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

Viper’n in Northern England

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

By Graham Lambert

July 4 is just an ordinary date to us Englishmen, but not so in 2009 as this was the date the UK Viper Club had their 4th annual Northern Viper Run (NVR) or “Peak Raid.”

A bright sunny morning saw eight Vipers, a Ram SRT10® and a Holden Monaro congregate at a hotel on the outskirts of Mansfield ready for the 150-mile drive through the Peak District—Britain’s first National Park. Taking part in two stages over the course of the day, the driving was split equally either side of lunch. However, this was not just a leisurely drive through stunning scenery; there was a purpose to this outing—winning the NVR ‘09 Trophy for the best score in
the road quiz. Puzzles, observation, general knowledge and Viper silhouettes all had to be found somewhere on the route.

The 68-mile morning drive began near Mansfield taking us via Hardwick Hall, an Elizabethan country house and through the grounds of Chatsworth House, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. After taking in some fabulous scenery on the western side of the Peak District, we arrived at the Three Acres Inn near the Emley Moor TV transmitter station for an excellent buffet lunch. Many thanks to Andrew and Jenny for supplying the American flag cake for Independence Day and managing not to squash it with the spirited driving!

The 70-mile afternoon drive took us through quintessentially English villages, such as Holmfirth and Glossop, attracting huge amounts of attention from young and old alike. The most dramatic part of the route took us over the famous Snake Pass at 1710 ft and through the heart of the Peak District and finally onto the Brimington Hall Hotel near Chesterfield.

For the evening, a private function room was booked for dinner and presentation of the prizes for the days road quiz. Andrew and Jenny Blackmore were once again worthy winners, regaining the trophy off yours truly! Afterwards a few beers and well earned sleep ready for the Sunday drive to the Muscle & Crab pub where Bruce and Alison once again put on a superb lunch for everyone.

This fantastic weekend could not have happened without the dedication and organizational skills of Mich and Suzie Simcox, for which we are all very grateful and look forward to NVR ’10!

Hot Damn

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

Fast cars and photography are two of Illinois Viper Club member Mike Caplan’s favorite hobbies. So it’s only fitting
that he’s found a way to merge those passions. Mike, who is also a TV weatherman at the ABC station in Chicago, recently started a side business showcasing some of his images at www.caplanstudios.com. “These awesome cars are beautiful on their own, but when you’ve got a gorgeous wife and two other supermodels-in-training eager to pose, the combination is jaw-dropping,” Mike notes. “I think these images of Laura, Tera and Jen show off our ’05 Copperhead and my buddy Steve Loudin’s ’08 Viper Bright Blue Pearl coupe in a way I know I won’t soon forget!”

Mary’s Excellent Adventure

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

By Roger Meiners

“You have to meet Mary,” said practically everyone I met at the PA–WVA Viper Meet at Carlisle’s All-Chrysler Nationals this summer. The most vociferous about it was Terry Bosserman (but I learned later that he is always the most vociferous—especially about Vipers … and about Mopars, too).

“OK, fine,” I answered, thinking I’d get to it just as soon as I studied the details of all five hundred thousand Mopars that were on display at the fairgrounds. The show was just down the road from the Carlisle Indian School where Jim Thorpe made that “All-American” movie. Remember Jim Thorpe? He’s the guy who set all those Olympic track and field records back in the days of your grandfather. He actually didn’t make the movie. Hollywood made the movie about him. They called it Jim Thorpe—All American. I bring him up because he was like a Viper; tough, strong, fast and all-American.

Anyway, when I got back to the “Viper Compound,” smelling like rubber smoke—I watched the burnout competition—the clamor about Mary continued, and they pointed out her ACR-look-alike 2009 red Viper. Then I learned that Mary had two Vipers and one of them showed 120,000 miles on the clock! So now I was getting excited.

I had to meet her.

As I approached the car, I caught sight of a very elegant, beautiful blonde (see photos) who turned out to be anything but “blond” (in the sense of those disrespectful jokes about fair-haired females). Indeed, she is one of the most interesting people I have ever met.

Her name is Mary Petitpren and she hails from Georgia, by way of a long residence in New Orleans that ended with Hurricane Katrina (she wasn’t there, but her car was in the garage. She did not get in to see it until three months later. The car was not damaged).

A widow, Mary was married to George Petitpren, an aerospace engineer, with whom she traveled widely, living in those parts of the country where he was employed. He passed away a few years ago of pancreatic cancer, just after she purchased a Viper and joined the Viper Club. Mary coped with the help of a Viper Club member—Bob Kocur of St Louis—who contacted her when he heard the bad news on the Forum. “He offered to talk to me any time, day or night, and I took him up on it,” she said. She called frequently during the depths of her sorrow and received solace and advice on the stages of grief she endured. He encouraged her to do the things she wanted, and not to just stay home. “I am following his advice.” “The Viper Club is filling my life,” she says. “I want everyone to know what an impact he and the Club has had on me.” She has never met Kocur and wonders if he is still in the club.

Mary told me that she has driven over 200,000 miles in the three Vipers she has owned, including, “A 2000 GTS (which I still have), a 2004 SRT10® (convertible, sold in December 2008), and a 2009 SRT10 coupe, my DREAM CAR (purchased in December 2008).” She can boast of having more miles than anyone, male or female, behind the wheel of a Viper. We believe her. She has no other cars, by the way.

Mary’s major contribution to society was her 42 years as a school teacher. “I demanded respect and attention from my students,” she said, “and I got it, though it usually took six weeks to get the class acclimated to my regime.” One can only imagine the struggle that went on in her classroom. Mary can recall only one student in her entire teaching career with whom, through no fault of her own, she could not connect. She spoke with sadness about his unfortunate situation that prevented any chance for learning.

During our conversation, I discovered that Mary was planning a visit to Detroit, so we made tentative plans to meet, and perhaps meet my wife, Katie, whom I think is a lot like Mary.

A few weeks later I was at McLaren Performance Technologies, Inc., in Livonia, Mich., near Detroit. McLaren designed and developed the new Viper V-10 engine that is currently in production. Known as McLaren Engines in the late 1960s, this company built all the engines for the McLaren CanAm and Indy cars, and also developed the Buick Indy engine as well as a series of BMW racing cars in the 1970s and 1980s. I was with just-retired McLaren CEO Wiley McCoy, positioning a dozen rare and famous McLaren and BMW racing cars for display at McLaren’s 40th Anniversary event, to be held the next day.

The phone rang. It was Mary. She had just arrived in Detroit. Before she could say much of anything, I held the phone and, thinking of Mary’s beautiful Viper, asked Wiley if he would like to display it at the big event the next day to highlight McLaren’s most recent engine success. His face immediately lit up and he said, “Yes.” I knew that McLaren did not have a Viper in the show.

“Would you like to go to a party tomorrow?” I asked Mary. After a few minutes I convinced her to consider it, and the next day there she was with her beautiful red and black machine, parked near three bright orange 1970s McLaren racers, including the 1971 CanAm championship-winning M8F and the 1974 winner of the Indianapolis 500. The latter car’s driver, three-time Indy winner Johnny Rutherford, was there and Mary met him. She also met retired race driver Don Devine, owner of the 1972 McLaren M20 CanAm car. Many other drivers and former race mechanics came by to meet her—while I virtually abandoned her to carry out my duties for the 40th anniversary reunion.

Later that day, I touched base with Mary to apologize for leaving her to herself for so long. She asked if I was going to the Meadowbrook Concourse the next day. So we went together and I got photos of her with those same McLaren race cars, on display to continue the 40th Anniversary celebration.

These events were only the tip of the iceberg in Mary Petitpren’s Excellent Adventure. She also took a plane ride in her brother Steve Harvilla’s Piper Tri-Pacer, got her photo taken with ex-Chrysler President and Viper proponent Bob Lutz (who parks his fighter plane near the Piper). She also visited and toured the Viper plant and Viper Headquarters at J.R. Thompson Company.

“My Viper Experience this summer was more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined,” she said. “The McLaren 40th Anniversary and the Meadowbrook Councours d’Elegance. Wow! How privileged I feel.”

She was grateful for the visit to J.R. Thompson Company, “…having a tour of the facility by a most gracious gentleman, Bob Mason, Managing Editor. I know he took time out of his busy schedule to be so accommodating.”

“At the Viper Factory tour, I felt like a celebrity,” she said. “Melissa Holobach, Plant Manager, arranged for my visit, thanks to Herb Helbig. The tour guides, Janet and Rick, answered many of the questions I had regarding the production of the Viper. They even opened the ‘Viper Store’ for me so that I could take home some memorabilia. My aim was to get a picture of my Viper in front of the plant. They did that for me.” She sent a few of the photos—one is published here.

Mary was most excited about meeting Bob Lutz, “The gentleman who said, at the conception of the Viper in the early ‘90s, ‘Build it … NOW!’ I thanked him for being the driving force in the birth of the Viper for myself and all VCA members. He said that the car was built for car enthusiasts such as Viper owners. What a remarkable person! It was a humbling experience meeting a man so distinguished and charming.” (Not unlike Mary, we would say—distinguished and charming).

Mary went on to describe her travels so far this year: “I had the good fortune to meet the following celebrities this summer: Stan Wilson, who demonstrated the difference between my Viper and his Challenger (I must say it was rather exhilarating) … Maurice Liang, an icon in the Viper Community (Tail of the Dragon Event in May) … Herb Helbig, a genuinely amicable and intelligent gentleman (Carlisle Event) … Melissa Holobach, a very accommodating young lady … Don Devine and his beautiful race machine … Bob Mason, a soft spoken, intriguing gentleman … Bob Lutz, a monumental symbol of accomplishment …” She also mentioned me with some kind words.

As we go to press, Mary is driving to Niagara Falls with the Illinois Viper Club, by way of Detroit, where the group will visit the Chrysler Archives and car collection. Maybe I will finally introduce Mary to my wife. Or then again, maybe I won’t.

Coming Up Roses

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

Winning is not a new experience for Aloha, Ore., resident Cindi Lux. The Viper Nation fan favorite and driver of the No. 12 Lux Performance Group LLC Dodge Viper Competition Coupe has amassed twelve road racing championships, 75 victories and 150 podium finishes in her career. Yet perhaps none of her previous wins carry quite the significance of her two victories in the 49th Annual Rose Cup, held June 12–14 at Portland International Raceway.

Yes, the Rose Cup is the largest club racing event west of the Mississippi. And, yes, hometown favorite Lux was rooted on by her friends and family. But the highest honor for Lux was joining inaugural Rose Cup winner Dick Hahn on the list of victors. What’s so important about Mr. Hahn? Well, his daughter is Cindi Lux!

“There is nothing better than coming home to race,” said Lux, who posted her Viper Comp Coupe on the pole for both SPO-class races and never trailed in either. “I just love running in the Rose Cup race, not just because of our family heritage but just how much fun it is. The Rose Festival Association certainly knows how to promote a sports car race here in Portland and makes this event very fan friendly.”

Lux competed in 2007 and 2008 in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT Series, earning two Piloti Rookie of the Race Awards and also setting the SPEED GT record as the highest finishing (fifth) and highest starting (third) female driver in that professional series’ history. She also put on a show last year at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix for more than 800 Dodge Viper owners and guests in town for the tenth Viper Owners Invitational (VOI.10). Lux steered her Viper Competition Coupe to a top 10 finish in the SPEED GT class and earned Hard Charger and Holeshot race awards before a cheering throng of Viper faithful.

Lux’s 12th trip to the Rose Cup was her charm.

“The Viper was unbelievable to drive,” raved Lux. “It was absolutely on rails the entire weekend. It was great doing a race in our hometown, especially for our guys in the shop. They hardly get the opportunity to come out to the track and watch the cars they prep actually race. I can’t tell how good it felt to get back behind the wheel again of our Viper. Nothing is better than passing all those Corvettes and Porsches … especially under braking! They think the Viper is all about horsepower but in reality it’s all about the handling and braking. They got a quick lesson on Vipers this weekend!”

Daskalos Masters Mosport

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

Albuquerque, N.M., native Jason Daskalos hails from the Southwestern U.S., but he won’t soon forget his recent trip up north to Canada’s Mosport International Raceway. Daskalos powered his No. 5 Daskalos Developments Dodge Viper Competition Coupe to his first career SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT win on May 17 at Mosport.

Daskalos gridded second but wasted little time in slithering to the front. He passed pole-sitter Randy Pobst on the standing start, in the process earning the AutoWeek Move of the Race Award. Daskalos proceeded to lead the entire 30-lap event and claim the win in only his 22nd SPEED GT start.

“It’s amazing to win,” said Daskalos, the 2006 Viper Racing League champion. “Honestly, it’s a dream come true. When I started out in World Challenge, in my rookie year, it was tough to even get into the top 10 and we worked hard and it’s paid off. I’m thrilled.”

Daskalos followed up his inaugural triumph with a sixth-place showing at Watkins Glen on July 4 and an impressive fifth-place result at Road America on Aug. 16. At press time Daskalos was the highest-ranked Viper-powered SPEED GT driver in the standings, just outside the top 10 in 11th-place.

Charmed Life

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

There’s good luck, like finding a penny on the ground, or not having your number called during jury duty. Then there’s jump for joy, shout out loud, wake the neighbors and shake your money maker type luck. And that’s the kind recently enjoyed by South Florida VCA member Art Jones.

Fortune’s favor fell upon Jones the afternoon of Friday, May 15, when his winning VCA Raffle entry was randomly picked from a barrel full of tickets. Jones ponied up a few hundred dollars for the raffle tickets; he walked away with a 1-of-1 2009 VOI.10 Special Edition Coupe valued in the tens of thousands of dollars. That’s reason for the most conservative among us to dance like they have ants in their pants!

“It took a while for it to soak in,” said the fortuitous Jones. Now he’s letting his new Viper soak up the rays of the sun as he cruises around South Florida. Perhaps Rod Stewart said it best: “Some guys have all the luck.”


Feel lucky? Well, do ya? One VCA member will soon join Art Jones in the happy pantheon of Grand Prize raffle winners—the next VCA Raffle drawing is already on tap for Oct. 30, 2009!

Listen up—this here raffle is rather unique. You’ve heard of dinner and a movie. How about dinner and a Viper? The lucky Grand Prize raffle winner will take ownership of Bob Lutz’s 1998 Dodge Viper GTS-R, built especially for him—#99 of 100. And Lutz, the driving force behind the creation of the Dodge Viper, will personally hand over the keys at a dinner with the raffle winner and a guest in scenic Ann Arbor, Mich. You get to dine with an automotive legend and then drive away in his Commemorative Edition FIA GT2 Championship Viper—one of the most valuable Vipers ever made (That’s at least worth a 20 percent tip on the check!).

Second Prize is a set of Michelin tires (Winner’s choice of style and size from current production tires.). Third Prize is one (1) Optima Battery (excluding Group 32), two (2) 2010 World Challenge tickets and two (2) 2010 World Challenge posters.

You must be a current VCA member to purchase raffle tickets. If you’re not—well, then you better get crackin’! Call Viper Headquarters at 1-800-998-1110 to become a VCA member or to renew your membership by October 2, 2009. VCA Raffle tickets are $125 each, three for $300, or five for $500 for VCA Venom members only.

For complete information and rules on the VCA Raffle, or to download a Raffle Ticket Order Form, visit

King Snakes

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

By Darren Jacobs

Get ready to be knocked off your feet. We’re not kidding. You might need to sit down for this one. For though VCA members are accustomed to the grandiose and the spectacular, well, they ain’t seen nothing until they’ve seen this.

Meet Wayne and D’Ann Rauh, both in their early fifties and both members of the Mid-South VCA. The couple owns a 28-acre spread in the small town of Arp, Texas. And on that spread sits an astonishing 29 Vipers—with two more ordered and on the way! All belong to the Rauhs, proud owners of the largest personal collection of Vipers in the world, proving the old saying true—everything is bigger in Texas!

Exactly how big is the Rauhs’ collection? Big enough they actually lose track of the number of Vipers in their possession! Wayne first numbers the collection at 27, until D’Ann corrects her husband with the exact roll call of 29.

“Yeah, he was wrong,” D’Ann says. “Good thing you talked to me.”

So how does one (or two, in this case) build such an enormous den of Vipers? By slowly adding Vipers, painstakingly piecing together the collection over many, many years, right? Nah! The Rauhs snapped up their Viper haul in a little less than three years, beginning in late 2006. The rapid proliferation of their mini “Viper Nation” is nothing short of remarkable.

“When the Viper first came out, I saw one and always wanted one,” Wayne recalls. “I started looking at buying one real hard in 2002, but I never did. Then in 2006 I bought my first Viper. We’ve gathered them up since then. I really fell in love with them.” Wayne, prodded by D’Ann, overcame his initial reluctance—with a vengeance.

“I encouraged Wayne to buy one,” says D’Ann, who was actually an avid car collector long before her husband caught the fever. In fact, D’Ann currently parks 15 Vipers in her garage, compared to Wayne’s 14.

“He always wants mine,” D’Ann says, with a laugh. “He always tries to copy off me, and I tell him no. He’s got his Vipers; I’ve got mine. We don’t share!”

“I’ve been trying to play catch up for awhile,” says Wayne of matching his wife’s Viper total. “I haven’t caught up yet. She likes being ahead, so I think I’ll let her stay ahead. We each have our own garage for our Vipers. My garage is smaller.”

The Rauhs’ first Viper was a VOI.9 Special Edition white-with-blue-stripes purchased from John Gastman’s Roanoke Dodge in Illinois. In fact, almost all of the Rauhs’ Vipers have been purchased from Gastman (that’s got to be one happy Dodge dealer), who the couple cited as a friend and a big help in assembling their collection. Wayne also purchased a yellow-with-black stripes Viper for his wife during his first Roanoke visit. After the couple sold their personal business and retired in April 2007, their pursuit of Vipers kicked into hyper drive.

“We were very fortunate. We were able to sell our business for a substantial amount of money a few years ago,” says Wayne. “We’ve just put it in cars. We’re full time about cars now.”

Wayne begins to reel off just a few of the Vipers the couple owns: “We just got two new yellow ’09s with silver stripes. We just picked them up last week. We’ve got several ’08s. I don’t know the exact number. The oldest Viper we have is a ’95. We have one of the Spiderman promotional Vipers from ’02. We’ve got about every color combination. D’Ann has an ’09 ACR, I’ve got an ’08 ACR.” The Rauhs sing the praises of Scott Miller at Fifth Dimension for the body work on their Vipers and of Tony Venzano for handling duties on the interior. The Rauhs make sure their collection sees plenty of action. “There are days where I will drive three or four of them,” says D’Ann.

The Rauhs’ Brobdingnagian-like stable of Vipers draws eye-popping, incredulous reactions from VCA members—an impressive fact, considering many own multi-Viper car collections themselves. But they can’t match the Rauhs, who collect Vipers like Imelda Marcos collected shoes.

“Most of them can’t believe it,” admits Wayne, with a chuckle. “It’s just really hard to believe. Unless someone asks, I never say how many we have. People are really shocked. Twenty Vipers from the Mid-South club came down in May to the house to check out the collection and they were amazed. As hard as it was to get me to buy the first one, if someone would have told me I would have this many, I wouldn’t have believed them.”

Will the collection keep expanding? Does the sun set in the West?

“I don’t know if we’ve got a sickness for them, or what it is,” states a perplexed sounding Wayne. “But we’re addicted to them. We’re planning a building that will hold another 23 cars. I don’t know if we’re going to buy that many, but I know we already have two more Vipers coming, and we have another at our lake home in Oklahoma. We’re so full on room here.”

D’Ann has the final word on when the collecting might end: “I don’t know. When they stop building them?”

’08 Viper A Good Year

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

Story by Maurice Q. Liang

Hood vents. Those six large openings in the hood are the quickest way to identify a 2008+ Viper, especially in miniature form, where the details are often lost. Five years after the introduction of the 2003 Gen III Viper, the introduction of new Viper toys had dwindled to a trickle. But with the release of the ’08 Viper coupe, a rush of new collectibles have hit the market. If you think the ’08 is a vintage year, you’re in luck when it comes to miniature versions.


Starting at the top of the photo is the 1/18 scale RidemakerZ Viper coupe. Similar to the Build-A-Bear teddy bears, these cars can be customized with various wheels, tires, hood scoops, exhausts, wings, and other accessories. They can be built as a “roller” model or as a remote control car. Either way, they are battery-operated with lights and sounds. Right now, they come in Snakeskin Green with black stripes, Venom Red with silver stripes, or flat black. Prices run from $30 to $70, depending on how many accessories you want to load it up with. Visit www.ridemakerz.com to build your own online.

Next is the red metal diecast coupe from JADA in 1/24 scale. JADA makes the coupe in two versions—race-ready—like the one shown, or street. Interestingly, the race version has the stock “H”-wheels, while the street version has custom, deep-dish wheels. The race version also comes with the huge ACR-like wing and racing decals. Race versions are available in red, blue, silver, or black. Street versions are available in red, blue, silver, and yellow. Around $12 each at Kmart and hobby stores.

One of my favorites is the Snakeskin Green 1/20 scale remote control car from Radical Racer. This plastic-bodied car is simple, but fairly accurately proportioned, and available in Snakeskin Green with black stripes or Venom Red with white stripes. Only $13 at discount stores.

At the bottom of the photo is the 1/24 scale blue remote control car from Megatoys. It’s a great first Viper toy for a young Viperholic. This plastic car comes in blue with white stripes or red with white stripes, and is only $6 at Walmart stores.


Blue with white stripes, though not an officially available color scheme on the real ’08 coupe, is still a popular paint scheme in toy form. Both the Megatoys 1/24 scale R/C car mentioned above and the large, 1/10 scale remote control car from Fastlane come in this color scheme. Though it’s a standard plastic-body R/C car, the Fastlane model makes a great display model, with its Razor wheels. I painted one to mock-up the paint scheme on my real one-of-one Viper. Available at Toys “R” Us.


Though most of the smaller, 1/64 scale Viper coupe models are of the 2006 version, two companies offer the ’08 version in diecast form. Tracksters makes one in GTS blue with white stripes. The car comes with a code so you can race others online. Available for $14 from hobby stores. JADA also offers the 2008 Viper coupe in GTS blue (no stripes) and bright red (no stripes) in their “nex-gen muscle” series. They’re nicely detailed and only $3 at Walmart and
Target stores.


Two battery-operated plastic toys are available from Road Rippers. The larger, 1/14 scale version comes in blue, orange, green or yellow, and features lights, sounds, and motion, including doing a wheelie! The smaller 1/24 scale version comes in silver, and in addition to lights and sounds, will do a burnout! Available at Target and Walmart.


Unfortunately, no one offers a nicely detailed diecast model of the ’08 Viper in the popular 1/18 scale. The closest is AutoArt’s 2006 Viper SRT10® coupe. Even though it’s not an ’08, it deserves mentioning because of the incredible detailing, down to the seat belt buckles and trim that make it look very realistic. The AutoArt models retail for $99 and are available in red with white stripes or black with white stripes. AutoArt models are mainly available through online stores and automobilia stores like AutoZone Hobbies at www.autozonehobbies.com.

As with all Viper collectibles, if you want them, buy them now. Most Viper toys don’t stay on the market or the shelves for long, so once they’re gone, it’s hard to find them. Of course, most of the fun is in the hunt, so happy hunting!

Maurice Q. Liang is co-founder of the Viper Club of America and a rabid Viperabilia collector. You can contact him at [email protected].

VCA IL Region Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

By Alex Ristanovic

It was 15 years ago in April of this year that the Illinois Region Viper Club was founded, making it the oldest Viper Club region in the Viper Club of America. Its humble beginnings grew from a very modest group of members (about a dozen) supported by a budget less than what most of us carry in our pockets daily!

Fast forward to this day. Our club is just over 200 members strong and boasts an INCREDIBLY active membership with very diverse events. But one thing that has never changed is the heart and pride of the club. And after so many years of this active family being together, it was time to commemorate this 15th birthday milestone by throwing our biggest IL VCA Winter Fest party ever! The event was an elaborate affair, complete with a stunning location, extravagant displays, free raffle, goodie bags, auction, awards, entertainment, centerpiece giveaway, and some very special VIP guests. Oh, and we had some special “hardware” on hand as well …

The location was the well known Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill. The party was held as a Saturday evening celebration on Valentine’s Day. Members came from far and wide setting a milestone for attendance as 171 people came to show their support!

Upon entering the party, every member was greeted at the registration table and handed a VERY special goodie bag, raffle tickets, roses for the ladies, and a couple light up goodies. Upon setting foot into the main hall, eyes exploded as they witnessed a spectacle. Vipers were parked all over the inside of the ballroom! A row of every generation of Viper greeted you, in addition to a gleaming new Viper ACR in the center of the display. Also, a very special car loaned to us by our buddies at Chrysler … the Chrysler ME412. What other car company is this loyal to its customers? All the cars created a great place to hang out, have a drink, grab an appetizer, and settle in for a very special night.

The room was adorned with decorations. A tower of balloons stood 25 feet high at the entrance with a 12-ft movie screen dominating the center of the room. There was a massive merchandise display of all the club’s merchandise (over 100 different items!). The silent and live auction items were also on display. While there were too many auction items to name, among them were wild items like a custom painted Viper hood, a gas powered go-kart painted like a Viper ACR (with wing!), custom painted Viper mini refrigerators, and a 4-foot-tall perfect color replica of the IL club logo in solid polished aluminum! People were salivating.

Dinner kicked off and all through the meal we ran a free raffle that trickled thousands of dollars in raffle items to the group. As the desserts were served, our infamous entertainment segment began – this was to be the most jaw dropping ever with one heck of an agenda!

It began with a brief history of our club and a preview of the fun anniversary year to come. Then, an introduction of our current officers, as well as honoring our retiring officers with some very special gifts. This led into a wonderful segment with many guest speakers.

We were honored to be joined by so many VIPs, most traveling great distances to join us. To begin, we had our first IL Region President, Steve Ferguson, kick things off with stories of how the club started and shared his pride in seeing what his humble club had become. Next up we were honored to be joined by our current National President hailing from Kansas City, Chris Marshall, who spoke of the raffle car, the VCA, his impressions of the IL Region, and the future of the club. From Detroit, we were pleased to be joined by Chrysler’s Viper engine guru, Dick Winkles, manager, SRT® powertrain engineering and Viper electronics expert Ben Swears, SRT electrical systems engineer. They led us on a conversation about the Viper’s development, shared some funny stories, and held a good discussion about the new Mopar® engine controller. And last but not least, a face many of the IL Region members know well and are huge fans of, our friend and Sr. Vice President of Design for Chrysler, Ralph Gilles (with his wife Doris and kids alongside)! Ralph spoke of the company, sale of Viper, and joked of the memories he’s had with our members. Members were stunned at the well known panel of speakers they had the privilege to enjoy! It meant a lot to us.

Next came the big video segment, owed to the creativity of our Vice President, Gary Grube. A chilling and blood pumping 12-minute video montage ensued, beginning with a “high power” look at our last 15 years (goose bumps). Next, was a viewing of the award winning VOI.10 video commercial, then … the wildest IL VCA production in history! The “Ode to Viper” RAP! Yes folks, taking the words from Ralph Gilles’s VOI.10 “Ode to Viper,” the words were put to music and the IL VCA members built what was not only a WILDLY entertaining rap video, but perhaps the first possible hit single coming from the Viper Club! Hysteria broke out, Ralph’s face was priceless. The video ended with all the hilarious outtakes from the rap, members applauded in delight.

After the room settled down, the awards segment began and 25 members were honored for their contributions and accomplishments. Next we unveiled the 2009 club banner, held an unbelievable auction, and also gave away the very valuable centerpieces adorning the many tables. By the end of the evening, there was not an empty hand in the room nor a face without a smile, as members were floored by what they had just witnessed and received. One final thank you to the crowd that brought the group to its feet in applause, and of course, a repeat viewing of the IL VCA rap video to end the night!

Cheers to all those who attended this milestone event! This gathering was an example of what passion, caring, and pride can create. I’ve been a member of the IL Region myself since some of its earliest days under our first president. I’ve seen it evolve into something that is beyond special, something you have to experience to really understand. Words don’t do it justice, but I do know one word that sums this club up quite well … FAMILY!

Dos y Contando

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

By Michael Brett

VCA Minnesota members once again treated their sweethearts to a special Valentine’s Day dinner in Mexico followed by a week of fun in the sun. This year’s destination of Manzanillo proved to be every bit as enjoyable as Ixtapa; last year’s hiatus. Absolutely perfect weather conditions greeted us as we stepped off the plane and continued throughout our stay.

Our home for the week was the all inclusive picturesque Barceló Karmina Palace resort set directly on Manzanillo Bay. It’s spacious and exquisitely landscaped grounds coupled with multiple cascading pools fed by waterfalls made for a perfect setting in which to enjoy our winter escape. The food was plentiful and very appetizing, while the beverages were cold and never ending. Multiple restaurants and bars scattered throughout the property provided a variety of settings to fill a void at any time during the day into late evening. The Carioca restaurant located on the upper most elevated point of the resort surrounded by crashing waves on three sides far below provided a superb location for our more special of celebrations: Valentine’s Day, happy birthday Judy, and happy 8th anniversary Melanie and Jamie.

Even though the main purpose behind this vacation was to enjoy a leisurely time in the warmth, we did manage to pry ourselves away from the lounging chairs/beds on several occasions for an excursion away from the hotel. Our first such trip was into the Sierra Madres Mountains for a canopy tour. Arrangements were made for an open aired bus to pick us up and transport us to/from our hotel to the canopy tour facility high above the bay. Our route gave first time visitors to Mexico a closer look as we ventured through various parts of Manzanillo, several small authentic villages, and finally a one-lane twisty dirt trail up through the forest to the base facility of the canopy tour. At that point we were outfitted with the harness apparatus, helmets, and gloves, which would connect us with the cables in our effortless ride back down. After being outfitted we embarked on another three-hundred plus foot climb along a dirt path to the summit and cable number one. Along the way we maneuvered across a rather lengthy rope bridge spanning a smaller valley, which prevented our assent from being even more of a challenge. The view from the top was spectacular but at the same time just a bit intimidating as the cables seemed to disappear as they stretched across the valley below to the other side. The landing points appeared visible on the opposite peak, but the cables themselves became invisible as they stretched toward those points. One by one our tour guides provided instruction then attached us to the cables and sent us on our way. Cheers of support rang out as each person began hurtling across the cables and applause greeted everyone upon approach to the landing area on the far side. In between the only sounds were of the pulleys whistling upon the cables and the wind blowing through the canyon walls of the valley below. Although my guess would be that several participants did hear their hearts pounding since many in our group had never ridden a rip line prior to this adventure. At several points during the crossings wind gusts would cause you to spin enabling you to not only see up, down, and where you were headed, but also where you had come from. There were five such cable crossings prior to returning to our starting point near the base facility. Upon our arrival back at base our tour guides treated us to ice cold beverages made from the local flora followed by garden salad and pizza. One member of our group had an extreme fear of heights and to watch her connect to those first cables, then become more confident, and finally master the cables as we made our decent was very enjoyable for all who participated. WAY TO GO Carolynn!

The following day was one of rest for all but two of our more ambitious members in attendance who spent the day deep sea fishing in search of Marlin or Sail Fish. Unfortunately they returned without landing the big one, but not unrewarded. Several hours into the trip their boat came across a pod of Porpoises, which best guesstimates numbered about a hundred. The boat made multiple passes along side the pod in an attempt to lure any fish following the pod, but to no avail. The Porpoises although did put on quite a show for our members with all of their breaching, spinning, and darting. Even the young ones seemed to enjoy entertaining the strangers. The lack of action on the fish lines allowed one of our members to capture a majority of the frolicking on his DVR—fabulous footage Jerry.

Thursday was ATV day with about half of our group electing to participate. Again we were shuttled between our hotel and the ATVs aboard an open aired bus. Upon arrival we were outfitted with the necessary apparel, provided instruction on vehicle operation, and then allowed to practice before hitting the trails. Our route took us up a dirt road across the foothills and down to the jungle near the beach. At one point we were led into and through the dense jungle on a trail so narrow there was little room for error. We emerged from the jungle to a mostly arid area filled with cactus just short of the beach. From there it was a wide open run along an extended area of beach with the waves crashing just feet away. During this dash we came across two Mexican Marine patrols guarding particular areas of the beach, which we were informed were sea turtle nesting areas. As we slowly approached the patrols they seemed quite intimidating since they were in full gear with automatic weapons, but whether we were told the truth or not it mattered little as this encounter turned out to be a non-event. After guiding our machines along a specific route through that particular area of the beach we were back under way. A water break near the half way point along our beach chase near a very large rock protrusion providing shade, enabled us to stretch a bit while enjoying some ice cold water. It was then back on the machines for another dash along the sandy beach before reaching an area of sand dunes. These dunes measured about 300 feet long by 50 or so feet high. They turned us loose and we had a blast chasing each other up, down and all around. We took another short water break before beginning our trek back to the ATV facility via a different route through some of the ranch land along the foothills. All in all it was an exhilarating and enjoyable day.

The remainder of our vacation was spent lounging, conversing, reading, eating, drinking, joking, and laughing. Not to say we lay totally motionless as there were long walks along the beach accompanied by the crashing surf, snorkeling in the lagoon, body surfing at Miramar Beach, several shopping excursions, and beach volleyball. Team Viper performed much better this year than last putting down more than 80 percent of our competition—great work Captain Ray and team.

We ended our vacation as it had begun with a special celebration. This one away from the hotel at the L’Recif Restaurant located atop the foothills stretching down into the Pacific. The rocks below were lighted with spotlights so even after witnessing a fabulous sunset we could not only enjoy the sound but also the sight of the pounding waves. Leave it to this group to turn a non-descript event such as dinner into an adventure. We divided into two groups and loaded into our respective Suburbans for the trip from our hotel to the restaurant. During a routine stop at a stop light in route, Heather rolled down her window and issued the challenge by stating “You are going down.” No need to relate to anyone reading this magazine that a Viper owner will take even the smallest of challenges and turn it into a major competition; we are no different so the race was on. Our vehicle got caught behind some traffic leaving the other vehicle substantially in the lead. But not to be denied our driver pulled a move that would leave even the most experienced Viper driver proud. After determining weaving through traffic would gain us little our driver dove down onto the service road paralleling the highway. Utilizing a little toe and heel action he feathered us along on the service road to a stop light that had halted the competition’s movement. At the exact moment the left turn light signaled go he veered back into the left turn lane then back onto the highway for a lead we would not relinquish. The remainder of the trip saw multiple blocking moves as he kept the “other” guys from mounting any sort of real challenge. For his efforts our driver was amply rewarded by the winners.

A very enjoyable dinner ensued filled with lively discussion and laughter; a perfect way to put a wrap on our week of leisure. Following dinner it was back to the Suburbans for what was assumed to be an uneventful trip back to the hotel. Shortly after reaching the highway our vehicles were stopped and confronted by masked men all dressed in black supporting automatic weapons. We had found ourselves in the middle of a drug inspection being executed by Federal and local police. All occupants of the lead vehicle were forced to exit the vehicle while it was searched. Our vehicle fortunately was allowed to continue without a search, but our driver did proceed very slowly along the shoulder of the road until our friends were safely back in their vehicle and on their way. Once again this turned out to be a non-event, but the episode was a very sobering experience illustrating that it is a totally changed world no matter where you find yourself.

VCA MN’s ‘09 winter get away was equally successful if not more so than last year’s trip. This one may have even been a bit more special because not only did it provide a much needed respite from a very long and cold winter here in the Great White North, but it also enabled us to escape the gloom and doom of our current economic conditions if even for only a short time. Proof our trip was well received by all in attendance was evident through the numerous discussions surrounding where and when in 2010 prior to us ever arriving at the airport for our return trip home. Early indications point to VCA MN sharing our charm and wit with a Caribbean destination early next year. Viva VCA.


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