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Family Values—The Falk family’s HHP-Prepped Challenger SRT Hellcat proves its worth in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout

Posted By: Evan J. Smith
Family Values—The Falk family’s HHP-Prepped Challenger SRT Hellcat proves its worth in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout
Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by the FSC staff
Darrell Falk, a mechanic by trade, raised his son, Tommy, to follow in his footsteps. From the shop to the streets, Tommy showed an aptitude for racing and an affinity for performance. Now, the two generations of Falk men are campaigning their 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in multiple categories.
Growing up in Virginia, Tommy could often be found out racing on the streets with his buddies. “I always had fast cars, I just never went to the track,” Tommy shared of his youthful years spent driving a 1999 Isuzu Hombre upgraded to accommodate a Chevy S10 front clip and a small-block engine. “Dad built it for me, but we used to be Chevy guys and had numerous Camaros and all that fun stuff,” he explained.
When Dodge released its revamped, ‘70s-inspired Challenger in 2008, though, the Falk men took notice. “We switched to Mopar because Dad loved that car and has had one in pretty much every color since then except for purple and pink,” said Tommy, now 35 years old. “We had a 2012 and he had a shop put a Magnuson supercharger on it but we could never really get it to drive right, so he got rid of it and played with some other cars and found High Horse Performance – we’ve been going to Josh [Schwartz] ever since.”
Schwartz, owner and founder of HHP, made a name for himself in the Mopar market as being a master of the Gen III HEMI engine. Eventually, Darrell purchased a white, six-speed manual-equipped 2016 Hellcat and the car enabled him and his son to get their first official taste of true drag racing. Tuned by Schwartz to produce 900 horsepower at the rear wheels, HHP’s head honcho encouraged the Falk men to participate in some of the Modern Street HEMI Shootout races with their Dodge.
At first, the men only attended a few races each year. However, it was during a MSHS event at Virginia Motorsports Park in 2018 that they made a major decision.
“I destroyed the clutch in the white car and so we called the Dodge dealership we use and traded it in for our blue 2018 [Challenger SRT] Hellcat while we were still at the track,” noted Tommy, whose father agreed that an automatic transmission-equipped model would suit them far better. “We did the paperwork and hadn’t even left the track before we had another car.”
In 2019, the Falks got rolling with their latest family addition and were quick to make their names known. HHP swapped over many of the upgraded performance parts from the predecessor to the new blue Dodge so that it also produced 900 wheel horsepower, and Darrell did the honors of putting the first laps on his hot rod during a test session; he earned a 10-second timeslip for his efforts, but happily handed the keys over to his son for the rest of the year.
Tommy wasted no time turning up the wick. He picked up a win in the Southern Hotrod Rookie Class at North Carolina’s Rockingham Dragway, then moved up to the ThiTek Pro category where he easily ran low-9-second passes and did well enough to tie for the overall 2019 season championship.
“We went everywhere with Josh… if there was a race, we went,” stated Tommy, whose widebody entry began to be known as one of HHP’s flagship vehicles and whose father’s adorable Miniature Pinscher pup, Hemi, became a fast favorite amongst friends and family at the track. “We do everything we can for Josh. He treats us right, and it just works.”
Wanting to continue to improve their elapsed times, the Falks enlisted to HHP to install the Hellcat’s bougie, bespoke 8.50-second certified roll cage during the off-season between 2019 and 2020. HHP’s elite engineering and fine fabrication capabilities were highlighted during the process, as the cage fits flawlessly and is tucked up tight into the interior. 
When the MSHS did away with its 9.50-second class, Tommy switched to the Heavyweight category instead. “When Covid hit, I couldn’t do much with it,” he shared. In 2021, though, Tommy took the runner-up title for Heavyweight points that season. “Then, I had my son, Wyatt, and promised his mom, Kayla, that I’d stop racing for a year so Josh drove dad’s car in 2022.”
Schwartz put his skill to good use, coaxing a quickest run of 8.156 seconds at 169.23 mph (and with a 1.29-second 60-foot time) from the 4,600-pound Mopar machine in November of 2022 — with the factory eight-speed automatic transmission built by Brian Carter and Suncoast Performance and a set of Mickey Thompson drag radial rubbers.
Of course, the HHP team had already added some major upgrades to the Hellcat by the time. “It had gone from a stock-bottom-end, stock-blower, and stock-transmission car to having the cage done and a built trans and, when I hurt the motor on nitrous, we had Josh build a new one,” Tommy said of the changes that went down prior to the 2022 season, including the addition of a 3.0-liter Whipple supercharger.
“This car was a big part of the research and development process for our new Gen 5 3.0-liter Whipple supercharger-based Hellcat builds,” added Schwartz, who was happy to have a second platform — in addition to HHP’s own project car — to line out all the specs in order to be able to offer his other customers the same outstanding level of turnkey performance that the Falks had become accustomed to.
The Dodge’s engine, meanwhile, received first-class service from BES and HHP and was upgraded to fully built bullet status. BES assembled the factory displacement 6.2-liter HEMI short block (suitable for Hellcats, RedEyes, Demons, Trackhawks, TRXs, and Durangos) according to HHP’s exacting specifications. 
Although the Mopar iron block retained its stock bore and stock stroke, the rotating assembly was upgraded to utilize a set of Carrillo Bullet connecting rods and matching Carrillo Bullet pistons swinging around a stock Mopar 6.2-liter crankshaft.
Next, BES completed their handiwork by securing a set of Thitek dual-spring cylinder heads that included an HHP/PSI 1515 spring kit, and inserting a BES custom-ground camshaft.
In addition to the advanced replacement for displacement from Whipple, the HHP team also added two stages of Nitrous Outlet nitrous oxide via a blower-plate kit and a single-nozzle kit on the inlet for a combined 200-horsepower average shot.
With 24 pounds of boost dialed in to the Whipple and fueled by VP Racing’s Q16 leaded race gas via a Fore Innovations return-style fuel system, the result was roughly 1,500 horsepower at the crankshaft and an estimated 1,350 lb-ft of torque. “This car still runs all the factory computers and is 100-percent street legal,” shared Schwartz, who dials in his desired tune ups for the Dodge via DiabloSport’s software.
Still sitting on a stock suspension with factory shocks and HHP’s special Drag Springs, a DiabloSport suspension controller tuning module was wired in to allow Schwartz greater control of the car’s setup.
The rearend, however, was upgraded with several trick pieces including 2,000-horsepower-rated axles from the Driveshaft Shop, a HemiTuner billet rear differential, AAD Performance rear control arms, and other odds and ends.
During the build process, HHP also took care to upgrade the Hellcat’s stopping ability. A four-piston TCE/Wilwood 15-inch brake conversion kit from HHP was installed, and then each set of stoppers was framed with a special 15-inch HHP Ultra-Lite wheel manufactured by Bogart Racing Wheels.
Only light freshening up was required during the 2022-2023 winter downtime, but the men all agreed to make one specific change to help them be more competitive on the 8.50 level. “We put a three-speed Coan Turbo 400 transmission in, along with an aluminum bolt-together Coan torque converter,” affirmed Schwartz. The swap was surprisingly straightforward, as HHP had developed a shifter mount crossover kit to make the Turbo 400 a bolt-on upgrade for Gen III HEMI-powered 2015+ Challengers. “Having a super strong transmission with a transbrake allowed us to get the reaction times down to where we could be more competitive with the Falks’ Hellcat.”
For his first race back in the driver’s seat, Tommy took a trip to the Sunshine State to race in the Scoggin Dickey Parts Center NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem Presented by Holbrook Racing Engines season opener at Orlando Speed World in March of 2023 – and he took to it like he had never skipped a beat.
After making the three requisite back-to-back passes in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout category with his 2018 SRT Hellcat in a sea of 50+ competitive cars, Tommy had accumulated an impressive overall average of 8.790 seconds with a run as quick as 8.732 seconds to capture the overall win outright.
The accolade earned him a right to race on Sunday in the HHP Racing Quick 8 heads-up class, too, but Falk was still readjusting to racing and wasn’t able to get past the first round that day. “It was the first time I had ever raced with a transbrake, and it was really different and took some getting used to,” added the man who usually raced off a foot brake. “But the car was consistent all day long, even in the heat.”
Regardless, scoring a win at his first race back out was certainly reason to celebrate, and Falk followed it up with a second win the following weekend in the Demon Performance 8.50 Class at the MSHS race in Orlando as well — a true testament to the quality and durability of HHP’s build.
The next month, back at Rockingham Dragway for the NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals Presented by MAHLE Motorsport, Tommy and his Hellcat were strong contenders in the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout. This time, an 8.851-second average (with a quickest run of 8.628 seconds) put him second overall in the category. 
“It was a nice weekend. My son and his mom came out and had a blast,” noted Tommy, who had some bad luck in the first round of the HHP Racing Quick 8 class and was left still waiting to get a round win.
Feeling a bit like déjà vu, Tommy once again raced at the same track for his next MSHS event just a few days later and, once again, had the same results as he had with the NMCA: runner up. That weekend, though, he did manage to run a personal best of 8.49-seconds at 160+ mph to sweeten the deal.
The group opted to skip the NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Muscle Car Drag Racing in St. Louis, Missouri, but were on the property at US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Michigan, in July for the NMRA/NMCA Power Festival instead.
“The car was running really good, it was just a little tough trying to find the right spot to put it on the track to make it go down,” recalled Tommy, who made three extremely consistent back-to-back runs of 8.651, 8.654, and 8.663 seconds to average 8.656 seconds overall. The numbers were good enough to achieve the Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout win yet again, as his Challenger was clearly the quickest in the group.
In round one of the HHP Racing Quick 8 competition, Tommy finally picked up his long-awaited first elimination round win as his 8.588 at 155.49 mph blast put Dodge Moored back on the trailer. “Josh had the car dialed in for Saturday, then we turned on the second kit of nitrous for Sunday…” lamented the man whose strategy panned out only temporarily. Round two saw Tommy go out when his Hellcat overpowered the track’s surface and spun its tires.
With two more NMCA events left on the calendar for the year and a handful more MSHS events as well, naturally both of the Falk men want to see their Hellcat progress to quicker passes while maintaining its impressive track record of success. So, a 7.50-cert cage is likely in the works during the coming off-season to enable such feats. 
In the meantime, Darrell and Tommy will continue to race as much as their work schedules allow, hitting as many NMCA and MSHS events as possible with Schwartz and the entire High Horse Performance team by their sides to facilitate the memories made and strengthen the bond between the father, the son, and the Winner’s Circle.
The Details
Owner: Darrell Falk
Driver: Tommy Falk
Hometown: Locust Grove, Virginia          
Occupation: Mechanic/ Service tech
Class: Dodge // Mopar HEMI Shootout
Crew: Josh Schwartz, Neichaun Tatum, Darrell Falk, HEMI (miniature pincher) 
Car Year/Make/Model: 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody 
Engine: HHP/BES 376 (6.2-liter) Forged Short Block
Engine builder: HHP/BES
Displacement: 376 cubic inches(Factory)
Block: Mopar 6.2-liter Iron Block
Bore: Stock 
Stroke: Stock
Crank: Stock (Mopar 6.2-liter Crank)
Rods: Carrillo Bullet Rods
Pistons: Carrillo Bullet Pistons
Heads: Thitek Dual Spring Heads with 2.165/1.65-inch valves
Valvetrain: HHP/PSI 1515 Spring Kit
Cam type: HHP/BES Custom Grind 
Carburetor or EFI system: 
Power-adder: Gen 5 3.0-liter Whipple Supercharger 
Fuel brand and type: VP Racing Fuels Q16
Headers and exhaust: 
Transmission: TH400
Transmission Builder: Coan
Clutch/shifter/torque converter: Coan bolt-together converter
Rearend: HemiTuner Billet Rear Differential 
Body and/or chassis builder: High Horse Performance
Suspension (Front): Stock shocks/struts, HHP Drag Springs
Suspension (Rear): Stock shocks/struts, HHP Drag Springs
Brakes (Front): Four-piston TCE/Wilwood 15-inch Brake Conversion Kit
Brakes (Rear): Four-piston TCE/Wilwood 15-inch Brake Conversion Kit
Wheels (front): 15x4.5-inch HHP Ultra-Lite Wheels by Bogart
Wheels (Rear):  15x10.5-inch HHP Ultra-Lite Wheels by Bogart 
Tires (Front): Mickey Thompson ET Front 29/4.5-15
Tires (Rear): Mickey Thompson ET Street R 315/60R15
Aftermarket body modifications: Anderson Composites Carbon Fiber Demon Cowl Style Hood
Safety equipment: Roll cage, parachute
Vehicle weight: 
Quickest ET: 8.1562 seconds
Best 60-foot: 1.295 seconds
Fastest mph: 169.23
Sponsors: HHP Racing

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