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

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(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.

INITIAL STORY FOLLOWS:

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.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Even with half the purse and no fans, Indy 500 still has major team value

Indy 500 purse fans
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Even with reportedly half the purse and no fans in attendance, NTT IndyCar Series driver-owner Ed Carpenter believes it remains “absolutely critical” to hold the 104th Indy 500.

“Far and away it’s what makes and breaks our season as teams,” the Ed Carpenter Racing namesake told reporters during a Zoom media availability last week. “It’s the most important event to our partners. It 100 percent sucks not having fans there and not even being able to have the experience with our partners in full being there. But it’s necessary.

“We’ve got to look at all the hard decisions now of what we have to do to be in a position to have fans in 2021. It’s critical for the health of the teams that we have this race to make sure we have teams back here next year. That sounds a little dramatic, but that’s the reality.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy

“We live in not only a very volatile world right now, but our industry and motorsport in general, it’s not an easy business to operate. When you lose your marquee event, it’s a lot different than looking at losing Portland on the schedule or Barber. They’re in totally different atmospheres as far as the importance to us and our partners.”

Robin Miller reported on RACER.com that IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske told team owners last week the purse for the postponed Indianapolis 500 was slashed from $15 to $7.5 million. Miller reported holding the Aug. 23 race (1 p.m. ET, NBC) would be a $20 million hit to the bottom line.

Carpenter still is supportive of Penske’s “outstanding job” of leading the series through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Even with a 50 percent purse reduction, the Indy 500 remains the linchpin of teams’ economic viability.

NASCAR CROSSOVER: Cole Pearn already fitting in with ECR

The schedule has taken many hits with the cancellation of races at Barber Motorsports Park, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Portland International Raceway, Laguna Seca and Toronto, and another race weekend doubleheader at Mid-Ohio has been indefinitely postponed.

That leaves the 2020 slate at 12 confirmed races of an original 17, which has raised questions about how many races teams need to fulfill sponsor obligations.

“It’s a moving target,” said Carpenter, who announced the U.S. Space Force as a new sponsor for the Indy 500. “I think we’ve been pretty blessed as a team with the level of commitment of our partners and their understanding of COVID-19 and the impact on our schedule, our contracts.

“All of it is out of our control, out of the series’ control, the promoter’s control. At the end of the day is there a firm number (of races) I can give? No. But definitely every one that we lose, it does make it harder to continue having those conversations.

I think everyone’s as confident as you can be right now with what we have in front of us with what’s remaining on the schedule. Things are so fluid, it changes day-to-day, let alone week-to-week. We just have to take it as it comes. Right now the focus is on the 500 and maximizing this month to the best we possibly can given the situation.”

That’ll be hard this month for Carpenter, who grew up in Indianapolis and is the stepson of Tony George, whose family owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway for decades.

Having spent a lifetime around the Brickyard, Carpenter will feel the ache of missing fans as he races in his 17th Indy 500.

Ed Carpenter, shown racing his No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway last month, led a race-high 65 laps and finished second in the 2018 Indy 500 (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“Over that time you develop relationships that are centered around standing outside of your garage in Gasoline Alley,” he said. “It stinks, it sucks that we don’t get to share that passion we all have that is the Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately it’s the reality we’re in right now.

I think this is the best that we can do unfortunately. Without a doubt it’s going to be a different environment. You’re going to be missing the sounds and a lot of the sights and colors. For sure I’ve thought about it. It’s going to be a different morning, different lead-in to the race. After 16 of them, you have a cadence and anticipation for the buildup. That’s all going to be different this year.

“I’m confident it’s not going to affect the type of show we put on or the excitement and how aggressive we are fighting for an Indy 500 win. It’s still going to mean the same thing. We’re just not going to have our fans to celebrate with after the fact. But it’s going to be historic.”