Viper Nation

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

RTTTTed On February - 9 - 2011


Top Speed Challenge



     As the two million dollar Ferrari Enzo shifted into second and third gears it was pulling away from the fighter jet CF-18 of the Canadian Air Force.  The Jet had better get a move on if it was going to be in front of the Enzo when its wheels lifted off the Tarmac. 

      Working with Lt. Col. R. Carter, Zahir Rana of ZR Auto ( had spent a lot of money, time and effort to create this Top Speed Challenge event, the first of its type ever held in Canada.  The parallel runways at the Cold Lake Air Force Base were to be used to time high speed runs of nearly every top supercar built in the world.  There were 2 runways to be used for practice on Friday and the Challenge would take place on the 2.5 mile long runway Saturday.  Sunday was left available in case of a rainout either or the other days.  1.8 miles was marked for acceleration and .7 miles was left for braking and deceleration.  Although 82 supercars were slated to compete for the highest speed in Western Canada, the main event was Zahir’s highly modified Enzo racing against the CF-18 fighter jet.  A Tank was also in attendence near the Jet at the starting area.  He did  not make a run …


     Four Wing AFB is located between Bonnyville and Cold Lake communities.  Aligned with the Dream Wheels Weekend, this was a huge Charity event.  Supporting Veterans Survivors, Bonnyville Health Foundation and Western Canada Breast Cancer organizations, this event was important to the economy of this area and also improved the relationship of the base and it’s surrounding communities.  Cold Lake is just 3 hours travel northeast of Edmonton, Alberta. 

     Louie Gierstorfer sent me an email notifying me of the event and its deadline of midnight for entry.  The West Chilcotin, where I live, was burning up at an accelerating rate with a dozen Forest Fires 30 miles from my home and business.  I did contact Zahir at ZR Auto and … although I couldn’t commit the $1500 donation required to enter my 720+rwhp Dodge Viper GTS, Zahir granted me a Media pass … if I could attend.  I convinced my friend Darryl Welfen (owner of Airtek Systems of Edmonton) to enter his Oreca style Viper GTS with 800rwhp.  Having just purchased this custom built land speed car, it was to be a shakedown run for Daryl’s new car and all for a good cause.  Greg Phillips and Zahir worked extra to get Darryl’s Viper into the competition.  Darryl required special attention as his car had to be transported from Phoenix, Az., taxes paid to cross the border and checked out prior to running 200mph. 

     I left home on Thursday to get to Airtek’s shop in case Darryl needed help prepping his Viper.  Driving through the Rockies on my 750 mile journey to Edmonton I ran into a rainstorm that was suited to Hurricanes, not the Mountains passes of the Yellowhead Hwy. 

For many miles I was forced to 20mph because of the volume of rain falling out of the sky.  A “Rice Rocket” sport bike passed by with the rider hunched over the tank, flashing through the rain.  As I drove along thankful for my hardtop coupe I wished the ‘crazy’ man on the motorcycle a safe journey.  Driving out of the Rockies onto the prairie the sun finally came out.  Unfortunately, the rain came back as I approached Edmonton.

     Dark and raining again I drove into Edmonton and placed calls to my cousin and Darryl, then stopped for a Burger as I drove into town from the west.  After eating and refilling my coffee cup I followed directions to Airtek’s shop.  Nearly finished Darryl had the Viper running and was just finishing some work on the fuel cell.  I looked the car over with him and also saw that everything looked perfect.  Assured that Darryl had everything under control I spent the evening at my cousin’s and was heading out of Edmonton by 9am.  Driving northeast along Hwy 28 my radar detector informed me of 5 radar units in an area of only 4 miles, near the Boyle turnoff.  The next time my detector went off was a half mile farther and I was going slightly over the speed limit.  I got a ticket for going 6mph over the speed limit.  I pulled over between the farm fields and since the sheriff shot me with radar, I shot him with my Camera.  Since my Dodge Viper has massive 14” brakes it is one of the shortest stopping cars in the world.  My Viper needs only slightly more than half the stopping distance of the Police car, and yet … a ticket for 6 mph too fast?  The half of ‘normal’ stopping distance is only one of the reasons these premium sports cars are called Supercars.  Superb handling and accident avoidance are a couple more reasons.

     I did find the AFB and the entrance to the event was obvious by the half dozen M16 armed soldiers standing at a gate in the chain link fencing.  I was directed to park and walk in.  My name being added to the list I went through the gate and wandered down the line of supercars parked along the pavement. 



I’ve never seen so many Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis before.  As well there was a Spyker, a Jaguar, Mercedes SLS/SLR/SL63/SL65’s, 4 Nissan GTRs, a 2010 Viper Voodoo ACR, Louie’s supercharged Viper SRT10, 4 ZR1s and Steve Eisneberg’s (Davenport Motorsports) 800rwhp Twin Turbo Z06 vette, 4 Ford GTs, a black 99 Viper GTS with the plate “Nitrous”, 2 Audi R8s, several Porsches and the first Maserati MC12 I’d ever seen in person.  The Canadian Armed Forces had a tank, several Jets and two bomb robots moving around through the area. 

A few small tents were set up and the public was being guided shooting a BAR rifle and an M16!  I walked around the army tents amazed at all the cars, jets, military equipment, people and large screen TVs.  Finally I went into the massive events tent and met Zahir Rahan.  Zahir was the director and having brought 5 of his cars to the event, he was a busy man.  Originally from South Africa, Zahir owns a very successful Exotic Car shop where he ‘tunes’ and sells high-end exotic cars in Calgary, Alberta.

     Inside the largest tent was coffee, tea, and buffet was served with fillet mignon as the focus.  Some of the best food I’ve enjoyed was what I scooped onto my paper plate.  Later Tiger Prawns, stuffed mushrooms and other exotics foodstuffs were unexpected, but surprisingly fitting in this strange environment.  The rain held off, but we did get sprinkles that slowed the cars high speed runs now and then.  Zahir had stated that it was a Safety first situation and race car instructors were present to accompany all drivers – except Darryl’s single seater GTS.  Surprisingly, Darryl’s instructor Roland came over and Spoke with us at length about his days as a race driver for the winning French Oreca Viper GTSR team.  Back in 1996 the Vipers entered F1 and Lemans competition and turned that world on its head.


     Several times a pair of the famed snowbird jets flew over us.  Those jets are much slower than a CF-18 fighter jet.   These planes are called Tudors and are side by side training jets.  A large Helicopter was used for spotting, Discovery Channel’s film crew and security.  I’m sure the Heli was the best seat in the house.  The runway was too long to see it all from either end or the middle, only the Heli could see the entire runs.

     A candy apple red Saleen S7 was there and made a run, the exhaust was loud enough that misfires could be heard at shift points.  A 1970 Hemi GTX was there and made a run or two.  Standing beside the car lineup and the Maserati MC12 came towards me.  It was driven by an extremely attractive blonde in her mid twenties.  Later, I asked Greg Phillips if she was a model?  He laughed and informed me that she was quite the excellent race car driver.  Several Ferraris and Lambos had louder exhaust than stock and the number of these exotics that were modified was surprising. 

     It was difficult to find any of the speeds being run as the rain had caused problems with the loudspeaker systems.  A list of Car numbers and speeds was emailed to me at a later date so that I could complete this article.  I wandered around the start area taking pictures of these amazing cars beginning their speed runs.  Everyone got 2 practice runs on Friday.  Only a couple of the supercars displayed any need for tuning or adjustments on Friday. 

     Everyone left the AF Base and went to their Hotels to clean up before reporting to a “Street Party” in the Town of Cold Lake.  This was part of the Dream Wheels event.  Louie, Don, Steve and I drove our supercars to the Cold Lake main street and were directed to a parking lot.  Don Campbell was actually driving his wife, Chris’s, ’08 Viper coupe.  Since it was raining he decided to leave his 2001 RT10 750rwhp roadster Viper at home and bring the wife’s coupe.  The street was FULL.  There were a couple of bands playing in the street, Supercars parked from one end of town to the other.  We walked into a couple of restaurants where the waits were an hour or more.  Louie and Sharon’s daughter, with grandkids, were in our group so the outdoor Tavern was out of the question.  We wandered around the crowded street for awhile looking for another place to eat.  All were filled beyond their capacity so we walked a few blocks away from Main Street and had a quiet dinner at the Best Western Hotel.  It was good to talk with Louie & Sharon Gierstorfer, Don & Chris Campbell and finally meet Steve Eisenberg of Davenport Motorsports (with his mechanical genius).  After a few hours we headed back to our cars and then our Hotels.  Saturday breakfast was served at the AFB in the massive green tent.  Again amazing fare and breakfast was enjoyed by all.  After breakfast I sat at the end of the tent to enjoy my coffee and listen to the driver’s meeting instructions.

     Light sprinkles of rain on occasion again today.  Darryl managed to run a 317kph time trial, but the next run he spun a donut as he was completing his turn onto the runway.  Undaunted, he just throttled through the donut and drove back onto the runway applying the ‘loud pedal’ as needed, still managing a 306kph run.  Louie Gierstorfer’s Paxton supercharger pushed his 2003 Viper SRT10 to a speed of 307kph which was an equal to the 2010 Mercedes SLR’s speed.  I did speak with the owner who said he was unsatisfied and I got the impression that Zahir’s shop was going to be modifying an SLR during the winter.

     Saturday David Forrest managed to run 279kph in his Hemi powered 1970 GTX.  A brand new car – a week old 2010 Voodoo ACR Viper (#10 of 32), from Victoria, finished with a 279kph ‘break-in’ speed.  A 2008 Venom Red Viper SRT10 equipped with silver stripes managed to turn a time of 294kph stock.  Steve Eiserman’s Twin Turbo Z06 corvette ran one of the faster times at 336kph on Saturday.  Steve informed me that he figured out short shifting is faster and next year he’ll be back to prove it.  It was an unfortunate time for the Saleen S7 as he came back to the pits with smoke blowing out his exhaust.  A newer Shelby Mustang GT500 returned from a run with his oil pressure gauge showing zero and that put him to the side. 

     I spoke with the owner of one of my childhood dream cars, a Maserati Countach.  His times were good for a supercar of those long gone days (1988).  He told me that he was just driving, not “beating the car” because he lived in Saskatchewan and the Countach was his ride home.  He said that the old cars are even more expensive to fix because of the difficulty finding parts.  Most of the parts have to be custom made.  He was just happy to drive his car and participate. 

     2 motorcycles were also allowed to participate.  The four Nissan GTRs were stock except one that had modified his exhaust and his speed was 285kph. 

     One of the Ford GTs brought a full Nitrous Oxide bottle and his modified supercharged GT ran 344kph for his run.  On the total numbers 18 cars ran speeds higher than 300kph.  Only 3 supercars couldn’t manage faster than 250kph.   Most of the Ferraris, Murcielagos, Gallardos, and Audi R8s managed the high two hundred kph speeds with a few going past the 300kph Challenge.  

     Zahir brought 5 supercars to this event.  Being a family event his daughter was driving one of his cars.  Zahir Rahan’s modified Enzo managed 367kph (onboard gps) while racing the CF 18.  The Fighter Jet raced Zahir’s Enzo from a standing start and took most of the runway before catching and then passing Zahir’s Enzo before the finish line.  Being a Charity event the CF-18 came around and did slow ground passes against each of 6 supercars that donated heavily for the priveledge of running beside a screaming Hornet. 

     Rides in all these supercars passenger seats were auctioned off, again for charity.  Dream Wheels was certainly true for many people that donated between several hundred to as much as ten thousand dollars for the privilege of that passenger seat ride.  The lady that rode Louie’s Viper passenger seat stopped by our table at the Banquet and she was still smiling while being on that adrenaline high that Supercar owners know all about.  These people not only got a street ride in their dream car, but they got a speed run down the runway.   Then all the supercars lined up to parade behind the flashing Blue and Red lights of the Police from the base to Bonnyville Centennial Centre where the cars lined up for another show, then the celebratory Banquet.  Both the Street Car Show in Cold Lake and the Centennial Center Car Shows had more than just the participant’s vehicles.  Don Campbell and I parked our Vipers in the compound as well.  The owner of the black ’99 Viper GTS came over to me and asked about my Roe Racing supercharger kit and many of the other modifications I had done to my Viper.  He wasn’t happy with the performance of his stock GTS and wanted to improve its performance.  While explaining the difference between my Roe twin-screw supercharger and the more common Paxton centrifugal style superchargers I noticed that his eyes glazed over.  “Please explain it to my friend as he does all the work on my car,” he said.

     The banquet was opened by speeches from the mayor, Zahir, his wife.  Lt. Col. Rob Carter of the AFB gave a short speech that this was a first of its kind event in Canada.  He explained that the entire event had gone off without a hitch.  Everything, other than some electronics, worked better than expected.  No problems with security, although the Col. Stated that the week before, his base had ‘chased’ a Russian bomber out of Canadian airspace.  During the entire event the AFB had been under alert and defending our country even though our 2 runways were busy.  The Lt. Col. further explained that Ottawa was involved in the planning and that had taken nearly a year.

     The event was a resounding success.  Zahir had awards custom built for the people that helped him the most.  With the help of his wife they called each person onto the stage and thanked them.  Speakers for the charities took the podium and thanked the people in attendance for their generosity.  Bonnyville’s mayor explained that he had carried “worry beads” the entire event and was now ready to put them away.  When Zahir, the mayor, Lt. Col, Carter and their helpers were standing on stage … they deserved the standing ovation that they received.  It was announced that this Charity event went so well and raised an unexpected amount of money for the charities that Race the Base Top Speed Challenge will be held again! 

     Personally, I noticed that safety was a big factor at this event and instructors were there to help or answer any questions.  They also watched your speedometer at the end of the run, because who’s nuts enough to take their eyes of the road when going 300kph?  Zahir had contracted and had DVDs made of this event and the “Race the Base” DVD is merely one of the many Exotic Car DVDs Zahir has for sale on his website  One thing I enjoyed watching Zahir’s movies is that no Honda Civics pass the supercars, reality is a nice touch.

    I left the Banquet and started my 1023 mile trip home to Nimpo Lake in the West Chilcotin region of BC.  Driving through the area near Boyle’s turnoff, I was shot by hidden radar (cameras?) again.

     When I got home safely and was collecting information for this article I asked Greg Phillips why I hadn’t met him at Zahir’s event.  Greg said, “I couldn’t make it but I think I passed you in the Mountains.  Do you remember a motorcycle going the other way?” 

       It’s a small world, ain’t it?                                   

                                                                                                                      -the end-


Recent update;  Planning has begun for the 2012 RTB Top Speed Challenge!    (Mar. 2011)




Categories: Dodge Viper Stories

4 Responses so far.

  1. Brian Dunsterville says:

    Wow! Great article! I am interested in getting a copy of the results of the speed runs. I was the 2008 BMW M5 (Car #29) in the 2010 event and I topped out at 320 km/h in my HUD display on my last two runs – I was never sent a copy of the results and I am very interested in seeing what my car actually did.
    Alternatively, you could send it to my Air Fore email account: ?

    Thanks in advance!

    Brian R. Dunsterville
    Major, RCAF

  2. Dwight Brymer says:

    Great article and pictures. You have captured the event very well.

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