Archive for September, 2009

Dawn of a New Day

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

By Darren Jacobs

NARRA carried on the Viper Days tradition with a successful inaugural event in February at California’s Buttonwillow Raceway.

Mention the name Viper Days to almost any Dodge Viper owner and images of action-packed, fun-filled weekends spent at world-class tracks will immediately spring forth. The popular series combined the need for speed with a safe and educational environment that served as a training ground for countless VCA members, becoming a cherished institution of Viper owners around the globe.

So when the Viper legions received word that their beloved Viper Days and the Viper Racing League, founded by VCA fave Skip Thomas, was purchased by the recently formed North American Road Racing Association (NARRA) group, the collective hackles of Viper lovers shot up immediately. One question reverberated throughout Viperdom: “What would become of Viper Days?”

The answer came following the first NARRA event, held on February 21–22 at Buttonwillow Raceway Park, in Buttonwillow, Calif. The name may have changed but the song remains the same, as the Viper Nation sang the praises of the inaugural NARRA event.

“We were hoping for a double and we hit a home run,” exclaimed NARRA general manager Kevin Williams. “We had great racing, the people we’re happy and the new curriculum went over extremely well.

“We had close to 20 percent more in attendance than we anticipated, with just under 80 drivers. I didn’t hear a negative word all weekend. They definitely bought into it and wanted to be part of it, and it was really neat that everybody was happy with it.”

No less an expert than Maurice Liang, a man of whom it’s safe to say knows a thing (or two) about the Viper, gave a thumbs-up to the inaugural NARRA go-round.

“The event seemed well organized and you could definitely tell they had an emphasis on teaching,” observed Liang. “I’m very hopeful that it will maintain the Viper emphasis, the focus on the Viper, even though other makes can take part now as well. From what I observed at this first event, they were definitely able to keep that focus, which is encouraging.”

“We’re not making it a secret that we’re going after other cars to increase the field,” said Williams. “I think the crowd enjoyed the mixture, with all kinds of classes out there. The people in California took the change great. There wasn’t even any talk about it really. It was just like, ‘Okay, the new name’s NARRA, that’s cool, let’s go on forward, you guys are a blast. Let’s do it.’ They didn’t even bat any eyelash about it. I was amazed at the support we received from the clubs. We couldn’t have had nearly 80 cars without their help. Dan and Cathy Everts [SoCal
VCA president and secretary/treasurer, respectively], I can’t say how much work they did to help us, sending out e-mails and flyers. They really pushed it. They were so passionate.”

A most welcome and beloved guest was Viper Days founder Thomas, who will attend each event as grand marshal during the 2009 NARRA slate. Thomas spoke at the opening banquet to kickoff the event, figuratively handing off the baton to NARRA and aiding in the transition.

“Everybody loves him,” said Williams of Thomas. “He walks around, talks to people, smokes his cigar, and he grids the race cars. He’ll be around at every event this year.”

The emphasis at the first event was on teaching because, as many Snake lovers have learned the hard way, the Viper, she ain’t easy to tame!

“We focused on the instruction side a bit more at Buttonwillow,” said Williams. “We have a whole new curriculum, a whole new staff of instructors, and it went over extremely well. We’re really emphasizing techniques such as how to be smooth and how that makes you faster, different braking techniques and the mental aspect of it.”

NARRA’s maiden voyage received nothing but kudos from one newbie attendee, VCA Arizona member Justin Davenport, who wheeled around Buttonwillow in his 1996 Viper GTS.

“Being a novice, I was placed in the green group [beginners group] and was assigned an instructor,” said Davenport. “My instructor was well-versed with the capabilities of the Viper and assisted me in how to drive in a faster, safer manner. The event was well-planned and executed very efficiently. The race group was awe-inspiring and has only whetted my appetite to advance as a driver and purchase one of those infamous Comp Coupes. Overall, I had a great time meeting with fellow Viper owners and will participate in other West Coast events in the future.”

Davenport’s sentiments encapsulated the bright road ahead for NARRA after its inaugural weekend—great times at the track, with even more Viper fun in store for the future!

“The people in California took the change great. There wasn’t even any talk about it, really. It was just like, ‘Okay, the new name’s NARRA, that’s cool, let’s go on forward, you guys are a blast.’” — NARRA general manager Kevin Williams, on the reception by the VCA of the inaugural NARRA event.

Please visit www.narraonline.com for up-to-date schedule information.

Tech Notes

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Tech Notes

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)

Q: Just picked up a 1998 GTS. I have surging in 5th and 6th gear at around 60 mph. I also have bucking at low speeds. I can’t find information that spells out the exact procedure to sync the throttle bodies for a GEN II. Can you help?

A: As far as I know, there is no procedure for syncing the throttle bodies on the single throttle cable engine. However, it’s pretty straight forward. The twin throttle bodies are connected by a cross shaft which has a bit of adjustment in it. The cable works the driver’s side TB and the throttle position sensor is on the passenger side TB. Make sure that as soon as the cable moves the driver’s side TB, the passenger side TB is also moving. If this is not the case, bucking is one side effect. Also make sure that when the throttle pedal is released both throttle blades are closed.


Q: It seems like it’s the convertible top or something similar, but I hear a clunking coming from the right rear of my 2006 SRT10® when I go over bumps. The previous owner took the car into the dealer and the report said they found it to be normal for the convertibles. Can you confirm this?

A: No clunk is normal. We didn’t build the top to make noise. A clunk coming from that right rear could be a lot of things. First try and isolate the noise inside versus outside and high in the car or low. Things to think about: loose shock, loose sway bar, check brake caliper etc. If you think it really is the top, look for wear marks where the top links might be rubbing, something may have come loose.


Q: I had the car in for service today and all went well until I noticed on the way home that the oil (temp) gauge was not working. I let the car get to temp and drove it a bit. There was plenty of oil and plenty of pressure. What’s really weird is that when I turn the key to on just before starting all the gauges including the oil gauge are reading correctly. Once I start it up though the oil temp gauge slowly falls back to under 120 and doesn’t move. Any idea what the problem is?

A: My guess would be a faulty sensor or possibly a connector problem at the temp sensor. I’ll admit that if you let the car warm up, shut it off and then just put the key in and get a good read from the gauge is confusing. That may be a more complicated electrical problem.


Q: I own a 1999 Viper GTS coupe with 20,000 miles on the odometer. I have a condition with the car’s HVAC system that has remained with the vehicle since it was new, but always thought it was a normal trait of the Viper. The condition occurs with the temperature knob in the cool position, while the A/C is on or off. The cool air coming thru the ducts suddenly becomes “very warm” for a period of approximately 20-30 seconds and then gradually starts to become cool again. This could happen about two times in the span of an hour on a long drive. Is this a normal condition? Can this problem be ratified with an upgraded Mopar part?

A: If the condition of warm air happens under heavy acceleration, the condition is normal. In order to deliver maximum power under heavy acceleration, the electronics temporarily shut down the compressor so the load is eliminated. If this is not the case, it sounds like the vacuum signal is changing at the HVAC unit. If that’s the case the dealer will need to check it out. If you’re sure it’s with the A/C on or off, then it’s time to visit the dealer.


Q: I own a 1995 Dodge Viper with 10,000 miles on it. I do a little autocross and road racing with it. Is there a good way of lowering it a little? I have a set of 2003 10-spoke wheels and stock tires and would like to have a little less ground clearance.

A: Due to the suspension design, there is no easy way to lower the car. You could swap a set of ACR shocks on and that would allow you to lower the adjustable spring seat. Otherwise you’d have to come up with a shorter set of springs and swap them on … not an easy job.


Q: I recently purchased a new 2009 Viper coupe and have decided to garage the car closer to my work rather than my home (two different cities). The problem is the garage entrance (commercial underground garage) is inclined and where the inclined ramp meets the garage floor is a rather sharp angle. Standard passenger cars do not scrape the front, however, the Viper with its front air intakes being so low, might pose a problem. I was thinking of air shocks for the front to add lift. Should you need it, I can determine the angle at the garage ramp and entrance. I was wondering if you have encountered this question in the past and have any recommendations.

A: There is no air shock that I know of that would fit your car, so there is no easy way to raise the front end. I’ve heard guys with this problem end up approaching the ramp at an angle that gets one of the wheels up first and allows a more gradual transition up the ramp … hope that helps.

 

Your technical questions are always welcome. Please remember to indicate the body style, model year and mileage for your Viper.

Tech Notes Editor
VIPER Magazine
PO Box 24425
Shawnee Mission, KS  66283
E-mail: [email protected]
Fax: (248) 499-1950

 

Houses of Horsepower

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

For those in the Viper Nation, perhaps no other word in the English language (or any language, for that matter) is as insufficiently defined as the word “garage.” The Oxford American Dictionary offers a cold, unemotional encapsulation: “a building in which to keep a motor vehicle or vehicles.” Of course, that clinical definition is technically correct. But the Viper Nation would argue that on an emotional level, it falls way, way short of the mark in explaining the bond between a Dodge Viper owner and the place in which his or her Viper(s) sleeps. In fact, it’s not even close.

We know the passion Viper lovers possess for their ultra-customized Snake pits. We know from the large number of responses we quickly received here at VM shortly after the call was put out for photos and information on Viper garages. We know from browsing through an abundance of photos received from proud owners of Viper-themed palaces (sorry folks, we would show all the photos if not for space limitations). We know after reading through long, detailed descriptions, love-letter like in their intensity, recounting every unique feature and every piece of garage equipment contained in these amazing Viper edifices.

So consider the following pictorial culled from many VCA member submissions as an illustrated argument for a revisionist approach to defining a “garage,” at least when referring to those of the Viper Nation. Here’s one humble writer’s suggestion: “a shrine or palace, used to house the ultimate American supercar. See also DODGE VIPER.”

Steve Wedel

Ever wonder how an ex-president lives? If past National VCA President Steve Wedel is any indication, apparently they’re livin’ large, indeed!

Steve Wedel GarageWhile Wedel may have passed along the reigns of the VCA, his passion for the Viper never wavered—in fact, it grew. Wedel and his lovely wife Lynn purchased a new home in St. Louis in 2005, giving them the perfect post-presidency project—and it wasn’t a presidential library! Their mission: construct an awe-inspiring facility for which to house their Vipers and other Mopar®s.

Steve Wedel GarageThe garage is technically a five-car building but can easily welcome another Viper “sibling” inside its spacious confines, and features not one but two levels. The main level sprawls out over 2,000 square feet and boasts a bathroom and foyer, while the rear of the garage has a large covered lanai overlooking the swimming pool, allowing the Vipers to go for a dip when the mood strikes (We’re kidding. We think). And when the weather outside is frightful, Wedel’s Vipers are feeling delightful, relaxing in heated and air-conditioned bliss under 12-foot ceilings—which will accommodate vehicle lifts in the future, if needed. The second level is finished with dormer windows and houses a portion of Wedel’s Viper collectibles and his expansive Carrera slot car set. A fully-wired sound system both inside and out and a flat-screen TV offers additional entertainment opportunities when the Wedels tire of gazing at their Vipers.

Steve Wedel GarageWedel’s garage space floweth over, with an additional three-car garage attached to his home, as well as ANOTHER three-car garage at his lake home! “I know that I am very lucky to have so many garages filled with so many unbelievable vehicles,” says Wedel, a Gateway VCA member whose collection includes a 1996 GTS blue-with-white-stripes Viper, a 1994 R/T 10, his wife’s 2005 SRT10® convertible, a 2008 ACR and other classic and modern Mopars. “I always joke with Lynn that the cars are much more expensive than our children and that she should not count on me retiring since we have so many ‘dependents’ needing us to take care of them.”

John Hachmeister/Ralph Hearn

How do you spice up those dull Monday morning meetings? For John Hachmeister and Ralph Hearn, president and senior vice president, respectively, of JHL Constructors in Centennial, Colo., the answer was simple—turn your conference room into a Viper playroom!

John Hachmeister Ralph Hearn GarageThe two execs and Colorado/Utah/Wyoming VCA members refer to their 3,000 square foot garage, completed at the end of 2008 and located next door to the JHL main office, as the East Conference Room. The facility was an empty office building with a back production area and loading dock before its transformation. Now in attendance at every meeting are Hachmeister’s 2006 VOI.9 special edition white-with-blue-stripes Viper, 2005 VOI.8 yellow-with-black-stripe special edition Viper, his 1998 Red RT/10, and Hearn’s 2006 1st Edition Coupe, blue-with-white-stripes Viper. That is, of course, when they aren’t being driven.

John Hachmeister Ralph Hearn GarageHachmeister and Hearn spared no expense when constructing their palatial Viper house. Features include a custom-made bar top created from the rim of a 2005 VOI.8 Viper, three Viper bar tops with Viper logo stools, bathrooms decorated with a Viper theme, the rare Viper pinball machine “Night Drivin’,” and much, much more Viper swag. Garage equipment includes three wall-mounted tire racks.

John Hachmeister Ralph Hearn GarageThe conference room/Viper den allows Hachmeister and Hearn to unwind during the stressful workday with a game of Wii bowling or golf on the big screen or perhaps a quick drink from the Viper Keg, which compliments a fully stocked full-service bar (that’s one heckuva break room!). The heated and air-conditioned garage provides the perfect private spot to hold company celebrations or casual BS sessions at the end of the day.

As for the cost? Says Hachmeister, “Fortunately, we have not sat down to evaluate the overall cost of all that has been done to the garage. Honestly, we might scream if we had. But ultimately, we still continue to add to the design.”

Jerry DeYoung

The garage so nice, we’re showing it twice! Jerry DeYoung’s Viper castle was showcased in the Summer 2007 issue of VM, but a gem like this begs for a second look.

Jerry DeYoung GarageThe crystal chandelier hanging in the Central California VCA President’s 2,500 square foot garage conjures up the appropriate mood for displaying priceless works of art—DeYoung’s 2006 1st edition blue-with-white-stripes, No. 8 of 200 Viper SRT10 and his 2006 VOI.9 special edition white-with-blue-stripes No. 15 of 100 Viper.

Jerry DeYoung GarageDeYoung, who has attended every VOI but the first, built the garage around 20 years ago, remodeled it about a decade ago, and considers his Viper pad an “ongoing process.” The garage’s continued evolution is due in part to DeYoung’s ever-growing collection of Viper models and memorabilia. Lining his Viper pad is a Viper pinball game, two Viper road racing video arcade games, Viper wheels with glass tops made into end tables, a Viper couch and TV, a Viper hood autographed by many superstar athletes from various sports and blow-ups of almost all of the covers of VIPER Magazine. And that’s just a brief snapshot of DeYoung’s collection—half of which needed to be moved prior to the photo DeYoung commissioned for the VM cover.

It’s no wonder then that DeYoung opens his comments about his garage with the statement, “My name is Jerry DeYoung and I am a Viperholic.” He goes on to add, “Almost immediately after taking delivery of our first Viper I fell into the Viper memorabilia collecting abyss. I have collected so much Viper memorabilia there is no way to display it all even in our nine-car garage. Some of my family and friends think I have lost it, but they all love the ‘shrine to Viper’ I have created in the room some people call a garage.”

Terry Bagley

Sanctuary. We all seek some form of it, and lucky Virginia/Maryland VCA member Terry Bagley has found his in the form of his recently remodeled Viper hideaway.

Terry Bagley GarageThe Richmond, Va. resident and attorney is a bit of a road warrior, traveling the country while maintaining his nationwide legal practice. He takes relaxing comfort in the 5-10 hours he spends each week among the Vipers in his garage: a 2009 SRT red convertible and a 2006 black/silver SRT coupe.

Bagley just completed his garage overhaul in March 2009 and isn’t shy about putting a number on the expense involved in creating his Viper sanctum—about $11,500. Highlights include a Rotary Revolution RFP9 4-post, 9,000 lb. lift, a Premier One coating system flooring installed by Premier Garage, VOI framed prints, as well as other Viper artwork.

Bagley admits he’s a bit of a car fiend, purchasing five Vipers, two Vettes, three Caddys and a BMW M5 in the last few years, drawing some loving ribbing from his family. “When my long-suffering wife first saw the lift [in the garage] she said, ‘What if one Viper falls on the other?’” recalls Bagley. “I said, ‘Aren’t you more worried about it falling on me?’ She left in silence.”

At least she has her priorities straight!

John Middleton

Fresno, Calif. resident and Central California VCA member John Middleton, a doctor by profession, did some operating on his 1,700 square foot garage to ensure it possessed the proper ambience in which to display his babies: a 1998 Commemorative Viper GT-2 and a 2008 SRT10 Coupe.

John Middleton GarageThe garage features a BendPak lift and several showcases overflowing with various pieces of Viper memorabilia. The pièce de résistance is the paint scheme of Middleton’s Viper refuge, which sports a red-white-and-blue theme, painted stone white with GTS blue stripes. When asked how long the process took to create his Viper retreat, Middleton, like many of our respondents, replied “Ongoing.” And we’ll leave it at that!

Tim Waedekin

Tim Waedekin GarageTim Waedekin GarageTim Waedekin GarageIllinois VCA member Tim Waedekin’s garage doubles as a workshop as well as a home for his 2008 very violet Viper coupe. A machinist and tool maker by trade, Waedekin puts his work skills to use in his Viper hobby as well, creating Viper-related items in his Slinger, Wis. abode. The walls of Waedekin’s garage, which also includes a 4-post Revolution lift, exhibit many of his Viper creations. He donates many of his items to the Illinois VCA club for fund-raising efforts.

Says Waedekin of his Viper edifice and creations, “Most people who look at it just marvel. I’ve had garbage pick-up people stop and walk in and just admire it. Others that drive by on the street slow down to catch a glimpse of some of the Viper plaques on the walls. My friends think I am obsessed. I think they are correct!”

Rick Martell

One of pop star Billy Joel’s more famous tunes is entitled “New York State of Mind.” But for one New Yorker, Rochester native Rick Martell, a slight variation of the song title would be more apropos: “Viper State of Mind.”

Rick Martell GarageRick Martell GarageRick Martell GarageThe revised appellation would no doubt more accurately describe the thoughts bouncing around the head of Martell, a self-proclaimed “true Viper fan” and owner of a large Snake-filled garage. The ample structure houses his very impressive collection of Vipers, including a 2008 snake skin green SRT10, a modded-up 2003 SRT10, a 2001 GTS with factory stripes and a few modifications, a clean and original 1996 GTS and his first-ever Viper, a white-with-blue-stripes 1996 RT/10. “That’s the one that bit me,” says Martell.

Martell’s family also includes a “step child”—a 2005 Ford GT. Oh well—no family is perfect!

Aaron Thornton

The striking fact about Illinois VCA member Aaron Thornton and his Viper garage is the sheer amount of time he spends in his 800 square foot Viper shrine—15 to 20 hours per week!

Aaron Thornton GarageWe can’t blame him for making it his home-away-from-home with the accoutrements contained in his garage—a flat-screen TV with satellite dish coverage, surround sound, high speed Internet and, of course, his 2001 Viper GTS. The garage also features a refrigerator, high-output florescent lighting and an epoxy-coated floor. It’s no wonder Thornton is a bit of a neat-freak when it comes to his Viper dwelling.

“My wife tells people that my garage is cleaner than our house,” says Thornton. “When my friends come over to hang out in the garage they ask if they should take off their shoes.”

For information about garage storage cabinets and tool chests, please visit our new advertiser, Moduline, at www.modulinegarage.com

Got your own “Garage Mahal” you want to flaunt for your fellow Viper owners? Send in photos, info and details of your glorious Viper garage to: VIPER Magazine, P.O. Box 2117, Farmington Hills, MI 48333-2117, or by e-mail to [email protected].

Track Time

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

By Darren Jacobs

Some combinations work together so perfectly that each single element seems sadly out of sorts when forced to go it alone. Peanut butter just plain tastes better with jelly, biscuits cry out to be dipped in gravy, and Starsky just wouldn’t be the same without Hutch.

And while the Viper is nothing to sneeze at while cruising along the streets, the Snake seems to really sizzle when it’s able to cut loose on a drag strip, race track or road course. And that’s just what a number of professional race teams did to kickoff the 2009 racing season.

SPEED World Challenge GT

The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship has been home to a number of regular Viper-powered competitors in recent years, and 2009 will be no exception.

Albuquerque, N.M. native Jason Daskalos led the Viper pack after the first two SPEED World Challenge GT events, at Sebring and Long Beach. Daskalos drove his Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper Competition Coupe to a fifth-place finish on the Streets of Long Beach road course on April 19. His sharp moves behind the wheel brought him the AutoWeek Move of the Race award for his deft pass of Tony Rivera’s Porsche and moved Daskalos to eighth in the SPEED World Challenge GT standings.

Just behind Daskalos at ninth in the standings was rookie Viper pilot David Welch. The Kirkland, Wash. native made a head-turning debut at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring season opener on March 20, scoring a seventh-place finish in his Woodhouse Performance Viper Comp Coupe in his first visit to the track. Welch finished 19th at Long Beach.

“Every time David gets in the car he goes faster,” said team owner Bob Woodhouse. “We need to keep raising the bar until he is in a position to podium consistently.”

Ritch Marziale, who finished 14th at Long Beach, clocked in at 13th in the standings. Welch’s teammate, Jeff Courtney, scored a tenth-place finish at Long Beach, overcoming a hard-luck Sebring outing in which he finished fifth and earned the Hard Charger Award but was later disqualified after his front axle was deemed under weight during the post-race tech inspection. Courtney is currently 19th in the point standings.

“I’m always glad to come out of a street course in one piece,” said Courtney of his top-ten Long Beach outing. “I’m glad to have the #99 KENDA Tires Dodge Viper Competition Coupe come out of Long Beach intact.”

ALMS

The sole Viper entry in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) looks to be in good hands despite a (literally) bumpier-than-desired start.

The Primetime Race Group Dodge Viper Competition Coupe team, featuring owner/driver Joel Feinberg and driver Chris Hall, entered the March 21 ALMS season opener at Sebring on a positive note, clocking in faster than the factory-backed BMWs and Porsches during practice sessions prior to race day. Alas, their luck went south before the checkered flag dropped, and with a top-five finish in sight, no less. After completing ten hours of the race the clutch on the Primetime Viper Comp Coupe failed, resulting in a hard-luck DNF.

The Primetime crew’s struggles continued at the next race in St. Petersburg, “not an ideal venue for the torquey Viper, as the tight corners and hard braking points force us to work harder than any other driver on the track,” explained Feinberg. A tire blowout in Turn One soon led to a close encounter with the concrete barrier wall, resulting in another DNF. But Feinberg and Hall’s luck would soon change at Long Beach.

“Primetime’s dedicated team hustled to get the car back to race ready condition within a week for our next race out west,” said Feinberg. “The Viper ran strong and handled great at the Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race. We managed to find 5.338 seconds from 2008, which goes to show our program is continuing to develop and remain strong when competing against factory efforts. We logged a seventh-place finish, which was like finishing on the podium after the unfortunate mishaps at the first two races. As the only Viper in the American Le Mans Series, I look forward to delivering the Viper community much success throughout the ALMS season.

Formula Drift

Team Mopar® driver and two-time Formula Drift (FD) champion Samuel Hübinette had a nice surprise for the Viper Nation, showing up for the 2009 Long Beach season opener back in the seat of his Mopar Dodge Viper SRT10.® Mopar announced late in 2008 that Hübinette would debut a new Mopar Drift Dodge Challenger for the 2009 campaign, but after the “Crazy Swede’s” team owner, Shaun Carlson, suffered three heart attacks in February, a bit more time was needed to put the finishing touches on the Mopar Challenger.

The decision was made for Hübinette to steer his trusty Viper at the first two events of the year, Long Beach and Road Atlanta, with the Mopar Drift Dodge Challenger making its debut at the New Jersey event in June. It wasn’t a very tough decision for Hübinette, who captured FD championships in 2004 and 2006 behind the wheel of a Viper, as well as a 2008 runner-up showing in the standings.

The combo of the Viper and the “Crazy Swede” posted their customary podium-worthy performance at Long Beach on April 11. Despite winding up an uncharacteristic No. 12 in qualifying, and with an extra round of judged tandem eliminations added to the FD program, Hübinette mowed down the field on his way to the runner-up spot on the podium. He repeated that performance one week later on the Streets of Long Beach, taking a runner-up finish in the Team Drift exhibition—where he was paired up with a Corvette (hey, sometimes racing makes for strange bedfellows).

“If you’re on the podium today in Formula Drift, you did something right, because it is hard to do with the level of drivers battling it out now,” said Hübinette. “So big thanks to Shaun Carlson and the NuFormz Racing team for all their hard work. I’m very happy.”

A day at the track in a Viper—who wouldn’t be happy!

A Golden Viper for Charity

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

By Roger Meiners

Tammy Allen, a Grand Junction Colo., car enthusiast, attended this year’s Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. to buy a fleet of classic cars for a new business venture—a limousine service for car lovers. She toured the massive display tents with her dad and her daughter, looking for classics that would excite her potential customers. As she neared the prime display space in the main tent she spotted an unusual gold Viper shimmering in the spotlights. The reflections from the Viper’s paint were unusual. The car had a matte finish instead of the usual highly-polished show paint.

“I wanted a Viper for a long time,” said Allen. “As soon as I saw the car I fell in love with it. I loved the matte paint.”

A few months before, Ron Flint, president of Hurst Performance Vehicles, was in a meeting with Bill Pemberton, the Viper and SRT® sales manager of Woodhouse Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep® in Blair, Neb. They were discussing Hurst’s idea to team up on producing a Hurst Challenger. “We heard about all the performance stuff Woodhouse was doing from DC Performance, the Viper tuner in L.A., so I met with Bill Pemberton,” said Flint. During the discussion Pemberton revealed that Woodhouse was going to do a special-edition Viper. Why not make it a Hurst/Woodhouse Viper? Hurst liked the idea and proposed to auction the first one at Barrett-Jackson.

The result: The matte gold Viper coupe on display at Barrett-Jackson. As the project proceeded, NASCAR star Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie’s Victory Junction Gang Camp entered the picture as a charity beneficiary. Woodhouse would donate the profits from a sale to Victory Junction. This ramped up the publicity value of the project.

Tammy Allen stood there, looking at the strikingly painted Viper. “I told my dad, ‘I’m getting it.’” Her dad wasn’t so sure. He cautioned her, saying, “That’s going to be too fast.” Allen responded, “Dad, you don’t always have to drive fast.” She reminded him that the accelerator pedal had “slow” settings, too, and repeated, “I’m getting it!”

This changed her car-buying strategy slightly. She had to conserve enough cash to make sure she won the Viper.

When the car came up for bid, Allen was ready. Kyle Petty’s son, Austin was there and so was veteran Hurst Golden Shifter girl Linda Vaughn as a crowd gathered to see who would buy the car. Allen was not to be denied. She stuck with the bidding until she emerged the victor. The price: $275,000 after auction fees, the highest price ever paid for a new Viper.

She was surprised at all the excitement after the sale. “Linda and all the Woodhouse people were excited that the winner was a girl,” she said. “I believe they thought a guy would buy it, because they had gold cufflinks and a gold tie tack in the glove compartment.”

Lance Pittack, president of the Omaha, Neb. metro area Woodhouse Auto Family said, “It’s fantastic that this Hurst/Woodhouse Viper brought the highest price for the
marque and gave us an opportunity to donate a significant amount to a worthy cause.” He presented a check for $125,000 to Victory Junction.

“The Hurst/Woodhouse Viper is an amazing collaboration and the resulting donation will provide life-changing camp experiences for many children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses,” added Pattie Petty, co-founder of Victory Junction. “Kyle Petty and I are so grateful to Hurst Performance Vehicles and the Woodhouse Auto Family for their generous support of the new Victory Junction camp location in Kansas City.”

Tammy Allen loves the gold Hurst 50th Anniversary Dodge Viper so much that she recently purchased its stable mate, a gold Hurst Viper convertible. She intends to
keep the cars together and drive them only on special occasions, so she just purchased a blue Viper coupe to enjoy all that performance on a daily basis. “My dad doesn’t even know I bought it,” she said when we interviewed her. We’re sure he knows by now.

Grail Keeper takes possession of Viper VOI.10 Edition

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

By Herb Helbig

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as I visit with the Viper Nation is, “What kind of Viper do you own?” I usually answer, “As soon as my last little Viper gets out of college, I’ll think about getting the other one.” Well, things didn’t quite work out that way.

Early this year I heard about a brand new ‘09 Viper VOI.10 edition that was going up for sale. As the saying goes, “When opportunity knocks, you should open the door.” With the help of my dealer friend, John Gastman of Roanoke Dodge, my new Viper rests quietly in my garage.

The car arrived early in February and was stored for a few weeks by my friends at Prefix. Thanks to them for helping out. It’s gorgeous and sports the personalized plate … “GRALKPR.” No surprise there. I picked her up on Friday the 13th. The best part was a few of the Viper team members went with me to enjoy the moment. Included were Jeff Reece, vehicle synthesis engineer–Viper; Ben Swears, SRT® electrical systems engineer; Dick Winkles, manager, SRT powertrain engineering; and Mike Shinedling, program manager ACR. We had a great time taking pictures and putting the first coat of wax on. I can’t thank them enough and they were kind enough to sign the intake manifold. It was a special moment.

I didn’t think picking the car up would be that big a deal, after all, I drive Vipers all the time. Boy, was I wrong. When I saw her for the first time knowing she was mine, I was overcome. It was an emotional experience I won’t ever forget. A special thanks to my lovely wife Debbie who let me temporarily steal her parking spot in the garage … she’s the best!

Building an Orange Viper

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

Dick Winkles has been on the Viper engineering team since Day One, including a stint at the helm of the Viper GTSR race program. The new 600 HP Viper engine is his baby. “I was so pleased with the way the new engine turned out that I had to own one.” The only way to get one was to buy the car. He wanted a roadster and, when he learned that an orange color was to be added to the portfolio, he ordered it—then discovered that his would be the first one built in that color. He also was privileged to follow his new car all the way through production. Luckily we got to go with him via his photos.

1. The chassis starts down the line. The instrument panel is mounted and the rear suspension is attached.

2. Jim Drew uses the large yellow air bladder to position the chassis assembly at a convenient height for installation of components.

3. Winkles assists as Anthony “Smooth” Thomas scribes the Viper’s serial number to the transmission housing.

4. Winkles with the complete powertrain (engine and Tremec transmission), ready to install.

5. Thomas slides the powertrain unit into the chassis. He earned his nickname because of the deceptive ease with which he does this.

6. Al Dunlap and Thomas are ready for the next sequence now that the chassis is dressed with exhaust system, brakes and fuel tank.

7. Deron Rogers III attaches the hydraulic clutch line while Hassanh Collins prepares for the next step in the process.

8. John Roberts wields a rather large lug nut wrench. It’s probably not the ideal tool for the home toolbox.

break!

1. Palomba adds taillight brackets. He also will install the trunk seal.

2. Jim Richards hangs the driver side door.

3. Tony Banks drops the passenger-side front fender into place.

4. The “Orange line” at the end of the day. Winkles’ car is the first Orange Viper to be built.

5. Jeff Jakubowski and Rob Rouda attach the front fascia. It’s about the last part to go on the Viper.

6. The completed car, ready to be driven off the line.

7. The Viper gets a bath to make sure there are no leaks. When test technician Dave Kochan saw the look on Winkles’ face he said, “if you dont want me to run it through …” But Winkles waved him on.

8. Winkles and Ralph Gilles on the line. Ralph’s car, an ACR Coupe, was built at the same time. Both were at the plant to pick up their cars. Behind them is John Gassman, of Roanoke Dodge in Roanoke, Ill. He sold Winkles and Gilles their cars. With him to the right is Janet VanHavermaat of the Conner plant.

Give Your Viper a Boost

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

To the uninitiated, the thought of taking the stock 500 hp 8.3L Dodge Viper engine and boosting it up another performance level seems like overkill. After all, when most people look at a Dodge Viper they see the ultimate American super car. However, for many in the Viper Nation, 500 hp is merely a starting point. For those Viper fanatics looking to squeeze out every ounce of horsepower and torque that the Viper V-10 can muster, we offer this blow-by-blow account of how to add some snarl to your Snake with a polished Paxton supercharger kit, polished valve covers and Crower rocker arm assemblies, courtesy of Big 3 Performance, in Green Bay, Wis.

For more information on Big 3 Performance, visit www.big3performance.com.

Note: How-to install photos and captions courtesy of Big 3 Performance. Space limitations do not permit coverage of all aspects; therefore, please refer to the detailed instructions included with the manufacturer’s kits. The procedures and comments in the article do not reflect the opinions and endorsements of Chrysler LLC or J.R. Thompson Company.

B.M. (Before Modification).Remove factory air induction.Remove serpentine belt. Draw picture, for a reference, to help reroute later.Remove lower engine compartment valance.Remove access panel to oil pan bolts, remove pan.Label corner of oil pan to indicate drill area and position of oil return fitting.After removing oil pan bolts, lower supported oil pan.Locate oil return fitting, mark accordingly.Trace circle around fitting. Find center, mark with a center punch.Drill and tap the pan. To speed the cleaning of aluminum shavings, use grease and attach a rag to the inside of the pan to ease in cleanup.Use high-quality Teflon sealant during installation.Remove harmonic balancer bolt to pin the crankshaft.Use tape on drill bit as guideline to set depth of hole.After inverting pulley set depth of threaded rod per instructions.Attach extension bracket.Install supplied alternator pulley.Install supercharger mounting bracket and extension bushings.Install supercharger and auto tensioner.Remove factory valve covers. Note unique left- and right-side rocker arms.Remove valve train components and inspect for damage. Label and save all valve train parts.This is a Crower rail system: all fastener bolts must be installed with Loctite® and torqued to specification.Apply Loctite to all fasteners at the same time for an assembly-line-style installation.Loosen all adjusters to speed proceeding installation.Fully presoak all rockers (fully immersed).Note: There is an intake and exhaust rocker (visually verify before adjustment).Install the valve covers.Remove the fuel pump relays before removing the intake to control fuel loss.Remove the intake manifold.Layout wiring for auxiliary fuel pumps to ensure installation out of harm’s way.Take the time to find these factory grounds hidden under the windshield.Remove access panel in front of right front tire. Horn relocation is required.Take the extra time to layout the fuel pumps for a detailed look.The completed and installed kit.

The Real Vipers of Orange County

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

By Juli Polak

Skeeter Todd, NY/CT VCA Mid-New York events director, is credited for organizing an amazing event at the Orange County Chopper shop. Yes, THE Orange County Choppers. The amazing thing? There were 87 Vipers in attendance that day in Newburgh, N.Y. The Teutuls were unveiling a Dodge HEMI® Chopper to promote the new Dodge HEMI Ram Truck.

Vipers came from all over the Northeast—Maryland, Virginia … hundreds of us attended. No two Vipers seemed to be alike, except two owned by brothers “Matt and Mike” who had matching black 2008 ACRs they both will track. It really was amazing to see that many Vipers supporting the VCA and Dodge, as we want the Viper to continue. Mike Davi took an awesome picture of Paul Teutul riding the newly-unveiled bike through a sea of Vipers.

Also in attendance were CitySnake’s beautiful 2008 SRT,® Bob Carroll’s one-of-one gorgeous 2008 ACR, and Chuck Tator, also known as the “Viper Wizard,” showing the traffic ticket he received while trying to lead the pack to the event. Dan Dibner, AKA “Damn Yankee,” created a poster to go with Mr. Tator’s ticket. The poster is a testament to the abundance of humor, camaraderie, fun and not-so-serious talk when this group gets together.

The day ended with a delicious luncheon at Torches on the Hudson River. Our return trip to Albany, N.Y., proves that a Viper can slither just fine in the rain.

Hook ‘Em Horns

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009

By George Farris

About a year ago, all was going well for a car guy like Bunky Preston of Amarillo, Texas. He had a 2002 Yellow Viper RT/10 and a 2001 Burnt Orange Prowler. Of course, being an avid Texas Longhorn fan, the Prowler was indeed the right color.

Like many Viper fans, Bunky’s neat and orderly world changed when Dodge introduced the 2008 Viper with 600 hp and all those different colors. It was more than Bunky could take. He desperately wanted the very Viper Orange to keep true to the Longhorns, but that would be one of the last colors available and he didn’t want to put his desire on hold for that amount of time.

So studying the colors again, Bunky decided to go with a Snakeskin Green coupe with white stripes. It turned out to be a stunner. The car has been a hit all over Amarillo and even down in Austin at the Hill County Cruises this past summer.

But since he was still affected by Longhorn fever, the orange car became too much to resist. So Bunky did what any self-respecting Viper fan would do—he ordered up another Viper. This one is very Viper Orange with white stripes. As neat as his garage was before, it is super neat now with those two beautiful 600 hp beasts!

In the photos with the new Vipers are Bunky and his daughter, Austin. No surprise there. After all, being a Longhorn fan, no way was she going to be named Ann Arbor, South Bend, Coral Gables or Tuscaloosa.