The 600 Horsepower Wager

Written by editor on . Posted in Fall 2009

By Roger Meiners

If you can get 600 hp I’ll make a bronze statue of you,” said Herb Helbig, SRT®’s Manager of Vehicle Synthesis. He was talking to SRT engine development engineer Dick Winkles at a meeting in early 2007. SRT engineering was discussing the new-generation Viper engine, then in the early stages of development.

The official Chrysler corporate horsepower goal for the new Viper engine was 560 at that time, but the guys in the trenches, the SRT engineers—passionate about the Viper brand—could not accept anything that did not begin with a six (as in 600 horsepower).

“Team meetings talked about the trials and tribulations of getting even 560 horsepower out of the new engine, but Herb said we needed to outgun the ZR1,” said Winkles. “So we made that the unofficial goal,” he added.

“I made the promise about the bronze statue, but I was using it as a figure of speech, not expecting to be held to it,”
said Helbig. But then Winkles delivered. “He wouldn’t let it go. He kept complaining, ‘600 horsepower and no statue.’”

Helbig’s son signed up for a bronze casting course at Oakland Community College, so Herb signed up, too, and when the time came to select a project, the choice was obvious. “I made two trophies, one for the engine team and the other I did in secret for Dick.”

Helbig delivered the trophy at lunch before the holidays. They took Herb’s car and the trophy was on the passenger seat
for Winkles. They both delivered on their promises and it’s all the better for our Viper owners.

Copyright 2013 Viper Magazine All rights reserved

Designed by Calandra Design