Photo by Jonathan Butel
Lee Saunders continues Trans Am domination!
Kuno Wittmer Retires!
I was on the road last week and didn't get a chance to wish congratulations to Kuno Wittmer on a fantastic career! One which included success behind the wheel of four out of five factory Viper race platforms - Comp Coupe, ACR-X, GTS-R 2 and GT3-R.
Book interview, Comp Coupe registry updates and ACR-X 29 located!
Last weekend I was fortunate to interview Peter De Vries who acted as Team Manager for Team Trimite Brookspeed during their 2008 British GT Championship winning season! It was a great conversation hearing how Peter, just aged 12 at the time, visited ORECA with his father as the team purchased GTS-R C31, the 2000 Le Mans GTS class winner. He was old enough to take delivery of VCC C106 by the time the team was racing in British GT in 2007/2008 and with drivers Jon Barnes and James Gornall they won the 2008 GT3 championship. I hope to share some of his memories in the future book projects. Jump over to the Comp Coupe page to see more about their winning chassis C106.
While you're there take a look at chassis 40 which I updated while reseraching another car. This Comp Coupe was used by Japan's Team Taisan for drifiting demonstrations. I haven't seen it since selling at auction in 2018. Do you know where it went?
Special thanks to Bruce Hadfield for connecting with me with Bruce Delfino, owner of a very unique ACR-X! If you click on the ACR-X tab and scroll down to chassis 029 you'll see the only X which was delivered wearing the official show car livery, but with dual driver's stripes.
Photo scanned by Viper Racing history from original by Jeff Reece
François Castaing (1945 - 2023)
Sad news this morning as François Castaing has passed away at the age of 78. Shown here speaking with ORECA's Hugues de Chaunac at Le Mans in 1997, Mr. Castaing was one of the founding fathers of the Viper production car in 1989. As Chrysler's Vice President of Engineering he was a key proponent of the creation of the GTS-R program and was thrilled to receive an award from the ACO for the "audacity" of the program at Le Mans in 1996. His career, which included time as technical director of Renault's Formula 1 team, was so accomplished that in 2010 François was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
This past weekend was the Goodwood Festival of Speed and our friend Florent Moulin was in attendance to run up the hill in GTS-R C51. The weather wasn't cooperative for the attendees dropping rain on course on Friday and forcing event organizers to cancel Saturday's festivities all together due to high winds. As a casual onlooker the lack of practice appeared to impact a number of participants. Even though many use the run up the hill purely for demonstration rather than competition, there seemed to be a significant increase in the number of cars that went of track and sustained damage.
Fortunately that group did not include the Viper as Florent blasted up the tarmac to score a sixth place finish overall! He pointed out that the car should be able to climb the hill quite a bit quicker if the practice runs hadn't been eliminated. He and the Iconic Racing crew had changed the setup dramatically from that which was run just two weeks prior when we watched the car at Le Mans Classic. We're all left wondering what at its true potential in such a discipline. Still, the former Alain Prost piloted car produced a glorious soundtrack during its run. Take a listen to the video.
Video by Iconic Racing
Photo by Mike Earlywine
If you're looking for a great deal on a factory Viper race car jump over to the For Sale tab and check out ACR-X 024! I competed against this car at Indy last year in Viper Racing League and know first hand it's quick and very well maintained. It has a recently rebuilt engine producing in excess of 700 horsepower and is supported by some nice upgrades to the suspension. For $84,500 I'm not sure how you could do much better!
This past weekend I attended the 2023 Le Mans Classic along with contributors Kurt and Jon! This event was highly anticipated given 2023 was the Le Mans Centenary Celebration. Amongst the 850 cars racing this weekend were two Vipers with another for sale via the Artcurial auction.
Comp Coupe C76 crossed the block on Friday and was a no sale with a high bid of 90,000 Euro. This original GT3 spec car was one of the initial batch of customer efforts dispatched to constest the inaugural FIA GT3 Championship in 2006. In addition to the GT3 options that remained in place, a number of upgrades including traction control which were fitted later in its career were still present. Although the car was advertised as "ready to race", it was clear that it had been sitting idle for some time and would require some level of reconditioning prior to turning laps in anger. No doubt this impacted the eagerness of bidders on site.
There was great anticipation from educated Viper racing fans when it was announced that the 1992 RT/10 of Rent A Car Racing was set to race at the event. This is the very car which finished 12th overall and 3rd in GT1 during the 1994 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (stay tuned for a feature on this effort in the future book). Unfortunately a last minute engine issue prevented the car from attending. The Swiss Viper Museum instead brought GTS-R C44 for a second consecutive outing at LMC. The car ran without issue, though in challenging wet conditions at times during the two Endurance Racing Legends support races. Owner Edwin Stucky and professional driver Frédéric Yerly shared the controls in the GT2A class. The bodywork and livery from this car's time with Force One Racing in the FIA GT Championship remain and are a fan favorite.
Art and Revs of Luxembourg debuted their fresh restoration of GTS-R C51. Despite their usual high level of meticulous craftsmanship and preparation, the car provided them with challenges to overcome in the way of aerodynamics. Developed originally by Exagon Engineering to create massive downforce for the GT1 sprint races in the 2005 FFSA GT Championship, C51 had never raced on a track with sustained speeds as great as though experienced at Circuit de la Sarthe. While travelling down the Mulsanne at 306 kph with turbulence created by other cars the splitter fractured along with its support cables. The hood sustained damage and the team was left rushing to repair the car in order to participate in the weekend's second race. Together they crafted a solution and owner/driver Florent Moulin was moving through the field in GT1B when he ran out of fuel! Still the car put on an impressive display indicating its true performance potential as one of the most technologically advanced GTS-Rs created in period.
Follow the Viper Racing History social media channels for additional content from Le Mans Classic.
Photo by Visors Down Motorsports Photography
Is it groundhog day? It seems like it given that Jerry Robinson/Bobby Archer and Lee Saunders yet again stood atop their respective podiums at Indy this past weekend.
In SVRA Group 12 competition Jerry Robinson and Bobby Archer piloted ACR-X 08 to three more victories, two in sprint format and one enduro, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The duo have been dominant in their class this season.
Meanwhile in Trans Am's SGT class Lee Saunders took yet another win in his converted Gen IV Viper. Lee is atop the SGT points standings at the time of this writing. Trans Am and SVRA often share a venue for the weekend making for a great opportunity to see Vipers competing in different series at the same time.
Photo courtesy of RM Sotheby's
It was a busy week in the land of Viper racing history!
Chrysler GTS-R C3 sold at the RM Sotheby's Le Mans auction for $675, 031 after auction fees. This unique car was constructed in 1996 and used to help develop the package for the 1997 season in GT2 competition.
Competition Coupe C76 will also be selling at Le Mans, but during Artcurial's auction which will be held during the Classic race weekend. You can find the link for the auction listing over on the "For Sale" page.
Viper race cars were being exercised thoroughly at simultaneous events at Road America, Wisconsin and Motorsports Park Hastings, Nebraska. Viper Racing League was running with PBOC at Road America which brought out a few Comp Coupes from the Complete Performance Motorsports stable. Meanwhile at Hastings there were Comp Coupes, ACR-Xs and even two of the seven GT3-Rs competing at Viper Rendezvous now in its 14th year as an event.
Le Mans Classic is only a couple weeks off now. I'll be on site again this year so reach out if you will be there too!
Score another Trans Am SGT win for Lee Saunders! It was a sparse field for the Memorial Day classic at Lime Rock park, but you can only race who shows up. Lee managed to bring home another class win in his converted production Gen IV.
Meanwhile out at Road America, Jerry Robinson and Bobby Archer were collection class wins with ACR-X 008 in SVRA competition. It's been a succesfull season for the duo thus far regularly standing atop the Group 12 podium.
Championship page added to the website!
Navigate to the Champions page to see a database of national and international championships won by factory Viper racing chassis competing against other marques worldwide. I believe this is the first time such a list has been gathered and associated with each winning chassis. A future addition may include a list of major endurance race victories though these are captured on individual chassis histories.
Video by Iconic Racing
Video by Gtrmaxvdb
Thanks to Frank List for providing these photos from Spa Classic 2023!
In case you missed it there were two Viper GTS-Rs in attendance at one of the world's premier vintage racing events this past weekend in Belgium. Florent Moulin (Art and Revs) drove GTS-R C41 to a GT2A class second place followed by a win in race two while Christophe Van Riet (Gipimotor) piloted GTS-R C34 to fifth and third place finishes in GT1B respectively.
Onboard videos from both cars are linked below. The grid for the "Endurance Racing Legends" presented by Peter Auto continues to grow and many of us are looking forward to seeing more of these cars on track at Le Mans Classic this summer.
Photo by Autopassion Beverwijk
Thanks to Arjen for the tip that a photo of GTS-R C14 appeared from Autopassion Beverwijk showing the car on display at the Technik Museen Sinsheim Speyer in Germany! The Viper remains under the car of Daniel Schrey Racing.
Photo by the Ascott Collection
GTS-R C37 is back on the market! If you're looking for a car with proven speed and reliability in recent historic events then this might be the right Viper for you. It is currently wearing a tribute livery to the Viper Team ORECA American Le Mans Series entries from 1999-2000 which always draws attention, though this particular car wasn't part of that team in period. The later GT1 suspension and aero configuration combined with the legendary torque of the V10 are said to provide an approachable platform for the gentleman/gentlewoman driver. The Ascott Collection is representing the car and their contact information can be found on the for sale page.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Robinson
The Trans Am series visited Road Atlanta last week and Viper Nation rose to the occasion to help a racer in need. Former SGT Championship winning Viper driver Lee Saunders experienced a mechanical failure in his Gen IV production car based racer and didn't want to lose his lead in the season standings. Jerry Robinson, SVRA Group 12 Champion stepped in and allowed Lee to borrow his ACR-X to at least get qualified for the race. Lee took chassis 08 and put it on the pole prior to jumping into a different car for the race since Jerry and Bobby Archer had their own races to run with SVRA. A hat tip to Jerry for his help and congrats on scoring three class victories across the weekend!
ACR-X 25 appeared on MotorTrend TV's Texas Metal's Loud and Lifted! You can follow along as owner Mod Mafia Automotive works to upgrade and hopefully race this former Viper Cup championship winning car. The show can be seen on cable on the Velocity channel or streamed via MotorTrend Plus.
ACR-X 27 is for sale! I’ve shared the paddock and track with this car and the owner is a very detail oriented individual having maintained the car to the highest standard. You can find it listed on Racing Junk here: https://www.racingjunk.com/trans-am-ta-ta2-ta3-ta4/184426212/2010-dodge-viper-.html
Two former championship winning Comp Coupes are up for sale! Chassis 53 (top) scored a NARRA GT1 Championship win back in 2011 having previously raced in the SPEED World Challenge GT series with 3R Racing. Chassis 78 (bottom) won three consecutive CASC Ontario Region GT1 championships during 2006-2008 prior to taking on some World Challenge races with new ownership. Both are available through our friends Complete Performance Motorsports in Ohio. See the respective chassis page for more of their history and jump over to the for sale page for contact email to inquire about purchase.
Thank you to Kim Cheney for helping to sort out the early history of Competition Coupe C07! This car appeared at California car shows during 2004-2006 and in ads for DC Performance. If anyone has any photos of it please reach out to email@example.com. Thanks!
A minor update to Comp Coupe Chassis 33 was made with new photos from Tim Galyean's incredible archive!
Photo courtesy of Trans Am
Lee Saunders took the season opening Trans Am victory in the SGT class at Sebring! Lee is a diehard Mopar racer and original owner of Comp Coupe C94, but this time he was driving one of his modified production Gen IV Viper coupes. He managed to outlast a relatively small SGT field in an otherwise chaotic mixed class grid to score the victory. Congrats Lee!
Photo courtesy of Jean Luc Fortunati
Competition Coupe GT3 chassisis 69 available for sale! Additional information is provided on the For Sale page.
With many thanks to Johan Stjernberg, GTS-R C16 located in Sweden! Check out the GTS-R page to see the updated history on this car. Photo by Stephane Cavoit.
With the help of Brian Erdman (pictured), the history of Competition Coupes C18, C22, C57, and C60 were updated. Check out that page for more information on some of Ben Keating's first factory racing Vipers and thanks again Brian!
Competition Coupe GT3 C81 is for sale! This is the only Comp Coupe to score at class victory at the 24 Hours of Spa. It's still with the original owner and in great condition. Jump to the For Sale page for more information.