Viper Nation

Supercar Dodge Viper site with pictures, technical info, experiential stories with a few other winter action extreme stories posted.

RTTTTed On November - 26 - 2010

Kelowna Wine, Dine and AutoX 2010

by Ted Hlokoff



There are many Viper owners that wait all year for the annual Kelowna Wine Tour.  This year the event included an AutoX event with many invitations sent out to various Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Vette and Turbo Dodge owners to “come out and play”.  “Spanking” your friends and other Viper owners is fun, but not comparable to smacking down on a modified Porsche … even if you’ve got a stock SRT10.  It’s also fun trying to figure out how a few hundred thousand dollars of supercar can be several seconds behind the $50,000 one that you’re driving.

July 16th was the perfect time for a Viper Club event in the Okanagan Valley.  Classed as a desert region, the chances were unlikely that we would get rained out.  The Okanagan Valley is thronged with tourists all summer long.  In the Western Canada Viper Club we have many members that live in this area and they know all the twisty, slightly travelled back roads.  Again this year, Jim Tait had done an outstanding job of arranging Winery Tours and premium meals this year.  Craig Sandford (pres.) had arranged the AutoX at the Speedway in Vernon, 55 mi. North of Kelowna.

Deana and I drove the 9 hours through “supernatural BC” in my 2001 Roe supercharged M2 built Viper GTS.  25mpg always surprises people at the gas stations because that’s more than their Honda gets at 100mph.  Nimpo Lake had several forest fires in the area, but the bigger problem was at Alexis Creek on our way out of the West Chilcotin.  We drove past more than a mile of Bull Canyon that was completely burned out and the sides of the highway were covered in ash.  As we drove through Bull Canyon several pickups were driving through the burnt forest and using water tanks to put out ‘Hot spots’.  Small columns of smoke could be seen as well as trees still burning beside highway 20.

We checked into the Kelowna Grand Hotel and Spa, then parked in the locked underground parking garage.  We attended the “meet and greet” in the lounge where we caught up with several friends we hadn’t seen since last year’s Kelowna Wine Tour.     We had our dinner served in the lounge as well.  We met new members again as our membership remains dynamic even through the economic hardships.  Some of the new people I’d interacted with on the Viper forums.  Several of us continued our ‘meet and greet’ for an hour after the Lounge closed.

8:15am the next morning was when we drove out of the garage to meet at the Chevron in Westbank, south of Kelowna.  18 Vipers left the Gas station and headed south towards Keremeos Country.  Being last, for picture taking, we caught the red light.  I knew that I didn’t need any more tickets and realized that I’d forgotten to ask Jim where we were going.  You guessed it … I snuck through that red light and the next one.  I did catch up to a group of about 8 Vipers and followed them past the massive bluffs that still had workers scaling the cliffs.  They were breaking off loose rocks and making the new 4 lane highway safe.  A slight earthquake had caused a 3’ crack through the mountain and highway construction had been going on for more than a year to upgrade, improve and make the main highway safer. 

The weather was about 78F that morning and getting warmer quickly.  We stopped at a rest area for the bathroom facilities and pics of the group, then back on the road. 


We cruised about 60 to 75 miles taking the scenic back roads which put us through Penticton, several small towns, and closer to Oliver we drove through never-ending vineyards, orchards of apple trees and other fruits.  We turned down the driveway into the Silver Sage Winery at Oliver. 

The owner, Anna, directed us where to park and then gathered us in front of a large Gazebo under the shade of several Weeping Willow trees.  Anna gave a moving presentation on the building of her Winery and a dozen of her favorite wines were offered as samples.  Anna told us that she was a “Winery Widow” as her husband and brother-in-law had passed away due to an accident while he and his brother were watching the first vat of Ice Wine.  Her Wines were excellent and even Deana bought a bottle.  I had tried Anna’s mild Pepper Wine and figured that it would be good for burning out any infections of the mouth, wow.  Trevor enjoyed the strong Pepper Wine that included a Jalapeño in the bottle, (and he kept smiling).  In this picnic setting we enjoyed cold cuts, breads and fruits from the Gazebo for our lunch.

Again, this year we visited the largest manufacturer, Jackson Triggs for their samples.  Getting late in the afternoon we headed north and stopped at Sumac Ridge Winery on the Hill in Summerland.  They had a Grotto, a store and a Loft where we tasted a few samples.  They also had a small yard outside with an excellent view of the Valley and Okanagan Lake.  Easy to find as their driveway is from the 4 lane highway. 


After that we went back to the Grand Hotel and dressed for dinner.

Dinner was at Yamas Greek Restaurant, a 2 block walk.  Several people had purchased tickets to the local Elton John concert and couldn’t make dinner.  Soon after we were seated a Belly Dancer rotated her way throughout the restaurant.  When she reached our side, the young lady pulled Deana out of her seat to give her lessons.  Deana took over center stage as if the scarf placed around her neck came with new skills.  She sat down and, somehow, I got a few seconds of fame as a Belly dancer too (and there are pictures). 

Eating our excellent Greek dinner Jim Hatch passed around his ipad and we enjoyed some photos he’d photo-shopped on this advanced piece of technology.  Trevor took the ipad upside down and being ‘smart’ it switched the picture around for him … scary.

Sunday morning we lined up around the Resort’s fountain’d entrance and waited for the ‘competition’ to show up.  A BMW M5, a Mercedes SL63 AMG, an antique Porsche as well as a couple 911s and a modified Boxter, 2 Daytona Shelby’s and even a Mazda rotary showed up to play and then we started our parade.  Following the Westside Road along the walls of the Valley, I figured it should be called the scenic route. 




Once we arrived at the speedway we signed a waiver and parked in the Pits. 

After setting up the cones we walked the course with Jack Hodgson as he suggesting driving strategies.  We ran a practice lap and then started timing the runs to get an average of 3.  Jim Tait and Craig Sandford ran the clocks while Jack acted as judge.  Doug Seal (owner of Willowbrook Chrylser) had come in his 2008 SSG SRT10 and was trading cars and letting several people test out his Gen 4 Viper on the highway and the AutoX.   Doug was BC’s Dodge corporate sponsor (thanks Doug).

Many participants had not participated in an AutoX before eveyone had a blast.  Todd Baker, from Alberta ran his Paxton supercharged GTS and learned to "be one with the car".  I expect that Todd will be much faster the next time.  Everyone except Jim seemed to get as many runs in as they wanted. 


I took one of the volunteer flag girls for a lap, then Debbie Tait’s nephew, my buddy Pat Cook and then his son Michael.  I asked my son Travis to hold the camera and come for a ride with me.  for a short movie …

Although bouncing all over my car (he was holding the camera instead of the ‘chicken grip’) and even a sqeek while bouncing off the dash, he did finally get to experience the performance, brakes and handling of my Viper at a track.  He made me a Video riding in the passenger seat and both Travis and my camera survived the experience (  Perhaps I was cruel making him hold the camera instead of using the camera holder, but hey, it was a learning experience?  We all had fun and my Viper being the loudest and highest powered car there meant that there were a few people wanting a ride.  I had thought passengers would keep me away from the podium, but I finished 1st.  Craig Sandford finished in second place in his nearly stock 2003 SRT10.  The modified Porsche managed to take 3rd place and Greg Weflen grabbed 4th place with his 97 GTS. 




Jim Tait had arranged a fine dining experience closer to Kelowna at a Winery that was built on a Hill with an awesome view overlooking Okanagan Lake at sunset.  We collected the cones and cleaned up the track then most of the Viper people paraded to the Grey Monk Winery.  We used the ‘special’ parking lot at the bottom of the building and walked/climbed the hill to the restaurant. 

Several Wine tastes, pop and coffees were offered for damping our thirst as we sat on the patio under umbrellas enjoying the view, then it was time for dinner, which was fantastic.  We were treated to a picturesque sunset before the clouds rolled in promising rain for the evening. 

After saying our goodbyes most of us went back to our Hotel to relax and spend the night before heading home the next day.  I took my laptop (no ipad) and met with Trevor and Doug Seal for coffee in the lounge, so they could review my pics.  Next morning the last of the visitors headed home. 

     When Deana and I drove through Bull Canyon on our way home the Forest Fire had been put out and had self restarted, enlarging the burnt area by about 20%.  Some areas were still smoking beside the highway.  Originally this Forest Fire had been started by highways maintenance cutting the grass along the side of the road.  Now all the grass was gone.  The other Forest Fires around Nimpo and Anahim Lakes were unchanged. 


                                                                                                 – the end –            


Addittional Photos you don’t want to miss …




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