Life-Changing Issues

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

By Darren Jacobs

It’s funny, sometimes, the way inspiration can strike. Earl Kessler had hit rock bottom in 1996. In rehab for alcohol abuse, he was looking for something, anything, to kill time, to distract him from the urge to take a drink. A magazine in the rehab facility, probably left behind by a visitor as an afterthought, caught Kessler’s eye—the Summer 1996 issue of VIPER Magazine, featuring the Dodge Viper GTS Coupe on the cover. In that moment, Kessler’s life was changed for the better forever.

Kessler marveled at the cover. It became a motivational tool he employed to survive his stay in rehab. “I had never seen a Viper Coupe before,” recalls Kessler. “I read that magazine every chance I could during my stay. On my last day I made a deal with myself that if I could stay sober for ten years, I would buy myself a Viper Coupe.

“The Viper absolutely helped me pull through. It gave me lots of hope and something for which to look forward. I looked forward to buying a Viper, and I would never have found out about it if it hadn’t been for the magazine.”

Kessler is very fortunate to have many friends and family that encouraged him on the road to recovery, “My family and friends were there for me when I needed them,” Kessler emphasized. “I would not be where I am today without their support.”

The early years of sobriety weren’t easy on Kessler. “The first two years were the hardest, since I had to completely change my lifestyle,” he says. “I just stayed focused, even when the Viper Coupe was retired in 2002.”

Four years later, in 2006, Kessler celebrated his 10th year of sobriety. Lo and behold, what should appear on the cover of the Winter 2006 issue of VIPER Magazine, but a homage to the 1996 cover which inspired Kessler, featuring the exact same layout but this time highlighting the new 2006 Viper SRT10® Coupe. Coincidence? We think not—after all, twelve-step programs do emphasize the need to submit to a Higher Power!

“I couldn’t believe it,” recounts Kessler. “It was like it was meant to be. There was ?no way I couldn’t buy a Viper now.” He wasted little time, purchasing his Viper in 2006. He stills owns the 2006 SRT10 twin turbo coupe. “I just keep making it meaner,” says Kessler. “I had RSI double then triple the horsepower; now it’s at 1500 hp. It’s sweet.”

The 46-year-old contractor remains sober today. “I feel very grateful that I was able to make it,” says a thankful Kessler. “I’m a hard-working person. I stay busy and have fun with my car and family on the weekends. I’ll come home really tired and sore from working all day, and all I have to do is peek in that garage and I’m feeling better.”

As with all VCA members, Kessler receives a free subscription to VIPER Magazine with his Club membership. He also pays for a second subscription out of his own pocket, and leaves each issue at different businesses he visits, hoping to pass on his muse to others.

“When I go to my AA meetings, or I’m at the county offices pulling permits, all the different areas I visit, I leave a VIPER Magazine behind,” says Kessler. “It definitely changed my life when I read that magazine, so I like to share it if I can. Who knows what’s going on in people’s lives? Maybe it will have the same effect it had on me.”

My Viper Experience

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

By Don Firth

My wife, Eunice and I both own Vipers. We actively participate in South Florida Viper Club activities and drive on the tracks at Sebring, Homestead and Palm Beach, Fla.

Here are photos of Eunice and myself at the Biltmore during a Viper Tennessee rally, our two Vipers and two members of our office staff posing with our newest Viper.
I purchased my silver Viper in 2005. I went to an auto showroom to buy a Ferrari and drove away in a Viper—never regretting the switch in plans. A few months later I added a supercharger from Doug Levin Motorsports, which boosted the power to almost 800 hp. I participated in annual track events at Sebring with Skip Thomas and Danny Archer as well as HookedOnDriving, FARA, ERME and Chin.

In 2008, Eunice drove my Viper at Sebring and Homestead tracks. As she started as a novice, we were in two classes and were able to slip-seat my Viper for these events. Then in 2009, she advanced to the same class that I was driving. The only solution was to get a second Viper.

Eunice had glimpsed the Snakeskin Green Viper one evening, a year earlier, and decided that was the car for her. I went online in May 2009 to find that there were only two such cars available in the USA. One was 1,500 miles away; the second was 20 miles away. She bought it sight unseen from University Dodge in Fort Lauderdale. This was the only Snakeskin Green produced with the black stripes, spoiler and splitter. After only 7 months, she already has 10,000 miles on the clock.

We enjoy the Viper experience, which includes day-to-day driving, track events and even drag racing. However, the best experience is the new friends we have made during the Viper Club events.

My Three Vipers

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

By Dr. Rich Andria

I bought my first Viper, a red 2008 SRT10® coupe, in August 2007 and it was delivered May 1, 2008, in Connecticut. Because I was retiring in December 2008, I shipped it to my new home in Naples, Fla.

As you are aware, Vipers “grow on you” and, with two more spaces in my Viper garage to fill, I bought my second Viper in September 2009, a yellow 2002 GTS. This Viper has some interesting upgrades: a Cat-Back™ exhaust, SRT® wheels, built in radar detector system with sensors in the grille (and at the rear) and a killer sound system including a subwoofer, equalizers, a huge power capacitor and three amplifiers putting out 1,700 watts of power!

So much excitement owning these two killer cars made me upgrade my VCA membership to Venom. However, I still had an empty garage slot to fill, so when I saw a red 2002 Viper GTS Final Edition online (#162) with only 196 miles on the clock, well, what is a Viper lover supposed to do? I purchased this Viper also; and now my three Viper slots are filled. The GTS Final Edition, shown with my wife Terry, has ceramic brakes with slotted drilled discs, roaring Cat-Back exhaust system and straight tubes installed.

Exceeded Our Expectations

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

Here’s the 1-of-1—2009 Viper SRT10® ACR VOI.10 VCA Raffle Car—with Virginia and me in front of our Viper garage mahal we built in Pahrump, Nev. Thanks to everyone at The Viper Club of America, Chrysler, CAAP, Prefix and Woodhouse Dodge who worked hard to make the 1-of-1 a truly special Viper—a beautiful vehicle that exceeded our expectations!

—Michael von Quilich

New Viper Owners

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

Debbie Ruckert purchased this 2006 Dodge Viper for her husband Dave’s birthday. Several Viper owners and John Gastman at Roanoke Motor Co. Inc. assisted her in the buying process—she was extremely grateful for the help. “Thanks to the many Viper owners and John for all the time everyone took in helping us—including sharing your experiences and knowledge about Vipers,” explained Ruckert. “We’re both looking forward to upcoming Viper outings.”

Unique Works of Art

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

As with many regions, the VCA Northern California Region awards members who have contributed to the club during the past year. This year, President Maurice Q. Liang commissioned Daneen Bronson to custom paint award plaques. The snakeskin pattern is slightly different on each award, making them unique works of art.

Viper, Police Turn Heads at Huntington Beach

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

By Darrell Igelmund

When my wife Linda and I joined other Washington State Viper Club members driving to Detroit for VOI.10, we never realized that major trips would become an annual affair. Last summer it was the coast highway, all the way from Seattle to LA. We took our time and had an absolute blast. Perfect weather, winding roads and daily vistas of the Pacific Ocean we will never forget.

The photo shows the Viper posing at the destination—the famous Huntington Beach (Calif.) International Surfing Museum (“Home of surfing!”). We blocked the sidewalk with the Viper to get the best angle when two policemen came around the corner. After a few minutes of discussion we found that they liked Vipers also … and were more than happy to add to the fun.
For the next few days we bathed in car heaven. Only a few blocks from the Pacific Coast Highway, we saw about every style and price of car you would ever hope to see—Aston Martins, Jaguars, a Hummer with 60” TVs framed in the back windows, and hot rods of all types. And you know what? The Viper was the biggest head-turner of them all!

Set Your Own Records!

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2010

Story by Maurice Q. Liang

Taking a look at Viper ACRs in miniature form

Now you can experience the thrill of racing a Viper ACR in miniature form with these latest Viper toys. Whether it’s the wicked wing or the distinctive paint job, the ACR has caught the attention of toy manufacturers and spawned a renewed interest in Viper toys. Since the real ACR is a driver’s car, it seems only fitting that most of these miniature versions are action toys, rather than detailed static models.

Fastlane’s Remote Control Viper

Drive your own ACR with this large, 1/18 scale (about a foot long) remote control car made by Fastlane (large model shown on page 39). The remote control is a unique “scroll and go” control, rather than the usual trigger and steering wheel. The plastic toy is well-proportioned for a remote control car, though it’s certainly not attempting to offer the detail of a diecast model. It’s available for $45 at Toys ‘R Us.

NKOK’S Pocket Rocket

Want something more affordable? Try NKOK’s 1/64 scale Viper ACR remote control cars. These rechargeable pocket rockets are small enough to fit in your pocket, but offer you full remote control functionality. Typically, they sell for around $20 on These remote control cars come in the introductory red with black hood and red driver’s stripe, or GTS blue with black hood. Despite being a plastic toy, it has fairly accurate proportions, as it sits at the front of the row of ACRs beside the track.

Hot Wheels

Remember when you used to play with Hot Wheels cars on that signature orange track, rather than keep them boxed up in mint condition? Well, you still can! A buck will get you a Hot Wheels ACR in one of two paint schemes (so far), the introductory red with black hood and red driver’s stripe or white with black hood and red driver’s stripe (both versions shown sitting on the track in the picture). At the time of this writing, the white version is more rare and hard-to-find than the red version. Though the paint scheme is not exactly accurate (the roof, decklid and front bumper should also be black), these toys are a great giveaway at car shows to Viper fans young and old.

Johnny Lightning

If you’re willing to spend a little more (as in $3), Johnny Lightning offers the ACR in the same 1/64 scale, but with a more realistic look. This diecast model features an opening hood with “detailed” engine inside. Thus far, the Johnny Lightning version comes in three color schemes: the classic red with black hood and red driver’s stripe, all-black with a red driver’s stripe or white with a black hood and red driver’s stripe, shown beside the track in the photo. Johnny Lightning also offers the standard 2008 Viper coupe in several colors in this scale. All are available at Target and Toys ‘R Us.

The Ultimate Viper Model

This could be the ultimate Viper model. It’s certainly the biggest! The 1/4 scale model is huge, resembling a wind tunnel test model that car manufacturers use. Accurately modeled by former Saleen designer Alan Eggly and his partner “Big Joe” Randazzo, it’s made out of fiberglass and can be painted and detailed to match YOUR Viper (or your DREAM Viper) using the same paint that the real cars are painted with. Right now, it’s only available in Viper SRT10® coupe and Viper SRT10 ACR form, though if there’s enough demand, High-Performance Furniture will consider modeling the older Vipers. Don’t have a shelf or display case big enough to house such a large model? High-Performance Furniture also offers a matching coffee table made from glass and carbon fiber to act as a display case, or you can order a ?half-model mounted on a carbon fiber plaque, so you can hang it on the wall. Photos ?don’t do this model justice. Around 40 inches long, the sheer size is impressive in person. Prices start at $999 for the wall-mount model, $1699 for the model by itself, and $1999 for the model with the coffee table. Just like the real car, optional equipment like the ACR wing, stripes and black wheels are additional cost. If you’ve been searching for the ultimate gift for the Viperholic in your family, this is it! Available from

Flying Off the Shelves

These ACR toys are popular, so often, they disappear off the shelves quickly. As with most Viper toys, they likely won’t be made for very long, at least not in the current paint schemes, so if you want them, get them now and save yourself the headache of searching for them later, when they’re even harder to find! The real ACR is likely to be one of the most rare and coveted Vipers of all time, and these toys will be just as rare and collectible!

Maurice Q. Liang is co-founder of the Viper Club ?of America, author of the ?Viper Buyer’s Guide, and an ?avid collector of “Viperabilia.” ?He can be reached at [email protected]

Plenty of Viper Racing Action on Tap Worldwide in 2010

Written by editor on . Posted in Spring 2010

By Roger Meiners

The distinctive bellow of the Dodge Viper will be heard again across the land and around the world this year. The new Dodge Viper ACR-X makes its historic competition debut in the inaugural Viper Cup as the Dodge Viper, Viper ACR and the Viper Competition Coupe will be well represented worldwide during the season. Outside the U.S., the Viper goes against Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Lotus for supercar supremacy.

Here’s the list of racing events for 2010.

Dodge Viper Cup by NARRA

The newly developed Dodge Viper Cup spec series and the new Dodge Viper SRT10® ACR-X are made for each other—literally. Dodge created the Viper Cup specifically as THE place for X-cars to play. The series will be sanctioned by the existing Viper Racing League. Each vehicle in the new series must be the new Viper ACR-X. The first race is not until July 2010, to give racers time to prepare.

Two races per weekend for five weekends will make up the 10-race 2010 Dodge Viper Cup schedule, to be televised on the Versus cable network. The series dates include July 9–11 at Virginia International Raceway; August 14–15 at Hallett Raceway; September 11–12 at Pocono Raceway; October 1–3 at Miller Motorsports Park and October 22–24 at Daytona International Speedway.

A contingency program sponsored by Dodge Motorsports and Mopar® will pay out more than $200,000 during 2010. Payouts for each race are in cash and Mopar vouchers come as credit toward purchase of Mopar parts and accessories. Additional cash awards will be made to the top-3 finishers in the Dodge Viper Cup. The 2010 champion will win $25,000, second-place will receive $10,000 and third-place will pay $5,000.

Viper Days by NARRA

Viper Days is the premier venue for Viper driver education and racing instruction. Viper Racing League is the grass roots club racing and education program, designed to feature the Viper marque and reach out to Viper owners to teach them safe driving skills.

Viper Days, and the Viper Racing League, are venues available to Dodge Viper owners for advanced driver training and competition. Viper Days is “[D]edicated to properly teaching people how to drive a sports car with such an incredible amount of torque and horsepower,” according to the Viper Days Web site. The Viper Racing League was created “to answer an increasing demand from drivers who wanted to compete in a wheel-to-wheel amateur road racing series,” says the Web site.

SPEED World Challenge GT Series

The World Challenge Championships, consisting of three separate categories—GT, where Viper competes, GTS and Touring Car. World Challenge is America’s top production car-based series, according to the Sports Car Club of America.

SCCA SPEED World Challenge events, to be telecast on the Versus network in 90-minute programs, feature standing starts and the world’s most popular manufacturers racing head-to-head. SCCA SPEED World Challenge competition was born in the mid-1980s with the SCCA Endurance Championship, transforming into the World Challenge in 1990.

World Challenge veteran Jason Daskalos of New Mexico and rookie Canadian Fred Roberts have formed a two-car team to compete in the 2010 World Challenge. Daskalos will be in his third year in a Viper Competition Coupe. Roberts is eligible to be Rookie of the Year this season, since he has only run three races in the series over the last two years. He was Rookie of the Year in the Viper Racing League (VRL). Daskalos is also a veteran VRL driver—winning the stock class championship in that venue. Both drivers started their racing careers in the VRL.

Australian GT

Australian GT, the premier sportscar category in Australia, plays host to Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Viper, racing door to door on some of the world’s greatest circuits. The Dodge Viper GT3 ranks include Rob Sherrard, Greg Crick, Ross Lilley, Ian Palmer and John Briggs—all in Viper Competition Coupes. The season kicks off at Adelaide the weekend of March 11–14, 2010, followed by events at five other tracks in Australia.

Brazilian GT3 Championship

An eight-race series including Dodge Vipers running against Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Ford GT and Corvette. At least five Vipers will compete in 2010.

British GT3 Championship

The Avon Tyres British GT championship showcases the most prestigious and stylish sportscar grid of any national motorsport Championship, according to its Web site. The 2010 season will have an eight-date, 14-race, calendar featuring a season-closing “into the night” race at Donington Park and a two-hour race on the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone. There will also be a return to the world-famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this year.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship race winners Craig Wilkins and Aaron Scott are set to return to the series in 2010 with their mighty GT3 Viper Competition Coupe—rebuilt from the ground up by a new team of technicians—and they have outright championship success as their target.

Wilkins and Scott were title contenders last season right down to the wire and netted memorable race victories at Spa-Francorchamps and Knockhill, plus a further five podium finishes. Their season might have turned out very differently but for mechanical dramas in a couple of races.

SCCA Club Racing

The Viper, Viper ACR and the Viper Competition Coupe are all eligible for competition in SCCA Club Racing. Since 1944, SCCA has put on road racing events nationwide. From National Championships to regional events, whether professional or amateur, the club organizes, supports and develops auto racing at every level and provides an outlet for the Viper owner to get out of the armchair and into the action. So, whether your passion is autocrossing, rallying or road racing as a professional or as a weekend warrior, SCCA will help you fuel your passion.
See the SCCA organizational map at to find your local SCCA region. Call the regional representatives to get involved.

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