Tech Notes

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2010, Tech Notes

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)

Q: ?I own a 2005 Viper with 30,000 miles. I’ll be replacing the brake pads soon and I’m interested in your preference for brake pads (what brand?). Also, what pad material do you recommend for normal highway driving conditions versus severe track driving?

A: As I’ve said often, when I worked at SRT® we didn’t endorse aftermarket parts mostly because we didn’t have the time to thoroughly test them. For street driving, you can’t beat the Mopar® replacement pads. These are the same as the production parts that had all the benefits of SRT development testing. I know that the ACR development guys like the Mintex pads for track testing, so they might be worth a try if you’re spending a day at your favorite race track. The guys say they run the Mintex on the front with production pads out back for optimum balance. Since more heat is generated with the race pads, consider upgrading your brake fluid to a higher temperature rating and bleed the system more often.


Q: Recently I replaced the thermostat housing gasket in my 1995 RT/10. Normally the engine runs around 190°F. However, now it’s running at 220°F with the fan running continuously. I must have air in the system. What is the air-bleed procedure for this engine? Thanks for your help.

A: Before we talk about bleeding, you might want to check and make sure the T-stat is opening when it should. You can do this by putting it in a pot of water and heating it up until the stat opens up. Use a meat thermometer to track the temperature. Of course you have to tear the motor open to get it out so it’s a bit of a pain. The best way to bleed the early cars is to fill the system through the heater hose. Open up the heater valve and disconnect the incoming hose so you can fill the system through the heater core. The guys in our shop used to use a 5-gallon bucket sitting a few feet above the core. Start with a cold car. Don’t warm the car before you remove the hose. Let the engine idle so that the stat opens and keep filling until the air is purged. The disconnected hose can go back into the bucket so you don’t lose any coolant. I’m told that there are commercially available coolant system vacuum kits that may help with this situation. I’ve never used one but they should ?be available in most auto parts stores.


Q: I own a 2008 Viper SRT10.® The vehicle may sit as long as 7 months without being operated. Do you recommend fogging the engine? What ?is the procedure to disable the engine from starting so that I may crank the engine over without it firing up? Do you have any winterization recommendations for long-term storage of my Viper?

A: Everybody has their favorite long term storage tips. Look for an article in an upcoming issue of VIPER Magazine. To your specific questions: fogging the motor is not required for storage up to a year. Make sure that if you do it you use oil specifically designated for fogging, anything else, and you are at risk because of possible contamination of the catalysts. If you want to crank the motor over without firing, pull the Auto Shut Down (ASD) relays (2). They are located in the Power Distribution Center (PDC) under the hood. The PDC is a black box and has the fuses in it. Some other tips would include a good wax job including the wheels, complete interior wipe down using leather wipes on the seats and some kind of tire treatment for the sidewalls. Store with a full tank of fuel including stabilizer and make sure the car was nice and hot when you put it away. Leave the windows part way down, unlatch the top and leave the trunk or hatch open slightly. Put the car in sleep mode (later models only) and use a battery tender (not a trickle charger). Oh yeah, a heated garage would help as well.


Q: My 2000 GTS will not engage gears. I was driving the car and took the transmission out of gear, then it would not go back in any gear. When the engine is not started the shifter can move in any gear position but when started will no longer engage. I can put the vehicle in gear to start it (with difficulty), but there is no clutch play and the car just leaps forward. I believe the problem is the clutch because before it warmed-up the clutch was a little soft/weak, but when warmed-up, felt strong. What do you think is causing the problem?

A: Definitely sounds like clutch trouble. A couple of easy things to check: first, look for wetness or drips at the bottom of the bellhousing. If you see this, the Concentric Slave Cylinder (CSC) is leaking and may need to be replaced. Before you tear it apart though, make sure the bleeder screw on the CSC is tight and not leaking. The not so obvious would be to make sure the clutch line is routed away from the exhaust system as far as possible and has an insulation sleeve on it. Of course, make sure the reservoir has fluid and don’t be surprised if the fluid looks dark—that’s normal. Finally, the system may need to be re-bled, but you need to ask yourself how it got that way in the first place because it’s not normal.

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
 

My Toys

Written by editor on . Posted in Letters, Spring 2010

I really enjoyed the story about Mr. Elser’s garage and basement full of Viper collectibles in the Fall 2009 issue of VIPER Magazine. My garage is not that nice, but it looks cool. My toys include a 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10®, 2006 Dodge Ram SRT10 with 6-speed manual transmission and 2010 Camaro SS.


Carroll Gerrald

Arizona City, Ariz.

Nice pair of smokin’ fast SRT10s, Carroll. We’re sure you get a lot of attention driving them. Thank you for the correspondence and interest in VIPER Magazine.—Ed.

Our Little Viper Girl

This is my wife, Gloria’s, 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 with our 12-year-old great granddaughter, Tori Thatcher. Tori’s already interested in cars. She is our little Viper girl.

Art Piel

Petoskey, Mich.

Thanks for sharing the photo of your ’08 Viper and great granddaughter. Perhaps she’ll be a future Viper owner, too.—Ed.

Viper Storage Tips

Hello, I am a Viper Club member. I know years ago you did a piece about long-term (winter) storage. I have looked through my back issues (some missing) and can’t seem to find it. It had suggestions for tire pressure and such. Any chance you know what issue that was in? Thank you.

Jim Hengel

Via e-mail

You’re referring to a Viper winter storage feature article in the Winter 2007 issue of VIPER Magazine (pages 22–23) titled “Temple of Doom.” Unfortunately we’re sold out of that issue, but we’d be happy to send you a photo copy of the article. For information about VIPER Magazine back issue availability—$7.00 each while supplies last—visit www.vipermagazine.com/issues or call Viper Headquarters toll-free at (800) 998-1110.—Ed.

2010 Hot Wheels Line Includes 2008 Viper ACR

As a long time subscriber, I am always happy to see a new issue of VIPER Magazine in the mailbox. It’s even better when it features such great things as the good news about the rebirth of Viper production. I always enjoy Maurice’s updates on Viper diecast, and I did want to throw in that (if he doesn’t yet know or have a wall full of) the 2010 Hot Wheels new model line release includes a 2008 Viper ACR in red with black stripes. These are already on the pegs and in my collection now. I’m sure we’ll see some paint variants in the future, as Hot Wheels will make the most of a casting, and one this good deserves a long run. Although it’s not the newest body style, Green Lights Motor World division has released a 2003 SRT10 roadster in 1:64 (gold/black) as well as a 1:43 in black.

Thanks and continue the great work!

John D. Canfield

Via e-mail

John, thank you for sharing this information as we know it will be of interest to many of our readers.—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]

Salt Snake City

Written by editor on . Posted in Heads Up, Spring 2010

The prospects for VOI.11 looked bleak. Less than a year ago Viper was up for sale and the future of Chrysler Group LLC was clouded, to say the least. Fast forward to the present. Chrysler’s heart is beating strong after the merger with Fiat, there’s a new sheriff in charge of Dodge that just loves the Viper, and—drum roll, please—Viper Owners Invitational 11 (VOI.11) is a go, ready to blast off in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sept. 30–Oct. 3.

Unique to VOI.11 is the fact that the site was chosen by the VCA board, not the manufacturer. Criteria used by the VCA board to choose the VOI.11 venue included an inexpensive location, a location not previously visited, premier hotels with the ability to accommodate 1,200 Viper fanatics, an excellent track facility and an attractive route for the scenic cruise. The club looked at many options, including new sites such as Chicago, Denver, Seattle, before settling on the final destination. Perhaps the greatest attribute of Salt Lake is the amazing track facility, Miller Motorsports Park (MMP).

“We looked at Salt Lake City,” said National VCA President Chris Marshall. “It wasn’t high on our radar, although it’s been suggested in the past … simply because of the track facility. MMP is one of the most famous tracks in the country. I believe it’s the longest road course in the U.S. at just under four-and-a-half miles long. The gentleman who designed MMP actually said he designed it with Viper specifically in mind, which is why it has a very long straightaway and great sweepers. MMP is absolutely gorgeous, and we have the run of the entire facility for three days.”

The lineup at MMP is action-packed and impressive. Along with the always popular autocross and road course setups, attendees will have access to a full blown go-kart track as well as an off-road course. And for a special treat, Viper owners can also watch the pros compete on the MMP road course in their Viper Competition Coupes. “We have paired up with the folks from World Challenge and SCCA Pro Racing, and they will be having their final race of the season at Miller Motorsports in conjunction with VOI,” Marshall revealed.

Expect Chrysler Group LLC and Dodge to have a sizeable presence at the event. Friend of Viper and new Dodge Car Brand President and CEO, Ralph Gilles, is so dead-set on attending the Salt Lake bash that he plans to fly in to VOI on Saturday from Paris, where he’ll be attending the Paris Auto Show. “As with all VOIs, we expect Chrysler to participate and bring some interesting cars to the event,” added Marshall. “You just never know what they might bring. I’m sure we’ll get to check out a few Fiats.”

Beautiful Park City, Utah, is tentatively scheduled as the route for the scenic cruise. And as in VOIs past, a very special VCA Raffle Car will also be up for grabs. Teases Marshall: “The last raffle car of 2010 will be at VOI.”

As for those members of the Viper Nation who like their drinks a bit on the “spirited” side, feel free to imbibe without restriction. “Salt Lake has come into the mainstream to boost tourism,” said Marshall. “The liquor laws are basically the same as they are anywhere else. For those who would like to enjoy a round of drinks during the evening hours, they will definitely be able to do so any way they want.”

When it comes time to lay down their weary heads, Salt Lake boasts first-rate accommodations for Viper owners. The five-diamond Grand America numbers 775 guest rooms and suites, while sister hotel Little America, located just across the street, contains 850 rooms and 23 suites. The elegant ballroom at Grand America has more than enough size to accommodate the many Viper banquets.

With so much on tap at VOI.11, you might think registration fees will increase. Not so, says Marshall, who hopes the opposite occurs.

“Our goal is to make the event much less expensive for attendees than it has been in the past,” Marshall stated. “Our goal for this particular VOI is to have registration fees under $700.”

World-class facilities, an action-packed slate of activities and four days of fun-filled camaraderie with like-minded Viper enthusiasts, all for $700? If you’re thinking, “Where do I sign up?,” then you’re in luck. Visit www.viperclub.org for more information on the can’t miss Viper party of the year.

It’s a Cool Day in Texas and Anticipation is Killing Me.

Written by editor on . Posted in Ignition, Spring 2010

I have found an unusual gap in my schedule to fly down to Texas for the day. The goal is to sign off on the new ACR-X prototype at the now-defunct Texas World Speedway. The track is a great private venue to test cars and a favorite among racers looking for a safe, high-speed challenge. At 3 miles a lap, it is the perfect place to see what she will do. As I await my turn, I am watching our Pro driver Kuno Wittmer, a young Canadian who grew up in everything from open-wheel to touring cars. Kuno was putting down some incredible record-setting lap times in the new car. He is testing our brake-lining package and generally shaking it down. As he laps away, I am thinking to myself “What will it feel like?” “Like my car?” “Like the competition coupe I tested a couple of years ago with the bubble gum sticky tires.” “Like a Ferrari Scuderia I had the pleasure to drive last summer?” “The Enzo two summers ago?” OK, I digress …

After some routine system checks, I strap in. First thing I notice is the new Racetech seats, one sits lower in the racecar (helps lower the CG). I feel like a kid who snuck out to drive daddy’s car. Not because I can barely see over the wheel. No, it’s because I am so giddy with anticipation. I guess that’s what great cars like the Vipers are all about. Every time you strap in, you realize you’re about to have an unforgettable day. I push the familiar red start button and she comes alive with an authoritative rumble that resonates unfiltered about the uninsulated stripped-out interior. Haven’t even put it in gear yet and my heart’s already skipping away!

Slowly exiting pit lane, I immediately notice how much stiffer the suspension set-up is, as it virtually reads every ripple on the surface of the Old Texas World Speedway pit lane. After a few laps to warm up the tires, it is time to let it rip. We are running on the Ro-oval at TWS. As old and rundown as it is, it has a fantastic 3-mile long, undulating road course that has a scintillating series of high-speed corners that all link together in such a way that each previous corner can affect the speed through the next. Drivers call tracks like this rhythm tracks. The Viper in ACR-X guise feels like nothing I have ever driven. It is so unbelievably fast, yet so forgiving, stable, perfectly planted and confidence inspiring. The combination of the new super-efficient 2010 wing package and the Spec Michelin full-race slicks generate astonishing physics-defying grip. I kept pushing it lap after lap, shaving a half-second each time around. I simply could not believe the new-found limits of the ACR-X. I approach corners at speed that seemed comically precarious. Your brain is telling you that it is impossible to take this corner flat out, and the car just keeps sticking (In fact, if it wasn’t for Kuno’s lap times being 5 seconds faster than mine, I would not have believed it. For the record, I haven’t been behind the wheel of a race car in over a year … something to do with this day job!). The ACR-X feels like it is wired into your soul like an Avatar’s flying mate! After a few laps the Zone finally came on, and I was beginning to become one with the machine, looking further and further down the track and becoming used to the incredible closing speeds that I have never experienced in a car before. The limits of this car are simply otherworldly. Now I understand why it qualified among the top three out of more than 300 cars in the recent sports-car test at Sebring. The boys at SRT® have created yet another legend. To put it in perspective, the ACR-X (on less grippy tires than are now specified for the series) ran a 1:31:00 flat at Laguna Seca last fall, a full 2 seconds faster than our own world record setter—the ACR 1:33. The Viper, now nearing its 20-year anniversary, still continues to find new depths and impress.

We still have the ability to build an additional 25 ACR-Xs, if the demand should be there in the coming weeks. Even if you don’t plan to race in the series, any true track lover needs one of these in the stable! It will simply run circles around any production-based sports car I can think of. I can’t wait for the first Viper Cup race this July. It should be a blast. In the meantime, I want to thank all of our current owners and dealers who have ordered the 2010s. The entire allocation has been spoken for, and we have fired up Conner Avenue Assembly one more time to build them for you. They will be a challenge, as we have never taken on such a variety of custom builds at one time. We have collectively had to break some rules that we didn’t even know were there! But they should indeed be some very special Snakes for a very special and deserving Viper Nation. So here’s to springtime and to the last true American Supercar.

Ralph Gilles

President and CEO, Dodge Car Brand

Chrysler Group LLC

Accelerating His Life

Written by editor on . Posted in Parting Shots, Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

It’s fitting that the Winter 2010 Parting Shots column features VCA member Andrew Wheeler. The former Navy serviceman is known for shots of his own—witness his dazzling Viper pictures displayed on this page.

Wheeler recently ended 10 years of active duty serving with the United States Navy Band, Washington, D.C., also known as “The World’s Finest.” During his years of service, Wheeler performed at the White House, Pentagon, State Department, Arlington National Cemetery, and the White House Visitors Center in Washington. Audience members included Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, W. Bush and Obama. On the somber side, Wheeler also performed over 1,300 full honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery for fallen shipmates.

Wheeler, who has had his work published in automotive magazines, now focuses on photographic pursuits—which, for some reason, currently center on the Dodge Viper. Perhaps it’s because Wheeler just purchased his first Viper, a 2003 SRT10,® in March 2009 while still serving with the Navy. Wheeler quickly caught full-blown Viper fever. Unfortunately, the newbie Viper owner, still serving with the Navy, was scheduled to embark on a 30-day concert tour around the nation just two days after buying his Viper. Needless to say, the now-Snakebit Wheeler lamented leaving his new “baby.”

“Believe me, it was all I could think about the entire trip,” says Wheeler, who recently moved from D.C. to Houston, switching from the Virginia/Maryland VCA Club to the Houston VCA Club. “I had finally found a way to purchase my dream car, and then I was gone.”

The trip didn’t stop Wheeler from making modifications to his SRT10, in his words, “right out of the gate, as soon as I got on the tour bus! By the time I returned home from the tour, Alain at Modular Concepts had a set of carbon fiber-faced 19/20 wheels sitting at my front door, wrapped in a nice sticky pair of Nitto Invos.”

Wheeler also lowered his Viper with a set of Eibach springs, front and rear, and added a Corsa Cat-Back™ exhaust, which he installed in his garage, as well as a K&N intake. He also added a MGW short shift knob, a set of Lloyd’s car mats and real carbon fiber interior trim. Another new edition on the way is a carbon tonneau cover.

With his service to the country complete, Wheeler has wasted no time in documenting his new love on film (or should that be pixels?), as his amazing Viper photos illustrate. He may have found a new role as an official photographic correspondent for VM. Keep that camera clickin’, Andrew!

Vipers at the Biltmore

Written by editor on . Posted in Viper Lifestyles, Winter 2010

By John Slaughter

Vipers at the Biltmore was a great success! Special thanks to Don, Brian and Mike for all your efforts on making this event happen, to the Viper Club of Ontario for bringing your members down and making this an international event, and thanks to all those who attended and made this event so fun!

Thirty-five Vipers made the event, and over 20 actually made it to the 7 a.m. photo shoot! The event started with everyone arriving and getting to park along the wall at the far end of the field from the Biltmore (apparently some Porsche club was there and couldn’t do it because we already claimed it!). Everyone had an opportunity to check out the cars, and tour the home and surroundings. From there, we had a nice buffet lunch at the Deerpark Restaurant on the estate, and then about half the Vipers took a scenic cruise out to Lake Lure. That evening, we had another buffet for dinner offsite and many joined in for an evening social at the Inn at the Biltmore. The second day started out with the 7 a.m. photo shoot, with the group shot as well as individual cars close up at the Biltmore. That was followed by a buffet breakfast at the Inn at the Biltmore, another nice scenic cruise on the Blue Ridge Parkway and into Cherokee, N.C., followed by a final lunch.

Posing with Vooodoo

Written by editor on . Posted in Viper Lifestyles, Winter 2010

A Viper photo shoot with Maurice Q. Liang wouldn’t be complete without an accompanying young woman. Taken in November 2009, Daneen Bronson poses next to the new 2010 Dodge Viper ACR Vooodoo Edition Coupe at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, Calif. Only 20 Vooodoo models are slated for production.

Women’s Performance Driving Day

Written by editor on . Posted in Viper Lifestyles, Winter 2010

By Alex Ristanovic

How often is it that the wonderful women of the Viper world sit on the sidelines of performance driving events to support and cheer on the guys? We thought it was time to flip things around and make a day all about the ladies!

We planned a complete women’s-only performance driving event that provided a one-stop-shop for driving a Viper. It had several goals: to teach driving a stick, to get the ladies comfortable in a Viper, and to teach car control. And best of all, it was completely free and even included a free lunch! Ultimately, we figured it would get the ladies involved and they’d see what has the guys hooked … and did it ever! The day came and 25 ladies answered the call.

More than half of the participants had never driven a Viper before. For those needing to learn how to drive a stick (or at least learn on the Viper), a clinic was set up in one of the big lots we retained. One-on-one instruction was on hand to guide them through the learning process. After they were ready, they would take it to the country roads where they had a safe place to practice their shifting. It was amazing how quick everyone learned!

Running simultaneously in an adjacent lot, more advanced skills were taught. This area taught confidence and car control. By creating several separate isolated segments that the girls would drive repeatedly, it allowed everyone to learn in a safe and focused manner. The components included a skid pad, slalom and turning exercises.

Instructors were on hand for all drivers. Within just minutes, each driver began pushing the cars hard. Soon, tires began to screech, a comfort level was reached and the all too familiar grin began to appear on faces! The morning wore on and many of the girls who actually just learned to drive a stick were also beginning their car control sessions too! This was a hit, the girls were having fun and the guys loved watching it! But there was a plan to kick it to the next level …

It was time for lunch, and while everyone was eating, something was taking place in the car control lot. We used additional cones to connect all of the segments that the girls had learned and we created a huge autocross course. The girls were immediately familiar with the course and drove like champs. They couldn’t believe that it was them running a complete course like the guys. As the afternoon wore on a good percentage of the ladies were GREATLY pushing the cars and would easily beat many of our men! There was no fear and some tremendous talent here. The girls were hooked!

There was no mistaking the abilities that were developed in this small period of time. This was truly a success. The vast majority of the girls stated they will definitely do this again and have already begun signing up for autocrosses throughout the season! What a fun way to get everyone in the mix!

Let it be known, that on this day, Pandora’s box has been opened. And to the guys who have big egos, you better check them at the door. The girls are coming … and hell’s coming with ‘em!

Vipers Invade Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch

Written by editor on . Posted in Viper Lifestyles, Winter 2010

By George Farris

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, located 36 miles northwest of Amarillo, Texas, was founded in 1939 by Cal Farley, a successful Amarillo businessman, civic leader, champion athlete, and humanitarian. Since its beginning, Boys Ranch has provided thousands of boys, “A Shirttail to Hang Onto.”

Mr. Farley chartered the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Foundation in 1961. With gifts from friends and organizations, Mr. Farley invested well and created a savings account to provide for future needs while allowing the organization to meet the immediate needs of the children through annual donations. With this solid financial foundation, Cal Farley’s is able to operate independently without federal or state government support.

The children live in group homes and enjoy a variety of academic, vocational, spiritual and extra-curricular activities to help them become responsible and resilient young people. The current population at Boys Ranch ranges between 230-270 children, ages 5-18. Depending on the child’s age when accepted, he may remain for as little as one year, or as long as 15 years.

Children are accepted on the basis of need, the organization’s ability to fill that need, and the availability of space. The child must be able to function in a regular classroom setting. College scholarships and other alumni support are also available.

Boys Ranch is located where Old Tascosa stood and remains like a small town. It has housing and health facilities, a fire station, a large church and all kinds of activities for the residents. They have their own football field, baseball field, a super basketball gym and a rodeo arena. There are also several lakes on the property full of great fishing.

Tascosa was a trade, trail and cattle center. A cattle trail and mail line ran between Tascosa and Dodge City, Kan. – quite a trip! Staying true to its history, Boys Ranch has its own processing plant which helps generate revenue for the facility.

Tascosa itself has a colorful history with characters such as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson and Frenchy McCormick walking the streets. Now, Vipers and Mopars will add to that colorful history!

My first experience with Boys Ranch came about a year ago. I was at a local coffee shop when a large Boys Ranch van pulled up and unloaded about 10 teenage boys. My first thought was: “Here we go!” However, the kids came in, made their orders, loaded back on the van and were the most polite and respectful teenagers I have seen in a long time.

From that time on I wanted to do something special (thinking Vipers) for these kids. I got in touch with Lance Green, the founder of the Amarillo Area Mopar Club, and we decided to join together for a cruise to “Old Tascosa” and give the kids a show and some rides.

My contact at Boys Ranch was Danyel Parkhurst who was extremely helpful and enthusiastic in setting up the event. In July, five Vipers and four Mopars met on Amarillo’s west side and began the cruise to Boys Ranch. It was a beautiful, warm day and the scenery along the way was quite nice, although, at times it went by pretty fast.

When we arrived at Boys Ranch we were greeted by counselors Allen Wilson and Dusty Dupree plus lots of excited kids of all ages. The Vipers and Mopars were parked “car-show style” allowing the kids to get a good look and ask questions.

Finally, the real fun began as rides were given to all who showed up. Believe me, a lot showed up. The rides lasted for about two hours until the Viper and Mopar drivers yelled: “No Mas!”

We plan to make this an annual event and next year expect a lot more cars. Special thanks to Viper pilots Bunky Preston, Austin Preston, Larry Stallings and Steve Bodner and to Mopar drivers Brittany Reese, Bill Pittman, Casey Pittman and Doug Gallier.