Fall 2008 – Viper Road Trip

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

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.

Viper-Powered ’36 Auburn

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

This 1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster features a 2000 Dodge Viper crate motor (460 hp, 500 lb-ft of torque) that is mated with a Viper 6-speed transmission. This custom beauty was hand-built over a period of four years by Brad Videen of Cambridge, Minn., and his brother Greg.

“Special thanks to my brother Greg Videen, Stan Berg and Mike Speidel for their guidance and talented help in completing this car,” said Brad. “Greg has fabricated countless parts, was the chief technical guide, and did all of the tig and arc welding. Stan took my body work to a final finish, and Mike worked with me on multiple projects during the course of construction.”

Other Viper modifications include: Viper seats with custom leather by Venzano Automotive (Mich.); adjustable Viper pedals (narrowed), “SUPERCHARGED” factory hood emblem modified to read “VIPERCHARGED;” Viper oil cooler, 2 ½” high flow custom stainless exhaust, Viper headers; Borla mufflers and crossover pipe; Viper steering column with tilt Viper wheel; and the paint is ’96 Viper GTS Blue Pearl Metallic.

Viper Snow Plow?

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

Dan Govero, of Imperial Mo., was set to race at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan., this past March with the NARRA (formerly Viper Days); however, due to a late snow storm (6″ of snow) the event was canceled. As a result, Dan decided to plow snow with his Snake—well, not really, one of Dan’s employees thought he’d have a little fun with Photoshop.® “Since I couldn’t race, I may as well have a little laugh about it,” said Dan.

Zero-to-Delicious in Five Seconds!

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

Jeffrey Knapp takes great pride in his Viper cookies. He made his first Viper cookie over 10 years ago. “This past Christmas I purchased a 2000 Viper GTS,” said Jeffrey. “I thought it was time to thank Santa with some baked Viper Deliciousness!” I’m sure Santa was happy. The cookie looks great!

Silver State Redux

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

In the fall 2008 issue of VM, we covered Hugh Hoard’s accomplishment of being the first person to exceed 200 mph in the mile at the Silver State High Noon Shootout. Now, here’s a further update from Silver State participant, John Fuchs:

“In the last event, Bill Bagshaw and I won the 150 mph class (again), this time in a 2008 Viper SRT10® coupe, with a time variance of 0.021 seconds and an average speed of 149.9985 mph over 90 miles. In doing so, we beat 21 other cars in our class, nine of which were Corvettes. Another VCA member, David Green, took a second in the 115 mph class in a Neon SRT4,® with a time variance of 0.1267 and an average speed for 90 miles of 114.9948 mph.”

A Rare Breed?

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2009, Viper Lifestyles

John Seward of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., is justifiably proud of his black 1994 Viper RT/10. “It’s won a number of awards, including many that were Best of Show,” Seward explained.

However, his Viper may be a special breed due to an unusual interior enhancement. Seward said, “It has a black leather interior, possibly the only 1992–1994 RT/10 that does. I was told it was built for a top Chrysler exec.”

How about it? Anyone else have a 1992–1994 with black leather interior? VM would like to know.

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].

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