RENT-A-CAR/Luigi Cimarosti Racing

1994 - 1996

Photo by Shawn Romig

RENT A CAR Racing led the first Viper assault on Circuit de la Sarthe at the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans. Robert Chazal and Michel Arnaud had founded the French rental car agency (RENT A CAR) and had purchased production RT/10 Vipers to advertise their company. They contracted Luigi Cimarosti Racing, with assistance from Méca Auto Systéme, Synergie and Multiplast, to hastily prepare two cars for the GT1 class for modified production vehicles. Though heavily outgunned by the loophole Dauer 962, Viper still made quite an impression with one car finishing 3rd in the GT1 class and 12th overall. The cars would go on to see limited competition through 1996 before retiring to history. Their bright colors and booming exhaust note provided a strong impression of what was to come from Viper in the future. Many additional details of this story will hopefully be presented in the future book.

- Shawn Romig

Photo by Fabrice Rezaiguia

Photo by Vincent Laplaud

Photo by Racingshoots - Stephane Cavoit

Photo by Nicky Paul Baron

Photo by Alain Simonnel

Photo by Shawn Romig

Le' Orange #40

VIN: 1B3BR65E2NV100098

Original Engine: Chrysler V10 8.0L - modified production engine.

Year of Manufacture: 1992

Original Run Group/Class: LM-GT1

First owner: Robert Chazal/Michel Arnaud (Rent - A - Car)

Next owners (year): ?...> Alain Ruede, Switzerland

Current owner: Swiss Viper Museum, Switzerland (*2014)

Chassis History/Notes: Part of the first Viper team to race in major competition, this car took on the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994. It was the first privately owned Viper in Europe. It had been acquired by the French rental car agency (Rent A Car) before Vipers were officially being imported to the continent. Following its promotional use, the RT/10 was quickly prepared for ACO GT1 class competition by Luigi Cimarosti Racing team with Rent-A-Car sponsorship. Méca Auto Systéme, Synergie and Multiplast also contributed to the conversion of the car prior to the race. In period the team reported that the engine was rated for 800 hp unrestricted and 580 hp in legal, restricted form weighing approximately 1340 kg. This car was painted a fluorescent orange and ran as #40 with drivers René Arnoux/Justin Bell/Bertrand Balas.

The fans dubbed it "L' orange" and the car finished an impressive 3rd in GT1 and 12th overall. The team was obviously outmatched in this class racing against thinly veiled prototypes. The car attempted to qualify for Le Mans again in 1995, but was not able to earn entry as the field's pace had quickened and the cars had sat idle since the previous year. Changes were small, but included a taller rear wing, larger openings in the fascia and a basic diffuser at the rear. It started from the front row in a single round of the Carglass Cup at Spa prior to the 1995 24 hour race. At this race is wore number 62. It then raced at the Nogaro round of the 1995 BPR series wearing number 84 and in the same livery it would wear at Daytona the following year. A new fabricated aluminum intake manifold was present by this point as was a Hewland 5 speed gearbox.

In 1996 it appeared for the 24H of Daytona as #84 in a completely red livery with the sneaky Pete Viper logo on the doors. It was racing in the the GTS1 class, but did not finish the race as a result of gearbox failure. New photos have shown that this car appeared in a non-championship race at Dijon during the summer of 1996 looking much the way it did at Daytona to start the year. It wore number 95, but failed to finish the two hour event. The fan reaction to this car along with the #41 helped to solidify Chrysler's intent to build the GTS-R with the release of the Viper GTS Coupe in 1996. As of March 2018 the car appears in the Swiss Viper Museum with its 1994 Le Mans livery over top of remaining elements of its 1996 Daytona livery. The engine is also fluorescent orange but appears to be in the 1994 Le Mans configuration with the production intake manifold. The grill opening currently installed is from 1996.

*Partial* Race History, Event - Class Finishing Position (Overall)

1994 24H Le Mans Pre-Qualification (ACO), GT1 - 31 overall

1994 24H Le Mans (ACO), GT1 - 3 (12) - First Vipers in major competition, first podium

1995 24H Le Mans Pre-Qualification (ACO), GT1 - attempted to Pre Qualify, but didn't make it field, 45th overall

1995 Spa (Carglass Cup), ? - DNF

1995 Nogaro (BPR), GT3 - 3 (11)

1996 24H Daytona, (Grand Am), GTS1 - DNF: gearbox

1996 2H Dijon, (Non-championship), DNF

END

Photo by Stephane Cavoit

Photo by Shawn Romig

Le' Canarie #41

VIN: 1B3BR65E0PV200381

Original Engine: Chrysler V10 8.0L - modified production engine.

Year of Manufacture: 1993

Original Run Group/Class: LM-GT1

First owner: Robert Chazal/Michel Arnaud (Rent - A - Car)

Next owners (year): Mechanic Import, Belgium (????) > Mike van Thiel/Tachyon Engineering, Netherlands (2003)

Current owner: Swiss Viper Museum, Switzerland (*2016)

Chassis History/Notes: Per Maurice Liang in Snake Eyes magazine, this VIN was thought to have instead been 1B3BR65E2NV100099 which he reported came from either Michel Arnaud, Pierre Rubens or Luigi Cimarosti though physical stampings on the car match the number presented above. Many years later, Rent A Car co-founder Michel Arnaud agreed that the VIN ended in 381. This was the second production RT/10 that the company had acquired for promotional work of their business.

It too would be converted by Luigi Cimarosti Racing for ACO GT1 competition on an even tighter time schedule. Méca Auto Systéme, Synergie and Multiplast also contributed to the conversion of the car prior to the race. The car appeared at the 1994 24 Hours of Le Mans in fluorescent yellow paint wearing #41 in GT1 class driven by Francois Migault/Denis Morin/Philippe Gache. The crowd labeled it "Le Canarie". The car didn't complete enough laps to be technically classified as a finisher, but would have ended up 4th in class and 19th overall.

Specific race history thereafter needs to be investigated, but the car was claimed to have been rebodied and slightly modified before competing in various races in the 1996 BPR GT World Championship including rounds in England, Belgium and China. The car finished the season competing in two non-championship races in Brazil still wearing race number 95. It retired at the end of 1996.

Its location was unknown until it was found in 2003 sitting in a barn in Belgium. The car was found by Mike van Thiel of Machines with a Mission (www.machineswithamission.com). It was verified as legitimate by the original builder Luigi Cimarosti. The car was restored to 1996 BPR Endurance Series specifications and was auctioned in 2016 in full working order ready for vintage racing. The car now resides next to its original 1994 Le Mans teammate at the Swiss Viper Museum. It still wears its 1996 modifications including the intake manifold and grill opening and rear diffuser.

*Partial* Race History, Event - Class Finishing Position (Overall)

1994 24H Le Mans (ACO), GT1 - 4 (Finished, but not enough laps to be classified)

1996 Brands Hatch (BPR), GT2 - DNF: engine

1996 Spa (BPR), GT2 - DNF: axle

1996 Zhuhai (BPR), GT2 - DNF: clutch

1996 Curtiba (Non-championship), GT2 - 13

1996 Brasilia (Non-championship), GT2 - 16

End

Photo by TF1 Films

Photo by TF1 Films

Photo by RM Sotheby's

Photo by Mark Kidman

Yellow Fluorescent #41 Show Car

VIN: 1C3CRC5E7RV100030

Original Engine: Chrysler V10 8.0L - modified production engine.

Year of Manufacture: 1994

Original Run Group/Class: GT1

First owner: Robert Chazal/Michel Arnaud (Rent - A - Car)

Next owners (year): Rémy Julienne, France (May 1996) > ?

Current owner: Private owner in Austria (2019)

Chassis History/Notes: With many thanks to Michel Arnaud for sharing the story, this car was the third Viper which Rent a Car Racing purchased new. It was used, as the previous two had been originally, for press and display work to promote the rental agency. It would become a parts car from which components were harvested to keep the two racers on track.

In 1996 it was sold to the famous French stunt driver and coordinator Rémy Julienne as essentially a roller with no engine or gearbox. The car was apparently combined with the running gear from a Peugeot 505 to appear in the 1997 movie "A Witch's Way of Love". The Viper appears to have been treated fairly rough in the film and it is believed to have sat idle from this point until 2016.

It was then sold at an auction for seized property in November of that year. The auction listed engine S/N: 05040051 which was separate from the car and there were various body panels included in the sale, some of which reflected the livery of the #41 car at Le Mans in 1994. Per Mike van Thiel, those panels were the original Le Mans bodywork of car #41 which was removed before the original race car (VIN ending in 200381) was modified to race in the BPR series in 1996. Apparently this show car has been recently restored with the original race car bodywork, but on the standard Viper chassis (2019).

*Partial* Race History, Event - Class Finishing Position (Overall)

None

Photo by Kees Mets

Photo by Kees Mets

Photo by Kees Mets

RT/10 Orange Backup Car

VIN: 1C3CRC5E0RV102475

Original Engine: Chrysler V10 8.0L - modified production engine.

Year of Manufacture: 1994

Original Run Group/Class: GT1

First owner: Luigi Cimarosti Racing

Next owners (year): Unknown owner from Luxembourg (?1999?)

Current owner: Kees Mets, Netherlands (*November 2016)

Chassis History/Notes: The history of this car prior to 2016 is still to be determined. Recent research (2022) has confirmed that it was not part of the Rent A Car Racing (RACR) contingent of cars. It's possible that Luigi Cimarosti acquired this car on his own. It was purchased by its current owner (2022) from a European car dealer that primarily sold Ram trucks. It has been in the large private collection of a gentleman from Luxembourg who was said to have purchased it from Luigi Cimarosti directly. When this owner passed away, the family wasn't sure of the car's significance so it was sold through this dealer being as that it was an American car. When purchased from Luigi the car was said to need considerable repairs so Luigi installed a new engine, gearbox, fuel cell and various other components circa 1999. It is definitely a Luigi Racing car and was clearly prepped for competition. The car is complete and is currently (2018) being prepared to hit the track again. In tribute, it wears the red livery of car #84 from the 1996 Rolex 24H of Daytona which competed in the GTS-1 class with RACR.

*Partial* Race History, Event - Class Finishing Position (Overall)

*TBD*