Keiichi Tsuchiya is known for going sideways, but took issue with the Hellcat.
Ask any drifting enthusiast, and they will tell you that the 'Drift King' is the undisputed boss of drifting in the world. Japanese race car driver Keiichi Tsuchiya got the name as he was one of the pioneers of getting around racing circuits and mountain passes sideways in a cloud of tire smoke. At the same time, he has been in multiple racing series, including the top form of racing in Japan, the Super GT (formerly known as Japan Grand Touring Championships or JGTC). So who better than to tackle the 797-all-American horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye before it gets over 900 horsepower on E85 next year?
The Dodge Challenger is not exported to Japan, but the brand "Da-ji" (how you say Dodge in Japanese) has an odd cult following there, so an intrepid car dealer decided to import one. The whole process of getting a US-spec Dodge Challenger purchased, shipped, safety compliant, and on the road was around a year and a half.
"It sells very well. This wide fender specification is especially popular," says Takahata-san, who owns President's Store, a US car importer dealership just outside Tokyo in the Chiba Prefecture.
The buyer of the car, Suzuki-san, who loaned it out for the DKTV video, added, "I am a believer in Tsuchiya. That's why I like cars like this one." Reaffirming his trust for the 66-year-old racer at the wheel. To which Tsuchiya replied, "Imported from the States? You're a weirdo owner, huh?"
After the small talk and light ribbing among car guys, it was down to business for the retired racer. The former host and driver for Japan's famous Best Motoring videos, Tsuchiya has driven thousands of cars from OEM to the wildest drift shop builds and pro race cars. Surely he can handle an automatic Chally Hellkitten, right?
"This is dangerous, 800 horsepower is dangerous," Tsuchiya is quick to point out. "It weighs two tons with 800 horsepower. It's heavy. It doesn't stop."
We didn't keep an exact count, but as the Drift King was sliding the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 Challenger around the Sodeguara Forest Raceway in Japan, he mentions the words "dangerous" or "heavy" at least 50 times. There was a lot of diving under braking, counter-steering, and wheelspin even on the straights!
"It was dangerous. American Muscle dangerous!" might be the best way Tsuchiya summed up the Hellcat. But past all the drama, you could see he was all smiles and is a big fan of all the torque. We'll be curious to see what the Drift King thinks of the upcoming Challenger switch to EV, or will he just ignore that it ever happened?