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RTTTTed On November - 27 - 2010

 Viper Owner’s Invitational 11

 

 by Ted Hlokoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year more than 330 Dodge Vipers and about 800 Viper people attended Salt Lake City for the Viper Owner’s Invitational 11.  Included was a Viper ACRX and World Challenge event on Sunday at Miller Motorsport Park.  MMP is considered by racers to be the premier road course in North America.

 

I had flown instead of driven to the VOI because of a natural Disaster at home.  The day before the wife and I were to leave, the McClinchy River overflowed and washed out two miles of Hwy 20.  It was like living on an island, no way out except by plane or boat. 

 

 

 I had pre-purchased 2 non-refundable VOI tickets and when I called the airlines there was only 1 seat left on Wednesday’s flight – the wife had to stay home!  That was probably the best for the business since our area had suddenly beocme a Provincial Disaster are.  I bought a cheap round trip ticket to Vegas on the internet and phoned Joe Christopherson to let me ride the passenger seat of his 2001 Viper ACR.  It was nice that Joe’s car was Sapphire Blue with Silver stripes – just like my GTS.  It was too bad that I’d spent thousands of dollars and over a week installing new tires, a TPMS, rear ceramic brakes (JonB) and a fresh oil change for this trip just so my Viper could sit in the garage all winter.

 

I arrived at the Little America Hotel on Oct.30 and before lunch I’d attended the racetrack “ground school” presented by Bondurant Racing School.  I visited the Vendors area at the Grand America Hotel and inspected the 2.8L blower kit at Roe Racing’s booth.  I spoke to Sean Roe about his research and Twin Turbo kits for awhile.  

 

I visited the Partsrack booth, but Jon B and Doris Rose were driving the Pacecar at Miller Motorsports Track and helping people out.  They spent the entire event at the track.  “Viper Parts Larry” gave me a Viper towel at his booth.  With my shopping list in my head all filled up with stuff I couldn’t afford I went to the Welcome banquet.

 

VCA awards were given out and I received a “Member of the Year” award. 

 

 

 

The meal was excellent and Western Canada region was honored with 4 tables at the front of the hall because of the high percentage of members that travelled the 2200-4200miles for the trip. 

 

 Dodge had sent the ’89 Viper concept car and the GTS coupe concept cars to the banquet hall.  The banquet was surrounded by at least 9 special Vipers such as an ACRX and a Venzano SRT10.  It became obvious upon entry that the banquet hall was full of “obsessive-compulsive Viperholics” (a term coined by Jay Herbert).

 

Friday morning we  were to leave the parking area at 6:30am.  We managed 6:45 and drove to Miller Motorsports Park for the panoramic picture taking of half the Vipers attending (Group A).  Some people had been there for hours so they could park their Vipers at the front of the line.

 

 

 Just inside the gates of Miller Motorsport Park was this historic Dodge display.  At the forefront is the actual 2000 GTSR that won the 24 hours of Daytona and a Clone/copy car that looks way too shiny!  The 1998 Oreca GTSR Lemans winner behind it against the trailer had beautiful paint and must have been restored.  There was a Comp Coupe and another GTSR parked atop the trailers!  There were the original #0001 GTS Indy 500 Pacecar on display along with a Challenger.  Excellent display.

 

 Our first activity was the AutoX track so we lined up for that. 

 

 

 

 

Not bringing my Viper I was privileged to test drive some new Vipers that Dodge had supplied.  The Viper SRT didn’t thrill me as my helmet touched the convertible roof, but I ran it.  Second round I asked for the SSG coupe and tried that out.  Much better and I had a good run.

 

 

 

 

I tried the Venom coupe next and ran the exact same time.  Joe ran the course a few times until he was satisfied with his time, then he offered me his car.  I thanked him and jumped in.  Feeling at home in Joe’s ACR, I flew around the course and again posted the same time.  Joe said I was over a second faster than him.  I was amazed that the older 450bhp ACR was as fast as the 600bhp SRT10.

 

 

 However, that wasn’t good enough as Clint Shearer’s 810bhp Copperhead posted the fastest time for our group. 

 

Clint mentioned that I’d disappointed him as he’d been looking forward to a ‘showdown’ against my 830bhp Roe supercharged GTS.  I don’t think that Clint knew that I’d bought a Macedo Motorsports 930bhp Paxton supercharged 2000 ACR that I was selling (see story "When One Just Isn’t Enough").

 

 

Next was Go-karts.  Two mini-courses were copies of the two larger road courses and great practice for getting an idea of the turns and layout of the main race track.  I turned in the second fastest time in our group, but only the fastest counted.  Everyone had a blast on the karts.  I spun off the second course and while doing a donut through the gravel I managed to conquer 2 turns and still get back onto the track before Clint Shearer got in front of me.  Clint mentioned later than he got a face full of gravel while trying to pass.  Our borrowed Helmets had face shields so Clint was fine, and his body protected Steve from the gravel. 

 

 

Next, the SRT experience.  Dodge had provided 3 Challengers, a Charger and a Chrysler 300 – all SRT8s – for us to test out.  Everyone loved the Challengers with the 6 speed.  Although the rest were fast, the standard 6 speed transmissions felt much faster and would do burnouts reminiscent of the old Hemi cars. 

 

 

 

Line ups for the automatic cars were short while the manual cars were a long wait.  Hemi Orange was the most popular of the cars presented.  All SRT 8s are 6.1L Hemis of course.

 

 

Finally, what we’d been waiting for was our turn at the MMP road course.  We were using the rear 2+ mile course.  The Viper ACRXs and race cars were using the front course to practice and qualify for the Viper Days ACRX race and the World Challenge Sports Car Wars on Sunday.  Two actual race tracks was one of the best features of Miller Motorsports Park.

 

Being a “Greenie” (Viper at home) I was privileged to drive another of Dodge supplied Corporate Vipers.  I climbed into a Red/black ’08 Viper ACR.  My Instructor told me, “This is a race car.”  Having two 750+rwhp Vipers at home I just said, “Yah.”  After the warm-up lap I pushed the ACR a little faster each lap until I finally found the spot where the tires let go and we drifted a little through the corner.  I was impressed.  This ACR stopped much better than my Vipers and even held the corners a little more.  The instructor said, “This is a famous race car.” 

 

 

“The 7:22.1 second Nurburgring ACR Viper, the World’s fastest production car?” I asked.  Yes! I drove the World’s Fastest Production Car around the track.  Thank you Dodge!  Viper Nation’s co-owner Tim Anglin also managed a ride in the Nurburg ACR

 

 

 

 Tim’s comments on this  car are; "The opportunity to drive this world-record holding Viper was something that only comes along once in a life-time.   The fortunate few that were allowed to take a few laps around the west course of Miller Motorsports Park in it will never forget.  If you ask any one of them, they will tell you it was the highlight of their VOI experience.  This race car for the street is as brutal and fast as any car you’ll ever drive.  The reflexes were cat-like and the power was endless.  I felt like I was pushing my driving limits, but I could tell the car wasn’t even breathing hard.  It’s no wonder this very car is the fastest production car in existence, and it has the record and signatures to show for it."

 

 

 

At the end of our track time Joe got to run his ACR around the track for 3 sessions in a row. 

 

 

Clint Shearer also got to run his DC Performance ’05 Paxton supercharged Copperhead SRT around the track for 3 sessions.  The last few laps he said the car was running bad and had no power.  Clint was worried that he’d hurt the engine.  Doug Seal’s 08 SSG SRT had overheated and spit antifreeze after his runs around the track so I looked Clint’s car over.  Everything looked fine.  But, the intercooler looked like the Paxton base kit and Clint said that he thought the intercooler was the original Paxton unit.  I told Clint that the Paxton’s had a tendency to heat soak and his system being ‘pumped up’ to over 700rwhp it should have an upgraded intercooler for racing and once his car cooled down I was sure it would run fine again.  A half hour later Clint headed for the Hotel and the engine was building that 700+rwhp again and running beautifully.

 

 

 

When you step on the throttle the ac turns off.  Joe’s ACR was warm while Joe was hot and sweaty.  We stopped at the bathrooms at the end of the garages.  Joe came out of the bathroom as a Go Kart pulled up, the driver dumped coolers of ice onto the pavement.  Sweaty Joe yelled at him, “You’re wasting that.  You can’t just throw that onto the ground.”  Joe ran over and squatting down he grabbed handfuls of ice and threw it against himself while moaning in Orgasmic delight.  I just laughed while the Kart guy seemed horrified.  Joe and I wandered through Archer racing’s trailer and spoke with a few of the racers before heading back to his ACR.  When we got there the Golf Kart came back, Joe ripped off his shirt and ran to the Kart. 

 

 

"You can’t waste this," Joe said as he opened one of the coolers.  Looking, then stuffing his head inside the cooler Joe picked it up and dumped it over himself.  I grabbed a couple pics as the Kart driver and I were laughing.  Joe really got ‘dumped’ on and maybe an ice cube went down his pants as he was doing the “one legged dance” for a few minutes. 

 

 

 

This time as I got into Joe’s ACR, I noticed his floormats.

 

 

On display in the garages were most of the race cars and Vipers were filling the garage on the other side of the street.  A Carbon Fiber bodied SRT coupe with a 1600+rwhp Twin Turbo stole the show.  Built to conquer the Texas mile, ART brought this car for display purposes.  Because there will be a “Race the Base Top Speed Challenge” next year at the Canadian  AFBase in Cold Lake, Alberta – I spent an hour speaking to the owners of ART about the possibility of them bringing this coupe to Canada to compete against the World’s Fastest Ferrari.  They said that the car had been built to conquer the Texas mile and “Yes,” they were definitely interested in coming to Canada to set records.

 

 

 

Friday night banquet was at the SLC Olympic Ice Oval where the ’04 Winter Olympics curling and speed skating events were held.  Curling and skating were happening while we were there.  Dodge CEO, Ralph Gilles was there and he unveiled the new Challenger Drag-pak car.  Slightly more than 80 will be sold and these cars come with an 800bhp Viper engine.  They will run 9.3@148mph was my information.  Mopar sponsored the food and drinks that night for more than a thousand people. 

 

 

The VCA Voodoo raffle car was drawn and won by Stephanie Izard of Calif.  It took her quite awhile to run out of energy and stop jumping up and down.  “Happy” isn’t even close to what Stephanie experienced.

 

Saturday Joe and I followed the instructions for the cruise to SLC’s Heritage Village.  We looked at the monuments and then went to the Eagle Gate where we met and spoke with Mormon brother Stephen Shepard about the restored/rebuilt village.  Joe posed with him for a pic.  (Joe’s the one on the left)

 

 

We then cruised to the site of the Olympic ski jumping and Athletes performed for us on their hi-tech, water-lubed, man-made ski slope landing in a large pool of aerated water.

 

 

 

Finally we arrived, as per instructions, at the main street of Park City and parked along the sidewalk as part of the more than 200 Viper car show.  I saw a couple of Park City Policemen, Jeremy and Scott, who seemed friendly so I wandered over and asked, “Would you guys arrest someone for me?”  Looking at my camera officer Jeremy Eaton said, “Who?”  I picked a Viper owner (we all have a sense of humor) and pointed.  The police started to explain to this Viper owner that no one had complained about speeding yet … when the owner reached into his car, grabbed a 2 way radio and said, “I’m calling my lawyer.”  Yes, some Lawyers drive Vipers … and have friends.

 

 

 

 

We were given plastic lunch money and went off in search of a great restaurant, which we found.  After eating a massive cheeseburger my face was sore for an hour.  Once lunch was finished we walked through the Vipers on display and converted a Mustang owner into a “wanna-be” Viper owner!  President of Tn/Al, Chip Winter, had an issue that his hood wouldn’t close so I spent a few minutes, figured out that the secondary latch was stuck, gave it a push and he was ready to go.  He was attending the VOI with his wife Lisa of the lovely McCarter twins of Country Music fame.  They drove several thousand miles from Nashville to be here. I didn’t find out that the McCarter twins were country singers until later. 

 

Several people did little burnouts as they were leaving.  So Joe waited until we were past the parked cars and as soon as the road was open he wound it up and dumped the clutch.  The new PS2s on the back hooked up well and we did a tiny burnout, but leaped to 55mph in an instant.  That was when we saw the Park City Policeman, Jeremy, a half block in front of us.  Oops, Joe quickly slowed, then pulled up to Jeremy and asked, sheepishly, “Do you know the fastest way out of town?”  The finger pointed west.

 

We made it back to the Hotel soon enough that I attended the SRT Engineer’s Tech session.  I always enjoy the tech sessions as it is fantastic to speak to the guys that designed MY dream car.  I also ask any questions that Chuck Tator, Larry Macedo and Dan Cragin can’t answer for me.  I always enjoy speaking with Herb Helbig (the Grailkeeper) and Dick Winkles (SRT engine engineer) as I leave those conversations a little smarter than I was before.  Herb Helbig (the Grailkeeper) is a great story teller and when he’s in the room he always has some stories.  Forged pistons lose hp compared to ‘cast’ pistons because the forged pistons are too stiff to conform to the shape of the cylinder bore.  Some forged pistons that the SRT engineers tested lost as much as 40hp while the one custom made by Mahle only lost about 4hp over the factory cast pistons. 

 

 

 

I learned the ZR1 corvette did go back to the Nurburgring and Magnusson ran with Viper Pilot Sport Cups and still couldn’t get close to the ACR’s record time.   The ZR1’s posted bhp is 638 but they dyno 540rwhp same as the Gen 4 Viper.  I took several pages of notes and during the event I spoke with Ralph Gilles (learned some racing tips), Herb Helbig (learned some design stuff and history), Dick Winkles (SRT 10 engines) and even met Mike Stephens (the Mamba King).

 

The SRT guys took Dodge’s wining driver (Kuno Wittmer) out to a race track for some testing and found that the   Viper SRT10 ran 1:30.6 sec.

                                     The  Viper ACR   ran  1:26.7sec.        – a difference of 4 sec                  

And the                               Viper ACRX ran  1:22.6 sec.          between each model!

 

At dinner I saw Jim Tait (W. Cda president for 2011) wearing a “God Invented Vipers so Vette Guys Would Have Heros” T shirt and asked where he bought it.  He said that he’d seen Ralph Gilles wearing it and asked how he could get one.  Ralph said, “Wait a minute.”  He went back to his room and came out in a different T shirt, giving Jim the shirt off his back! 

 

 

    

 

An auction was held for momentos and memorabilia with proceeds going towards the VCA coffers and expences.  The Camerons purchased this airbrushed wall hanging …  They’re hoping that they will receive it before March …

 

Ralph gave a speech from in front of a covered car.  The new 2012 Viper Concept?  No, Ralph’s joke, it was a Ferrari 599.  Later we were allowed a sneek peak at the new Viper concept.  Under car covers the cars looked alike.  At the viewing I decided that the Gen5 Viper concept looked like a GTS and a Ferrari 599 had sex … with this new Viper concept being the result.

Sitting in Grand America’s lobby late Saturday night with Tim Anglin (Bottlefed), Chad (V10 lover) and Clint Shearer (C-note) was great.  Although I’d spent years corresponding and interacting with these guys on the internet, meeting them in person was like meeting with old friends again.  Ralph Gilles was wandering by so we talked with him for a half hour as well. 

 

JonB and Doris Rose were the certified Pacecar drivers that started off the races Sunday.  Dodge executives and other VIPs got to ride the backseat and start the races on Sunday.

 

 

 

When Tomball Dodge’s ACRX broke a rear wheel and pulled into pit row it was the "other team" that was running to find another wheel to fit the car.  Even Tom Sessions came over to help out.

 

 

Sunday was the World Challenge Sports Car Wars, which was won by Dodge’s new company driver Kuno Wittmer in a Viper Comp Coupe.  Second and third place were taken by Volvos.  I didn’t see any Corvettes at the front of the pack.  The Volvos were specially equipped racing turbo’d race cars and nothing like stock. 

 

Viper Days race saw Ralph Gilles (CEO) qualify in third and he finished on the Podium!  I’d like to see the Ford and GM CEOs out racing against Ralph.  I think Ralph would annihilate them, even if we gave them an ACRX to drive, lol. 

 

 

 

 

The event finished Sunday evening with a Farewell dinner hosted by the Colorado and Utah clubs.  Jon of Partsrack had brought along $10,000 worth of donations to hand out.  Everyone got a ticket when they entered the Banquet hall.  Door prizes were drawn most of the night.  Famous Viper and Dodge execs gave short speeches and the evening was great fun.  I stepped into the Hallway to call my wife because the hour was getting late.  When I sat back at my table, Tim Anglin (web-id is Bottlefed) informed me that my number had been called, but the prize had been given to someone else.  I was still smiling when Jon called out my name and I got to pick a Dodge Ram watch (I own a 2008 Hemi Ram).  I won the table’s centerpiece and at the end of the evening Jon called out the 3 big prizes he was giving away.  The Corsa Cat-back exhaust and the pair of Michelin PS2 tires went to ticket holders at the front of the room.  But when Jon started calling out the numbers for the big prize there were 3 of us, at the back, that stood when Jon called out 4 of the numbers.  Turned out that the new, couple thousand dollar hi-tech Belanger Tri-Y headers were coming home to ME, thankyou Lou Belanger!  Nearly everyone in the room won a door prize and many people won a few of them.  Thanks to JonB.

 

Monday morning Joe and I packed up his GTS and after saying good bye to Herb Helbig (the Grail Keeper) and Mike Stephens (the Mamba King) we headed west to Las Vegas starting our way home. while they headed back to Detroit. 

 

 

 

We did leave some money in Vegas, but we wore our “Viper – The legend lives on” T shirts and showed them to Carrol Shelby’s staff when we visited Shelby Motors … and that kind of helped the pain.

 

 

I couldn’t fly directly home as there were no tickets available, so I flew to Williams Lake and my wife drove the 200 miles to pick me up there.  On our way home we drove the “bypass” detour that had been built while I was at SLC.  Extreme dusty conditions were evident as we followed a pilot car for 35 miles of logging roads.  Once I got home I sent out applications so that I could help out the communities.  I drove a 40 Ton Rock Truck on the McClinchy River washout and then drove Rock Truck to repair the river beds and highway in the Bella Coola Valley.  McClinchy area highway repairs were finished on Nov. 9th.  Bella Coola repairs are expected to be finished sometime around Xmas! Bella Coola upgrades and repairs were still continueing through Feb when I took drove a couple friends down the famous Bella Coola Hill.

 

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Categories: Dodge Viper Stories

5 Responses so far.

  1. Well I was just searching on Google for some videos and songs of my favorite singers and just came across your blog, generally I just visit blogs and retrieve my required information but this time the useful information that you posted in this post pushed me to reply here and absorb your good work. I just bookmarked your blog?.

  2. Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thanks However I am experiencing subject with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting similar rss problem? Anyone who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  3. Trevor Cameron says:

    Hey Ted,
    I did not see this article until just now and it’s great. I really like this format and the pics. Hoping I will actually see the hood I bought soon. It was also signed by both Ralph Gilles and Herb Helbig on the upper corners after we purchased it at the auction.

    Trevor and Terri

  4. Thank you for the article, I even learned a lot from it. Super good content on this site. Always looking forward to new entry.

  5. Jim Tait says:

    Great work Ted, I think everyone from our club had a fantastic time and your photos will add to the memories.

    Thanks again;

    Jim

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