The Dodge Viper has captured the hearts and imaginations of sports car enthusiasts around the world. In fact, since the Viper concept debuted in 1989, the Viper has created more buzz and generated more interest than exotic sports cars that cost five times as much.

With engaging editorial and striking visual appeal, VIPER Magazine makes for the kind of high-energy reading that Viper owners and enthusiasts clamor for.


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Vipers take to the air

An Oregon car show like no other

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SRT Party

The SRT division debuts in Los Angeles

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Houston VCA at AutoRama

Major car show done Texas Style

Vipers Invade Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch

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

By George Farris

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, located 36 miles northwest of Amarillo, Texas, was founded in 1939 by Cal Farley, a successful Amarillo businessman, civic leader, champion athlete, and humanitarian. Since its beginning, Boys Ranch has provided thousands of boys, “A Shirttail to Hang Onto.”

Mr. Farley chartered the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch Foundation in 1961. With gifts from friends and organizations, Mr. Farley invested well and created a savings account to provide for future needs while allowing the organization to meet the immediate needs of the children through annual donations. With this solid financial foundation, Cal Farley’s is able to operate independently without federal or state government support.

The children live in group homes and enjoy a variety of academic, vocational, spiritual and extra-curricular activities to help them become responsible and resilient young people. The current population at Boys Ranch ranges between 230-270 children, ages 5-18. Depending on the child’s age when accepted, he may remain for as little as one year, or as long as 15 years.

Children are accepted on the basis of need, the organization’s ability to fill that need, and the availability of space. The child must be able to function in a regular classroom setting. College scholarships and other alumni support are also available.

Boys Ranch is located where Old Tascosa stood and remains like a small town. It has housing and health facilities, a fire station, a large church and all kinds of activities for the residents. They have their own football field, baseball field, a super basketball gym and a rodeo arena. There are also several lakes on the property full of great fishing.

Tascosa was a trade, trail and cattle center. A cattle trail and mail line ran between Tascosa and Dodge City, Kan. – quite a trip! Staying true to its history, Boys Ranch has its own processing plant which helps generate revenue for the facility.

Tascosa itself has a colorful history with characters such as Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson and Frenchy McCormick walking the streets. Now, Vipers and Mopars will add to that colorful history!

My first experience with Boys Ranch came about a year ago. I was at a local coffee shop when a large Boys Ranch van pulled up and unloaded about 10 teenage boys. My first thought was: “Here we go!” However, the kids came in, made their orders, loaded back on the van and were the most polite and respectful teenagers I have seen in a long time.

From that time on I wanted to do something special (thinking Vipers) for these kids. I got in touch with Lance Green, the founder of the Amarillo Area Mopar Club, and we decided to join together for a cruise to “Old Tascosa” and give the kids a show and some rides.

My contact at Boys Ranch was Danyel Parkhurst who was extremely helpful and enthusiastic in setting up the event. In July, five Vipers and four Mopars met on Amarillo’s west side and began the cruise to Boys Ranch. It was a beautiful, warm day and the scenery along the way was quite nice, although, at times it went by pretty fast.

When we arrived at Boys Ranch we were greeted by counselors Allen Wilson and Dusty Dupree plus lots of excited kids of all ages. The Vipers and Mopars were parked “car-show style” allowing the kids to get a good look and ask questions.

Finally, the real fun began as rides were given to all who showed up. Believe me, a lot showed up. The rides lasted for about two hours until the Viper and Mopar drivers yelled: “No Mas!”

We plan to make this an annual event and next year expect a lot more cars. Special thanks to Viper pilots Bunky Preston, Austin Preston, Larry Stallings and Steve Bodner and to Mopar drivers Brittany Reese, Bill Pittman, Casey Pittman and Doug Gallier.

Model Poses with Viper GTS

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

VCA Northern California member Randy Fox’s 2001 GTS was photographed with Amber Sparks during a model workshop in August at the Need 2 Speed Complex in Redding, Calif. The 28-year-old graduate student is currently finishing a double Master’s Degree in Communications and Business. Fox is owner of Blvd Body Shop Inc. in Redding, Calif. “This particular photo shoot was a workshop for new models and I was invited as an experienced model to help instruct the beginners on posing techniques and other aspects of modeling,” Sparks explained. “I had a lot of fun and ended up with some great photographs with Mr. Fox’s Viper. Since I am a huge Viper fan it made my day more memorable.”

A Viper Wedding

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

Long time Viper owners may remember Frank Vaughn, Launch Manager at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant (Home of the Viper) during the GTS introduction. Frank recently married his bride, Jeannie. Being a true Viperholic, both of his Vipers attended the wedding as well, a yellow ‘95 RT/10 roadster and his red with white stripes ‘02 Final Edition GTS. We wish Frank and Jeannie many happy miles of Vipering!

We did it Again!

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

Viper Club Nordic Vice President Martin Czernik and his wife Malin recently returned from Nepal and Everest Base Camp in the Himalayas. “We did not beat the altitude at Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro (19,331 ft. – 5892m) but the Viper flag was with us all the way to 17,585 ft. (5360m),” reports Czernik. “And, I’m happy we did it again.”

Farewell, Friend

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

Saturday, October 17, 2009, presented a picture-perfect day for a Formula DRIFT (FD) event. Sunny skies, warm temperatures and a packed crowd made for a perfect setting at the 2009 FD season finale at “The House of Drift,” Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. However, a dark shadow clouded the bright festivities: the absence of Shaun Carlson, team owner of Samuel Hübinette’s Mopar-powered NuFormz Racing Dodge Viper SRT10® drift car.

Carlson, 35, and a Viper Nation favorite, passed away suddenly on Oct. 4. The longtime member of Team Mopar® had recently been diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome, a genetic disease characterized by an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system that can cause a potentially fatal arrhythmia.

Carlson enjoyed amazing success as owner of a Mopar-sponsored Dodge Viper in the growing motorsport of drifting, a precision driving sport in which drivers compete in head-to-head tandem runs ?and are judged on speed, line and angle.

?As owner of NuFormz Racing, Carlson maintained the Mopar Dodge Viper Competition Coupe Hübinette steered to ?the inaugural FD championship in 2004. Carlson worked closely that year with Nevada VCA President Marko Radosavljevic, who owned the Viper Comp Coupe in which Hübinette competed.

An Ontario, Calif., native, Carlson both owned and tuned the Mopar Dodge Viper SRT10 Hübinette drove to the 2006 FD championship. Carlson and Hübinette teamed for FD series runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2008 and nine FD event wins during their partnership—a series high. Through the years, the pair enjoyed a large following from the Viper Club of America. Crowds of Viper owners turned out to numerous FD events to support the team, including an annual Dodge Viper car corral at the FD event in Sonoma, Calif. (see sidebar).

“He was so helpful when we worked together in 2004. He had so much patience,” said Radosavljevic of Carlson, who was acknowledged as a trailblazing engine builder and fabricator in the sport compact and drifting worlds. Carlson also competed for Team Mopar in the NHRA Sport Compact Series and NHRA Pro Stock series. “I knew Shaun for so long, going back to 2000–2001, when he was drag racing sport compact cars. The Formula DRIFT titles Sam and Shaun captured together were very special to the Viper Nation. We stayed in touch quite a bit over the years, so his passing was a huge shock, a huge surprise. He’ll really be missed by the VCA.”

Despite their grief, Hübinette and the Mopar-powered NuFormz Racing team decided to soldier on in memory of their beloved leader with a poignant tribute at the Irwindale season-ender. Hübinette’s Dodge Viper SRT10 was wrapped with special “red Camo” graphics, donated by Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Competition Graphics, featuring an image of Carlson with his trademark Mohawk haircut. The beloved and respected racing icon and innovator was also saluted with a moment of silence and a special FD video tribute prior to the Irwindale main event.

The NuFormz team and Hübinette did Carlson proud, qualifying in the ninth spot and drawing Frederic Aasbo in the Round of 32. Hübinette defeated Aasbo and moved on to the Top 16 main event in a close race with the FD newcomer. He then faced the formidable Joon Maeng in the Top 16. Hübinette followed on the first tandem run, bringing the crowd to its feet as he stuck his Mopar-powered Viper to Maeng’s door. Hübinette led on an evenly matched second tandem run with Maeng, prompting the FD judges to call for a “One More Time” (OMT). Hübinette came away with the win in the OMT after Maeng made a correction during the first run, prompting a passionate celebration from Carlson’s family and friends, who turned out in large numbers to witness the event.

Unfortunately, the team’s luck ran out in the Great 8 round, losing a close battle to Tyler McQuarrie. Despite the loss, Hübinette and the NuFormz team took special comfort in their fourth-place finish in the final standings. During Hübinette and Carlson’s partnership, the duo never finished worse than fifth in the final FD season standings since the series was formed in 2004.

“It was a good ending to the season for us,” said Hübinette. “We lost our team owner and friend, Shaun Carlson. Formula DRIFT did a great video tribute to him. I think it was really cool and I know his family was very pleased.
“We had some close battles in the Top 32 and Top 16, and I felt we got some extra strength from Shaun above. We wanted to win for him, and I’m bummed we didn’t, but we made the Great 8, which I think is remarkable given all the things the team has been through. I’m so proud of the NuFormz team, and I know Shaun would have been, too.”

“Shaun Carlson meant the world to me and this team,” said Scott Stanwood, NuFormz Racing crew chief. “We nicknamed him ‘Dad’ because he looked over us; he was our mentor. He was so iconic to the drifting and sport compact racing worlds, you can’t even put words to it. Shaun would have never wanted us to miss a race. We pushed ahead and made a good representation of the team. We gave Shaun a front-row seat with this paint scheme, is how I see it.”

No doubt “Dad” was once again looking over his NuFormz team, this time from a perch high above the drift course. Carlson’s legacy is that of a remarkable record of motorsports accomplishments that entertained and brought joy to Dodge Viper fans, and racing fans in general, for many years. Those memories and milestones will live on forever—as will the memory of Shaun Carlson.


Prior to Carlson’s tragic passing, the Northern California VCA hosted its annual car corral at the Formula Drift event at Sonoma, Calif., in September. NorCal VCA member Rocky Angen was treated to a ride-along in Samuel Hübinette’s Dodge Viper SRT10. Angen termed the experience “bitchin’.” The Angens brought their motor home for the club to use as a hospitality suite at their perch above the staging area. Terri Angen provided easy-ups for shade, rented chairs, and brought lunch and beverages for everyone. The colorful Vipers drew plenty of attention from the crowds.

Hübinette and his lovely wife Stina stopped by the corral for a visit. Samuel signed autographs while Stina sold copies of Samuel’s new DVD, “Drift Ya Later.” Samuel adopted that catchphrase from the Angen’s deceased son Brian’s phrase, “Race Ya Later,” as a way to keep Brian’s memory alive.
Samuel owns his own drift-ready Dodge Viper SRT10 and intends to compete in the FD Series in 2010. NuFormz Racing also counts a Mopar-powered drift Viper among its stable, so one way or another, it’s a good bet a Viper will drift in 2010 at Sonoma, with the NorCal VCA there to provide vocal support once more!

20 Years and Still Counting

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Roger Meiners

From left to right: Peg Sjoberg (Roy’s Wife and General Manager), Jean Buchesky (Dave’s Wife), Mike Stephens, Dave Sweitlek, Pete Gladysz (eyes closed) and in front of Pete is his wife Judy (purple sweater). Next to Judy is Dick Winkles in the open jacket. Over Dick’s shoulder is Ben Swears (not original Team Viper, but now with SRT). Above Dick is Bill Adams looking to the left. In the original Team Viper hat is Dave ‘Bo’ Buchesky. In the black boatneck sweater is Lydia Fleming. Next to Lydia is Mike Cipponeri’s wife, Diane, holding baby. Above the baby and holding a beer is Ray Schilling. Bearded smile next to Ray is Joe Gall, and in the blue shirt is Charlie Brown III. That handsome bald guy is Ken Nowak with Mark Vermeersch next. Dr. Helen Cost is in front of Nowak, and Brian Shea is in front of Helen. Jim Sayen sitting in the black shirt. Ira Fisher is in his ’96 Indy 500 Pace Car shirt. Mike Cipponeri in the black Viper sweater above Ira. Roy Sjoberg in the white sweater. Stranger in the photo looking to the right. Brian Hoxie in the flannel shirt and open jacket. ?Herb Helbig on the far right end. —caption by Ken Nowak.

During a recent meeting with Dick Winkles, he invited us to come along with him to a reunion of the original Team Viper members. We jumped at the chance and followed him over to the Moose Preserve on Woodward Avenue in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. There, we found over twenty of the team members and Roy Sjoberg, the father of the Viper.

When Sjoberg put Team Viper together back in 1989, his goal was to create a group of car enthusiasts/entrepreneurs who would be friends—even family. To that end he organized trips and social events during which everyone could be together and have fun. “Roy is a real social animal,” said Ken Nowak, who was the engineer in charge of building the prototypes—including the first-ever Viper, the first GTS-R and many other new Viper designs.

“We got together frequently—from the very beginning, whether it was a VFW post in Hamtramck or Roy’s beautiful house on Mullet Lake,” said Nowak. “The first big event up at Roy’s was a snowmobile trip, and we brought along a sled we made from a scrap Viper hood, upon which we mounted three bucket seats and handlebars enough for people to ride on the frozen lake.” Sjoberg’s mission worked beautifully, as we witness the great product that came out of the group—and continues to emerge today—enthusiasts having a party with their friends to produce the best sports car in the world. The party never ended for these original Team Members and the friendships are as strong as ever.

Here’s how Nowak puts it on the opening page of the Team Viper forum:

“We are friends. We are engineers. We are designers, mechanics, managers and technicians. We are executives and we are clerks. We are builders and drivers and racers. We are people with grease under our fingernails and not afraid to roll up our sleeves to pick up a wrench, a pencil, or a broom, and get it done. We are people who think the word “can’t” is a challenge that means we haven’t quite figured it out yet. 

“We pumped Viper Red adrenaline into a lethargic K-Car Chrysler with outrageous rumbling prototypes and found a whole new way to build cars and energize a tired corporation. We battled and bloodied, then picked each other up and forged ahead together. Race tracks and drag strips were our proving grounds, and from Rodeo Drive to Le Mans and Daytona, the world was our stage.

“We were, and we are, a Team. We are a team that accomplished what few in this industry have dared attempt. We accomplished the birth of a true American icon.

“We are the people who took an impossible idea called ‘The Dodge Viper’…and made it real.”

Tech Notes

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

By Herb Helbig, Chief Engineer—Viper (Retired)

Q: ?I have a 2005 convertible Viper that just turned 19,000 miles. The A/C works great around the city; however, on long drives and high speeds the vehicle gradually loses all blowing capacity coming from the vents (decrease in air velocity). The cab temperature eventually reaches a point were the windows need to be lowered. This occurs typically after about 20 to 30 minutes of driving. I adjust the fan level to max, but I can only feel the coolness at the vent, and I can hear the blower working, but there is no air flow coming from the vents. If I stop the car and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes, it will work again, but as soon as I get back on the highway, it does it all over again. If the problem is with the vehicle’s vacuum system, how can this be corrected? Or is it something else? I would greatly appreciate your help!

A: This sounds like it might be a problem with the duct work—especially since the A/C works well around town. Look for a restriction when you are experiencing the reduced-flow. Look at the intake area near the base of the windshield near the intake box. Good luck.

Q: I own a 2008 Viper SRT10® convertible with a set of Eibach springs installed. The vehicle has been lowered 1 inch. Typically, when I release the clutch quickly—at 2 to 3000 rpm rolling in first gear at around 20 mph—the vehicle wheel hops and I feel like I’m destroying the rear suspension. How can I correct this problem? The tire pressure in all four tires is at 30 psi.

A: Assuming nothing else has been changed on the car’s suspension, the hop issue may stem from the change in axle shaft angle because of lowering the car. Make sure that the fasteners are all retorqued properly—especially the shocks and control arms. If the Eibach spring rates are different than the stock springs, that may contribute significantly. Additionally, make sure the shocks are in good shape and show no signs of leakage.

Q: I’m the new owner of a 2006 Viper SRT10 coupe. The vehicle is black with silver stripe option M91. I need to know the Chrysler touch up paint part number for the M91 silver stripes as my dealer and local body shops are unable to find it. Also, what is the correct oil capacity for the 8.3L engine? My service manual shows 11 quarts; owner’s manual, 10 quarts; and 2006 brochure, 10.4 quarts—all with filter change.

A: The paint you are looking for is VA9. My paint expert suggested that you try to find a Dupont paint. This will give you the best match. The proper oil capacity for your car is 10.5 quarts with a filter change.

Q: After completing a hard run in my ’97 GTS, I noticed transmission fluid dripping from the transmission. The transmission fluid was changed recently. Is it possible the transmission was overfilled? If so, could this damage the transmission?

A: I’m assuming you had your car on a road course. You didn’t say what area the fluid was leaking from on the transmission. Most likely it’s coming from the vent which is on top of the trans. It’s possible it was overfilled, but it is also possible that the vent was dislodged during reinstallation. You need to take a look and see if the vent is still attached properly. Not easy to do, but you might be able to see it through the shifter opening.

Q: I have 4,000 miles on my 2009 SRT10. I recently smoked the clutch on a steep incline. During normal driving I still smell a burning odor; however, the vehicle still shifts fine. Do I need a new clutch?

A: Probably not. The dual disc clutch is pretty robust. The smell will probably take a while to dissipate but should eventually go away. As long as the car launches okay and shifts fine, you should be good to go.

Q: I own a 1996 GTS and I’m considering installing a Mopar® Cat-BackTM exhaust system (P5007274). How much horsepower could the engine gain with this system? Please mention any benefits and drawbacks for this system. Do you recommend any other Mopar parts to increase horsepower?

A: Assuming your car is totally stock, the system should be good for 5 hp at the flywheel. The reason that the number is so small is that the stock system is very low restriction. Benefits will include better sound quality and perhaps reduced sill heat. On the down side, you may experience some exhaust drone on the highway. If it’s bothersome, try shifting up a gear. Some other parts you might consider are rocker arms with a different ratio, camshaft and ported heads. With these changes, the addition of the exhaust system would yield a 25-30 hp increase.


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

Rivalry Renewed

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

The SRT® vs. VCA autocross battle might not possess the tradition of a Yankees vs. Red Sox baseball game in Fenway Park, or the star power of a Celtics vs. Lakers dustup on the hard court. However, the titanic tussle every two years at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich., does have at least one thing in common with those other famed rivalries: both sides really want to win, and in the worst way.

SRT and VCA went head-to-head once again on Saturday, October 10, driving Dodge Viper SRT10®s supplied by Chrysler. SRT emerged victorious, winning as a group and retaining the trophy, led by Erich Heuschele, the fastest of all the competitors with a run of 92.759 seconds on the 1.3-mile cone-lined course, dubbed “Viper Lives, You Die.” Leading the way for the VCA was Bill Pemberton (96.589), Herb Helbig (98.788) and David Tenney (99.906). Coming in behind Heuschele on the SRT side was Chris Winkler (93.584) and Mike Shinedling, Viper Program Manager (97.034).

“Gee, how did those guys get so fast? Even the program management guy (referring to Shinedling) is fast,” said Helbig, the retired Chief Engineer of Viper and for years a member of the SRT squad, who switched allegiances for the recent event. “It was strange to be on the ‘other’ side, but the camaraderie was great. In the grand scheme of things, I was grateful to be invited and it was gratifying to still be considered part of the family.”

Unable to resist a good-natured dig at his former team, Helbig added, “I highly suspect that for the last two weeks, the course was set up and they (SRT) were practicing 2-3 hours per day!”

Inaugurated in 2001, the SRT vs. VCA autocross is held the same year as VCA Zone Rendezvous events. Each Zone Rendezvous (ZR) stages an autocross event, with the top two qualifiers from each ZR autocross moving on to the main event to take on the “pros” at SRT. In addition to rewarding the ZR top qualifiers, the SRT vs. VCA event also provides Viper owners and VCA Officers valuable face time with their manufacturer. Ralph Gilles, President and CEO–Dodge Car Brand, Chrysler Group LLC; Dan Knott, Head of Purchasing, Chrysler Group LLC; and Joe Grace, Vehicle Line Executive – SRT, Chrysler Group LLC, all participated in the autocross.

“I think that’s something unique about SRT and the VCA,” said Shinedling. “We have a strong connection with our customers. Not only do we want to understand their wants and needs, we also actually like to have fun with them. This is an opportunity to do both. We get the customer feedback and we also get to build that relationship by enjoying ourselves.”

“The SRT guys love it,” said Marv Spatz, National VCA Vice-President. “Ralph came out, even with all his new responsibilities. It’s a great thing to keep the relationship going, where SRT engineers can feel and see the excitement of the VCA owners. It’s an electric atmosphere.”

“It was great to touch base, because we hadn’t had a chance to sit down after all the excitement over the summer,” said National VCA President Chris Marshall of the opportunity to interact with the SRT and Chrysler Group LLC contingent. “This was a good chance to sit down, get some face time, and reassure them of the VCA’s commitment to the platform, and vice versa, with their commitment to building the car and making it the best it can be.

“It was mission accomplished for everybody, other than the VCA not winning the event. In that mission, we failed miserably. But we’ll give it another shot. Our plan for next time is to not take any chances whatsoever. We’ll drug them at dinner the night before the event and just take the trophy. It might be a boring autocross, but we’ll know for sure we can win.”

“It’s very much a friendly competition,” said Shinedling. “No one walks in with a chip on their shoulder.” That being said, Shinedling and his team definitely feel pressure to perform well at the event: “It’s an important thing for SRT engineers to understand the dynamics and capability of the car. It’s cool that we defend our honor. We should be good and we better be good! We have some creditability and respectability to uphold.”

The VCA seems to be at a bit of a disadvantage—after all, they are challenging the folks that build the Viper! And eyebrows were raised when it was revealed by Heuschle during the trophy ceremony that the SRT team had enjoyed some autocross training with professional drivers prior to the match (although in SRT’s defense, the training is a required part of their job duties).

Yet the VCAers remain unbowed, with an even stronger resolve to improve at the next event. The Club recently purchased a full set of wireless timing gear for autocross events. The set was used at the SRT vs. VCA autocross, and according to National VCA President Marshall, the gear will be put through many more workouts prior to the 2011 showdown.

“We have no excuses now, with the new timing system we purchased,” said Marshall. “We’ve vowed to get out there and set up some autocross events within the Club and get in a lot more practice. It’ll be like an autocross boot camp.”

The Viper Nation will have almost two years of “boot camp” before their next throw down with the SRT gang. If practice makes perfect, it looks like the 2011 SRT vs. VCA autocross is shaping up to be one heckuva war!

Participating VCA Club Members: Jack Bene, Bobby Cerchione, Andrew Cinque, John Gayton, Herb Helbig, Matt Huett, Jon Jacobs, Bruce Li, David Mazyck, Bill Pemberton, Marv Spatz, David Tenney, Dan (Dutch) Touhey.

Participating SRT Team: Marco Diniz-DeOliveria, Ralph Gilles, Scott Hershner, Erich Heuschle, Martay Jagoda, Dan Knott, Paul Mackiewicz, Tom McCarthy, Len Robison, Jeff Roselli, Vince Schrand, Mike Shinedling, Kevin Stepinski, Mark Trostle, Jim Wilder.

Special appreciation to SRT’s Joe Grace, Chris and Mary Marshall, and Paul Heuschele for supervising the timing system.

Rain Maker

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

It’s a given that the Dodge Viper is an obscenely powerful Snake. Less known is the fact that the Viper is also a chameleon. One day, it’s a dragster hurtling down the quarter-mile in a blur. The next, it’s a seductive cruiser, slowly gliding down the street, all the while drawing envious stares. But perhaps in its most vital role, the Viper is also a fund-raising powerhouse, helping to rain green on organizations that help those less fortunate. And in that guise the New England Viper Club of America has found the Viper to be a useful instrument.

The New England VCA has hosted the Northeast Exotic Car Show at the Budweiser plant in Merrimack, N.H., for five years running, raising thousands of dollars for the New England chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The show, headlined (of course) by the Dodge Viper, boasts a who’s who of exotic car nameplates, including BMW, Lamborghini and Ferrari, to name just a few. The New England VCA is the driving force behind the charity event, helping to fund the show, create event t-shirts and distribute trophies to car show winners. To date, the Club has helped raise $35,000 to grant wishes for seriously ill children.

“Every year we have sent a child to the destination of their dreams,” said New England VCA President Jerry Colpitts. “The kids have gone on trips to Walt Disney World, or similar fun places.”

The Northeast Exotic Car Show attracts about 200 cars a year. Businesses pay between $100-500 to sponsor the show, and Make-A-Wish mans a booth that generates nearly $1,000 in spur-of-the-moment donations on the show date. The New England VCA sells event t-shirts to raise money, and two Club members, Donna Mori and Maria Cote, bake cookies and cakes to sell. All funds are donated to Make-A-Wish.

“I get money handed to me by individuals at the show that want to give in the memory of someone,” said Colpitts. “They like the car show, appreciate what we do and want to help in any way they can.”

Past and present sponsors for the show include Meguiars, EXP4, NESN-TV, WBCN 104.1, Peter’s Nissan of Nashua, BMW/Lamborghini of Boston, Premier Car Club, Club Motorsports, Motorhead Extraordinaire, Yerardi Transportation, Wicked CAS and Synaptic 3.

The show has enjoyed a high of 45 Vipers that turned out to support the worthwhile cause. Regardless of the car count, dedicated New England VCA members back the show in large numbers each year.

“Our New England region is so strong,” said Colpitts. “They all pitch in, helping to park cars and doing other activities. The whole Club enjoys doing it. It’s a good feeling. It’s such a cool and great thing to do as a group. We are tight knit and we do a lot. We are wicked busy.”

Colpitts’ goal for 2010 is to better the $5,000 raised for Make-A-Wish at the 2009 event.

“I would love to do more,” said Colpitts. “It might be a challenge with the economy, but we’ll shoot for it. Make-A-Wish was part of the community when I got my first Viper and has helped people that I know, so it’s great to be able to give back to them. It brings a tear to my eye to be able to help these kids. Whatever we can do for these children is a great way to give back.”

Don’t bet against the New England VCA upping the charitable haul for Make-A-Wish next year—with the Viper on their side, they have a most powerful fund-raising tool, indeed!

Thank You for being a Friend

Written by editor on . Posted in Winter 2010

By Darren Jacobs

Snoop around a bit, and it’s easy to unearth evidence of Jerry Dobson’s reputation as a Dodge Viper mechanic par excellence. For instance, there’s the constant, 5-to-6 deep line of Vipers on the waiting list to be serviced in Dobson’s garage at his home in Lenexa, Kan. And consider the illuminating fact that Dobson repairs more Vipers than all Kansas City-based Viper dealers combined. Add it up, and there’s just no denying it: For Viper owners, Dobson’s wrench is a most trusted tool.

“Many of the guys are nervous about taking their cars to the dealership,” says Dobson, 44, and a member of the Kansas City VCA since 2001. “They feel more comfortable bringing me their Vipers.”

Dobson developed his superlative wrenching rep on various exotic cars, and worked as a mechanic at a dealership in Kansas City. He purchased his first Dodge Viper, a red 1998 GTS, in 2001. When fellow VCA members stopped by Dobson’s home, which features four-post and two-post lifts shoe-horned into his three-car garage, they witnessed the meticulous repair work Dobson performed on his own Viper. Soon the proverbial light bulbs went off in KC VCA members’ heads. In short order Dobson found a fleet of Vipers stacked up and waiting for his services. Now he juggles his Viper repairs with his job as a director of IT for an insurance company.

“Word of mouth spread that I was the guy to work on their Vipers,” says Dobson, who has been the KC VCA Vice President for six years. “The longest a guy has waited was 12 months to have his car worked on.”
“The bottom line is that Jerry Dobson is a savior to many a Viper owner, not to mention the Club to which he has dedicated the past eight years of his life,” testifies National VCA President Chris Marshall regarding Dobson’s talents. “For the increasing number of Vipers out of warranty (and decreasing number of certified dealer Viper techs), Jerry is the best friend a Viper owner can have. He works diligently as the Kansas City VP, has a full-time career, and then spends his remaining spare time helping other exotic owners—mainly VCA members. And what does he charge for all that work? Whatever the person wants to pay. Sometimes it’s pizza, sometimes cash, and sometimes nothing at all.”

Dobson’s infatuation with the Snake began in a fashion common to many Viper owners. He got a peek at the demo car when the Viper was released back in 1989 and had wanted one ever since. Dobson finally bought the 1998 GTS, but later sold it and purchased a Porsche (hey, we all make mistakes!). However, the siren call of the Viper proved too strong, drawing Dobson “back home.” He’s now back where he belongs after recently snapping up a 2008 Viper ACR, black with red stripes.

Dobson has enjoyed membership in a plethora of exotic car clubs, but he says one club is head and shoulders above the pack. Three guesses as to which one Dobson singled out (if you picked anything other than the Viper Club of America, your driving privileges should be revoked).

“There’s no comparison at all,” raves Dobson. “The VCA has more of a family atmosphere. Club members become your closest friends. We meet at least once a week, sometimes more. The KC Club does a number of things throughout the year, everything from ski trips, canoe trips, every year we do a cruise.

“These are things that are unrelated to the car world, but members are close friends, so you do those social activities outside of driving events. The VCA is by far the best run, most professional car club in the world.”


Member of the VCA: Since 2001

Current Viper: 2008 Viper ACR, black with red stripes

Region: Kansas City VCA

Favorite Viper Event: VOI.8 in Dallas

Dream Viper: The Nurburgring winning Viper

Favorite Perk of Viper Ownership: Socializing with the other VCA members

Sum up Viper in Five Words or Less: “The top of the heap”


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