry less than an hour, but it was one of my favorites stops on the trip. A crazy neat atmosphere, I think one has to experience it to appreciate it.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

I stopped for a late lunch in Las Vegas at the Carson Kitchen, chiefly because they had a thing called “Bacon Jam.” The Cuban wasn’t bad either. But I digress.

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Colorado National Monument was on the agenda for Sunday, another National Park on a weekend. So. Many. Minivans. I know better than this. It was still cool, but considering I’d driven through it a couple years ago I probably just could have skipped it. To be fair, when we did the drive on our way to SEMA in 2012, my wife Darla cried tears of amazement while belting out “America the Beautiful.” Yes, that happened. It really is awesome, in the truest sense of the word. You can see for miles and there are a few points where you can look down and get sick to your stomach real quick. I think at this stage of my drive, after Yellowstone, Bitteroot and Sawtooth Mountains, Yosemite, the PCH, Angeles Crest, El Mirage, and so on, I was a bit jaded. If it wasn’t where I could push the car and have fun, I wasn’t really interested.

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I hit Denver in the early evening where, unfortunately they were getting dumped on with rain. Which was in turn washing away their snow. In June. That meant flooded freeways. Which meant accidents. Which meant stop and go traffic. On the plus side, it gave me plenty of time to think about my left arm, the most recently cut on, and the fact that it was TURNING BLUE. What. The. F.

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I talked to my wife, who wanted me to go to the Emergency Room. I talked to my mom, herself a nurse who teaches nursing, who wanted me to go to the Emergency Room. I even posted a pic of my arm on Instagram, and all of my followers wanted me to go to the Emergency Room. Of course I wasn’t going to the Emergency Room. I decided, along with Google, that it was probably some weird altitude thing, that the scar tissue from the surgery was restricting blood, which was exacerbated by the DA (density altitude), which caused the color change. I felt fine other than the normal arm pain I’m pretty much always in, so I figured I’d push on. As the hours went by I felt no worse, so I kept on keeping on.

About 3am Monday I stopped to sleep for a few hours. The blue arm had already started fading as I dropped altitude, and by the time I took a warm shower it was gone completely. My dream of becoming a member of the X-Men was put on hold, but I was cool with that.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Later Monday I bore down on the Arch feeling pretty good on 5 hours of sleep. Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis was the spot for the 3rd day of The Hot Power Tour, and it’s where I joined up. I made it, and the final part of my 19-day adventure was now in full swing.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Despite the Tour hitting two drag strips, I was never really tempted to take the Scat Pack out for a run. The ETs weren’t going to be close to what the car is capable of; it was hot and humid, I had 2 weeks worth of luggage in the back, and I’d already had plenty of chances to stomp on the gas. Each stop had so much enough to see that waiting in line to run made even less sense.

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Amongst the cars in the crowd I spotted another Scat Pack Challenger, so I stopped to chat with the owner to get his take. He had only recently picked it up, and loved it. He had a Hellcat on order, but after bugging his dealer on its arrival time they finally suggested he take the Scat Pack for a spin. “I took it out, hit the gas, went sideways, and said I’ll take it.”

Tuesday morning (Day 14 for those counting) I rolled out towards the next stop with my friend Andy Perry, who is the Creative Marketing Manager at Roush Performance. He was driving a version of Jack Jr.’s Pirelli World Challenge Mustang, powered by a 2.3 TVS blown 5.0 Aluminator. Car was in the 700-ish rage for horsepower, and sounded like a machine of war. With its colorful graphics and aero package and the Scat Pack’s Sublime finish, we were not going to sneak up on anyone.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Memphis was cool. Not literally, literally it was hot as hades. But Hot Rod put on the World’s Largest Group Burnout at MIR, and while we weren’t near the stands when it happened, we sure could hear the engines roaring and resulting smoke out. It was rad seeing Daystar’s Jeep FC, the same one that wore tracks at SEMA last fall, cruise by after participating, giant chunks of rubber from its off-road tires stuck to it’s side.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

The Hellcat owners weren’t afraid to push their cars either, it looked like a few took part in the burnout, and they were routinely at the top of the daily dyno contest. I heard one even hit 680rwhp? SRT is certainly playing it safe with the 707 at the crank number.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Beale Street is always a trip, whether the Power Tour is in town or not. Live music everywhere, street gymnasts, and the people watching are all fantastic; seeing killer hot rods and customs lining the street was just icing on the cake.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger

Wednesday we pushed farther south toward to Birmingham, Alabama. Early on Andy and I met up with a few friends along the route, including Tony and Lisa Whatley who drove their 5th gen 1LE Camaro and ’14 Viper TA. I think Tony has now done 10 Power Tours in 10 different cars? 1st, 4th, and (2) 5th gen f-bodies, a CTS-V sedan, 2 Z06s, a GTO/Monaro, a supercharged ’06 Viper, and a ’14 Viper TA. The Whatleys are cool people; always cool to hand out with. After lunch we parted ways and Andy and I hung back for moral support as our buddies Matt Trombley and Kenny Cox worked to repair some damage to the rear fascia of Kenny’s ‘13 Mustang GT. Road debris had popped up and knocked it loose. Fairly minor damage, and par for the course on the Power Tour or any long road trip. Fix it the best you can and move on.

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Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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I walked the lot at Birmingham for a couple hours just taking it all in. As we headed out back towards the hotel, it was cool realizing the traffic we were in: a 1st gen Vette, an old Ford pickup, a classic targa Porsche, an ‘80s G-body, the race car Mustang and the Scat Pack. What a crazy mix. I’ll never understand the mentality of an enthusiast that can only get into one genre, or one era, or one manufacturer. I dig everything. I want a ’51 Ford F1. Make it two, one to resto-mod and one with a straight 6 and knobby tires. I need a 2nd gen split bumper Z28. And a ’15 Z/28. I’d kill for a ’30 Model A just like Dillinger drove. And a ‘90s Ram Van to go race in Japan. A 2007 WRX STi. A ’67 C10. An air cooled 911. A NSX. An E30. A P85D S. Stock. Swapped. Dropped. Lifted. Stripped. Loaded. Road legal. Or not. If it’s cool, it’s cool. Life’s too short to drive boring cars. There’s so much rad stuff out there.

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Thursday was more of the same in Gulfport, an eclectic group of gnarly vehicles just hanging out in one of the nicer venues I’ve been to on the Tour, right along the Gulf of Mexico.

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Friday was the last full day of the Tour. As we started out Andy needed to fill up. I’d topped off right the night before so I pulled over to the side and parked. As I was sitting there a gentleman who had just parked a black Hellcat Challenger walked up and started a conversation. He had asked a few questions about the car when I realized that even he had confused the Scat Pack for a Hellcat. Anyways, I filled him in on my ride and queried him a bit on his; he’d just gotten it, was from Atlanta, goes by “Mopar Jim” on the forums, and loves his new car. After chatting for a few he goes into the station to grab a drink for the road and his wife and I continued the conversation.

She said he had run traction limited 11s in the ¼ mile at one of the stops, and then she told the story about when he bought the car:

“Well, he left one day in my four door Cadillac and when he came back he had the Hellcat. I asked ‘Where’s my car?’ and he tossed me the black keys!”

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If you don’t know why that’s funny, Google “Hellcat Black Key.”

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The quick ride from Gulfport to Baton Rouge was soon a wet one. Torrential downpours greeted us at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center. I used them to my advantage, as the security guards had little interest in vetting credentials of who went where. So I followed Andy into the Gold Lot, aka the closest parking to the concourse, where we decided to wait out rain. I should say, Andy decided to wait out the rain. I decided I was going to walk the venue to see what was already there and maybe snap some “artistic wet” pictures. Occasionally I make horrible decisions.

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I sloshed through the flooded asphalt and wet grass in my Vans, getting soaked to the core. Having all of my luggage with me (yeah, I was able fit 18 days of clothes, a bag of tools, and work boots with room to spare in the trunk), I swapped out shirts, socks, and shoes, for dry versions. But the wet clothes meant my main concern that night was finding some air freshener for the Scat Pack. Wet Josh smells a lot like wet dog.

The next morning I made a quick stop at the Tour’s Long Hauler ceremony to say good-bye to a few friends, then headed north. At some point I met back up with Andy and a couple of the Roush guys (in their supercharged 5th gen Camaro and a project Silverado), and made about half of the last 1,100 miles with them. Eventually they, like sane individuals, decided to stop for the night. I wanted to make it home late Saturday/early Sunday, so I said goodbye and pushed on.

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I made it home about 2am Sunday morning, unloaded the luggage and accumulations of 2+ weeks of cross-country travel, and went to bed.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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Sunday I took Darla for a cruise in the Challenger down in Detroit. We grabbed lunch at Ottava Via in Corktown, then just tooled around town for a bit. And I’m not going to lie, one of my favorite things to do in the Scat Pack was down shifting with the paddles, throwing the popping exhaust out into the city and letting it reverberate between buildings, kind of like a gorilla announcing he was in the house with a pound of his chest.

Illustration for article titled 19 Days and 8,100 Miles in a Scat Pack Challenger
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But this was the end... no more jungle, just a nice wind down from the 18 gonzo days that had preceded it. 22 States and 8100 miles, 4 national parks, 3 video shoots, [redacted] warnings from the police, all in one 1 really rad car. Yes. It has soul. It’s calm, cool and collected when it needs to be, but it’ll also scream along with Clutch’s “Escape From the Prison Planet” when it’s time to come unhinged.

Until the next party . . .

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