It’s the same story every year: Dodge wants to make MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge as entertaining as possible, so they’re picking fights. The Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Match is going to pit eight automotive content creators from the internet against the venerable Alex Taylor, winner of the Grudge Match at the 2021 edition of Roadkill Nights, in a legal street race down historic Woodward Avenue.
It started in 2015 in the parking lot of the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, with David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan (with the help of Mike Copeland and Diversified Concepts) Hellcat-swapping the General Mayhem, Freiburger’s beloved 1968 Dodge Charger, then going heads-up in a flashlight race against the crew from Gas Monkey Garage, also in a Hellcat-powered Mopar. Today, Roadkill Nights wouldn’t be the same without celebrities and automotive content creators battling it out every year in street-legal drag cars for ultimate bragging rights.
If you can’t make it to M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, in person for MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge on Saturday, August 13, 2022 to enjoy the legal street racing on Woodward Avenue, you can watch the live stream of the event’s seventh edition on MotorTrend+ (click here for a free trial) or on the MotorTrend YouTube channel.
2022 Event Information: MotorTrend Presents Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge
- When: Saturday, August 13, 2022 / 10 a.m – 9 p.m.
- Where: M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan
- Buy spectator tickets and get all the information here!
Rules for the Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Match at Roadkill Nights
In previous years, Dodge has provided full SRT Hellcat Chargers and Challengers for Grudge Racers to drive—some years totally stock. For 2022, they each get a Hellcrate Redeye 6.2-liter Supercharged Crate HEMI and ECU, and a Direct Connection six-speed manual transmission to drop into a car of their choice, plus $10,000 to spend on parts at their local Dodge Power Broker. What kind of vehicles are they allowed to Hellcat-swap? It’s got to be Mopar, or no car. These aren’t going to be months- or years-long builds, either; Grudge Racers weren’t allowed to start working on their street-legal drag cars until Dodge announced the Direct Connection Grudge Match on July 13, 2022, allowing exactly one month for Grudge Racers to build their Hellcat-powered Mopar race cars.
As with the 2021 event, the stock engine block and blower case must be kept, and the outer appearance of the Hellcrate 6.2-liter Supercharged HEMI must be maintained. Boring, stroking, and filling of the stock HEMI engine block is allowed, as is porting the supercharger and replacing the pulleys. Chassis, suspension, and body mods are unrestricted—except for those that would make the car illegal for use on public streets. Roadkill Nights only allows street-legal cars to race down Woodward Avenue.
While the 2021 Grudge Racers had to use the SRT Hellcat Chargers and Challengers provided by Dodge, they had the exact same rules for drivetrain modifications, and all five cars that competed had drastically different setups. Returning Grudge Racer Westen Champlin took an extreme route, adding twin turbochargers upstream of the supercharger on his SRT Hellcat Charger Redeye.
The team at throtl (also reprising their Grudge Racer status) took a more conservative approach, throwing all the best (read: proven) bolt-on parts at their Hellcat Challenger, and focusing on putting reliable power down on the traction-limited surface of Woodward Avenue. It was Alex Taylor, who discovered the winning formula, though—light weight and big tires. Alex was making the least amount of power to the ground in her back-halved Redeye Challenger (still over 900 hellacious kitties), but traction is king when it comes to legally racing on public streets—even though she won without moving.
Which Automotive Personality Is Fast Enough to Beat Alex Taylor
You read that correctly. New HOT ROD Garage co-host Alex Taylor won the 2021 Hellcat Grudge Match without moving. After defeating Westen Champlin, Tavarish, and throtl, she went heads-up against Muscle Shoals, Alabama’s preeminent street racer, Eric Malone. Starts at Roadkill Nights are done with an arm-drop, and the Grudge Racers agreed beforehand that the chase is the race. Eric knew his Redeye Charger was at a severe traction disadvantage compared with Alex’s Challenger, and left as soon as the starter raised his arms. Alex could not be baited, though, and stayed put after Eric left early, claiming victory.
The 2022 Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Match brings back three of last year’s competitors—Westen Champlin, Tavarish, and the team from throtl—and is throwing five fresh faces from the interwebs into the mix—listed below in alphabetical order, so the only bruised egos happen on Woodward Avenue, after the racing is over. The returning Grudge Racers definitely have the advantage in their past experience with the low-traction surface of Woodward Avenue, but the new crop is stacked with seasoned drivers and builders. As the reigning champ, Alex Taylor gets to watch from the sidelines while the rest of the automotive content creators battle it out until only one is left. Read on and tell us which of the Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Racer you think might win, and follow along as their builds progress at DodgeGarage.com or on each automotive content creator’s social media channels.
Mickey Andrade, Evan Beckerman, Quinn Clark, and Ricky Fernandez, aka throtl
The throtl team builds project cars from the ground up, some of which are given away to their fans, with the whole process being documented on their YouTube channel. They’re a small group of like-minded gearheads who enjoy giving cars a new lease on life. From Japanese legends and European sport compacts to domestic builds, they do it all. The 2001 Dodge Viper they’re currently Hellcat-swapping for the Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Match will need extensive work if the team at throtl is going to successfully reconfigure the handling-oriented chassis for straight-line speed.
Tony Arme, aka Corruptt Builds
Tony Arme, owner and builder at American Legends Hotrods and Muscle Cars, is a mold-breaking innovator, and extremely ambitious. He has a passion for cars that has been with him since starting in the garage with his father at a young age. Notorious for the “Corruptt Builds” and numerous national award-winning vehicles under his belt, Tony enjoys being hands-on and doing things differently than your standard shops. He shows nothing is impossible and likes to push the limits of what car building can be by mixing hotrods and muscle cars with modern and sometimes exotic power plants, like his Ferrari-powered 1968 Ford Mustang. For the Direct Connection Grudge Match, Tony is building a 1971 Challenger R/T that was already conveniently in his shop for a different Hellcat-swap, but that doesn’t mean he’s saving time—that build was originally intended to take six to eight months.
Westen Champlin is a self-described redneck scientist, and known as the sexiest man from Kansas. He has a reputation for building some of the most ridiculous cars on the internet and has amassed almost six million followers across social media. Some of his most popular builds include a 4×4 off-road Hellcat Challenger, and “Smoke Stang,” a Cummins-swapped S550 Mustang. Last year, the Hellion twin-turbo kit on Westen’s fighter jet-themed Charger (complete with bull horns) drastically overpowered the tires. Will Westen try the same strategy this year?
Collete Davis is a car builder, racer, TV host, and YouTuber known for her unique and colorful builds. She’s competed professionally in everything from open-wheel and rallycross cars to monster trucks and now drifting, with numerous wins under her belt. Collete is playing it close to the vest when it comes to divulging details about her Grudge Match build. We know what it is, but we won’t give you any more information about the rare, classic Dodge race car than she has herself. One thing is for sure: Despite never having drag raced before, Collete showed off some huge Mickey Thompson tires in the announcement video on her YouTube channel, meaning she’s well aware that traction is the name of the game at Roadkill Nights.
Freddy Hernandez, aka Tavarish
Freddy makes videos about fun, quirky, and sometimes ruinously expensive project cars on the internet. He has lots of opinions, most of which are wrong. The start of his car obsession (and also his first car) was his 1998 Nissan Maxima that received an engine swap, manual transmission swap, and a host of other low-budget mods. Earlier this year at the New York Auto Parts Show, he unveiled a new project: a Hellcat-swapped Chrysler Pacifica. This year, Tavarish is applying the lessons learned in last year’s Grudge Match to a 2008 Dodge Charger Pursuit ute. What’s a ute? Find out at the 7th Edition of Roadkill Nights.
David Patterson, aka ThatDudeinBlue
David Patterson is an automotive journalist who fuels through builds. He reviews everything from local projects to overseas automotive brands. His motorsport passion ranges from drag racing to drifting. With plenty of experience in stock and modified Hellcat Chargers and Challengers, David is very excited that he finally gets to build his Hellcat-powered dream Dodge. Some may not consider a 2007 Dodge Magnum to be worthy of dream-car status, but automotive journalists love wagons for very good, if somewhat indeterminate reasons—they’re just awesome. And what could be more awesome than one with a 6.2-liter, 807-hp, supercharged HEMI V-8 under the hood and $10,000 to make it more powerful?!
Christina Roki is a full-time computer science and mechanical engineering student. She spends all her time (after her homework is done, of course!) working on cars with her other half, Grant Sloan. Known primarily for their chrome wraps and cosmetic modifications, Christina and Grant use their YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram channels to prove that anyone can have fun with cars by making them relatable and showing how affordable mods can be. Don’t listen to the haters, though; these Detroit locals know they’re going to have to do a lot more than fix the broken A/C in their budget 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T to stand a chance at going heads-up with Alex Taylor in the final round of the Direct Connection Grudge Match.
Alex Taylor should be well-known to HOT ROD readers by now. She’s raced at HOT ROD Drag Week every year since she was 16, she teamed up with Derek Bieri to compete in the Hooptie World Championship, and she’s currently filming her first season as co-host of HOT ROD Garage with Lucky Costa. Dennis Taylor, Alex’s dad, is visiting his daughter while she’s in Southern California, too. Last year the father-and-daughter team built the back-halved, big-tire Challenger Redeye that Alex drove to victory in the Grudge Match in just under a month. This year, the only difference is the car—a 1955 Plymouth Savoy we have a feeling is going to look very similar to Alex’s six-second ’55 Chevy 210—and the additional help of Lucky Costa. You’ll be able to watch Alex, Lucky, and Dennis thrash together the Hellcat-swapped Savoy in the upcoming season of HOT ROD Garage, currently in production. Stay tuned to HOTROD.com, as well—coming soon, we’ve got the full story of how Alex Taylor went from constantly asking questions in her parents hot rod shop, to managing her own racing company and a career as a social media influencer.
Herman Young, aka Demonology
Demonology is the study of demons or beliefs about demons. Herman Young interprets that as providing the world with all the information anyone could need about one of the quickest production cars in history, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, including tuning, modifying and racing. An internet search for information about the Demon Crate in late December 2018 provided nothing, and that inspired Herman to start his YouTube channel. Since then, he’s been terrorizing drag strips and lesser vehicles with “Soul Snatcher,” his personal Dodge Demon, which has also been to Roadkill Nights in the past. Herman knows how important traction is on Woodward Avenue, but he’s got a long way to go to Roadkill Nights on August 13, 2022, starting with a Challenger body-in-white for the Dodge Direct Connection Grudge Match.
*All headshot photos of automotive content creators courtesy of the individual(s) pictured