Politics and pandemics aside—these are the good old days. Automotive technology has advanced to the point where, if you want to daily drive an EV, you can. If you want to go 500 miles on a tank of fuel, you can. And if you want to modify your daily driver to make it bigger, better, faster, more, you can. You can also buy one hell of a muscle car.
I remember when the mad scientists in Dodge’s SRT division released the SRT-4 Neon. Officially, it had something like 230hp, but owners soon found it was putting at least that much power to the wheels, making it one hell of a sleeper, albeit offered in all the colors of a bag of Skittles. Now, Dodge has always had a thing for making batshit crazy drag cars, but this SRT thing really took off as we all know.
Today, we have Dodge putting 700-horsepower, Hellcat engines in all kinds of machines. As if that weren’t enough, they also have Redeye versions making just under 800hp. From the factory. Right off the dealership showroom. Ready for daily driver duty, among other things.
Amanda has a 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye. She races it. And she daily drives it.
It’s an amazing machine!
[tgp] Introductions: We’re all about the respect and recognizing the people behind the amazing machines we feature. Can I get your real name? Maybe where you live and what you do for a living?
[aw] My name is Amanda Wilshusen. I live in a suburb just north of Houston called Porter. I’m a registered nurse and I work in outpatient surgery.
[tgp] My understanding is you’ve got a Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye. That’s a mouthful. Is it correct? What do you do with this 800-horsepower-from-the-factory monster? Daily driver? Track weapon? All around heart-breaker?
[aw] Haha! Yes, it’s a mouthful and that’s exactly what I own. It’s a 2019. I actually use it as my daily driver and a track car. It’s my only vehicle. I drive it to work five days a week and, on the weekends, I either hit the drag strip with my car club or a variety of other car related activities such as car shows, cruises, and meets.
[tgp] Many people only see that kind of power after several thousand dollars in aftermarket upgrades. You’ve got it turnkey—but I know you’ve had some work done. Can you tell us a little bit about your mods and where the car stands today?
[aw] The only thing I’ve had done is a high octane tune by Tim Barth and Hemituner. I still need to collect some data from the track and send it to Tim so he can customize my tune.
[tgp] The most important automotive opinions are those of real, actual owners. As a Hellcat owner, could you share a little unvarnished truth with the rest of us? What do you love about them? What do you not love about them?
[aw] First and foremost—the power! This thing is a beast off the showroom floor. I had an SRT8 392 before this car, and I only thought it had some power. This thing tosses me back in my seat! I just absolutely love the feel of that power. I also love the look of this car. The challenger in my opinion has been the only car to keep that old school muscle look. It’s just a gorgeous machine.
The power is also its only downfall in my opinion. Without better tires, the stock Pirellis had me sliding all over the road. It was hard to control all that horsepower and I ended up curbing my wheel only two weeks after getting it.
[tgp] How did you end up with this monster? Was it hard to come by? New, remarkable models like this tend to be in limited supply.
[aw] I had a very specific car in mind when I went looking for my car. I wanted a used car with very low miles, in perfect condition. It also had to be all black. I found five in the entire country, one of which was a six-hour drive from me to a small town in Louisiana, called Thibodeaux. It was perfect. Only 32,000 miles and impeccable condition. No mods whatsoever. It still smelled new.
[tgp] What are your plans for the car in the year ahead?
[aw] My biggest goal is to hit the 9s at the track. After running it last weekend for the first time with the new tune, I hit 10.000. That’s not a typo, lol. So close, yet so far away. I have a couple cosmetic mods I’m doing soon, such as putting on new quad exhaust tips and a new diffuser that lights up.
The Mopar Community
[tgp] How’s the Mopar community doing these days? Where do y’all hangout, share tech, and whatnot?
[aw] The Mopar community is strong here in Houston. We have a lot of car meets and shows. I try to hit up at least one meet or show a week if I can. On the weeks I don’t go to one of those, I’m usually at the track.
This Gearhead Life
[tgp] When you think about automotive culture in general, what stands out as being the biggest issue we should be working on together? What’s your biggest concern and what should we be doing about it?
[aw] It’s the unsafe and illegal car activities that I feel are starting to put a damper on the car community as a whole. Houston has gotten bad for intersection takeovers and other activities that put the general public in danger, as well as those of us in the car community.
We recently had three people killed in Houston due to unsafe driving conditions after a meet. I think we need to use better judgement during certain activities to determine what is safe, and what is not. I think as a whole, we need to work together to make the car community a safer place so that we all can just enjoy our cars and the good friends that drive them.
[tgp] Who’s made the biggest difference in your life with cars? How so?
[aw] Probably my husband. I call him my “pit crew”, lol. He is a chemical engineer now, but he was raised in a mechanic shop. So he’s been turning wrenches since he was six.
He teaches me so much about my car and the power that’s behind it. He has taught me to change my own oil, and a variety of other things. I’m always learning. When I go to the track, he makes sure I get my track wheels and tires on, properly torqued and ready to go. He installed the PCM and takes care of everything to do with the new tune. I’m so thankful every day I’ve got him in my corner.
Because Race Car
The Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye was designed to do one thing—go brutally fast. SRT delivered an amazing machine that does just that and one more—blow people’s minds. Lady Hellkitty is making this one her own. If you’re in the Houston area, keep an eye out.
You might not get a second chance.