Viper Nation

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

RTTTTed On October - 24 - 2011

                      

          World’s Fastest Road Rally  2011                                                                                                             

 

                                          – the SSCC

 

 

The World’s Fastest Open Road Rally is a high speed, 90 mile road rally held in the high desert of Nevada.  Always being addicted to high performance and adrenaline rushes, I added this Rally to my “things to do before I Die” list and now was the time.  I’d prepaid my entry fees, and arranged for another Viper owner to be my navigator.

 

Before the 2011 Langley Cruise-In, HID/High Intensity Discharge lighting systems had been installed in my Viper by Vlad of www.autovisio.com . 

 

 

After spending the day in this largest car show in the Pacific Northwest, I headed south, towards Las Vegas to compete in the Silver State Classic Challenge, with my bright new lighting.

 

 

I drove to Joe Christopherson’s house (another Viper buddy) in Seattle to visit, and search for a Toe-link for my Viper.  Although 3 professionals had done wheels alignments on my car they’d somehow missed the worn out Toe-link in my rear suspension.  Heading for a high speed event I’d spent several hours, in my garage, going over my car and found that my RR tire would move ¾” front and back when pushed by hand.  Now I knew what the ‘clunk’ was when stepping on my brakes.  JonB of PartsRack.com had made some calls and that part wouldn’t be available for 3 weeks from Dodge.

 

I visited with Joe and Debbie, and then slept in their spare room.  Joe made some calls around Washington looking for a replacement part.  Archer Racing had a used part, but that was in Wisconsin and ‘plan B’ if I needed it.  Cam McCracken called and said that he’d be happy to remove the good Toe-link in his Viper and help me install it into my GTS.  I headed to Monroe where Cam and I switched out Toe-links.  My car felt much better when I left Cam’s barn.  It no longer wanted to change lanes when I stepped on the throttle.  I spent another night with Joe and Deb’s and was driving South on I-5 before 8am. 

 

 

 

I left sunshine in Seattle, which turned into a dark cloudy day and Thunderstorms by southern Oregon.  I was passed by several Fire Trucks going to new Forest Fires started by lightning strikes.  North of Reno I pulled over to the side of the highway and took some pics of my car highlighted by a pink/red sunset. 

 

 

South of Reno the lightning and rain started again.  Desert lightning is different, the lightning bolts shoot between clouds more than they do to the ground, but in Las Vegas I did see some lightning crashing into the City.  I followed the GPS instructions to the Host Hotel, Sam’s Town.  I arrived about 4am and booked my room at the amazing price of $30 per night for a clean, modern room. 

 

 

 

I slept until about 10am and headed off to an appointment with a small alignment shop just down the road 2 miles from Sam’s Town.  When I arrived the owner told me that he’d aligned many Vipers.  As we walked towards my car I asked him if he had some 2 by 4s to drive up the ramp with.  He took one look at my Viper (again) and said, “That car’s lowered and won’t fit onto the machine,” and started walking away.  I pointed out that I’d already had 2 alignments done on the same type machine.  Then, thinking, “This guys isn’t even smart enough to understand HOW to get my car onto the alignment machine – did I want him working on my car?”  I got in my car and went back to the Hotel to started phoning.  Chrysler wanted $350 and weren’t sure they could do the job, but they’d try.  A place called Bob’s Autodynamics said that he would and could do my alignment the next day at 1pm so I made an appointment.  I headed off to Sam’s Town buffet where they fed me like “Mom used to do” for $9.99. 

 

Next morning I drove to American Racing Supplies and bought a Snell 2010 full face helmet.  At a Leather shop I bought gloves for Tim and I, as that was required safety equipment.  At Bob’s Autodynamics they realigned my wheels and went over all the suspension bolts and mounts.  He did an excellent job and my cost was less than $150. 

 

I had competed in a couple Rallies before this, VCA Mountain Climb (2nd place) and with Trevor Cameron we had collected the first (Rooky class) and 2nd trophies (Overall) but Trevor couldn’t make this one.  Tim Anglin was the guy that suggested we build a website that wasn’t merely a social gathering forum or an entertainment forum but one that was focused on fixing, tuning and modifying Vipers.  A website that explained doing modifications and technicalities, making Viper owners more intimate with their cars.  We hoped to help owners enjoy their Viper experience more.  www.thevipergarage.com and www.vipernation.com were what we built.  Tim was to be my navigator for the Rally.  Since Tim and I live a couple thousand miles apart we don’t get to visit much.  Tim’s car was still being modified so he volunteered to ride my co-driver’s seat. 

 

Thurs. morning found us taking pics of the sunrise at the Vegas Speedway complex. 

 

 

Mario Andretti’s Racing School was mandatory for SSCC rookie racers.  Blue was in charge of the 36 Rookies this year and gave us the directions on proper driving techniques.  He was one of the instructors that went onto the road course.  After basic instructions we started with “follow the leader”.  We were split into groups of six for track orientation.  I was amazed that the three cars in front of me were not “following exactly in the tracks of the instructor” as ordered, but were all over the track and following no line or apexing any corners.  Even the owner of a Ford GT looked to be out for just a Sunday drive.  It suddenly became obvious why rookies were required to take basic driving instruction. 

 

 

 

When it was my turn to drive the course with an instructor, after the first lap he said that obviously I knew what I was doing and could turn off at the next exit.  Tim, driving my Viper, ran one more lap to acquire his certificate.  After everyone had been around the course and those that needed it received enough instruction to competently drive the course well, we all gathered at the office where Blue gave everyone final instructions and tips on the Rally.  Blue informed us that our group of rookies had managed to be the shortest class he’d ever had.  We were also one of the largest groups of Rookies he’s had.

 

 

Back at Sam’s Town we packed our bags and put non-essential stuff into Tim’s Saturn while packing my Viper with stuff that we needed in Ely.  Sam’s Town was accommodating and extended parking privileges to participants.  One Rally requirement was sponsorship decals be affixed to my car and we did that in the shade of the parking garage. 

 

Then we went to the SSCC luncheon, which included several international media people and a Camera crew.  There was a Team from Japan writing for a Japanese Sport scar Magazine and a Team from Sweden.  Buick engineers were “testing” their new Turbo’d 270 hp 2.0L engine Regal SS.  A navigator from England and nearly a dozen people from Denmark made up some other Teams.  We lined up our cars in the Hotel garage, and then paraded north along Hwy 318 to Ely. 

 

 

Blue stopped along the route several times and explained what we were to do, tips, hints and procedures for the Rally.  This included the “Narrows” – the only serious corners of the course.  In Ely Tim had booked us a reasonably priced Motel where we checked in, changed and then went to the “Welcome party”.  There was a couple different weather systems along the way.

 

 

Friday morning was technical and safety inspection.  Waking up to rain, we went to the Park and were ‘teched’ quickly and efficiently.  Parked to the side was a Racing Solutions Inc. 1000rwhp 2004 Viper.  Tim and I wandered over and spoke with the owner Mark Capener for a few minutes before he moved his car to the middle of the road for tech.  A screech, pop and a loud hiss meant that he had a flat.  Mark explained that his valve stem caps had been plastic ones and he’d had steel ones installed to pass tech.  Unfortunately, they were a miniscule amount longer and had snapped the aluminium valve stems in his front wheels when they hit his brake calipers.  He called for his trailer and went to get it fixed.

 

I had entered the Mile shootout and received an email that my car did not have the required 165mph safety equipment, so I was changed to the Half-mile Shootout instead.  Now raining heavily, the Half-mile Shootout was postponed until Saturday, the day of the Mile Shootout.  Back at the Motel I caught up on our website and my emails then Tim and I crossed the street and ate breakfast at the café.  Once the rains stopped I used microfiber towels to dry my car, as did half the Motel’s guests.  Michael Fine and his navigator John Brimmer, in the room next to us, also dried their modified Dodge Magnum.  They seemed like great buys so we invited them along to supper at the café with us.  After dinner we were treated to a Parade of Rally cars going past.  We’d assumed the Parade through town was cancelled by the rain; we quickly paid out bill, jumped in our cars and joined the parade.  They turned at the end of town and the Parade ended at the Navigator’s mandatory meeting.  Right after that was the mandatory Driver’s meeting.  By then we thought we understood enough to run the Rally with a reasonable chance of success.

 

Saturday morning we drove to the Car Show at the High School.  This was mandatory to all participants, except the half and mile Shootout participants.  After an hour, we followed Michael’s Magnum, heading for the Shootouts.  We parked with everyone else and waited for our group to be called and run the Shootout. 

 

 

 

 

 

 The safety guys didn’t feel that my Viper trunk cover was adequate for a rollover so they emptied out my trunk, camera, clothes and everything to the side of the road.  The 4 tire inspection guys got on their hands and knees to visually inspect my tires, looking and feeling the treads of the entire circumference (about 8’).  Then I finally got to wind up all 8 liters of Roe supercharged engine and drop the hammer on my 335 Michelins and “Go for the Gusto.”  I read 154 to 146mph on my Speedo during my 3 runs.  The Japanese Magazine Team really loved my Viper.  They took pics at the car show and here at the Half-mile Shootout.  They were standing, camera in hand at the starting line when Tim and I pulled up.  Although their English wasn’t good, these guys sure didn’t have any trouble enjoying the language of my Viper.  One of my friends emailed me a link to MY GTS Half mile video on youtube.com that was posted by the Japanese team (www.supercar.net).  I asked one of the starter crew my speed and was told it was a secret ‘till Sunday night awards ceremony.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3hIKj2z4bA

 

 

Afterwards we parked my car in the shade and watched the Mile Shootout.  It was an interesting spectacle as I’d never seen a NASCAR, a ’32 pickup or the “Big Red” Camaro run for high speed in a mile.  I was a little disappointed as all the Mile cars started off the line softly and sure didn’t look very impressive.  I’d guessed the Camaro as a 9 sec drag car with high gears and the old pickup about the same.  The Miller Light Nascar was a surprise, crapping out badly at the start but cleaning out down the road.  Then it seemed to rev well beyond normal limits and kept revving. 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMXCLZ3H4ZM

 

Mark Capener couldn’t be heard in his RSI 1,000rwhp TT 2004 Viper Twin Turbo, but he did go sideways when he leaned on the throttle a little hard during his mile run.  Mark also competed his RSI TT Viper in the Half-mile Shootout.  It sounded like a Hybrid it was so quiet.

 

To run the Rally and learning from my earlier safety inspection, I removed everything from my trunk, tucked all small objects and tools under my spare tire.  Then I used a tie down strap from my bolted down spare, over and through the handles of my suitcase and emergency kit.  I had everything inside my ‘trunk’ secure before we left the Motel the next morning.  We did have one bag too many, Michael tucked it under the rear floor of the Magnum.  We were good to Rally!

 

At the pre-starting grid surprises were waiting, John Hennessey’s Venom GT and another mega-buck supercar, the Ultimate Aero, were sitting in the early morning sun.  I wondered if they were to compete in the unlimited class.  There was only about a half dozen cars in the performance category of these two.  But, they weren’t here to race.  They were travelling with the BBC/UK Top Gear TV show and had been filming outside of Ely the day before.  No SSCC for them. 

 

 

We lined up in our spot (113) along highway 318 waiting our turn to run.  The Hwy had been closed early in the morning and was now only for the Rally Cars.  150mph, then slower classes were first off down the road.  180mph and unlimited classes were last to leave the starting line.  Again we went through the safety and tire inspections, but this time none of our stuff went to the side of the road. 

 

 

Our turn, we started off with tires screeching and a wisp of smoke leaving the starting line hard.  I ran past our average speed for a few seconds and then slowed to 105mph, hoping the 0-120 -105 was going to average out.  Tim ran our stopwatches and directed me faster or slower according to the timing of our passing the mile marker posts.  Blue had advised being a little higher than average speed going into the narrows, ‘banking time’ he’d called it.  I agreed with Blue’s advice … for the other guys.  I was driving a highly modified Viper with 14” wide tires and my guess was that I could run the Narrows about 130mph so we had no banked time and entered the narrows at 105mph, right on our average speed.  The Narrows is a blind, counter leaning right turn and then a series of right and left turns that felt like a roller coaster as we zipped through them.  Although we’d driven through the course, I was still surprised by the number of turns; at the speed limit they weren’t really noticeable.

 

Corners do something to me and we picked up speed through the Narrows.  We were nowhere near our “tech” or disqualification speed of 124mph, but I had several seconds to lose so I slowed to 100mph for a few seconds.  Next mile marker we were still too fast and again I slowed.  It was tough for me to slow enough to lose the time we’d gained, but I fought my ‘urges’ and slowed to bring our average speed back down to 105mph. 

 

 

The Rally Course had safety course workers (volunteers) about every mile along the highway.  All those people along the highway “just in case” did make me feel more comfortable.  The mile markers passed by us so fast that I never managed to read a single post and Tim missed a few while looking down at his course notes.  I called them out posts as they went past Tim’s window and we did communicate speeds, times and course notes between us.   Although many veterans opted to run without a navigator, it would be impossible for a rookie to not use a navigator and still be competitive. 

 

Tim called out our times as we passed the last mile markers and we crossed the finish line on our average speed.  Tim figured that we’d run the course within .1 sec of perfect.  Later we found out that was too optimistic.   Once we ran through the finish timing lights we had a mile before the actual “Finish/Stop” line, where we were gifted with participation medals by the lovely Gail Waldman for finishing.  Then she ordered us out of the way.  

 

We spoke with Mike and John; they were sitting in folding chairs, basking in the sun drinking Beers.  We grabbed Tim’s suitcase and tossed it into the back of my Viper. 

 

 

 I walked over to the Buick Team and spoke with drive train engineer John Townsend and lead development engineer Bill Rietows.   These guys were from GM in Michigan and ‘developing’ their newly designed 270bhp 2.0L turbo 4 cylinder engine.  They had certainly decided to subject their new “pride and joy” to some rigid testing out here in the Nevada desert.  This little engine in their 2012 Buick Regal GS was rated the “Highest Specific Power Engine” from GM.  It boasted 135bhp per liter.  The brakes on their new factory hot rod were huge and obviously an upgrade from the most famous Buick, the Grand National.

 

 

Tim and I wandered back to the finish line for the “Rookie Meeting”.  Blue told us that it had been a great Rally and the Rookies were one of the best groups to have run.  We were ordered to pay ‘Homage” to the Queen of Highway 318 as our initiation and graduation from “Rookie status”.  There will be many more Rookie initiations to come, so I won’t spill the rest of what we did out there in the desert sun.

 

Timbo, another of my Viper buddies, is a genius at making what he calls “Viper Trinkets.”   I’d come south with a small gift to show appreciation of many Viper owners for Steve Waldman’s efforts with the “World’s Fastest Open Road Rally”.  Steve owns a beautiful 97

Viper GTS and has been involved in the SSCC Rally from the beginning.  2012 was to be the 25th anniversary of the Rally.  I presented Steve with a high grade Aluminum Sneaky Pete Logo on a split ring.  Tim A. and I felt certain that we’d convinced Mike the next step in his evolution was that he needed a supercharged Viper, not just a supercharger for his Magnum.  We gifted Mike a Gold/Brass Viper keychain (also manufactured by Timbo – Viper benefactor of the East).

 

 

Back at Sam’s Town we sat and spoke with one of the Vancouver Mustang Club Teams, Ken McMillan and his wife, during the awards banquet.  He told us that he’d made a mistake in his timing calculations and he came in last in class.  He also learned something interesting about his new Ford Mustang V6 car he’d run in the Rally – its speed was limited to 115mph!  He didn’t have much chance at winning a 110mph class when his car couldn’t even make the tech speed of 124mph.  Mr. Ford, is that on purpose?  I quit buying Ford pickups when I found out that they were computer limited to 95mph.  It was only when being chased, and passed by some drunks in a Mazda pickup that I found out Ford’s limitations.   After a couple swerves towards me they slowed and pulled over (showed me Mazda is King?).  It still embarrasses me to mention that episode. 

 

One of the veterans entered a Toyota Prius in the Rally.  Intended as a joke when the owner found out his Prius would actually go faster than 100mph, he won his class!  Glad he didn’t have the speed for the 105mph class. 

 

 

The Las Vegas Corvette club is huge and they form the largest group of volunteers.  45 corvettes entered, out of 140 cars.  Much as “spanking corvettes” is one of my favorite hobbies; they certainly deserve credit as this Rally would probably not be possible without their help and support.   

 

During the awards presentation there were a few comments on a couple of driver’s that had disqualified themselves.  In the 140mph class (that I wish to be in next year) all the competitors were corvettes.  One driver was told to “speak to Blue” and rookie school was mentioned as part of that conversation.  Another veteran corvette driver had forgotten to bring his gloves to the starting line and became the first person to purchase the new “I forgot” starting line leather gloves for $150.  The guy wearing the napkin over his face was pointed out for that ‘oops.

 

K&N’s owner is a faithful supporter of the SSCC and a couple of K&N trophy girls were onstage handing out the trophies. 

 

Results of the Rally for Tim and I were that we won 3rd place in the 105mph class! 

 

Although Mark Capener won first in the mile with the highest speed of 205mph he also won the Half-mile Shootout with a speed of 162mph.  A Full mod Porsche was second with a speed of 155mph and we got third with a speed of 151.6mph.

 

 

Blue and his Mother-in-law won 3rd place in the 150mph class with only a .06 time variance.  That class was won by a Porsche with a variance of .049sec.  Bill Bagshaw was driving his Viper in this class as well, although he finished off of the podium.

 

In the unlimited class the Miller Light Nascar hit a speed of 222.6mph through the radar trap and averaged 216mph to Checkpoint 6, when the race was red flagged (stopped).  The “Big Red” Camaro averaged about 187mph showing that he’s slowed down some with age.  His average speed record was 198mph. 22 years ago!

 

 

At the awards banquet we held a moment of silence for Merle Hill and his driver, Rick Dekneef.  Their car must have blown a tire, left the road and exploded, ending the Rally.  A few comments were made; “They died doing what they loved best.”  “Stuff happens.” and “They knew what they were doing.”  That was sad, but we had the impression that everyone involved with SSCC is family and they have a lot of support when they need it.  Rick’s wife gave a short speech stating, “Party because this is Rick’s party!”  That was answered with a standing ovation.  Merle Hill’s mother, Bunny Hill, is “the queen of Highway 318”.

 

Make no mistake, a high speed Rally is not a game, there is no restart button. 

 

 

 -the end-

 

 

 

 

Categories: Dodge Viper Stories

2 Responses so far.

  1. […] Silver State Classic Open Road Rally, 2011 : Viper Nation is the story and pics I posted on my ezine […]

  2. Jason Schreiner says:

    Hey Ted;

    It looks like you had a really good time down south this fall!

    Much appreciated if you could email me with your email address.

    Cheers
    Jason

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