UPDATED – Highway to Hell(cat): Owner wrecks 707-hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat one hour after buying it

(Photo courtesy Facebook via MotorAuthority.com)

UPDATE 3 (Dec. 24): We refrained from identifying the driver of the first Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat to be wrecked — mainly because we didn’t want to embarrass him. Honestly, we really do feel bad for him and what happened. But the Colorado State Patrol recently released a report on the Dec. 19 mishap that totaled the $60,000 hot rod, including identifying the driver, so we felt obligated, as the late Paul Harvey used to say, to tell “the rest of the story.” Here it is:

Colorado State Patrol statement: “The 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat driver, 34-year-old Lance Utley of Winter Park, CO, was traveling northbound on Riverdale Rd. The driver lost control to the right, then overcorrected and lost control to the left, and struck a tree head on. There were two additional occupants in the vehicle. The driver was charged with careless driving. Drugs or alcohol were not involved. There was no mention of excessive speeding. All three occupants were unhurt.”

To date, Utley has not commented to the media about his mishap. Really, Lance, we do feel bad for you.

UPDATE 2 (Dec. 22): According to TFLCar.com, the crash occurred in Brighton, Colorado, a town of about 35,000, near the South Platte River in Adams County, just northeast of Denver.

When MotorSportsTalk contacted the Brighton Police late Sunday afternoon, they had no details of the wreck.

The road, according to the TFLCar.com report, is a twisting and winding two-lane road in a semi-rural area that includes crests and dips. The speed limit is posted 40 mph. Police are investigating, but the weather and road conditions were reportedly clear at the time and it’s not known if speed was a factor or not.

Here’s part of TFLCar.com’s report: “The skid marks at the scene of the accident show that the driver was traveling north. As the car crested the blind hill, the road drops down to the right, and the Hellcat may have been in a slight drift. The road is very narrow, but in good condition, well marked, and with a posted 40 MPH speed limit sign. The car started to drift toward the right ditch after the speed limit sign. The driver tried to correct, but the resulting over-correction sent the car across the lane and into a large cottonwood (tree). Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic at this moment.”

To add insult to injury, the report claims the wrecked car was the FIRST such Challenger SRT Hellcat sold in Colorado. There has been no identification of who was driving the vehicle.

Click here for the story from TFLCar.com, including additional photos of the scene and the wrecked car.

UPDATE 1 (Dec. 22):  According to AutoEvolution.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association just released a report this past week on the crash-worthiness of the base model version of the Challenger (about $40,000 cheaper than the Hellcat, but built on the same platform). The result: a 4-star, top-of-the-line safety rating. We bet the Hellcat owner in question is sure glad about that now.


You knew it was bound to happen, sooner or later.

We just didn’t think it would be THAT soon.

When Dodge announced the $60,000 Challenger SRT Hellcat and Charger SRT Hellcat earlier this year – with 707 horsepower motors that make them the most powerful stock muscle cars on the streets of America today – it was almost inevitable what might happen when someone would push one to … and past … its limits.

Unfortunately, a motorist in Colorado found that lesson out the hard way, according to a great story on MotorAuthority.com.

The Challenger, which has a reported top speed of 204 mph, has only been in dealer showrooms for about a month.

This is where the story gets, as Arte Johnson used to say on the 1960s TV show “Laugh In,” “Veerrrryyyy interesting.”

So, apparently an unnamed individual walks into a dealer’s showroom, signs on the dotted line and drives off with a brand new, bright neon lime green Challenger Hellcat.

The proud new owner’s beautiful car lasted about an hour, according to MotorAuthority’s Viknesh Vijayenthiran, whose work we always enjoy.

Check out Viknesh’s original story at MotorAuthority.com.

Details about the identity of the owner or where exactly the crash occurred in the Mile-High state are sketchy.

But the above picture tells 1,000 words.

No, make that 10,000 words — and half of those are probably the owner cussing himself out.

From what MotorAuthority.com surmised, the driver lost control, “skidded off the road near a bend and crashed head-on into a tree.”

Thankfully, the report said, no one was seriously injured.

(Well, at least that proves how crash-worthy the new Hellcats are, right?)

source:  Facebook/Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
What a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat looks like in its non-crashed form.

The same can’t be said about the car, which is apparently a total loss. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men – and probably the best mechanics and body shops in the biz – can’t put Humpty Hellcat back together again.

Considering a Hellcat has just about 40 less horsepower than a 2015 Sprint Cup ride (under NASCAR’s new horsepower reduction rules), it goes without saying that it’s powerful.

In fact, you need TWO keys to operate a Hellcat, either the Challenger or Charger version.

The first key is to allow you to use the first 500 horsepower in the motor.

The second key activates all 707 horses.

MotorAuthority.com said of the Hellcat’s power:

“We’ve driven the new Challenger SRT Hellcat and found that it delivers performance that will leave even those used to powerful cars awestruck, so this sad sight serves as an important reminder for buyers of such cars to always factor in their own skills and consider whether the cost of a performance driving course should be included in their price estimations.”

We couldn’t have said it better.

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Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.