We’re in a golden age of horsepower when it comes to American muscle cars. No matter which brand you prefer, you can walk into a dealer and drive out with a car that has at least 650 horsepower from any of Detroit’s “Big Three.” The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, and Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye are each the most powerful versions of these models on sale today, but until now they haven’t raced head-to-head. Edmunds decided to change that with a three-way drag race, and it’s hard to be surprised by the results.
All three cars struggled to grab traction in the cool weather, but the Camaro’s temperature-sensitive tires appear to have been its biggest problem. Despite being the most powerful car on the test, the Dodge was also the heaviest. That left the Mustang pulling far ahead every time, even with the driver missing a few launches.
In a way, the tests illustrate what we already knew. We see the Chevy working hard to keep up but falling short, which isn’t surprising when we consider that the 1LE package and the car’s power are optimized to go around a track with better suspension and braking components. The Challenger Hellcat Redeye has massive power but also has massive…mass to overcome. As the newcomer, the Mustang Shelby GT500 takes the best of both worlds with huge power and capable handling. The Challenger has nearly 40 horsepower on the Mustang, but it’s also got several hundred extra pounds to haul around.
We could split hairs about the outside temperatures being too cold or talk about how the pavement wasn’t treated for drag racing, but that won’t change the results. No matter how the races started, they all finished the same way and, let’s face it—there’s nothing better than a good ol’ American drag race. The drivers appear to be having fun, too, but the best part of the race is the sound. Even the losers make a great noise as they cross the finish line.