Viper Nation

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

RTTTTed On September - 7 - 2013

Under the start Arch

Nevada Open Road Challenge 2013 WIN

Ted Hlokoff

April was homecoming and time to get my supercharged Viper ready to race through the Nevada desert in front of dozens of Corvettes.

Another winter had come and gone here in “the Great White North.” My supercharged and Twin Turbo’d Vipers had been parked on jack stands while I spent the winter driving my Dodge Stealth R/T TT and Semis through the snow of the Alaska Highway in northern BC. The SSCC.US Las Vegas Nevada Open Road Challenge in May was fast approaching, Trevor Cameron, my navigator of choice, called me and explained that work was crazy and he wouldn’t be able to navigate for me this year. After inviting a few racers to navigate and being turned down a few times, I finally thought about a guy that had spanked me in an AutoX rally last year. I sent an email to John Vittone of Monroe Washington. A couple of days later, I opened an email from John, “GF said it’s OK and work will give me the time off … I’m so excited!” I was excited too, I had a navigator. In 2011 I’d run the Halfmile event in this car and won 3rd fastest (151mph) with Tim Anglin as my navigator, we’d finished 3rd in the 105mph (Touring) class of the 90 mile Rally. 2012 NORC my Black Twin Turbo Viper GTS won 2nd fastest in the Halfmile at 176mph, but the fastest car, a (1500whp) Lamborghini, and I broke our transmissions and couldn’t run the Rally. This year I’d decided to run my 22mpg supercharged Viper again because it drives so nice, gets such good gas mileage and is so reliable.

GTS dresed (bra) for highway

New rules required that my car run 5 point racing harnesses for the 115mph class (Grand Touring). That meant cutting my upholstery trim behind the seats and bolting in seat belt harnesses. I removed the two harnesses from my TT Viper and installed them into the supercharged GTS. The faster 1500whp TT classes required seat belt harnesses that were less than 2 years dated, while the NORC Grand Touring class required seat belt harnesses that are “in good condition”. I contacted Doug Seal (owner of Willowbrook Chrysler in Langley) and asked him to come along. Doug sponsored my Sapphire GTS for Aug 2011 RacetheBase.ca entry fee and is another Viper fanatic. Doug said that he was going to bring his 2009 Viper ACR with his son, Brent, to navigate. Another Auto dealer was going to travel with Doug and race his ZR1 corvette. I love beating vettes so an extra Vette to ‘spank’ was always a bonus for me. Another Mopar friend Mike Fine was going to run the NORC with navigator John Brimmer, using his modified hemi Magnum. Mike had purchased a Z06 Corvette and informed me that he planned to leave me behind and cross the finish line first. Unfortunately, his Z06 blew its engine soon after he bought it, so Mike was going to run the 110mph class with his Magnum, again. “I can add another 50whp while I’m fixing the engine so I can beat you,” he said.

Hemi Magnum

I prepaid my entry fees which were quite reasonable for a 4 day event with several banquets and a full range of competitions. I booked rooms at Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino for the time in Las Vegas and booked the Prospector Hotel and Casino in Ely. Rooms are best booked in advance because they sell out quickly. Sam’s Town is the host Hotel in Vegas and Ely’s host was the Nevada Hotel. With rooms for $29.99 per night it saves the wallet. Both had restaurants with great food. Having changed my oil, plugs and completely checked over my Viper, I downloaded, then printed my inspection (safety and tire) forms and filled them out. I cleaned my car, polished the front paint, waxed it and installed a new front bra to protect from rock chips. The NORC started on Thurs. and I left home on Monday heading southeast

I reached John’s house in Wash. about 9pm. where I spent the night. After we packed his safety clothes and suitcase into my Viper that evening we talked until about 2 am before getting to bed. Up at 5:30 we jumped into my Viper and headed to I5, then south toward Vegas. We found out the hard way that my Viper could go 103 miles after the gauge said 1/8 tank. Joe called and asked, “How big is a Viper gas tank?” The internet said 17.5 and 18gal. Joe said he poured 18.4 gal into his tank. During the drive we noticed a shake/vibration at any speed over 80mph. Backing one rear wheel onto a curb I inspected the axles and one of my Titanium halfshafts seemed to have an inordinate amount of slack so I called PartsRack.com (360 837 3937). Jon called his supplier and arranged for him to stay open after hours. I ordered the axle which Unitrax boxed and had shipped to Sam’s Town for the next morning. 21 hours of driving got us to Sam’s Town about 3am. The next day we were in the underground parking switching halfshafts before noon . My lightweight scissor jack was so lightweight we used vise grips and special care since it bent, but John and I changed out the halfshaft and enjoyed the day.

changing rear axle

Joe and his navigator, Josh Ralph, showed up at our Hotel that afternoon. I decided to take John for a drive down the strip as he’d never been here before. With that in mind we ate the Sam’s town Prime Rib Buffett ($12.95) and headed off to wash my car. While washing my car the sun set and we finished in the dark. Pulling onto the 8 lane street I decided to make certain that my supercharged Viper was running well because I’d just put 2000 mi. on the car without applying more than 1/8th throttle. Leaving the traffic light and clear 4 lanes of new pavement was just too much to resist, smashing the pedal to the floor left two long strips of rubber on the pavement for a block or two. The supercharger was working fine. John’s Viper looked identical, but had half the power … he loved my horsepower! With the blower, cam, headers, Cat-delete and Corsa track exhaust my car is loud but sounds awesome.  We were at Sam’s Town and hit the sack early. Next morning we breakfasted at McDonalds downstairs and waited for the Banquet Room doors to open so we could pick up our T shirts and registration package. We went out to the parking lot and put the decals on my car, then went to the Media luncheon. Food was great and foreigners, like myself, Doug & Brent Seal, several Calgarians and a Danish gent were asked to stand for introductions. We packed our stuff into the car, then met with the Caravan to Ely in parking garage #3. Although Ely was about a 3 hour drive to the North, the Caravan would be an hour or two longer. Blue Offatt was the Rookie Liaison and he stopped several times along the way to explain how the Rally works and offer tips to the Rookies.

Rookie Orientation

Navigators, Josh and John were rookies and they enjoyed the talk, tips and stories. Joe and I just enjoyed the company. In Ely it was raining so I used microfiber to dry my car before the next rainfall got it dirty and wet again. We were comfortable in the Prospector Hotel and I showed John the local paper, which listed us as participants. John and Joe bought copies of the newspaper. We decided to pass on the Social gathering (our loss) because we had a few things to do before sleeping. The room came with a $3 gambling voucher for a million dollar slot machine. I slid it into the ‘one armed bandit’ and 10 minutes later the balance was up to $12. I tried again the next night and it went up to $20. The next time I played it was still about $10. I gave it to John to get rid of it, which he promptly did. I showed John how the Hangover slot machine played and eventually cached an $18 voucher.

At the Ely CasinoMike Fine's Hemi magnum

s car sure was inspiring and quite popular with many of the other competitors. Looking under his hood I saw that it had SRT CEO, Ralph Gilles, signature on the rad support.

Highsmith's Blown Hemi Superbird

Highsmith's Superbird

Once John and I had passed tech inspections (4 of them) I parked out of the way and we walked back to check out the competition and talk to the other guys. At World Record Holder Jim Peruto’s trailer we talked to one of Jim’s crew about the 66 Chevelle parked inside it. There had been a lot of redesign work. “He doesn’t intend to beat his last year’s world record (average 217mph), he just wants to beat the previous record of 207mph,” he told us. He mentioned that a 69 Charger build was under way with the body being chopped, narrowed and the front and rear fenders tapered and angled similar to my Viper. IMG_0140-1024x683.jpg Several of us discussed aerodynamics for awhile then went for breakfast. At breakfast I found Doug and Brent Seal’s table and gifted them with a couple Timbo Viper trinkets, including a ¾” thick 3” x 12” Viper ACR rectangular plaque in appreciation of Doug’s efforts to promote Vipers by sponsoring my Race the Base event entry fee ($3,150) and his participation here in Ely. I won second place in the Modified Supercar class in the RtB event Aug of last year. Rain showers continued, which postponed the Half-mile Shootout until Saturday. Since this was exactly what happened at the last two events I’d attended here we weren’t surprised. Back at the Hotel we microfiber wiped our cars dry and went to Mike Fine’s room for libations and some of his help with the Mile Marker sheet. Mike had a Secret info sheet that had taken more than a day’s work to measure and record. Math not being my field and John into his libation, we had murky brain matter and, thankfully, Mike did the mental calculations to adopt the sheet to our 115mph class. When we got to the end of the sheet we were off the mark for the 90 mile marker finish line. That turned out to be the result of not using enough decimal places to figure the calculations. Mike refigured the last 10 mile markers before his brain got too tired. Failure or success was now dependent on Mike’s ‘grey matter’. Since I was the driver my job was pretty easy; drive a perfectly steady speed and make adjustments of as much as .1 seconds per mile depending on whether we were fast or slow. Starting after dinner there was a parade through town which started at the High School, then went downtown to the auditorium where we would collect our information packets, t-shirts, posters, gift bags and register. Registration could be done for a short period in Vegas before the media bruncheon and in Ely both Friday and Saturday mornings. Inspections were done the same. After applying the decals to your car you should fill out your forms and get inspected. Since the event usually hosts between 120 and 200 entries the parade and the car show can be pretty exciting. The Saturday Car show usually is the place to see the custom built high speed race cars. Open Road Rally cars are unique as they are extremely high speed and durable for running 90 miles at average speeds as high as 247mph. This year a primer’d Corvair/Vette hand built combination was truly unique with its Z06 running gear and the custom aerodynamic body work. I often show my Viper because it is highly modified so John and I went to the car show where we met with Doug and Brent. The town of Ely supplies trophies for the various cars in the show. Being registered to run the delayed Half Mile Shootout Challenge, we called Doug and left the car show for the highway to run the Halfmile.

Doug's 09 ACRSuperbird

I made a couple runs but noticed that the car had a shake at everything over 80mph. Running nearly 150mph I was worried. I’d replaced the axle in an attempt to get rid of it. Shootouts allow for 3 runs. I usually take my navigator and let him enjoy the ride and would have kicked John out of the car for the last and fastest run, but the shake bothered me even though it remained the same during the second run. I decided that I would just ‘pass’ on a third run because of that. I recently figured out that kicking your passenger “to the curb” is worth 5mph.

Halfmile Shootout

Quitting early allowed me an opportunity to watch some of my competition make their runs.

Corvette ZR1

The ZR1 and Z06 corvettes were interesting. The driver would rev the big engine and then drop the clutch which would start to smoke the tires … then the rear brakes would clamp down and the sound would go away, the car would sound as if it stalled and then accelerate away from the start. Very strange to watch and certainly didn’t sound good.

Jim Peruto's custom Hi-speed Chevelle

1500hp Gallardo of Mark Capener

Joel Highsmith’s Challenger did a run where it started flaming the tires, then shifted into second and third which slowed it down. It crapped out badly near the finish line during one run, but it looked like he got in at least one good run. One of the modified ZR1s must have turned off his traction control because it sounded like it got one good run. Doug moved his 2009 Black/red stripe Viper ACR to the starting line alone and made a pass. He got off the line, spun the tires a little and took off. His next run I saw Brent get into the passenger seat and it was a good run, some smoke off the Pilot Sport Cup tires and the Viper sounded awesome going through the gears to cross the finish line.

Doug Seal willowbrook Chrysler

We watched the Mile shootout cars, but they usually leave the start slowly and then accelerate through the mile, which makes them a little boring. A roll bar had been installed in the Lamborghini Diablo that was run by a gent from the Netherlands. Although not comparable to a newer Viper, Chrysler did a nice job of upgrading the Countach into the Diablo when they owned Lamborghini. Saturday night is the mandatory Driver’s and Navigator’s meetings where the Rookies learn how to run and the veterans refresh the rules, learn any new important information and the Mayor hands out car show awards. After dinner and the meetings I was presented with a Team sheet and it only had a few names. Teams require a minimum of 5 cars. I counted every Mopar guy I could find there, and there was just enough to form a Mopar team. I got 7 signed up and had a quick discussion, “What are we going to call ourselves?” – silence – “Mopar Maniacs?” … OK, that was our team name. We did finish fifth out of 10 teams. Sunday morning was really cold, but we were ready. John and I had our special stop watches. Normal stopwatches count only full seconds after 30 minutes so special watches keep counting in tenths and hundreds after that. Mike had filled out our timing sheet and we were dressed in our racing suits and shoes. Gloves, helmets and arm restraints were in the back ready to wear. Nothing that could be considered dangerous if thrown at you face at 100mph was allowed to be loose in your car. Our luggage was strapped to the spare tire and John’s suitcase was stored in Mike’s Hemi Magnum. His Magnum has a cooler and storage compartments in the back. We met up at the High School football stadium. Police cars were there to guide us the 29 miles to the Rally start line. Although really boring through town, there were some “test moments” along the parade route. Somehow, I was last and it gives a man pause to be on a public highway at high speed with a Police Car and flashing lights following right behind him. It reminded me of my younger days. We filed into the prestart grid area of Lund and as we were called to move we drove the mile to the starting grid where we were guided to back onto the side of the highway angled and ready to go. After we’d been parked for about ten minutes we were told it was snowing in Ely and car starting times were shortened to 30 seconds between car starts – so be ready. Wow, high desert in Nevada, 100+F in Vegas and it was snowing a few miles from us. I was wearing my 3 layer, quilted ‘Jade’ nomex suit that partsrack.com had sponsored for me, so I was warm. Matter of fact, my quilted fire suit reminded me of a snowmobile suit I had at home. The safety guys finished inspecting our tires so we pulled ahead to the start line where the car beside us took off. John and I watched the atomic clock countdown to our time. He started the Go Pro camera and slid it into its case. He had both stop watches in his hands and was ready to push their buttons. I had my finger on the GPS nav system and ready to push the last program button that would set the mini-computer counting. The clock ran down as I pushed the button, revved then dumped the clutch, rocketing down the SSCC Hwy number 318. John was happy with the watch, I thought I’d done well starting the Nav system and we were happily flying down the highway at 135mph (our Maximum/Tech speed is 140mph). After a few minutes John said faster. A few minutes later her repeated, “Faster.” When I saw the car in front of us I told John, we’re catching him and we’re too fast. I slowed to the target speed of 115 and Jon said, “You’re right we’re too fast slow down. I slowed to 95mph and disqualification happens at any speed less than 85mph. I like to play safe so I stayed away from the limits. Going slow, the guy behind us was catching up. Soon after I saw the car behind him pass (safely). Next mile marker John told me we were too slow and I sped up. The two cars behind me stayed about a half mile behind for the rest of the race. They may have been trying to ride my “coattails”? Most mile markers we passed were checked by John and looking at our sheet he knew exactly what times we were supposed to be passing each mile marker. He would yell to me the approximate amount of time we were slow or fast. He would hold his hand out in front of me with thumb up (go faster), thumb sideways (Hold that speed – once) or thumb down (slow down) so that I instantly saw what I needed to do without looking away from the road. At the narrows we entered at 115mph and carried that speed through, whistling out at 115mph. It was tight, but no problem, we were in a Viper!

Running the Narrows

One mile marker near the middle John said, “Perfect, we’re exactly on time.” We were a second off by the next marker though. The second to last mile marker John said to me, “We’re about a half second slow.” I upped the speed to what I felt would give me a half second shorter mile as the next marker was the finish line. As we crossed the finish line John said,” We did great! We’re off by about a tenth of a sec or so.” A mile after the finish is an S through cones to make certain that you have slowed to 20mph and these cones will correct you if you are experiencing speed drunkenness (when you think you are going slower than you really are). After the cones it is time to stop. Gail Waldman or another of the organizers is there to hand out finish medals for completing the Rally. I handed her the radio and we parked the car. We removed our racing suits, equipment and stored it in the trunk, then collected John’s suitcase from Mike’s car. It was sunny and hot. The snow never did catch the Rally’s start. Unfortunately, there was a Red Flag which delayed the race while a crash was handled and the racer’s health confirmed. No injuries and thankfully the team walked away from the accident. It was a 180mph class car that had blown a tire and left the road, it was a write off we heard. Crashing is part of racing and the safety rules are what helps people walk away from high speed crashes with no injuries. The race resumed and more cars came in. Once all the classes with Rookies were completed, they were called to the front for “initiation ceremony”. Our “Queen” this year had been replaced by Blue, the Transvestite, wearing the crown and Royal robes, carrying the scepter. After a few giggles the ceremony was completed and there were no more Rookies. Joe’s, Doug’s and our crew moved our cars to the “Silver State, Classic Challenge Highway” road sign and we posed for pictures.

After finish line

We didn’t know we were winners, yet. We finally climbed into our cars and drove the couple hours to Las Vegas and checked back into Sam’s Town that afternoon so we could get cleaned up before the Awards ceremony. Wearing our Viper Garage Tee shirts we went to the Awards banquet where we got a table for Joe, Josh, Doug, Brent, Mike, John B, John Jr., John V, myself and John’s daughter Heather – the model. We wandered around and collected our 2 drinks and several of us bought Proffessional widescreen pics of our cars at speed from the display near the door.

Trophys at Awards Banquet

Halfmile Shootout awards for NORC, 2013; Fastest – Ted Hlokoff 2001 Viper GTS 147.9mph 2nd Monroe bros 2012 ZR1 Corvette 147.8mph 3rd Joel Highsmith 2010 Challenger SRT 147.3mph Award standings at our table; 1st 110mph Doug and Brent Seal 2009 Viper ACR 4th 110mph Mike Fine and John Brimmer 2006 Magnum 1st 115mph Ted Hlokoff and John Vittone 2001 Viper GTS The event’s motto is “Anyone can run” and I saw that proved when a Prius won the 100mph class last year’s NORC. Difficult to win in an ordinary car, I can’t even imagine the amount of skill it takes to win a high speed event in a Prius or a Chevette.

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