With its heritage deeply rooted into the fabric of domestic and international road racing’s rich history, the highly anticipated return of Viper to the 24 Hours of Le Mans stirs the souls of those who have shared in its recent rebirth and return to the ultimate test in sports car competition.
From concept to completion, the impact of racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the shared passion for the SRT (Street and Racing Technology) brand, its performance vehicles and legacy of one special American built supercar – Viper.
And with a world stage of racing before them eager to see the return of a North American racing icon, the two identically prepared SRT Viper GTS-Rs from SRT Motorsports begin a new journey that encompasses its gloried past with unmistakable character that makes it undeniably Viper.
“For me, it’s the competition you’re racing against – there are some fantastic global performance brands racing in the sport and mixing it up with those brands sets the scene for what happens in the showroom,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, SRT Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “The correlation is perfect for SRT. This is validation for our performance brand because it’s in our namesake and it’s who we are.”
Unveiled to the public as a concept car at the 1989 North American International Auto Show in Detroit under the Dodge banner, the public’s love affair with Viper was instantaneous as car enthusiasts and race fans oozed at the idea that a hand-built North American, 8.0-liter V-10 supercar would challenge for international road racing superiority.
Debuting in 1996 under a partnership with the French race and engineering firm Oreca, the original Viper GTS-R struck early in sports car competition winning five international GT championships and the 1997 to 1999 FIA GT championships in addition to three consecutive one-two finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1998-2000) in the GTS class.
The 2000 race at Le Mans would mark the end the factory-backed Vipers racing history, most notably it would also prove to be Viper’s last race contested at Le Mans as Chrysler’s official factory-backed Viper racing program would end in 2001.
For the next decade privateer racers would carry the Viper banner in various FIA GT races around the world while race ready-made Dodge Viper Competition Coupes would be sold specifically to customers for FIA GT3 for competition internationally and SCCA Speed World Challenge racing competition in the United States.
A New Era Begins
With the formal introduction of the fifth generation SRT Viper at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, the all-new 2013 SRT Viper GTS was greeted with much speculation that a race version would soon follow. No one knew how soon, as minutes after the Stryker Red road version made its way on stage, the new SRT Viper GTS-R roared to life as part of the surprise announcement to the world that the factory-backed venom of Viper was back for competition in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with, at the time, sights set on the possible future return to Le Mans.
“We sell SRT vehicles all over the world and racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans reminds car enthusiasts who we are and how we appreciate world class motorsports,” Gilles added.
With the all-new SRT Viper GTS announced to the world, SRT Motorsports engineers and Riley Technologies were collaborating behind the scenes developing and designing the SRT Viper GTS-R race car that would make its much anticipated return to competitive motorsports four months later at Round Six of the ALMS in Lexington, Ohio. Following a planned four-race partial schedule to finish out the 2012 season, the foundation was set for a full 2013 ALMS campaign.
In February, before the new ALMS season began, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) extended an invitation to SRT Motorsports to compete in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans marking the return of Viper to one of the most hallowed grounds of all racing – Circuit de la Sarthe.
“I still remember the excitement and euphoria and spill-off effect of having been successful at Le Mans in the past,” Gilles said. “We had a fantastic platform for the car and while our number one goal was to get back into ALMS racing, a return to compete at Le Mans again was also certainly on our radar too.”
Showing the World the SRT Brand
Its racing heritage has been branded Dodge in North American and Chrysler in international competition, but there will be no denying that when two racing Viper GTS-Rs are unloaded next week in the heart of France that their livery is clear; SRT Motorsports.
Although the behind the scenes planning has gone on for over two years while it’s on-track competition is just seven races old, Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations, SRT Brand and Motorsports has kept herself and the team laser focused on one date – Saturday, June 22, 2013.
“We know the people who attend the 24 Hours of Le Mans are not only motorsports enthusiasts, they’re also car people to the core,” said Paretta. “They love performance automobiles and know what they like. To be competing on this historic racetrack against the numerous premier automotive brands from around the world is amazing.”
As she pours over detailed plans surrounding Viper’s return to Le Mans for the first time as a factory-supported SRT effort (first for Chrysler Group LLC since 2001) the multi-year planning process will culminate when the green flag drops for the 90th anniversary of the world’s greatest automotive endurance race.
Turning the SRT brand into an international nameplate is no easy task as SRT cross-pollinates into individual Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Viper product lines. Nearly two years as a separate company brand at Chrysler Group, the SRT team maintains its successful formula to design, engineer and build benchmark American high-performance vehicles led by its ‘flagship’ car – the 2013 Viper.
Balancing the rich history of Viper while introducing the new SRT brand requires a targeted approach that combines reflection on past racing successes.
Competing at Le Mans provides the new SRT Viper GTS-R and the SRT Motorsports team the opportunity to compete against the absolute best sports car teams from around the world.
From the strength of its various Viper owners clubs that currently encompass 35 regions across the United States and four international clubs around the world, passion and brand loyalty for the Viper was established in its DNA when the first car rolled off the assembly line in 1992 in Detroit. The world now awaits the newly badged SRT Viper GTS-Rs return to historic Le Mans.
“SRT is still working to be recognized by the public as a separate brand within Chrysler Group – and although we’ve been around for a while, we’re still educating people what the three letters SRT (Street and Racing Technology) mean to the company and the performance vehicle world,” she added. “So it’s a great opportunity to be in front of people who will help us tell our story.”
With the global sports car stage watching later this month in Le Mans, just southwest of Paris, the SRT Motorsports team will be in full force leveraging their participation in the 24 hour race by activating onsite which includes the extremely popular 2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee SRT which is sold in Europe.
“This is the first international motor sports event that we’ve competed in as SRT Motorsports and it’s quite the honor to show the world what the new Street and Racing Technology brand is all about,” Paretta said. “Our involvement over the last year in the American Le Mans Series has given us an incredible amount of visibility and we’re just thrilled to have the opportunity to show the international community the SRT brand on every lap and every race that we compete in around the world.”
About SRT and SRT Motorsports
The Chrysler Group’s SRT (Street and Racing Technology) brand uses a successful product development formula featuring five proven hallmarks: awe-inspiring powertrains; outstanding ride, handling and capability; benchmark braking; aggressive and functional exteriors and race-inspired and high-performance interiors to remain true to its performance roots.
The SRT lineup in the 2013 model year features five vehicles that are world-class performance contenders and bring the latest in safety technologies and creature comforts. The Chrysler 300 SRT8, Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, Dodge Charger SRT8 and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 are joined by the SRT flagship Viper and Viper GTS models, which are making their highly anticipated return to the high-performance sports car market.
The engineering expertise within SRT extends well beyond its high-performance street vehicles. Technical support for the Chrysler Group’s various racing programs is provided by the astute engineers at SRT Motorsports, where lessons learned on the race track directly translate to improved vehicles for the company’s customers.
Source: SRT Press Release
Fifth generation of iconic American-built supercar returns as Street and Racing Technology (SRT) brand’s flagship performance machine with more power and performance, superior craftsmanship, new technologies and creature comforts
- Two new models: SRT Viper and SRT Viper GTS
- All-aluminum, 8.4-liter mid-front V-10 engine delivers 640 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque – the most torque of any naturally aspirated sports-car engine in the world
- Chassis enhancements boost torsional stiffness by 50 percent
- Triple-digit weight reduction contributes to best power-to-weight ratio of any Viper ever
- Available Track Package improves handling and precision on road or track, while accommodating further weight reduction
- Standard safety features include electronic multistage stability control, traction control and new 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS)
- Viper GTS model adds driver-selectable, two-mode suspension system for street or track use
- All-new, innovative interiors set new standards with premium materials, new technologies and impeccable craftsmanship
- Timeless exterior incorporates iconic Viper styling cues with a contemporary execution
- All-new carbon-fiber and aluminum skin sculpted for high-speed stability and .369 coefficient of drag (Cd)
- Breakthrough Uconnect Access provides new level of in-vehicle connectivity
- Extensive array of exterior colors and stripes are a mix of classic and new shades and styles
The all-new 2013 SRT Viper makes its long-awaited return to the high-performance sports-car market flush with new technologies and ergonomic improvements while respecting its legacy of American craftsmanship and visceral performance.
“The Street and Racing Technology brand team is extremely proud that our hand-built-in-Detroit, flagship supercar is back and ready to take on the performance-car world,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, Chrysler Group LLC. “Beyond being the flagship for the new SRT brand, the launch of the 2013 Viper proves that we simply would not let the performance icon of the Chrysler Group die. Willed to live on by a very special group of performance enthusiasts inside the company and across Viper Nation, this SRT team under our new leadership was challenged to not just continue the legendary Viper, but to create the fifth generation of our world-class supercar that would showcase the very best we have to offer.”
The performance numbers that have been synonymous with Viper throughout its history continue with the all-new 2013 SRT Viper models:
- Top speed = 206 mph
- 0-60 mph acceleration = low 3-second range
- Quarter-mile elapsed time = mid 11-second range
- 0-100-0 mph elapsed time = less than 12 seconds
- Braking distance from 60-0 mph = 106 feet
- Coefficient of drag (Cd) = .369
Source: SRT Press Release
To celebrate the final year of production for the current-generation Dodge Viper, Dodge is building a limited production run of just 50 2010 Viper SRT10 “Final Edition” models.
Available in Coupe, Roadster and ACR (American Club Racer) model configurations, each Final Edition Viper exterior features a Graphite Clear Coat body with a painted black center stripe traced in red. Viper Coupe and ACR Final Edition models include a black windshield surround. All Final Edition models carry unique side sill badges.
The black interior features custom red accent stitching, red painted halo surrounds on the gauge cluster and bright stainless steel screws in center stack bezel. A numbered dash plaque (1-50) is located on the shifter bezel just above the unique Viper Final Edition floor mats.
All Viper Final Edition Coupe and Roadster models will wear six-spoke wheels painted in Anthracite, while ACR models will come with five-spoke Sidewinder wheels in black.
The venerable 8.4-liter (510 cu. in.) V-10 engine remains the heart of the 2010 Dodge Viper SRT10. With 600 (450 kW) horsepower and 560 lb.-ft. (760 N•m) of torque, benchmark performance numbers, (including 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds, quarter-mile time in the mid 11-second range, 0-100-0 mph in 11 seconds flat and a top speed of 202 mph) continue to prove how the serious, race-inspired, street-legal two-seater performs without apology.
This build of 50 Final Edition 2010 Dodge Vipers includes all three model configurations for the first time – 20 Coupes, 18 Roadsters and 12 ACRs. In 2002, a total of 360 Viper Final Edition Coupes (326) and ACRs (34) were built with Viper Red Clear Coat exterior and white stripes.
Production of the 2010 Dodge Viper Final Edition models is scheduled to begin in early summer.
(Source: Chrsyler Press Release)
American muscle cars are definitely dominating the landscape at the 2009 Sema Show in Las Vegas. I think I have seen every conceivable modification that can possibly be done to Chevrolet’s Camaro, Dodge’s Challenger and Ford’s Mustang. Overkill…perhaps but still amazing.
Below is part 2 of the photo gallery. Enjoy!
With the International Motor Show taking place this week, leaked photos and debuts from Frankfurt are common place. Here is the first of 2009 SEMA Show photos to be released. LuxuryAutoDirect.com is proud to be the first to get our hands on the images of the “Drop-Top Revenge” R/T Challenger by Droptop Customs (A division of Convertible Builders, LLC) that will make its debut at the 2009 SEMA Show. If it is anything like its 2008 sister car which won the Chrysler Design Excellence Award, it will be the Crown Jewel of the 2009 SEMA Show taking place in November at the Las Vegas Convention Center .
2009 represents a year of financial turmoil that spread like a wild fire across the globe. Chrysler, not unlike many other organizations was not immune to the chaos and soon joined GM as both giants were ushered by our Congress into bankruptcy. With a change of leadership and forced intervention by the US Government, Chrysler reorganized and quickly moved out of bankruptcy. Those faithfully following the recently reintroduced Challenger saw rumors of introducing a 2009 convertible crushed and the masses watched intently for signs of Dodge pulling out of further production and ending what will likely be this generation’s last great pony car war. Instead, America and the rest of the world got a glimpse of better times and witnessed the resurrection of a Mopar icon!!
Special ordered from the Brampton factory by Chrysler of Cortland, N.Y, Drop Top Revenge represents 1 of only 450, Deep Water Blue Pearl, 2009 Challengers built with a 6 speed manual Tremac transmission. The basic design that comprised the early Project N96 concept actually occurred months before the order was placed.
Using scrap paper during hospital visits and later, the time associated with the many sleepless nights that followed a life threatening motorcycle accident; from the Shaker Hood and the custom graphics, to the Hurst Shifter the intent up to this point was to bring back the Classic look of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, with an eye for new and modern electronic technology.
As a S.E.M.A. attendee for numerous years, the research associated with building Project N96 brought forth a certain show stopping car that won the Chrysler Design Excellence Award and had become the talk of the 2008 show. It was a Snake Green Creation that the Chrysler Corporation commissioned to be built by a company called Coach Builders Limited (now called Drop Top Customs) A company who has the reputation of being the oldest convertible conversion company that specializes in OEM look, fit, and finish. This car was also featured in the February/March 2009 issue of Luxury Auto Direct Magazine.
What happened to this award winning show machine? After S.E.M.A. this car was quietly scrapped by the Chrysler Corporation!
And so the final piece of the build fell in place…to cut a perfectly good roof from the car…and re-create the legendary look of the Dodge Challenger Convertible! The factory order was changed….the car was re-routed to Gainesville Florida instead of to his hometown dealership in Cortland. Having flown down to Gainesville to witness the first “cut”, here this build took its second and final turn! Hidden in the corner of the shop, under cover and away from prying eyes…the wheels! The wheels that were from the Original Drop Top Convertible of the 2008 S.E.M.A. show car. They sat on a pallet. You see, Chrysler did not own the wheels…so they were saved from the crusher!
It was decided then, between the owner and the builder, that this was to be more than a convertible, this would become a tribute to a car whose life ended just as it had begun to live.
The Foose Challenger Classic “shoes” and the addition of Snake Skin Green highlights as well as the custom Katzskin Leather Seats are a tribute to the “Big Brother” of this little Hemi that there is nothing little about.
The addition of Green Halo effect lighting creates an effect that catches onlookers by surprise. As though it stirs from within.
As though something lives within it. Perhaps the spirit of Drop Top has been re-awakened.
This vehicle represents all muscle car enthusiasts who are aware of the story of Drop Top, and it fills their need for…..REVENGE!
Photography and Graphics by Eyespike Design