X Decode Development of the ACR-X Engine

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story by Roger Meiners

Dick Winkles of Dodge Viper engine engineering gave us the inside scoop on the new Viper ACR-X engine—how it got the extra 40 horsepower. It was more than just a hot-rod job.

The first batch of engines, twenty-five in all, was built on the line at Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, with a few significant changes for racing.

First, engineering eliminated the A/C compressor and the A/C unit from the car for weight and engine cooling considerations, which required a new, shorter serpentine belt. The Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) system was also eliminated. This was a late change because the ACR-X’s high braking and cornering forces with slicks upset the system.

“It was next to impossible to control the oil pullover. So we ended up getting rid of the PCV and moving the breather. We have two breather hoses that are high and centered in the covers,” said Winkles.

Next, engineering substituted a forged piston for the cast piston while compression ratio remained at 10.2:1. “We worked very hard to get a forged piston that worked as well as the production-cast piston. We tried several of the aftermarket pistons, and they were down 20 horsepower from where we were (with the production cast piston) at the same compression ratio. We worked with Mahle, who is our production supplier. They had a forged piston that they offered for this engine, but it was a fairly old design, and it, too, was down a significant amount from their cast piston. We worked with them to come up with a more modern design, and it’s only down slightly from the stock-cast piston, which is pretty good. So we were willing to accept that slight loss of power in exchange for the strength that we would get under severe race conditions. It was a lengthy process to get what we wanted.”

“We were going to port the intake, too,” said Winkles, “but it would have been expensive, and we really didn’t need to do it, so we left it stock. The car is already very, very fast—640 horsepower is probably enough!”

These are the only differences from the production engine as they are built at Conner, according to Winkles.

The other big difference in the ACR-X is exhaust headers. The Viper team added 5-into-1 American Racing headers. They are a new supplier. Winkles explained, “Our first thought was to go with the tried and true tri-Y system, but we found that the 5-into-1 configuration outperformed it across the engine speed range. They were lower cost, and we got on-time delivery—an all-around better product for our customers.”

Catalysts and downstream O2 sensors were removed. Winkles estimated that change netted 20 horsepower while the headers and a revised engine fuel and ?spark calibration accounted for the other 20 horsepower gained over the production ?600 horses.

The engine calibration was also customized specifically for race track use. One of the major items was desensitizing certain OBD (On Board Diagnostic) monitors for racing. For example, Chrysler Group LLC has a system that senses the throttle opening and the brake pedal state. If the driver is on both pedals at the same time, depending on the engine speed and airflow, the system will give the driver a certain amount of time in that condition and then limits the engine torque and speed to prevent a possible run-away condition. “We had been running the stock OBD calibration on the car for some time, and it was fine,” said Winkles, “but when we tested at Texas World Speedway with Kuno Wittmer driving, we experienced a problem. At that particular track, he was doing a little more left-foot braking, so a couple of times he came by the pits and radioed in that the car was just ‘laying down, it won’t run.’ We would tell him to come in and then he’d radio back that it’s ?OK now (because the system times back out and gives you another shot). So this went on for a couple of laps, and we finally told him to come in anyway. We checked the data logger, and a throttle pedal/brake pedal rationality fault was showing up. We looked at the data and saw that he was left-foot braking while still on the gas for just a little more time that the system allowed. There are going to be some tracks where some drivers do that, so we opened that monitor up a little [the time allowed before shut down].”

Winkles also revised a few more parameters—the misfire monitor. “It’s more sensitive than it needs to be for a race car so we desensitized that,” he said. In the end, quite a number of OBD monitors were adjusted, actually. “It’s really kind of a race calibration that goes into the car,” said Winkles. It took a lot of time. The engineers did five test sessions: California (Laguna Seca), Florida (Palm Beach and Sebring), and Texas (Texas World and Texas Motorsports Ranch). And it took right to the end to get everything the way Winkles wanted.

All engines were run on the dynamometer so that the owners could take the cars right to the track with no worries. After run-in, engines were sealed—valve covers, intake, oil pan and front cover. Technicians also analyzed oil samples from each engine to verify that there were no issues.

The entire process took from early October 2009—when Ralph Gilles gave the go-ahead for the project—through the time of the unveiling at Laguna Seca in November 2009, and development continued until the Texas tests in late February and early March 2010. This was a very fast program, for a very fast car.

Twenty-five more engines are scheduled for the end of the model run.

Viper Exhibit at Walter P. Chrysler Museum

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story by Maurice Q. Liang

See Viper history in 3D this summer

at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in

Auburn Hills, Mich. The Museum is

pulling several milestone Vipers out

of their vault to create a special Viper

exhibit; Born to Race: Dodge Viper

Racing Heritage. The Vipers the Museum

is exhibiting include:

  • 1989 Viper Concept Car
  • ?

  • 1991 Viper RT/10
  • ?

  • 1996 Viper GTS C
  • ?

  • 1997 Viper Le Mans Winner C-7
  • ?

  • 1998 Viper GT-2
  • ?

  • 2000 Viper GTS/R Concept
  • ?

  • 2000 Viper GTS/R
  • ?

This is the first time in the museum’s history that all these Vipers will be on exhibit at the same time. Each vehicle is displayed with a historical timeline and highlight signs detailing each vehicle. The stars of the show are several versions of the Dodge Viper GTS/R, which was introduced in 1996. A total of 57 of these elite vehicles were manufactured over the next eight years.

Because the Dodge brand was not sold in Europe, the GTS/R was badged as a Chrysler.  Versions raced in the United States were listed as Dodge Vipers. The cars went on to win many prestigious motorsports events throughout the world.

While Chrysler ended its official backing in 2001, the GTS/R continued racing well into 2007 with much success. According to the Museum, “The Dodge Viper GTS/R will go down as one of the most successful factory-backed racing vehicles in history.”

If you’re in the Detroit area this summer, be sure to stop by the Museum and check out this special exhibit. The exhibit will run through Sept. 5. For information about the museum, visit www.wpchryslermuseum.org.

Tech Notes

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

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)

Q: ?In the Fall 2009 issue of VIPER Magazine, on page 17, there is an article about a 67 mm BBK throttle body for 2003–2006 Viper engines (62 mm being the factory size). Have you had ?any experience with this throttle body? Is the horsepower increase of “10 hp on average” plausible?

A: I have had no experience with the BBK product. As mentioned earlier, we never had time to rigorously test aftermarket parts. I discussed this product with my SRT® engine expert and he was skeptical about the horsepower increase.


Q: I have an extremely well-maintained 2000 GTS Steel Gray with silver stripes. Recently I decided to feature it in the World of Wheels Show, so I had it spruced up even more. I took the vehicle to a body shop to have my lower front bumper touched up and the rest of the car polished and buffed. The next morning I went to pick it up and the engine was knocking like hell. The shop owner had no idea what had happened—so he says! I took the car into a local Dodge dealer where they pulled the pan and found a broken piston, bent rod and maybe two more bad cylinders. Needless to say, everyone is in agreement that someone drove or over-revved the hell out of my engine. I contacted several companies and everyone agrees with this conclusion. I took the matter to my insurance company to battle for me, as I pay enough for the damn insurance. I informed them that the car is always well-maintained, never in the rain and I don’t race it—that type of damage can only be caused by abuse. Perhaps some kid at the body shop ruined the engine; as I don’t believe the owner who I gave the keys to would perform a buffing and polishing job himself. Do you feel this type of engine damage is most likely caused from abuse and/or negligence, and not a maintenance issue? Would an engine oil analysis shed light on how the engine was running long before the body shop arrival (as long as the engine oil was in the crankcase for a required mileage for the analysis test)? Please offer your insights on this subject. Thank you very much!

A: Certainly a grim situation to say the least. The damage you describe is typical of abuse. Since you mention that the car is well-maintained, I’ll assume the oil level was at the full mark, lending further evidence supporting abuse. The oil is probably contaminated with metallic debris, but if it were analyzed it might show that it was in basically good shape with its additive package intact—further evidence supporting your theory.


Q: I have a question regarding my 2008 Viper odometer. I recently took the vehicle to my Pennsylvania Inspection Station and repair garage—the odometer read 857 miles on delivery—when I picked up my Viper the odometer read 339,957 miles. The only other service they provided, other than vehicle inspection, was to add two key fobs. Any thoughts on what happened here?

A: It’s difficult to say what might have happened without knowing exactly what the inspection station did during their checks. If they connected some kind of diagnostic equipment to the car it might have triggered some kind of reaction that led to the odometer problem. I would say it’s a long shot but with electronics, you never know.


Q: I own a 1994 Viper and I am having trouble with it overheating. We have replaced the coolant and water in the radiator, and bled the system from the heater tap; however, the vehicle still throws water/coolant out of the expansion tank. Do you have any ideas as to what this problem may be? Any information would be great.

A: The first thing I’d try is refilling the system. You need to fill the system through the heater core but the engine has to be fully warmed up so the thermostat is open. Don’t forget to relieve the system pressure before you pull any hoses. If you still have trouble, the radiator may need to be pulled and professionally flushed.


Q: Why is rainwater an issue for Vipers and other collector cars? Even the new Hurst edition Viper that was featured in VIPER Magazine’s fall 2009 issue notes that the car left the show in a hurry, “… as a thunderstorm forced its early exit …” Is it perhaps impurities in the rain? Not necessarily acid rain, but something otherwise damaging? In other words, what’s worse about a rain shower compared to a car wash in the driveway with tap water from a garden hose? I don’t drink either one these days but I’m having trouble understanding why a rainy day would be any worse than a gentle car wash?

A: There is no problem with your Viper’s paint/finish and the rain—rainwater poses no problem. When cleaning the exterior, use good quality car soap along with your tap water (softened if possible) and you should be fine. Regarding the Hurst Viper story, I was there at Carlisle when that car along with many others left before the storm. The weather report had severe thunderstorm warnings up with the threat of hail probable. That’s what got everyone moving, the sky looked awful. Shortly thereafter it poured.

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
 

Venom Club

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Thanks to these VCA members who have provided the club with additional financial support through their Venom memberships. Members are listed by their identification number which also depicts seniority with the Venom Club (largest number being the newest member). For more information on a Venom membership, call Viper Headquarters at (800) 998-1110 or e-mail [email protected]

To view the Vemon Club VCA members download the following pdf.

VCA Members Venom Membership – PDF

The Warrior Lives

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story and Photos by Maurice Q. Liang

The bright red #51 Viper GTS/R thundered around the track at Infineon Raceway, re-living its days of glory. Ten years ago, this car dominated the tracks around the world as the #91 car at American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races and the #51 car at FIA races, winning the GTS class at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans in France and 12 hours of Sebring. It was part of a 3-car factory-backed team in 2000, fielded by Team ORECA. This car posted ten class victories, two second-place finishes and one fourth-place finish, winning the 2000 ALMS GTS championship along with the driver’s and factory championships as well. The car also posted class wins against Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche in the international FIA series.

After Dodge ended their Viper racing program, the #51 Viper was sold off to a race team in the UK, which continued to campaign the car at various FIA and ALMS races for a few more years. After that, it was sold to a private owner in France, who had it restored to #91 ALMS livery. A few years ago, the car was sent to California to be sold, but when there didn’t seem to be any interest, it was almost returned to France. That’s when current owner, Victor Preisler came to the rescue.

Victor Preisler loves race cars, especially ones with significant race history. He’s owned the Sebring and Daytona-winning 1962 Gulf Oil Corvette, a 1960 Corvette Sebring winner, and a 1957 Ferrari that won at Nassau, Bahamas. Victor tells us, “My friend Richard Freshman, historian and proprietor of Fossil Motorsports Inc., was at a consignment dealer inspecting a Ferrari for another client and noticed the GTS/R nearby. He was told that the Viper belonged to a European friend of the dealer and had been sent here to be sold. Since there was no significant interest in the car, it was going to be sent back the next day. Richard quickly called me, and after we confirmed the history of the car, and arranged for an inspection, I flew up the next day and bought it.”

The GTS/R was in its red-with-white-stripes #91 ALMS livery at the time, but Vic chose to restore it back to its Le Mans-winning livery, adding, “In my opinion, in the race car world, the most important worldwide race is Le Mans. It was a no-brainer to change it to that livery.” But even though only a few years had passed since it was racing at Le Mans, restoring a ?car to original race specifications is difficult, with its many one-off parts. But fate smiled upon Vic when Richard contacted Terry Scarborough of TSR Enterprises for the inspection and discovered that Florent Boisseau, a former 2000 ORECA team member was a current employee. Florent was intimately familiar with this car. Victor recalls, “When Florent first saw it, it was like seeing a long lost brother to him. He was very excited, and still is, every time he sees it!”

Florent was extremely excited to lead the restoration team to bring back his long lost brother to race-ready glory again. Florent proved to be extremely resourceful with his connections at ORECA, securing many New Old Stock parts necessary for the project. Florent recalls, “We found the original race seat. They don’t make it anymore, but one ?of the ORECA guys was using it for his PlayStation® video game seat. Vic was able to purchase that seat from him.” Florent also points out how they had to change the third brake light back from a rectangular light to the original Viper GTS Sneaky Pete light. Florent continues, “The windshield is unique for the race cars. If you look closely, you’ll see a defroster grid. That’s not something you can just order from Chrysler.” Inside the car, the Motec electronics are all there. Tucked inside the door is a track map, a list of emergency phone numbers, and a vintage cell phone, like they used when they raced. “With some of the big tracks, we had to have a cell phone just in case the car got in trouble and the driver had to call for help,” says Florent.

The original Viper engine was rebuilt to 24-hour race-ready specifications, including the original restrictor plates that were levied against the car when it proved to be too fast. Even with these restrictor plates, Viper was still able to beat Corvette that year, when the C5R debuted.

It’s gratifying to know that this historically-significant Viper is in the hands of a certified car-nut caretaker. Like most of us, Vic has been a car nut most of his life. Vic, President of a wholesale sporting goods company, laughs when he says, “I’ve been a car nut ever since I saw my first muscle car during my freshman year in high school. I own or have owned a lot of different cars, from Ferrari to Maserati, to Porsches and Corvettes, mostly from the ‘60s and ‘70s.” But the GTS/R is his first Viper. Vic says, “The next Viper in my garage will probably be an ACR!”

Vic had planned to run his GTS/R in some vintage events, but due to a back injury, he has put those plans on hold. So for now, he has been showing the GTS/R at concours events like The Quail in Carmel, and Avila Beach. Vic explains, “I am going to continue to display it at appropriate venues for all to see. I would love to drive it on the track someday, provided I heal up soon.”

The GTS/R’s exhaust echoed off the walls of Infineon Raceway as Florent took his old friend for some laps. Perhaps for the first time, I could hear the singular voice of the Viper GTS/R, not mixed in with a choir of other cars racing. Its voice was still strong. The warrior lives.

Last Viper Down the Line

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story by Roger Meiners

The last Dodge Viper came down the line at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant (CAAP) at noon on July 1. It goes to Viper collector extraordinaire D’Ann Rauh, of Arp, Texas. D’Ann was covered in the Fall 2009 issue of VIPER Magazine. We reported that she and her husband, Wayne, owned 29 Vipers—with two more on the way. At that time she was asked when their collecting might end, and D’Ann said, “I don’t know. When they stop building them.”

She didn’t know at that time, but the end was coming—and it’s here now. D’Ann now owns the last current-generation Dodge Viper, a Gold and Copper SRT10® coupe that came down the line at Conner Avenue July 1, 2010.

This spectacular car has been covered in House of Kolor paint by Prefix, of Rochester Hills, Mich., and features Gleaming Gold with Coppertone stripes bordered with Black Onyx metallic finish.

The stripes were designed by Mark Trostle of Chrysler Design. Trostle, with fellow Chrysler designers Jeff Aneiros and Scott Krugger laid out the stripes on the car. Bob Soroka, an SRT® designer, airbrushed the Coppertone stripes with a unique “snakeskin” detail laid out by Chrysler engineer Karl Schuneman on his home computer graphics equipment. This “snakeskin” detail is actually ten race track maps that figure in Viper history, including Daytona, Le Mans, Sebring, the Nurburgring, Laguna Seca, Nelson Ledges, Road America, Texas Motorsports Ranch, Gingerman and Blackhawk Farms. Readers are invited to study the airbrush work and identify the tracks.

Venzano Interiors of Waterford, Mich., draped the entire interior with ultra-quality tan and black hides—and a custom-stitched Viper logo on the rear bulkhead.

This car just might be the jewel in D’Ann and Wayne’s fabulous collection!

To view the entire article download the following pdf.

Last Viper Down the Line – PDF

To download the centerfold of The Dodge Viper Production Team as the last Gen IV 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10® rolls off the line at CAAP on July 1, 2010 in Detroit, Mich.

Last Viper Down the Line Centerfold – PDF

Liang’s Viperlair

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

By Darren Jacobs

Quick: Create a mental picture of Northern California VCA president Maurice Liang’s garage. Most likely you imagined something along these lines: A cavernous cathedral, roomy enough to accommodate both the ultimate Viper fanatic’s Snakes and his legendary treasure trove of Viper memorabilia; ultra-rare Viper collectibles cover every inch of wall space along the vast, warehouse-like edifice; Maurice sleeps peacefully near his beloved Snakes, clad in his Sneaky Pete pjs.

No doubt this would be a common assumption in the Viper community concerning the car crib of one of the founding fathers of the VCA, an acclaimed Viper author with another book in the works—in short, a man whose picture should be listed in the dictionary under “Viper nut.” But the reality, as is often the case with preconceived notions, is far different. In fact, Liang’s garage is a fairly reserved affair, an understated Viper domicile adorned with a few carefully chosen Viper baubles.

What’s the reason for the conventional quality of Liang’s garage? Frankly, it’s because when he first purchased his home Liang was still your normal, run-of-the-mill car enthusiast. His Viper obsession was blossoming, but had yet to fully bloom.

“Like most car nuts, when I first bought the house I didn’t have a Viper yet,” recalls Liang. “The goal was to find a house that would have a good garage for the Viper. I looked for about eight months to find a house that had more than a typical two- or three-car garage.”

Liang finally found a house that met his specifications, located in Los Altos, Calif., near San Francisco, with a four-car garage and a huge driveway. He purchased his home in January 1993 and began remodeling the garage for a “baby” that would arrive in June of that same year—a 1993 red Viper Roadster. Like any proud papa, Liang made the room ready for his new “child,” painting the garage grey so his Viper would be set off nicely and adding red striping on the walls to tie into the red Roadster.

Years passed. Liang’s Viper collection grew, as did his legend as a Viper buff and his gigantic collection of Viper memorabilia. Joining the 1993 Roadster (“I have long-term relationships with my cars,” says Liang) in his garage now is a 1996 GTS coupe with blue-and-white stripes, a 2008 Snakeskin Green SRT10® Coupe and a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8.®

“It’s not a ‘Garage Mahal.’ It’s a normal garage that’s been decorated,” says Liang. “Time goes by and you collect more stuff and more cars and you run out of space. I got Snake bit. I thought I was going to have one Viper and that was it. Then you get bitten and the next thing you know you want the Coupe because it’s different from the Roadster and it just keeps going.

“There’s a whole lot more Viper memorabilia I have—I could fill a warehouse. My envy is somebody like a Jerry DeYoung or a Michael von Quilich. When I look at the garages of those guys, I think, ‘I would like to have that some day.’ My garage is doing the best you have with ‘normal’ resources.”

Liang recently built a second overflow garage to accommodate other cars in his collection and additional motorsports toys, such as snowmobiles and dunebuggies. He stores his famed Viperabilia collection in a Viper “shrine room” in his house, although much remains packed away in boxes (Perhaps not for long—Liang is working with the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. on an exhibit of his Viper memorabilia later this year).

Once infected with the Viper bug, it’s usually for life. Thus, it’s no surprise that Maurice has his eye on expanding the size of the garage at casa de Liang.
“My goal is to someday build a larger garage where I can have all my collectibles displayed,” Liang says. “It would be great to have a personal mini-museum. I would like to have the dream garage, and that’s why I have a lot of the stuff I have, so I can one day exhibit it all. My original goal was to have a second story on the garage with a clubhouse displaying my Viper memorabilia, with a Plexiglas floor so you could look at all the cars below. The problem, as is the case with many communities, is building restrictions, so it’s been a little tough.”

A little thing like building restrictions won’t stop a Viper lover like Liang for long. He’s already consulted an architect who has proposed plans for expansion that might seem a bit outlandish, until you factor in the magnitude of Liang’s passion for the Snake. Ideas on the table include taking the garage underground, sideways—or even into the house itself, with a driveway that leads all the way into Maurice’s living room! Don’t think he’ll do it? Then you don’t know Maurice.

“This guy is a very creative architect. I like his ideas a lot,” Liang raves. “It’s just a question of money and time, and going through the permit process. Bob Lutz said at the very beginning when the Viper first came out, ‘Vipers are for people who spend a disproportionate amount of their disposable income on cars.’ And that’s true. Cars are what are important to me. I’m not saying that’s the right priority. The problem is I’m not married, so no one’s telling me to do otherwise.”

Here’s a little tidbit: When Maurice first purchased his home, he was married. The wife is gone. The Vipers stayed. With that in mind, a home with a Viper in the living room is perhaps the most apropos of housing arrangements for the most diehard of Viper devotees. After all, home is where your heart is—and Maurice’s heart is definitely with the Dodge Viper.

Poster Hisssstory

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

By Roger Meiners

The poster spread across this page is a unique statement of Dodge Viper history (or is it HISSSSTORY?), told in its images. Chrysler published a great series of posters chronicling the proud record of Viper racing worldwide during the years of Chrysler’s direct factory support for Viper race teams. We resurrected a few of these works of art for your enjoyment in these pages. These are becoming collectors’ items now, and will continue to be so as time goes on, especially since we are now witnessing the end of Viper production—at least for now.

Poster collecting is and has always been an integral part of the car sport. Some of the older examples of automotive posters can cost well into the thousands of dollars.

To go with the posters, here is a compilation of Viper racing milestones during the era of Chrysler factory support:

Dodge Viper Racing Timeline


1995

  • January: Viper GTS/R racing program approved. Neil Hanneman appointed to direct the program.
  • August: First Viper GTS/R ready for testing. Built at Jeep® and Truck Engineering.
  • Viper GTS/R is officially unveiled at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, Laguna Seca Raceway, Calif. Hanneman demonstrates the car on the track.
  • November: Testing at Charlotte, N.C.


1996

    Viper finishes seventh in class and 29th overall at the 24 hours of Daytona in January.

  • Hannemann departs and Dick Meyers takes over as program director.
  • Team ORECA announces they will run a limited schedule with a GTS/R in the GT-1 class in Europe and the BPR Global Series in Asia as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • Canaska Southwinds will also run a limited schedule in the GTS-1 class in the North American IMSA GT Championship. The team finishes 29th at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12th at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
  • A Viper Coupe paces the Indianapolis 500.


1997

  • Viper takes the pole in GT2 at Le Mans and leads the race by as much as five laps after five hours. Leading by seven laps at dawn before electrical problems result in a 14th place finish.
  • Team ORECA finishes 12th at the 24 Hours of Daytona racing in the IMSA GT Series. ORECA also runs in Europe in the FIA GT Championship Series. Moving to the GT-2 class, the Vipers win seven of 11 races on their way to the series championship.
  • Chamberlain Engineering campaigns a GTS/R.
  • Team Taisan races a Viper in the All Japan Grand Touring Car Championship.

1998

    The ORECA team continues its domination in FIA GT racing by winning 9 of the 10 races during the season including a first in class win at Le Mans finishing eleventh overall. This is the second year in a row that the team wins the FIA GT championship.

  • Oftedahl Motorsports races a Viper GTS/R and takes six class wins in the British GT Championship, including an overall win at Silverstone.

1999

    Meyers departs and Dick Winkles takes over as program director.

  • A Viper wins the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
  • Team ORECA wins the class championship in the American Le Mans Series and wins nine of 10 races in the FIA GT series to capture the championship.
  • Chamberlain Engineering is second in the FIA GT championship.
  • Vipers place 1st through 6th in the GTS Class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with ORECA winning the class.
  • Paul Belmondo’s Viper team earns two victories in the FFSA GT Championship series.
  • 1st in the German Championship – Team Zakspeed.

2000

    Team ORECA wins the 24 Hours of Daytona and goes on to win 10 races and the championship in the American Le Mans series.

  • ORECA takes third straight class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • 1st in the French Championship – Team DDO.
  • st in the 24 Hours of Zolder – Team GLPK.
  • Team Belmondo Racing earns 2nd in the team class of the FIA Championship.
  • Team Carsport Holland wins 3rd in the driver’s championship of FIA.

2001

    Factory backing of Viper racing ends after significant work was done designing a new race car based on the new 2003 Viper.

Dodge Viper Cup

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

Story and Photos by Roger Meiners

The First Races

Twelve Dodge Viper SRT10® ACR-Xs made Viper racing history at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) as the 2010 Dodge Viper Cup series kicked off with ?two exciting races July 10–11, 2010.

?The weather was sunny, hot and humid—ranging into the mid nineties on Saturday, and a few degrees cooler on Sunday—but who cared! This was exciting stuff, the debut of the ACR-X and its soon-to-be signature standing start. What would happen when nearly eight thousand horsepower was unleashed on the ?starting line for a multi-car drag race to Turn One? NHRA Four-Wide couldn’t be much more exciting.

Twelve Dodge Viper ACR-X racers—including two celebrity guest-driven cars—coiled themselves around the scenic 21-turn course for two-and-a-half days to kick off the 2010 Dodge Viper Cup. Connie Bogan, Reno, Nev.; Larry Carter, Evans, Ga.; Jeff Courtney, Jackson, Wis.; Eric Galerne, Houston, Texas; Ted Hughes, Seward, Neb.; Ben Keating, Port Lavaca, Texas; Jim Stout, Alliance, Ohio; Michael von Quilich, Pahrump, Nev.; Keith Verges, Dallas, Texas (Brad Gorrondona’s car); and Ryan Schimsk, a young hot shoe from Dallas, Texas (Cody Whitehead’s X-snake).

The two celebrity guests were Shaun Bailey, Associate Engineering Editor, Road & Track Magazine, and Army National Guard Reserve Sergeant Michael Kohn, an Olympic Bronze Medal Winner in bobsled at the 2002 Salt Lake, Utah, Winter Games.

According to Dodge Racing, two celebrity drivers will be invited to each race weekend. Their prize money will be donated to the charity of their choice. Each celebrity driver is trained by Cindi Lux, who recently campaigned a Mopar®-Sponsored Dodge Viper Competition Coupe in the SCCA World Challenge.

National Guard Reserve Sergeant Kohn explained how he got involved: “It started with a phone call from Cindi inviting me to compete in the opening race at VIR. I had never been at VIR or in an ACR-X and have little experience racing cars, but who could turn down an opportunity like this? I thought, ‘go for it.’ I had no idea I would have as much fun as I did. Cindi and her crew welcomed me and started working right away on getting me comfortable in the car. I can’t say enough about Dodge, Cindi and the rest of the team. They are hard-working professionals—and how can you not laugh at Fred’s (Fred Lux’s) jokes? There’s nothing better than spending time with my bobsled team on the road and winning races. The same for the ACR-X team—there is such a great amount of mutual respect among everybody affiliated with Dodge and all the teams—it was incredible. All truly believe in the Dodge brand, but most importantly the Dodge Viper ACR-X.”

The 2010 Dodge Viper Cup series consists of two races per weekend for five weekends, including the two races at VIR. Drivers are racing not only for glory and a nice trophy, but also for real money. Dodge is paying out $6,500 in cash to the winner and Mopar is throwing in a $1,000 voucher. The payout goes down to fifth place, and the rest of the top ten get a $500 discount on entry fees. Not only ?that, but the series champion gets $25,000, second-place will receive $10,000 and third-place will pay $5,000. The money should put a dent in the budget required to run the series.

If you want to join in the action—get a Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR-X. Dodge has ?built an additional 25 units, bringing the total of 2010 Viper ACR-X models to 50. ?For more information, call Viper Race Headquarters at (888) 960-3333 or visit www.viperheadquarters.com.


Race One

Ben Keating Wins Historic First Dodge Viper Cup Race

Saturday, July 10, 2010, Alton, Va.—Ben Keating won the first-ever Dodge Viper Cup race today, the first of two races at the inaugural Dodge Viper Cup weekend event, held at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).

Keating led from pole position and was never headed in his Dodge Viper ACR-X, finishing less than a second ahead of Jeff Courtney, who started next to him on the front row. All competitors were in the new ACR-X Vipers, introduced earlier this year by Dodge.

“I felt extreme pressure from Courtney throughout the race,” said Keating. “I did not have the fastest car. My crew built a cushion into our setup, so we would not have any trouble passing tech inspection.” Nevertheless he had the second-fastest lap of the race, just a few hundredths quicker than Courtney’s best. Keating averaged 99.848 mph for the race.

Third place finisher Ryan Schimsk and fourth place Keith Verges had the drives of the race. Each started at the back of the grid because of missteps in their Vipers’ ride-height settings, but shrugged off the penalties at the start—Schimsk passing three cars with a daring wheels-off move. They proceeded to carve through the field, Schimsk setting the fastest lap on the way, before settling just behind Keating and Courtney at the head of the pack.

“I really drove hard to fight my way through the field, and I didn’t save my tires, so I had nothing left when I caught up with the leaders,” said Schimsk.

“VIR is my favorite track,” said Keating. “The facility is awesome. The upper esses at over 100 mph followed by an awesome, blind, downhill turn on the way to Oak Tree … then, one of the longest straights on any road course into a blind, hilltop turn … it just doesn’t get any better than that. 160+ mph is just cool.

“I can’t remember my nerves ever being that frazzled all weekend,” he said. “I wanted it BAD, and my Friday testing was a disaster. My fastest time on Friday was a 2:09, which was extremely off-pace.  I had a lot of work to do and some risks to take. We made some major setup changes and had some success on Saturday morning.

“We all ran a clean race. I had Jeff right behind me for the whole race, and the two guys that had to start at the back worked their way up to 3rd and 4th. If we went another 10 laps, I think the race would have gotten much more interesting.

“The Viper ACR-X is an amazing track car. The first amazing thing is just how quickly the car gets around the track. My fastest lap around VIR in my World Challenge Spec Viper Comp Coupe is a 1:59.5. I was 4.5 seconds faster in my ?ACR-X—and 4.5 seconds per lap is an eternity. The second amazing thing is that this car is basically no different than the street cars sitting in the showroom at ViperExchange.com. This car deserves a lot of credit.”


Race Two

Ryan Schimsk Wins Dodge Viper Cup Race 2 at VIR

Sunday, July 11, 2010, Alton, Va.—Ryan Schimsk won Dodge Viper Cup Race 2 during the inaugural Dodge Viper Cup weekend at Virginia International (VIR).

Schimsk blasted from pole position to a convincing lead by the end of the second lap. He was never challenged, finishing four seconds clear of Keating. Keith Verges made a lightning-quick start from third on the grid, jumping ahead of Keating, but lost time when he went wide in turn two and dropped to fifth. He was quickly back in third behind Keating, where he remained to the end of the race.

“I got a really good start but went too deep into turn two and had to go wide into the marbles. Ben (Keating) and two others got by before I could collect the car and go on,” said Verges. “I got back behind Keating, but couldn’t do more than that.” He finished two seconds back in third place.

“Keith (Verges) got way in front and all I could do is get close and hope,” said Keating. His hopes were rewarded soon after when Verges went wide and had to slow, letting him by into second where he finished.

Guest driver Sergeant Mike Kohn reviewed his progress through the two races, “Unfortunately we didn’t win the race but I got more comfortable with the car and the track every time we went out. My best lap in the first couple sessions was 2:18 and my best lap on the last day was 2:00. I was in awe of the horsepower, the stability and grip in the corners and I could really feel the down force over 100 mph. It was great to have Cindi on the radio keeping me focused and getting tips from my teammates Jeff Courtney and Shaun Bailey. Is that an all-star squad or what? Now I understand why Cindi kept saying how special the Viper is when driving. I want an ACR-X so badly now! Maybe I can ask for one as a wedding present from my fiancée. The Army National Guard sponsored me in this event. This was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I would like to thank Dodge, Lux Performance and the National Guard for this opportunity. Now it’s time to put some Viper drivers in a bobsled with me.” 

 

Partying with a Purpose

Written by editor on . Posted in Summer 2010

By Darren Jacobs


To those whom much is given, much is required, and VCA members have a LOT for which to be thankful. They cruise the streets in a car that reduces grown men and women to drooling mush and belong to a car club that creates iron-clad bonds that last a lifetime. So, yeah, when it comes to giving back, the VCA is definitely not shy. Case in point: The VCA Ohio.

The Ohio Region’s holiday bash, held on March 13 in the Transportation Museum at Carillon Park in Dayton, Ohio, demonstrated that the Ohio VCA chapter knows how to seriously par-tay. Approximately 100-plus VCA Ohio and IN/KY Region members raised the roof, along with Viper VIPs such as Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, Dodge Brand; Viper gurus Dick Winkles and Herb Helbig; and VCA National President Chris Marshall. But amid the merrymaking the Club made sure to carve out precious time to raise valuable funds for those in need.

Ralph and Doris Gilles brought along items to auction to support the American
Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund, including a set of three GTS-R watercolor lithograph prints, signed in the plate by GTS-R co-designer Bob Hubbach, and a commemorative gift set from the 1996 Viper GTS pace car at the Indy 500. In addition, PartsRack’s JonB donated a banner of Ralph Gilles’ Vooodoo Viper. Winning bidders were Jim and Kathy Stout (GTS-R prints), Bill White, VCA Ohio vice president (pace car commemorative set), and Paul Suloff, VCA Ohio Drag Racing Director (Vooodoo Viper Banner).

VCA members and Viper vendors also donated items to auction to help fund the costs of the holiday party. Contributors included the Viper Club of America, Goodyear Tires, Corsa Exhaust, Viper Days, Optima Batteries, PartsRack, Viper Parts of America, Coastal Pet Products Racing Team, ESSCO (Sam Goldfarb), Bosserman Aviation, Arena Dodge, Dick Winkles, Herb Helbig, Chris Marshall, and Jim Stout.

The charity auction was just one way in which the Ohio VCA Region assists those less fortunate. The Club is in its third year of a Charity Show ‘n’ Shine at Golling’s Arena Dodge in Dayton, Ohio.

“Our Show ‘n’ Shine at Arena Dodge benefits the AIDS Resource Center [ARC] Ohio,” said Randall Arnold, VCA Ohio president, who founded the popular charity event. “We’ve had a great turnout, with many Club members bringing out their Vipers to help support this worthwhile cause.”

The Club has raised more than $2,400 for the ARC, a non-profit, community-based organization whose mission is to provide services to those infected, affected and at risk of HIV/AIDS. Last year, the ARC awarded the VCA Ohio its Red Ribbon Society Award for the Club’s hard work in raising funds for the organization.

“My feeling is that we are very fortunate that we can afford cars like this and do the things that we do,” said Arnold. “There are a lot of less fortunate people out there that can use our help.”

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