Viper Nation

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

RTTTTed On June - 6 - 2012

 

Mojave Mile Asp Kickin’

by Ted Hlokoff

 

The high deserts of Western United States are home to more than Cacti and Area 51.  California has the Spaceport in Mojave and the Mojave Mile/Mojave Magnum events. (www.mojavemile.com)

Friend and fellow Viper owner, Darryl Weflen, had been insisting that I attend a standing mile event at the Mojave Mile.  Darryl had enjoyed his experience at the MM last fall with his brother and one of his Airtek employees.  His R1 powered Gokart had run 154mph and his Viper GTS had piloted 175mph.  Darryl works hard and seldom gets a break from running his Mobile compressor/hydaulic/electical systems manufacturing company (Airtek) so arranging this event was, perhaps, his years holiday.  His R1 engine had turbo and Nitrous systems added to it now.

Darryl had invited me to run my supercharged Viper GTS at the MM, but I bought myself a 99 Twin Turbo Viper GTS, built by American Racing Technologies last November.  I was having trouble convincing the SSCC management to allow me to run the Grand Sport class, even with my racing experience.  I figured that getting a 200mph license should help (it didn’t).  I made a few other excuses to myself and decided to go.  My TT Viper made 1100bhp on the lowest power setting and could go higher than 1600bhp running race gas.  Todd (of A. R. T.) had told me that this engine had custom cylinder sleeves and was an amazingly well built race car.  I figured that I already had 3,000 miles of street driving and since I was great at driving the car slow, I needed some practise driving my new Viper fast. Some time learning the shifting and traction issues would be advantageous.  I needed to check out the cars performance and handling since this much horsepower can’t be tested on the streets.  This car managed 17mpg (us) driving with the airconditioning turned on.  In the southern California heat I would soon be happy that the airconditioning worked so well.

I’d purchased the Viper in Texas and drove it from Houston to Surrey, BC.  Down a lonely quiet highway late at night I had launched from a stop sign.  The car instantly smoked the tires and overrevved the engine, the bright red LEDs in the shift light snapped on seemed to blind me.  As I lifted my foot off the accelerator and shifted into second gear the 50mm Blow Off Valves blasted off and the wastegates popped open under my feet.  The exhaust shot flames 20 feet out the rear of the car and the wastegates flames lit up the countryside like a flamethrower.  Only a second later I was shifting from second into third and scared the crap out of myself again.  I was certain that I needed the experience that you just can’t get driving on the road at the speed limit.  Heck, my car shifts out of second gear at 95mph … a track is required to run safely.

Previous owner Kirk Schwatrz had assured me that with traction this car would get to 200mph in a HALF MILE!  I emailed Kirk and asked him about running the mile and he said the problem would be to top out at the finish line with a halfmile car.  Kirk said that since the car was only geared for the half mile it would be a waste to switch to the 1500bhp tune since that wouldn’t make it go any faster … only quicker.

I emailed Mike Borders and asked him a few questions.  I was impressed with his Candor.  Mike explained some of the tech required to go fast and then gave me his tech cheif’s email address when I started asking about a bolt-in roll cage.  Up to 200mph the factory installed vette, FGT and Viper frame structure is an actual rollbar and allowed in place of a 6 point cage.  At 200mph there are a lot of safety requirements.  8 point cage, Safety Harness, helmet, /5 firesuit, gloves, socks and racing shoes.  Blaine Spendlove accepted my pictures of the bolt together roll cage I was building in my garage.  A month later when I had finished the bolt together cage and swingout sidebars Blaine suggested a support be made for the bends at foot level for the A pillars … so I built a couple bolt in support bars and everyone was happy with the result.

The cage’s extreme tight fit required in the Viper caused me to write a “How To” thread at http://thevipergarage.com/index.php/topic,1024.0.html   Although he couldn’t know of the welds, Blaine did say that he approved of the ‘form’ of the cage.  The swingout sidebars eliminated the “Dukes of Hazard” method of entry required with all of the “removable sidebars in the other vipers I’d seen (including mine when I bought it).  The padding was going to have to be SFI and I had run out of time to wait for shipments from the US (3 weeks) so I had the padding shipped to my friends house in Seattle.  The day before we left for Mojave Darryl Weflen sent me an email and said that he’d had employee problems so he wouldn’t be coming to this event but he’d bought my room.  Such is life…

I had committed to the Silver State Classic Open Road Rally and had convinced Trevor Cameron to navigate and Joe Christopherson to enter the competition with his Viper.  The Mojave Mile was several hundred miles from Vegas and several thousand miles from my home so Deana and I arranged to visit relatives in California for a week between events. I purchased a set of road racing slicks and a new set of wrinkle slicks with this car.  Kirk shipped the tires to Seattle for me so I brought an extra set of rear wheels to mount them on. Kirk said the top speed with 26″ street tires was about 198 and with 28” Hoosiers it would be about 220mph.  Tues. afternoon Deana and I left work at our General Store (Anahim Lake Trading) and drove 300 miles to Cache Creek before stopping at a Motel.  Early morning we left Cache Creek and hauled the trailer across the US Border and made it past Seattle before rush hour stopped the traffic on I-5.  We drove to Joe’s place, where he’d left me the key.  We loaded the tires and other parts – like the SFI roll bar padding and a second pair of racing shoes I’d ordered, then went with Joe to Claimjumpers Restaurant for an awesome dinner and “drove off into the sunset” or just north of Vancouver, Washington and got a Motel room for the night.  Early morning we stopped at a Firestone Tire store and asked for help mounting the Hoosiers.  The owner looked at the 14″ wide rims and said he didn’t know if they would fit his machines, but we tried and they did.  The rims and tires were too wide and offset for the balancing machine so the road racing tires were left unbalanced.  The owners told me that they supported motorsports and there was no charge.  I thanked them and drove off south along I-5.  It took over an hour to drive the 7 miles through Portland because the traffic was gridlocked, but eventually we did get up to speed and drove through a heavy rainstorm.  We used the GPS to find gas and food stops.  The Hemi was guzzling $4.35 gasoline at 7mpg.  It seemed that the farther south we went the lousier the gas mileage was.  We drove all that day at the I-5s trailer speed limit of 55mph.  We stopped for the night in William, California and it was still raining heavily.  Leaving the Motel in the morning the rain finally stopped south of Sacramento.   At Bakersfield we stopped at a Motorsport shop and bought a horseshoe neck collar, then headed the last 40 miles to Mojave where Darryl had reserved our room at the Mariah Hotel.

Getting there about dinner time I parked the truck and trailer, registered, unloaded and took the car through tech, meeting Blaine.

 

He liked the rollcage.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I also needed a dual zone fire extinguisher system to go faster than 200mph.  When I was asked where my “head sock” was (because I have a goatee) I told them that I would shave that night..  One of the tech guys said that he had a new head sock in his car that he’d sell me for $20.  I bought it and saved my goatee.  We registered, met Mike Borders and spoke with several of the organizers and staff at the Hotel before putting my Viper away in the trailer and going to bed.

There was a 1100bhp Bugatti Veyron parked in front of the Hotel.  Car and Driver had come along with this “European spec” $2,650,000 car to do a “reality check”.  I tried to speak to the mechanic, but his english was non-existent.  I figured this would probably be the absolutely BEST that a Veyron could get … since it came with a crew.  It promised to be interesting as my 950whp was about 1150 bhp so the Veyron should be a close match to my low hp tuned Viper.

In the morning we drove the truck and trailer around the corner down the Spaceport driveway to our Pit area and unloaded the car again.  We attended the driver’s meeting, then I climbed into my Viper and drove it to the starting grid.  Race fuel was available in the pits and Kirk had advised me to use that fuel as a safety.  I arrived with less than a quarter tank and added 10 gallons to my fuel tank … just to protect the engine from bad fuel, detonation etc.  At the end of the weekend I’d made 7 passes and used 12 gallons of gas.

I ran my first pass at 138mph which is a requirement to qualify for the 150-200mph class by a run down the track with 15% of the 150mph.  After that run I drove to tech and got my inspection upgraded to the 200mph mark.  Back in the starting grid I waited for my second run to try a 180mph pass and see how the car felt.  I watched Chip make a 212mph run in his 1080rwhp Heffner Twin Turbo (kit) Ford GT.  Chip’s engine had just been rebuilt and all his tires were street slicks.  His car was full of C16 racing fuel and freshly tuned.  I talked to Chip Beck and he was expecting 222mph.

Unfortunately for Chip he experienced turbo problems after about 4 runs and ended up trailering his beast home to Arizona, with problems.  It was a beautiful machine and although much of the car needs to be disassembled to get to the engine.  Hopefully his problem was minor.

My turn for another run was up as I cleared the second safety check and was waved off down the track.  I slipped the clutch fast and pulled away from the start line quickly.  I leaned into the throttle, trying to maintain traction but that didn’t work, the Hoosier R300s let go and the car started to wheel hop.  I quickly stabbed the clutch and shifted into second gear, the tires blew off again so I grabbed third gear and was able to push the pedal to the floor.  That was great… for a second, then the car slid sideways and wheelhopped again.  I grabbed fourth gear and now I was hooked and the beast shot forward like a rocket ship.  The shift light flashed at me so I grabbed fifth and after another second or two I ran out of revs and grabbed my final gear.  I eased off on the throttle because I couldn’t see where the finish was.  I just ran the throttle easy while waiting for the finish line to show up.  After what seemed a long time I saw the finish, put my foot down and as I got close the passenger side Wastegate blew open and stayed open.  It made all kinds of wind noise while it vented the boost to the atmosphere.  Scared the Heck out of me as it sounded like the rear hatch had suddenly blown off the car.  I smoothly released the throttle as I crossed the finish line and hit the brakes to slow down.  I pulled up to the speed slip stop and after a few minutes a guy ran out to me and handed me a slip.  I looked at it – 215mph. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnmwE8T0D4U    Anything over a 5mph allowance was called a breakout and disallowed as a recorded time.  At the driver’s meeting it was stated that if you breakout, you will go and “talk to Mike.”  I looked at the slip man and asked him, “Guess I gotta talk to Mike?”  He said, “I just started, I don’t know.”  I drove past the starting grid and everyone was clapping.  I didn’t know why, but I gave a small wave anyway and drove to tech.  Later, I realized that I’d broken the 200mph barrier and that was why the clapping.

I showed the slip to Blaine and mentioned that I was to go talk to mike?  He said Yes.  The public address system then called me to the front … “to talk to Mike.”  I walked over to the Mike’s Motorhome and explained to him that my speedo had reflections and my car felt like 180mph so I was sorry that I’d brokeout.  He said, “First Warning.”

The Bugatti Veyron had run down a 201mph first pass and then 198 and 199mph a little later in the day. For a stock car that was an amazing speed in just a mile. I’m sure the magazine people were impressed because they all left the event shortly after the Veyron around 1pm.

I met some great people there such as this Father and Son (Jason and Paul Allen) team running an Aston Martin Vanquish.  These guys had come from Vancovuer and while one was doing business in Los Angeles, the other was trailering the Vanquish south to Mojave.

Deana and I are another 9 hours driving North of Vancouver.   Jon Bropst of PartsRack.com is where I buy my Viper parts and get advice.  His Internet store in Washdougal, Wash. and is mostly focused on cyberspace and the internet.

I spoke with RJ Gottlieb in www.BigRedCamaro.com – he ran 218.3mph with his Camaro Race car.  He was busy with Car and Driver magazine as they shot some more pics while they were there … and since he beat my speed his Camaro was the fastest car at this event.  Later I went over and spoke to RJ (met him at SSCC last fall) and his crew.  Those guys put a lot of science into his car that has been around since RJ set the original SSCC average speed record more than a decade ago.  The tech guy told me that the exhaust pipes added 12# of thrust.  I know that venting 1100hp of exhaust at the rear of the car does aid the aerodynamics but didn’t know that anyone had ever measured thrust.

With Chip from Arizona, a few people from Calgary, Alberta and the Bugatti crew from Germany there was a differentiated crowd.  When I was at the SSCC it was Japanese, Swedish and Danish that I couldn’t understand.  US Tourism is really attracting a lot of World Automotive Tourists from everywhere.  I see that their cars also ship to the US for these competitions. I love it.  Wish we had that happening in Canada as well. (other than just the Targa Newfoundland).  (sigh)

A surprising couple of World Top Speed record holders were at this meet.  A pair of German exotics with the famous Herbie as the fastest land speed car, about 75mph on the Bonnieville Salt Flats n the 36hp class.  Here, Herbie ‘the Love Bug’ was thoroughly spanked by an Orange Bug that topped 82mph during the weekend while Herbie’s best was a 74mph!

In the morning (sunday) we trailered back to the pits and parked beside the Twins’s TT Viper GTS that set the record here at the Mojave Mile before a Ford GT broke that by going 1mph faster.  I pulled my Beast out of the trailer and headed for the starting grid to get my first run of the day.   It was cool and the air felt ‘heavy’ (dense).  The car ran perfect and screamed down the track.  Again I lifted and went for awhile, waiting for the finish.  It felt like a good run and the GPS said I went 200mph across the finish with my foot off the throttle.  My speed slip didn’t come to me and the slip guy said, “You broke out and need to talk to Mike.”  I asked how fast and he said 208mph.  I parked and got my second warning from Mike.  Not wanting to be “banned” I switched over to my 26″ street tires for my last run.  I overrevved at the finish and was a mere 195mph.  Top speed with 26″ tall tires.  I was done.  Learned a lot, went the fastest I’ve ever gone in my life and learned a lot about the car, like it can beat 1080whp and 1100rwhp cars.  I had the fastest street car there.

I looked over Twin’s TT GTS.  It was a nice job.  A custom built race carwith a unique fiberglass nose on the front.  The car had a race interior with no side windows and gutted doors.  The huge rear wing had been removed for this speed contest.  I couldn’t find the owner but there were a lot of people all over the trailer and several cars with his crew.

Parked in the starting grid the flamed TT GTS went off to run the mile.  He ran a 216.8mph, then bumped the boost a few pounds and went 218.3mph.  This tied his Viper with Big Red Camaro’s fastest time of the day, leaving me as the third fastest car that weekend.

Unfortunately he busted his transmission’s 5th gear and he was towed back to the pits.  I’m sure it’ll go faster as it gets sorted out.  Of course my TT will pickup speed with the correct gears for the mile.  I purchased .8 and .54 overdrive gears for the transmission and with those gears I can flip the switch to try out the 1300whp on a track.  I certainly will be going much faster as well.

There was a lot of vettes there.  I saw one make a pass at 142mph and a ZR1 go through at 182mph.  None faster though

Deana thought this mid sixties Mercury Maurader was “cute”.  She said that she thinks it went 147mph.  It was an original factory Super Stocker that had the original 429 replaced with a race 460.

This Mustang was Procharged and the owner had a paint shop that specialized in “chrome looking paint jobs”.  He worked all weekend and his best was 178mph until the “world’s greatest tuner” went into his ecu and raised his rpm limit 500rpm, then he managed a 182mph run!

There was a lot of vettes there and one ZR1 ran 172 while another made a 182mph pass.

 

I met a couple other Viper guys once I was all finished running my car.  Harry Korkonian owned this beautiful 2006 coupe.  He was there with his buddy Angel, who wasn’t running although he did bring his Red/silver 2006 coupe as well.  The Black Viper coupe of Harry’s was built by DC Performance with an engine machined and assembled at Exotic Engines.  Harry made several passes at 194mph and then ran a couple at 195mph.  Amazing speed for a 750whp/880bhp car to be only a few mph slower than a 1100bhp Veyron?  Dan Cragin said that with a different gear this car would run 200mph.   Harry said that he also had a 612whp Porsche at home, but the Viper was faster.

Attending the standing mile event was a learning experience.  The only stock 2006 Viper coupe managed 162mph, which was equal to a Kenny Bell supercharged Challenger R/T and a new ‘392’ SRT Challenger.  Shelby GT500 Mustangs were in the 150mph range.  A ’58 Chey Nomad with a Enderle fuel injected 355ci engine went 138mph.  A supercharged Austin Mini (auto) completed the mile in 133.8mph.

At the MM we’d eaten Cheesburgers from the concession – awesome!  After the event we went back to the Hotel and spent another night before heading out to visit relatives.  The restaurant service was good, the food was good and the rooms were spotless.  Down the road a few hundred miles I unloaded the Beast out of the trailer and ran it around a gated communities roads and shot a few pics with Cacti and palm trees for a background.  115F was a little toasty and I was certainly thankful for the air conditioning that Kirk had recharged before selling me the car!  My Viper was not a racecar, merely an amazingly fast street car!

Mike Borders sent me an email later and said that the Spaceport has made him the exclusive Motorsport at that airport.  They like his safety proceedures and havn’t had problems with his operation.  Darryl Weflen did manage to make the Mojave Magnum first weekend of June.  He is looking forward to his next event.  Deana and I visited with family for a week and then headed off to Vegas to meet up with Joe and Trevor for the Nevada Open Road Rally.

 

Categories: Dodge Viper Stories

5 Responses so far.

  1. Great story and sounds like a ton of fun and experience. Thank-you for sharing!

  2. Jon Brobst says:

    What a great experience to join the 200+ club in the company of a $2-Mil Bugatti!

    Thank you for sharing…… your first driving instructor must be very proud !

    JonB~~~:<~

  3. Ron Nichols says:

    Great story. Loved the pics. Congratulations on your speed and chasing your dreams. Very happy to see you and your bride are having a great time enjoying your TOYS.

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