As Viper Production Nears Its End, Read Up on the History of Road-Racing Vipers

Our editor, Elana Scherr, recently gave up the Dodge Viper that she had been daily-driving as a loaner. It was a sad day, not just because she didn’t have a Viper sitting around, but also because it was a reminder that soon, Viper production will end. You’ll be able to read more on Elana’s chronicles of Viper daily driving soon, but for now, we came across some great retrospective reading on the many Viper road-racing programs. New regulations in most series will prohibit Vipers from competing on the biggest stages in 2017 and DailySportsCar.com began the New Year with a series of bittersweet farewell posts.

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The Viper stories  come as part of DailySportsCar.com’s great “Goodbyes for 2016” series. DSC editor Graham Goodwin chronicles the entire timeline with the first part that covers the first privateers at Le Mans in 1994 until the dominating Oreca-built “Chrysler” Vipers that succeeded in the FIA GT Championship as well as in 24-hour races at Le Mans and Daytona. The second part covers the 21st Century, including numerous privateer teams running versions of the Viper Competition Coupe and the last-generation IMSA cars built to GTE (Le Mans) and GTD (IMSA/GT3) specs. Goodwin tops that history off with a glorious third part about German team Zakspeed and their innovative ways around rules—running two empty holes in the 8.0-liter V10 block to meet reduced displacement restrictions is the saner story—meant to remove their Vipers’ venom.

 

SRT Viper GTS-R, American Le Mans Series, August 5, 2012, Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course in Lexington, Ohio.
SRT Viper GTS-R, American Le Mans Series, August 5, 2012, Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course in Lexington, Ohio.

 

As long as we’re waxing nostalgic about the Viper, be sure to check out HOT ROD’s history of the V10s used in the Viper. It’s a great technical look at how Chrysler built what will almost certainly be regarded as one of American engine-building’s high points.

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That said, Viper race cars won’t disappear completely from racing. Many will still race in club and national racing events, like Cindy Lux’s Competition Coupes (above) that run in the current Trans-Am Series’ TA3 class. Our friend Kevin Wesley may also return to Pikes Peak in the Viper ACR that set more than a dozen production-car lap records, and we’re sure that Viper owners will continue to showcase their snakes on tracks around the world.