Brothers, Bob and Brad Blain and Bob’s son, Scott, from Rochester, N.Y., are now all Viper owners. Brad always dreamed of owning a Viper. When brother, Bob, came back from a trip to Atlanta, Ga., with his newly purchased 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10, Brad had to live up to his dream. He then purchased his 1998 GTS Coupe and the brothers cruised around together. Most recently, Bob’s son, Scott, joined the Viper family with his purchase of a new 2008 SRT10® Viper. Now the three Blains enjoy driving their Vipers around town together and watching heads turn.
By Margie Yost
I would like to formally introduce you to someone you may have met at a VOI or various Viper events held by the VA/MD and PA/WV clubs. His name is Carlos Ugaz, Sr.
Carlos has been a Viper owner since 1996, when he bought a red 1994. About a year later, he began changing the look of the car with custom paint and new interiors to reflect his unique style and taste. Very few off-the-shelf customized parts were available for Vipers at that time, so Carlos designed, and in many cases created most of the parts himself.
On the interior, he has changed the instrument and door panels, consoles and seats. On the exterior he has changed the decals, replaced the exhaust, and added a unique spoiler. The finished result is an attractive, cohesive design that flows well with the Viper look and untouched components of the car.
Whenever Carlos drives his Viper, he is questioned by admirers. They never focus on one specific element, but seem to be struck by the overall package. “Can I take a picture of your car?” he is often asked. People even hold cell phones out of car windows to capture the image. This puts a smile on his face, as it would any of us.
While the cars draw a crowd today, there were lessons and challenges along the way. For example, when Carlos replaced the exhaust for his first Viper, he did not realize until the car was raised on jacks that a metal cover concealed the entire underside. He knew the removal would be a lot of work, but with determination it was finally completed—not just once but twice. The first set of exhaust pipes was too loud so he had to replace them with a specially designed pair that had a better sound.
To add to the Viper family, Carlos ventured out and bought another Viper, this time a red 2004 convertible. With ten years between the designs, the two Vipers looked quite different. And as Carlos worked on the ’04, the differences between the cars increased. Carlos modified some vehicle appliqués into snake-eye covers for the headlights. When looking at the front of the car, it looks like a snake is staring you down.
In 2008, Carlos bought his third Viper, a blue convertible. When the car was delivered to the house, he went right to work taking everything apart. The seats were still covered in plastic from the dealership. He hadn’t even driven the car yet and there it was, in pieces. With more than ten years’ experience, Carlos is a pro at Viper customization.
As with any work of art, the artist is never satisfied. Carlos continually thinks of new ideas for customizing his cars. Every weekend, he can be found at the parts shop, dropping off or picking up finished parts that he has designed.
This past July, Carlos drove the red 2004 to Carlisle, Pa., for the 2009 Carlisle All-Chrysler Nationals. A couple of days later, he was notified that his Viper won first place in the 2002–2009 Viper Coupe/Roadster category. In 2008, he took third place in the same event. For Carlos, these were fulfilling accomplishments.
As Carlos travels to club events, the question he hears most frequently is, “What have you added to your car?” Being original has always been a part of his personality. He has attended four VOI events and loves looking at the different Vipers and talking to other owners.
Two years ago, my husband and I finally talked Carlos into selling us his 1994. At least he still gets to see it. I am sure deep down he wanted to keep it. Now as a family we enjoy the regional Viper events and VOIs together. And now my husband and I are asked about the car wherever we go. I just smile and say, “My dad custom made it.”
Carlos still owns two Vipers and the only challenge for him and his wife Judy is to decide which Viper to drive that day.
By Graham Lambert
July 4 is just an ordinary date to us Englishmen, but not so in 2009 as this was the date the UK Viper Club had their 4th annual Northern Viper Run (NVR) or “Peak Raid.”
A bright sunny morning saw eight Vipers, a Ram SRT10® and a Holden Monaro congregate at a hotel on the outskirts of Mansfield ready for the 150-mile drive through the Peak District—Britain’s first National Park. Taking part in two stages over the course of the day, the driving was split equally either side of lunch. However, this was not just a leisurely drive through stunning scenery; there was a purpose to this outing—winning the NVR ‘09 Trophy for the best score in
the road quiz. Puzzles, observation, general knowledge and Viper silhouettes all had to be found somewhere on the route.
The 68-mile morning drive began near Mansfield taking us via Hardwick Hall, an Elizabethan country house and through the grounds of Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. After taking in some fabulous scenery on the western side of the Peak District, we arrived at the Three Acres Inn near the Emley Moor TV transmitter station for an excellent buffet lunch. Many thanks to Andrew and Jenny for supplying the American flag cake for Independence Day and managing not to squash it with the spirited driving!
The 70-mile afternoon drive took us through quintessentially English villages, such as Holmfirth and Glossop, attracting huge amounts of attention from young and old alike. The most dramatic part of the route took us over the famous Snake Pass at 1710 ft and through the heart of the Peak District and finally onto the Brimington Hall Hotel near Chesterfield.
For the evening, a private function room was booked for dinner and presentation of the prizes for the days road quiz. Andrew and Jenny Blackmore were once again worthy winners, regaining the trophy off yours truly! Afterwards a few beers and well earned sleep ready for the Sunday drive to the Muscle & Crab pub where Bruce and Alison once again put on a superb lunch for everyone.
This fantastic weekend could not have happened without the dedication and organizational skills of Mich and Suzie Simcox, for which we are all very grateful and look forward to NVR ’10!
Fast cars and photography are two of Illinois Viper Club member Mike Caplan’s favorite hobbies. So it’s only fitting
that he’s found a way to merge those passions. Mike, who is also a TV weatherman at the ABC station in Chicago, recently started a side business showcasing some of his images at www.caplanstudios.com. “These awesome cars are beautiful on their own, but when you’ve got a gorgeous wife and two other supermodels-in-training eager to pose, the combination is jaw-dropping,” Mike notes. “I think these images of Laura, Tera and Jen show off our ’05 Copperhead and my buddy Steve Loudin’s ’08 Viper Bright Blue Pearl coupe in a way I know I won’t soon forget!”
I love receiving VIPER Magazine. Over the years VM has featured many stories and photos of some awesome Viper garages. The last issue was even dedicated to this subject. While some of those garages are indeed impressive, I think we can all agree that ANY garage that is home to a Viper is an awesome garage. I am enclosing a photo of my garage, along with a photo of my license plate. The fact that my garage is on a Delaware beach is its strongest attribute.
We agree. Any garage that has a Viper in it rules! And, you’ve got a garage on the water, and there is no substitute for that! Thank you for the kind thoughts regarding VM and for sending the photos.—Ed.
Viper Production Results
I’ve subscribed to VIPER Magazine for five years now and really enjoy reading and examining the year-end production results for each model year. These articles generally contain the number of each color produced and of each model. Where can I obtain this information for the 2000–2002 model years? Thank you.
Matthew, exterior color production totals for 2000–2002 Dodge Vipers are below. The information is from the Viper Registry at www.theviperregistry.com/build.php. A good resource for more information is at http://forums.viperclub.org/srt-engineering-q-area.—Ed.
Lunga vita Viper? That’s Italian for long live the Viper.
Thank you Chrysler Group LLC for keeping Dodge Viper in production. Grazie a tu Fiat S.p.A. executives for your decision to keep Viper in the immediate family. After all, Viper is Chrysler Group’s crown jewel and the epitome of SRT® performance vehicles.
Was it happenstance that the Viper was the first car to be put back into production under the new Chrysler Group LLC? Of course not. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Viper was symbolic of the re-emerging company. We were proud to see Conner Avenue Assembly leading the charge back into action!
Now that the Viper faithful can breathe a little easier, it’s exciting to think about what the future could bring under Fiat S.p.A. leadership. Imagine what could happen when the brain trusts of Ferrari and Maserati have a chance to mix with Viper performance engineers. Yes, the sparks will fly and yes, something American-Italian could be very tasty on tomorrow’s menu.
Speaking of something tasty, have you had a chance to purchase your VCA raffle tickets?
If not, you’ll want to act immediately by the Friday, October 16 deadline. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own #99 of 100 GTS-R cars Dodge built in 1998. Number 99 is extra special because it was specially hand-crafted for former Chrysler President Bob Lutz. And if owning #99 isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, you can fill up on conversation over dinner with the man himself. Dinner with Bob Lutz is part of the package and many would say that alone is worth the price of a raffle ticket. For details on how to purchase tickets and the other prizes turn to page 37.
By the way, did you have time to participate in any Viper club outings or events this past summer? We hope so because that’s what owning a Viper is all about. If you were somehow cheated this summer, make it a point to go on a fall outing with your VCA friends and family. It’s a great time of year to enjoy a spectacular ride taking in the fall colors. We at VIPER Magazine would love to report on some of your scenic travels and fun you had with your Viper friends in our next issue.
President, J.R. Thompson Company
Publisher of VIPER Magazine
It’s no secret in the Viper Nation that VCA members give their all in support of a long list of charitable causes. However, the entire world got a recent glimpse of the giving side of Viper owners, thanks to the efforts of Central California President Jerry DeYoung and his wife, Paula. The DeYoungs, through their third-generation construction company, DeYoung Properties, joined the Emmy award-winning, hit reality show, ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to build a new, quality-constructed DeYoung home in just seven days for one deserving family in Fresno, Calif. The episode aired on March 8.
Mary Ann Riojas and her family were understandably surprised when Ty Pennington, team leader of “Extreme Makeover,” accompanied by his design team, knocked on their front door in early January and announced their home was chosen to be drastically revamped. The DeYoung Properties team went to work right away, tasked with overseeing construction on the intense, one-week build while maintaining the highest standards of quality craftsmanship, design, earth-friendly features and energy-efficiency in creating a dream home for the Riojas clan. All labor and materials for the makeover were donated by the DeYoungs and their trade partners.
DeYoung Properties was chosen as the builder for the “Extreme” project in large part because of their 30-year tradition of giving back to their Central California community. DeYoung Properties supports local schools, non-profits and community groups, in addition to its neighborhood building activities. The company donated two homes to benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2007 and 2008 and will donate a third home in 2009.
“DeYoung Properties’ unwavering passion for their community was clear,” said Conrad Ricketts, executive producer of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” “We are looking for ‘Heroes in the Community’ and both the family and DeYoung Properties are wonderful representations of our theme this season.”
“We were honored to have been asked to be the builder for this extraordinary project to help change one family’s life forever,” said Jerry DeYoung, president of DeYoung Properties.
“What a way to begin a new year!” chimed in Paula DeYoung, executive vice president of DeYoung Properties. “To be asked to build a safe, quality-crafted home for one deserving family in one week with all labor and material donated, is the Super Bowl of home building, so we were honored to say yes.”
Gateway Region’s Mark Eidelman purchased this little Viper for his nephews Ryan and Tyler pictured with their father, Ken Foster. “I wanted to start Ryan and Tyler out right with their enjoyment of fine cars,” said Mark. “They are enamored with the Viper’s MP3 player and radio. They love the quick acceleration and torque of the Viper and especially its ability to run over and smash flowers and bushes in their garden.”
Here’s a snapshot we unearthed from the VM photo archives. A sunny day at the drag strip always brings a smile to one’s face—even for a Dodge Viper!
By Nancy Ann Friend
In October, my husband Larry and I took our annual fall road trip with our two Vipers. We traversed eight states in seven days. We both love to drive our Vipers, so consequently, the 2000 miles did not seem extensive. The first site we visited was Brown County, Ind. After a day and a half there we moved onto the great Smokey Mountains. At the Biltmore Mansion in N.C. the security guards were very accommodating and allowed us to park in front of the mansion for a picture or two. They then led us to our own private parking spots.
That night at the hotel it started to drizzle and while we were unloading our luggage the driver’s door on my Viper would not close. It was late and we both knew repair shops would not be open. We couldn’t keep the door open all night in the rain. Fearing that we would break the door if we pushed too hard, we decided to call our Dodge dealer, Roanoke Motors in Ill. It was late there, but as usual, John Gastman answered his phone and was there to help us. He assured us that this had happened before and that the piece in the hinge would break before the door would. Larry pushed until the door closed. This is not the first time we have sought the help from Roanoke Motors. We are fortunate to have such an accommodating dealer.
The next day was rainy and we didn’t expect to see much. While in Tennessee my Viper veered right, but luckily it happened at an exit ramp. I had trouble controlling the Viper until I arrived at Bristol Motor Speedway. Being huge NASCAR fans we just had to tour as much of the track and museum as we could and it proved to be an unexpected highlight of our trip.
Another thrill was crossing the Appalachian Mountains in W.V. and Ohio using only the back roads. All day our Snakes slithered their way around sharp curves, switchbacks and steep grades. We really put our Vipers through their paces thus testing the legendary handling of these cars.