Archive for April, 2010

See you at SEMA

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

Each year, Mopar® and Chrysler Group LLC roll out one of the hottest displays at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas, exhibiting parts, engines and “Moparized” vehicles so outrageously modified that eyeballs have been known to pop out of their sockets. But while SEMA Show attendees count the Mopar exhibit as a can’t miss stop, the Mopar and Chrysler Group contingent working the event have their own must-attend engagement in Vegas: the annual VCA SEMA dinner, hosted by the Nevada VCA.

The 2009 dinner, organized by Nevada VCA president Marko Radosavljevic, took place on Wednesday night, Nov. 4, as Viper owners and Mopar/Chrysler Group representatives dined at Tony Roma’s near the Las Vegas Convention Center. Members from VCA regions as far away as Europe (we’re talking about you, Colin Herd!) turned out for the event, which has been a mainstay at SEMA since the mid-1990s, according to Radosavljevic. The Nevada VCA issues an open invitation each year to any Chrysler Group LLC employee that wishes to attend the dinner and speak to the club.

Following a delicious meal of ribs, steaks and seafood, Viper owners participated in an informative Q&A session with Dale Aldo, Coordinator–Performance Parts, Mopar; Ed Arthur, SRT® Performance Parts Program Manager; and Joe Vitous, SRT & Motorsports Aero-Thermal Manager. The brief session was beneficial to both groups, according to Aldo.

“We not only explain the new products that we’ve come out with, but the VCA makes suggestions on new parts also,” says Aldo. “It’s a two-way street. We talked to the group about the new Viper ACR upgrade kit (see story on page 6) that is now available, and a bit later a Viper owner (Nevada VCA member Michael von Quilich) also made a suggestion on a retro fit fan kit, which we are now looking into making into a performance part. Even though it’s a very high-line car with tremendous performance potential and a tremendous performance package, Viper owners are still interested in tailoring the car to their own desires and tastes. They want to personalize the Viper and increase the performance potential.

“It’s always a pleasure to interact with such a loyal and enthusiastic group of consumers. They drive one of the most exciting vehicles ever produced. We look forward to getting their input to create more excitement in parts and accessories.”

Echoing Aldo, Radosavljevic raves about the annual chance to visit with the people who help build the VCA’s baby—the Dodge Viper.

“We love having the Chrysler folks come out and keep us posted on the new products and new information that’s coming out,” Radosavljevic says. “We heard about some new parts on their way and we also gave some feedback of our own. It was nice seeing all the folks from Mopar and Chrysler. We always seem to meet new people who are coming out for the first time.”

“It was a treat, just talking and listening to those guys,” said von Quilich, a member of the VCA since 2005. Scheduled to take part in a drag racing event at Irwindale Speedway in California soon after the SEMA Show, von Quilich was gifted with some insightful advice from Aldo during dinner.

“I received some very helpful tips from him,” said von Quilich. “He told me when I see the second yellow light (at the starting line), drop the hammer. Don’t wait for the green!”

How many car clubs can brag that they receive drag racing advice from their manufacturer? Not many, we’ll wager. The VCA SEMA dinner is just another example of a fact long understood by Viper owners—the Viper Club of America is the greatest car club in the world!

“I strongly urge the VCA members to get involved in their club,” exhorted Wedel. “The more you give, the more you get back. Once you experience that giving and how much you get back, I highly recommend taking it to the next level and volunteering as a Zone Director, Director at Large and then on to the National Board.”

Toy Box Trio

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

When charter Northern California VCA member Dick DeLuna needs to get his mind straight, he doesn’t head to the psychiatrist. Instead, DeLuna visits one of his three garages—dubbed “Toy Boxes”—to chill out among his astounding car collection, including a 1996 Dodge Viper GTS. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

“It’s my therapy,” explains DeLuna. “I don’t play golf, I don’t play tennis. I collect cars.”

DeLuna, 71, owner of a collection agency and a resident of Woodside, Calif., bought his first Dodge Viper in 1993 and his current one in 1996. The Snake joined a truly amazing car collection.

“Toy Box 1” is a 5,000 square foot barn that on the inside morphs into an architecturally astounding car cathedral, with a congregation of more than twenty cars. “Toy Box 2” is a 7,000 square foot warehouse in San Carlos, Calif., just minutes from Woodside, where DeLuna displays assorted foreign and American cars, maintains a working shop and stores his racing rig, motor home and race cars. DeLuna also uses the standard garage at his home (we’ll call it “Toy Box 3”) to house vehicles he is currently driving, or “playing with.” All told, the collection encompasses around 45 vehicles, “Everything from tractors to Doodlebugs,” according to DeLuna.

“Toy Box 1,” the barn-turned-car museum, is undoubtedly the most awe-inducing edifice in DeLuna’s garage stable. It boasts completely finished all-wood floors and ceilings, spread out over two levels and surrounded by a remarkable array of car memorabilia. The top level is home to pre-war vehicles; post-war gems take up the downstairs. The barn often plays host to tours by car clubs and organizations.

“One visitor said, ‘It’s a beautiful home with cars in it,’” recalls DeLuna.

“Toy Box 2” includes an oversize lift accompanied by a variety of other garage equipment and tools. The facility features 24-foot ceilings, large enough to accommodate the oversize automobile signs accumulated by DeLuna, an admitted automobilia addict.

“Toy Box 1” and “Toy Box 2 “ are 15 minutes apart, a fact that is no accident. “That way, I can drive all the old cars on city streets without going on the freeway,” says DeLuna, who spends about 2-to-2 ½ days in his garage per week.
DeLuna bought his first collector car in 1981. The collection has grown by leaps and bounds, and now includes a number of Chrysler classics.

“I’m a big Mopar® fan,” says DeLuna. “I have a 1936 Dodge Woody that has been hotrodded with a Mopar small block Magnum® engine. I also have a 1943 Jeep® Willys, 1948 Chrysler Town & Country, 1950 Willys Jeepster, 1946 stretched Skyview taxi cab, and my daily driver is a Dodge Magnum.”

With so many cars to choose from and so many garages in which to store them, one might wonder if DeLuna’s Viper gets lost in the shuffle. The answer, of course, is no (this is the Viper we’re talking about, after all!).

“The Viper is my American muscle car,” raves DeLuna. “I like brute American horsepower. I want something that is fun to drive, and that’s the Viper.”

In fact, chances are good that one more Viper might be joining DeLuna’s collection.

“That’s a very definite possibility,” says DeLuna. “I could see myself owning a Viper Competition Coupe. They look like they’re going 200 miles per hour before the key is turned on. That’s a car that excites me.”

If he does snap up another Viper, DeLuna faces a conundrum: Where to put it? “Toy Box 1,” “Toy Box 2,” or “Toy Box 3”? It’s a question DeLuna will surely enjoy answering!

Invasion of the Vipers

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Alex Ristanovic

A Viper is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. But what happens when nearly 125 Vipers get together for a good time? It’s a rare event and can consume entire cities! It happened again recently; and the Viper Club was responsible!

Each year the Viper Club of Illinois puts together a traveling event that has a vacation feel, takes over an interesting city, and makes a very public splash with the Vipers. 2009 was no exception as Vipers Invaded Niagara Falls!

The earliest beginnings of this trip took place on a Tuesday as large groups of cars began to make their way to a free “pre-event” in Detroit which was available only to those who were doing the Niagara trip. At this point, over 100 people and 55 Vipers congregated at the Marriot hotel in the northern suburb of Troy, filling the hotel’s back lot completely. The next morning was a real treat as chartered buses whisked everyone away on a special Chrysler car tour. But the fun was only beginning.

Upon returning to the hotel, there was a media blitz as news stations, radio and Web reporters were interviewing people and taking photos. The car enjoyed some great publicity as the club members were in full effect telling the world how much they love their Vipers. But the day wasn’t over. The second part of the afternoon included a special lunch prepared at none other than the home of Chrysler design VP Ralph Gilles! [Editor’s note: Just two weeks later Ralph was named President and CEO of Dodge. He will retain his design responsibilities. Could this be a portent of great things for the Dodge Viper?] Tents were set up, lunch was catered, there was a free raffle, an auction, a PartsRack furniture reveal, tour of Ralph and Doris’s home, special items on display, and many, many very well known VIPs in the Chrysler world! An airplane fly-by was even arranged to take aerial photos of the spectacle!

Later that afternoon, Vipers left Detroit and headed to Canada. Vipers crossing the border were an interesting sight. Among the many other passenger vehicles and large trucks, the shiny band of sleek sports cars stood in wait, stretching back across the bridge in one long line. The border guards, having been made aware of our entry into Canada, helped move the cars through rather quickly. The subsequent trip through the countryside was wonderful. Along the way pictures were being snapped by camera phones and by tourists watching the Vipers rumble through. During the trip more cars joined the group as the early evening brought Vipers pouring into the city in ?huge numbers!

Vipers drove in from all directions, coming from nearly every state. One club member even flew in from Europe to be part of this grand event! The Hilton Embassy Suites in Niagara Falls, Ontario, was proud to host the Viper event. They really rolled out the red carpet. Upon our arrival, the hotel staff helped guide the cars directly to their reserved spaces on two entire levels of the underground parking garage. Nearly a dozen Vipers adorned the paddock area in front of the hotel as a special display for the crowd to enjoy!

Thursday’s schedule was built to give everyone a chance to leave their cars for a whirlwind view of everything that is Niagara. The day included a Niagara Falls 4-D experience: A Behind the Falls tour, Maid of the Mist boat trip, Dave and Busters lunch, Aerial cable car ride, whitewater walk, power plant tour and Skylon Tower viewing. What a day! Everyone got their fix and CONTENT was the word of the day. That evening was also exciting as the club rented the Copacabana restaurant in Niagara Falls and treated everyone to a Brazilian steakhouse experience. By this time, the buzz of the Vipers had rippled throughout the city. You could see from across the street the Vipers were drawing quite the crowd in front of the hotel!

Friday morning brought the rumble of V-10’s as Vipers awoke and prepared for a great cruise day. The city of Niagara Falls had been advertising the Vipers visit for months in advance. The Vipers made their presence known as they passed through the area in one massive group! The cars drew many onlookers for what was over a “Mile-O’-Viper.” The car owners themselves were having a great time as it’s not often you drive in a line of Vipers so long that you can’t see its beginning or its end!

The Vipers visited many local towns and toured the countryside. Several stops were made throughout the cruise, which included the well-known Chateau Des Charmes Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the nearby town of Port Dalhousie, and a visit to the interesting Lock 3 of the Welland Canal. Everywhere the cars went, there were people wanting to be part of the action. Viper Club members in particular are a very welcoming group, always willing to answer questions and even let people sit in their cars at times. And when the group was away from their cars enjoying one of the stops, traveling security kept a watchful eye over the parked snakes.

Upon returning to the hotel, it was cleanup time as Vipers were getting washed and prepped for the next day. But that evening was also a very special one. The club reserved a segment of the huge Keg Steakhouse & Bar in our host hotel. Here members enjoyed a great dinner with stadium seating that overlooked Horseshoe Falls! Even here you could see the support for the car as many members proudly wore their Viper clothing. After 9 p.m., the illumination of the falls began as a stunning lighting effect was created onto the running falls. And at 10 p.m. the group was treated to a fantastic fireworks display right over the falls. What a way to end the night!

Saturday was a huge day as the city shut down one of its main streets for what was probably the most stunning Viper car show in history as the cars painted three blocks in wall-to-wall Vipers! Several sound stages were setup among the cars and many bands played throughout the day. The streets of Niagara Falls had a picturesque small town feel with beautifully manicured flowers everywhere. Viper owners interacted with onlookers and hit the many restaurants, coffee shops, and stores. Over 200 specially designed “Viper Invades Niagara” frisbees were handed out to grateful visitors. Even more excitement was added to the day as the Viper Club arranged for ?a 150 foot crane to be erected in three places to allow brave club photographers the rare opportunity to photograph the spectacle while they dangled in a basket 150 feet above the cars!

The event was brought to a close in the afternoon as cars fired up and slowly departed. The evening and Sunday were left open for club members to kick back and do what they wanted. The smile on every face was an indication that the trip met their expectations.

Many people came together to help plan this event, including many sponsors who stepped up to make this a VERY affordable trip for club members. Huge thanks to our biggest sponsors Dodge, PartsRack, and Roanoke Motor Company. Other sponsors included Prefix, Details by D, Northern Trust Bank, OnTrack Insurance, and the IL VCA.
This was an historic event, which affected so many people, involved a complete city, and greatly supported Dodge, our carmaker. A total of 123 Vipers and over 225 people were involved with the event! The publicity before, during and after this event was magnificent! The Vipers were in several newspapers and made front page news twice – before and after the event. This was a treat for both Vipers owners and spectators alike. And judging from the occasional burnout patch seen from time to time on the streets, I can say for certain – Vipers left their “mark” on Niagara Falls – and the city will never be the same again!

A Note from Viper Headquarters

When Illinois VCA President/Midwest Zone Officer Alex Ristanovic told VIPER Magazine about the fabulous Niagara Falls “Invasion” we were incredibly envious. The Illinois VCA doesn’t do anything halfway, so we knew this would be a big one and we found ourselves scheming about ways to go along. Alas, deadlines and other commitments here at Viper Headquarters prevented our attendance, but, when we noticed that the trip included a “Pre-Event” in Metro Detroit, we called Alex and slithered our way into the snake pit for a day. The experience was no less than fantastic—a quick trip to a secret Chrysler stopover and then lunch with Ralph Gilles, Sr. V.P. of Product Design and soon-to-be President and CEO, Dodge Car Brand (he’s the new leader of the Viper Nation, among other very important duties—and he’ll be doing a column in VIPER Magazine). Here are a few photos from our excellent mini-adventure.

Carrying the Torch

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Roger Meiners

On January 26, 2008, NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert, of Lincolnton, N.C., experienced every parent’s worst nightmare—his two sons, Jon, 17, and James, 12, lost their lives in an automobile accident. Herbert, trying to make sense of the tragedy, decided to form a non-profit organization that would focus on safe driving. He wanted to help prevent other parents, friends and families from enduring the pain of losing a loved one to an automobile accident.

Herbert partnered with Jon’s classmates from SouthLake Christian Academy in Huntersville, N.C., to create a name for the safe driving foundation. The students chose B.R.A.K.E.S. – which stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. It is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that, among other things, sponsors driving instruction for young people. For more information, visit www.putonthebrakes.com.

Meanwhile, on a parallel course, Doug and his father, Chet, the famous hot rodder, land speed record pioneer and speed parts pioneer (remember the Herbert roller camshaft?) decided to build a streamliner to break the absolute record for wheel-driven vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. And what better engine to use than the vaunted Viper V-10? The Herberts thought so and installed two, just to be sure.

Unfortunately, Doug’s dad passed away this year and will not be able to witness the results of the project. But Doug is pressing on, with the aid of none other than Ray Evernham the lengendary NASCAR crew chief and team owner. In fact, they are calling this the Herbert-Evernham Land Speed Record (LSR) Project.

And what of those Viper V-10s? Displacement is 512.66 cid. Superchargers are F3 Procharger. They’re using Striker cylinder heads, CP Pistons, Oliver rods and Winberg crankshafts. Compression is 8.5 to 1 and projected horsepower is 2,000 per motor. 

Follow the LSR team’s progress at www.lsrproject.com.

Look for updates on the project in future issues of VIPER Magazine as well.

A New Viper in the Valley

Written by editor on . Posted in Letters, Winter 2010

Hello, I currently reside in southern Texas and take pleasure in reading VIPER Magazine. As I have always envied Dodge’s amazing Viper machines, I have dreamed of owning one someday. That someday came one day in October 2008. I was shopping for a very Viper orange Dodge Viper convertible with charcoal racing stripes and found that quantities in the United States were limited. I located one in northern Colorado and managed to make a deal with a dealership. Having only seen a few pictures of the vehicle, I purchased the vehicle and had it shipped to me in an enclosed car hauler.

Anxiously awaiting my new Viper’s arrival, the shipping company notified me and I rushed home to meet them. As they unloaded the vehicle I was speechless. I recall sitting in the vehicle for an hour in the garage doing nothing other than hoping I would not awake from a dream. As time has progressed so has my volume of work. Unfortunately, I am not able to drive it as much as I would like, but I do take the occasional weekend trip down country roads and every once in a while to South Padre Island’s Texas beach.

At age 32, I can say I have owned many fast and amazing machines. However, I can honestly say nothing has ever given me a rush quite like a Viper. I love the publishing of custom Viper license plates in your magazine and thought I would share mine in the hopes that maybe one issue it will be published as well.

“One day with the top down is better than a lifetime in a box …”

J. Matthew Eckert

Via e-mail

Congratulations on taking possession of your first Viper! It’s always nice to see enthusiasm, like yours, for Dodge and the Viper. And we know you’ll be able to enjoy longer driving seasons (with the top down) than most Viper owners, living in the Texas Rio Grande Valley.—Ed.

Viper Soccer Team

Here are some tough Vipers—my daughter Camilia’s age ten and under AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) team. Lia—short for Camilia—is standing to the left of the banner. The expressions are an attempt at showing me their mean faces.

Patricia Jimenez

Menlo Park, Calif.

Thanks for sharing the great photo of your daughter’s Viper soccer team, Patricia. They all have their game faces on and look fearless! Perhaps seeds have been planted today for future Dodge Viper owners.—Ed.

First Viper RT/10

[[article_two_image]]I’ve been a new Dodge Viper RT/10 owner for over a year! My Viper’s features include: 13″ EBC Sport Slotted and Dimpled Brake Rotor Set, EBC Greenstuff Pads, Harland Sharp 1.7 Ratio Roller Rockers, MSD 8.5 mm spark plug wires, Billy Boat Performance Exhaust with 3″ high-flow cats, American Racing Headers – 1 5/8″ stepped up to 1 ¾” primary tubes, Hurst shifter, Clutch lower kit, Fidanza fly wheel, Centerforce clutch, Paxton supercharger and 42 lb. fuel injectors.

I’ve loved Vipers since I was a kid. Here’s a photo of my license plate. Do you feel it fits my Viper? I love VIPER Magazine and wish it came out every month. Keep up the great work!

Piero Zito

Via e-mail

Absolutely! Great license plate, Piero! Thank you for sharing the photo and mentioning all the modifications to your RT/10.—Ed.

 

We want to hear from you!

We value your input. Please feel free to send any questions, comments, or constructive criticisms to:

VIPER Magazine

P.O. Box 2117

Farmington Hills, MI 48333-2117

E-mail: [email protected]

Downforce

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Roger Meiners

Want the ACR look and aero performance for your GEN III and GEN IV Viper? Mopar® has the actual ACR carbon fiber Wing and other ACR bits and pieces waiting for you in their Performance Catalog—and online at www.mopar.com. These aero parts offer not only bold aesthetics, but functional benefits on the track. The “Race” kits include a variable geometry “fanged” front splitter, an adjustable rear wing sculpted by CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and optimized front dive planes to maximize downforce (up to 1,000 lbs.) and provide increased levels of lateral grip. These new aerodynamic devices are formed in high-performance autoclaved carbon-fiber.

The splitter and dive planes feature a clear-coated carbon-fiber weave. The front splitter includes three removable rub strips that provide protection and wear resistance. It also includes a track extension that replaces the center splitter rub strip for closed-circuit events and reduces overall drag and increases front downforce nearly one-third. Two part numbers, P5155265 and P5155272 are for “Off-Road Use Only” and require a coilover kit (P5155234) to resist high downforce conditions at high speeds. Another two part numbers, P5155273 and P5155274 (for the Viper Roadster) have shorter wings for street use.

The Flame Burns Bright

Written by editor on . Posted in Ignition, Winter 2010

Dear Viper Nation:

To say I am honored to be responsible for managing the great Dodge Brand is an understatement. I feel like only yesterday I was negotiating precious TV time with my folks so I could watch the Dukes of Hazzard … and it wasn’t because of Daisy! It has always been about the cars.

The Dodge Brand has fascinated me for years; it has always done things a little differently. I even have a place in my heart for a few of the K-cars—namely the Omni GLH (Goes Like Hell). But my real love affair with Dodge began in the late 1980s, when the Portofino Concept car made its debut. It was stunning as a supercar but more stunning as a beacon of the future for Dodge.

Shortly thereafter, the Viper Concept roadster made its debut in 1991 and absolutely reoriented my priorities and erased any doubt as to which company I would want to work for as a young designer. I still have the basic optimism in my heart for this great company and feel that we are on the cusp of another great era. I am happy to be surrounded by the most functional and dedicated management team to be assembled in a long time at Chrysler Group LLC. The changes are coming and they are coming fast. We will do all that we can to bring the pride back to this company.  

I also vow to do right by Viper. We have started the 2010 model year off with a bang by beginning to show the variety of very special and ultra-low volume Vipers, culminating with the yet-to-be-announced final edition. After a brief break in 2011, we plan to keep the Viper flame alive for many years to come on the street and race tracks with projects such as our new spec racer series run by the Viper Racing League. The Dodge Viper Cup will feature the fastest spec racer in the world—the purpose-built Dodge Viper SRT10® ACR-X. We will proudly support the new ACR-X with contingency prizes and some long overdue fanfare!

All these years later, and I’m still negotiating for precious time. The difference is today I’m negotiating for a few scarce moments behind the wheel of my personal Viper. For me, it remains all about cars. So stick around—the coming year promises to be one heckuva exciting ride for the car guys and car gals of the Viper Nation!

Ralph Gilles

President and CEO, Dodge Brand

Chrysler Group LLC