Earlier this year, I visited Radford Racing School in Chandler, Arizona, for a full week of track driving instruction. As the Official High-Performance Driving School of Dodge SRT, Radford uses a range of Chargers and Challengers in various spec, as well as two Vipers, to teach students car control techniques that apply equally well on the racetrack or on the street.

My last day at Radford presented the opportunity to climb behind the wheel of a modern drag-racing superstar, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. With a massive supercharged Hellcat Hemi, plus drag-specific goodies like a Trans Brake and Line Lock, the Demon still reigns as the most hardcore production drag racer of all time.

But throughout the course of the day, I found myself curious whether anyone who owns one of the 3,500 Demons built might actually want to use the highest-spec Challenger as a daily driver. Luckily, Radford was kind enough to let me take a Demon out on the streets of Phoenix to test whether those purpose-built drag racing features make it a reasonable grocery getter and family hauler.

Drag Racing A Dodge Demon

After four days of Radford's Grand Prix road racing class, the Demon Drag Racing course felt a bit more relaxed. Dodge rated the Demon at 808 horses stock or 840 horsepower with the Demon Crate Package, though independent testing showed even higher outputs and Radford told me the Demon on race fuel puts out more like 870 ponies.

Sure, those power figures might sound like a lot. But jumping into the plush, bolstered seats with plenty of headroom and legroom, I felt much more comfortable while learning how to drag race than I did crammed into a legit Ligier F4 racecar the day before.

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2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

7.00 / 10
Key Features
  • Supercharged Hellcat engine
  • Trans Brake & Line Lock
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Optional Demon Crate Package
Specifications
  • Engine/Motor: 6.2L Hemi V8
  • Horsepower: 808 hp and up
  • Torque: 717 lb-ft
  • Drivetrain: RWD
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Pros
  • Up to 870 horsepower running on race fuel
  • Excellent torque-converter transmission
  • Roomy and comfortable, without the roll cage
  • Modern muscle car style
  • Grumbling exhaust sounds good but not too loud
Cons
  • Wind and road noise
  • Terrible fuel economy
  • Everyone wants to race

Supercharged Hellcat Hemi

Dodge Demon Daily Driver 8
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

As comfy as I felt, I soon learned how much focus and skill the Demon's prodigious power requires to put that grunt to the ground without the tires slipping and sliding. Out of eight launches over the course of the day, I only felt like one hooked up early, without too much wheelspin or weight transfer back to the front. The Demon's 717 lb-ft of torque can burn the rear rubber with ease, especially since we drove cars shod in road-spec Nitto NT05 R tires rather than drag radials. Somewhat hilariously, Radford cornered the market on the Demon-branded Nitto NT05 R so anyone who owns a Demon and wants new tires needs to call them up.

RELATED: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Dodge Demon

Modern Muscle Car Size

Dodge Demon Daily Driver 4
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

But how would those Nittos translate over to real road driving? From the exterior, the Demon looks mostly similar to other Challenger variants, with the widebody-style fender flares and a massive hood scoop serving as the main differentiators. Otherwise, the Challenger's modern muscle car proportions look perfectly reasonable on public roads, even if the overall weight of around 4,300 pounds seems hefty on the track, so driving among trucks and SUVs feels relatively safe when compared to a Lotus Evora GT, for example.

RELATED: Dodge SRT Demon Ute Puts The Holden Maloo To Shame

Demon Crate Package Not Required

Dodge Demon Daily Driver 6
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

The big coupe's interior also varies little from a base Challenger, other than the bar and harnesses that Radford installed for safety purposes (they retained a normal three-point seatbelt, happily). For anyone hoping to haul the kids around, just keeping the interior stock seems like a much better idea, since the backseats actually look fairly roomy for a two-door.

RELATED: Here's How Much A 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon Is Worth Today

Drag Racing Controls

Dodge Demon Daily Driver 7
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

Radford put stickers on the steering wheel to help students remember how the Line Lock and Trans Brake features work while drag racing. On a car without those call-outs, the Challenger's interior sports a moderately sized touchscreen common on plenty of Fiat-Chrysler cars and typical ergonomics allowing for good visibility, easy use of switchgear, and even the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

RELATED: Dodge Demon Drag Races Heavily Modified Pickup: It's More Competitive Than You Think

Plenty Of Room For Groceries And Gear

Dodge Demon Daily Driver 5
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

Opening up the trunk reveals a cavernous storage area, perfect for golf clubs or groceries, luggage, and more. Forget putting anything in the frunk of your Porsche 911 or cramming gear into the trunk of a Miata, this American muscle car doesn't skimp on space.

RELATED: Dodge Challenger SRT Demon Vs SRT Hellcat: Is More Horsepower Truly Better?

Driving On Street Tires

Dodge Demon Daily Driver 2
via Michael Van Runkle / HotCars

Other than the comfort and size factor, though, how does the Demon drive on the streets and freeways around Phoenix? Well, the soft suspension that Dodge purposefully installed to help transfer weight to the rear wheel during hard launches also means that small bumps and uneven roads feel pretty smooth. Those Nittos, even if capable of nine-second quarter-mile times, provide plenty of grip during normal driving on regular roads—how they might perform in the rain remains something of a dubious proposition.

The brakes actually came across as a surprise, since I had not particularly explored their bite during the drag racing class, and light steering feel helps to reduce the sensation of a pendulous 6.2-liter V8 under the hood.

A mechanic in Radford's shop, where the school replaces consumables like oil, brake pads, and tires, explained that the Demon features less sound deadening and insulation, in the hopes of shaving a few pounds. But that effort to trim quarter-mile times results in a bit more wind and road noise during normal driving, perhaps the main consideration for anyone who loves a fully plush ride.

The exhaust note from the Hellcat only gets loud with a solid mash of the throttle pedal, though, thanks largely to the tall gear ratios of the ZF eight-speed transmission. Plus, the low and grumbly exhaust can help to cover up some of the outside noise.

Probably the only other major concern for daily driving a Dodge Demon, especially these days, will arrive at the fuel pump, where a city rating of 13 MPG sounds pretty rough. But if you're buying a Demon, which will cost well over six figures for a daily driver capable of walking away from almost anyone, you just have to accept that gas will cost a bit more, too.

Sources: radfordracingschool.com, youtube.com, nittotire.com, and autoevolution.com.

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