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.”