By on September 15, 2011

Quoth the Viper Club:

Will those guys at Generous Motors ever learn? When you play with a snake…. you eventually get bit.

They are trying to hide the news at the Corvette Forums, but like the horsepower in their supercharged small block… it’s too much to handle.

The word is out , let the crying and the excuses begin.

There’s no “official” word yet about it, but it appears that a new-old-stock 2010 Viper ACR, pulled off the floor at Tomball Dodge, has run a 7:12 “and change”.

It is soooo nice to be proven right. In my article about GM’s decision to return to the Ring for more publicity, I wrote

Is the ACR still faster around the ‘Ring on equal tires? Almost certainly.

I made that statement based on my time driving Corvettes and Vipers and from observing the various ‘Ring videos. Needless to say, I was tried in absentia and sentenced to death by various forum fanboys around the globe. Sorry, kids!

According to various sources around the Internet, the SRT team took two ACRs from the showroom floor of Texas dealership Tomball Dodge and ran 7:12. This puts them ahead of the GT-R, the GT2, the ZR1, and the LF-A. To do it, they had to find ten seconds on a seven-minute track, which is about like finding two seconds at Mid-Ohio: difficult, but not impossible. And Chevrolet had already shown them how to do it: put in some more laps and swap out the tires.

The tire-swapping bit, by the way, is my personal conjecture. I don’t know that they put new tires on. I strongly doubt that they left the 2009-vintage stockers on. Tires degenerate as they are exposed to ozone.

What’s more important than the specific tire composition are these two facts:

  • The Viper ACR is the finest vehicle ever built. I believe this in my soul. The only reason I don’t have one: it’s capable of eating $2000 a day worth of tires on the racetrack, whereas my Boxster can humiliate trackday heroes all year for one set of $500 used Hoosiers.
  • ‘Ring times are like any other laptimes in the world: subject to weather, chance, and the constant grinding effort of development work. Doesn’t matter if you start with a “stock” car. You can adjust camber, you can crank the toe in back until you either set a record or kill your driver, you can mess around with tire temps, you can use your datalogger to stitch together an “ideal lap” and then go run that lap. Period. No magic. No special significance. It’s a racetrack. Nothing more. Nothing less.

If you don’t think the LF-A crew could go back and develop another few seconds out of the car, you’re nuts. This could continue for a very long time, or at least until a driver dies setting a marketing laptime. At the speeds these cars can reach, and the ‘Ring’s archaic barrier setup, that day cannot be far away. The times will drop as long as there is the slightest possibility of enticing some Russian mobster to trade in one car for another based on those times.

Right now, however, the Viper is on top. An old 2010 model of a car developed in 2001 beat the “world’s best”. Best of all, you can run out and buy one still at many dealers. Why’s that? Because sometimes being the fastest car out there isn’t enough to move the fiberglass. But you knew that, right?

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45 Comments on “New Viper ‘Ring Record Should Put An End To This ‘Ring Time Nonsense For All But The Most Irredeemably Stupid...”


  • avatar

    How fitting. I haven’t been to an SCCA Autocross in a decade, but it was great to see early C4 Vettes (stock aside from tires) spank everything else out there. Which they usually do, on a regular basis. Or so I’ve heard.

    It’s nice to see that some things never change!

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    “This could continue for a very long time, or at least until a driver dies setting a marketing laptime”

    Nah, that’ll just add to the “mystique” of the Nuburgring.
    The only time car companies will stop pushing cars round the thing is when car journalists stop talking about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      What mystique? Posted Ring times and broken Ring records have become commonplace and pedestrian in the past couple years.

      That’s what’s causing this nascent Ring backlash. Can’t say I disagree with it, either.

      • 0 avatar
        The Doctor

        I was being sarcastic since too many journalists seem to talk about the ‘ring in hushed tones. Having a few more deaths on it will just add to the perception of danger (and appeal…)

        As for the backlash, I think it’s because the circuit has become a touchstone for any driving “enthusiast”. They may never even have been to Germany, but they have got a bumper sticker of the ‘ring to prove their credentials.

  • avatar

    Nope, sorry, disagree.

    What measures are taken to make the best car?

  • avatar

    Frankly I’m a bit surprised at how many super low mileage used supercars there are. I think the ‘Ring “record” attempts, besides being good for the esprit de corps of the Corvette, LF-A, GT-R etc. teams, are meant to appeal to that tiny part of the market that will buy a $200,000 600HP car and drive it for 2,500 miles before trading it in on something else. Those people have to have the latest, the fastest, the bestest there is this second. But like the song says, what is hip today just might become passe. I’ve seen Ferraris and Lambos for sale with less mileage than what I’ve put on press cars in a week. It’s a shame that so many great cars end up being bought by poseurs.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Frankly I’m a bit surprised at how many super low mileage used supercars there are

      It’s down to how they’re used.

      For one, people lease a lot of these things, and since they’re not daily-driver material they just don’t accumulate miles. Backing into a crowded parking space in your downtown office, shuffling colleagues and clients and/or trawling the shopping district is much better suited to, eg, an executive sedan or crossover than a supercar with no rear visibility, horrible egress and massive width.

      Heck, doesn’t Ferrari only do leases in certain circumstances?

      It’s a shame that so many great cars end up being bought by poseurs.

      It’s not a case of poseur-ism, it’s that these people know their market. All supercar buyers are rich, but very few of them are Jay Leno.

      It’s like the white-tablecloth dining experience: what matters isn’t so much the quality or artistry of the food as the exclusivity and richness of the whole package.

      I’m trying, by the way, desperately, to not turn this into the kind of classism argument we usually degenerate this into, so I haven’t said anything overtly nasty. But the thought is in the back of my mind. :)

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t say that I’ve done a scientific survey, but I know a couple of guys who own more than one supercar, including Enzos. They are serious gearheads, the opposite of poseurs. They could hold their own in an automotive conversation with Leno. I suspect the same is true of anyone with a collection. Those who have but one or two high end cars might be different. It’s an open question about which group, the rich car guys or those more concerned with exclusivity, is a larger percentage of supercar buyers. Like I said, from the number of low mileage used supercars there are for sale, my guess is that there are more that are concerned about cachet and image than about driving. Of course the supercars that are being driven regularly may be less likely to end up being sold. That may also explain the number of wrecked exotics. When a car can pull 1g on a skid pad you have to almost try to wreck it when driving on the street. You have to be a serious bonehead to take a Ferrari or Lamborghini beyond its capabilities on the street.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      An alternative explanation: people who own expensive cars tend to have a lot of cars.

      I have a lot of expensive guitars that have very little play time on them. I may practice two hours a night but I’m not always playing the same guitar, so instead of one that sees 1000 hours a year, I might have 100 guitars that see 10 hours a year each, or less.

      • 0 avatar

        Would the guitars sound better if they were played more often? I’ve heard it said that well played instruments get improved tone. I don’t know how true that is, guitarists tend to believe all sorts of stuff (Bruce Ignater told me that guitarists are always swapping out tubes thinking they can hear differences that aren’t there).

      • 0 avatar
        H Man

        “Would the guitars sound better if they were played more often? I’ve heard it said that well played instruments get improved tone. I don’t know how true that is, guitarists tend to believe all sorts of stuff (Bruce Ignater told me that guitarists are always swapping out tubes thinking they can hear differences that aren’t there).”

        A pedantic answer would be that instruments would sound worse due to wear, but no, they don’t get better through use.

        As for guitarists, many DO hear differences that aren’t there. This is commonly known as “hearing loss”.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        I love music but know nothing of actually playing an instrument and can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

        I have heard of what Ronnie’s talking about regarding Stradivarius violins and string instruments – that they have to be played to maintain sound quality. Is that myth or is it true?

      • 0 avatar
        H Man

        Meh. Sounds like wishful thinking to me. Musicians don’t have anything special about their hearing; they’re as prone to audio placebo as anyone else. I wonder if Jack prefers a certain brand of battery in his pedals?

  • avatar
    faygo

    “This could continue for a very long time, or at least until a driver dies setting a marketing laptime”

    the death of the Toyota test driver wasn’t _on_ the ‘ring, it was _near_ the ‘ring, on public roads. I would suspect that while the track is not up to FIA standards, the fact that test drivers are (should be) running cars with cages, harnesses, helmets, fire suits, etc would tend to mean that they are relatively safe if they lose it on track.

    marketing is marketing, if people think it works, they will keep doing it. plus engineers like to go to the ‘ring. who wouldn’t ?

    the ACR is indeed an impressive piece of machinery. the amount of serious aero, power and tire would be expected to deliver such results. I wonder what an ALMS-spec GT3 would run ? the ACR isn’t far off from that in terms of streetabilty (or lack thereof). might not have the power needed tho.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    Who cares?

    Is it possible that the Viper program is worth Chrysler’s investment in terms of the profits or brand value? I find it highly unlikely. Every exec at Chrysler who agreed to spend money on developing the Viper should be fired. Besides, the Viper’s ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      Putting aside the value to the brand for having such a halo car, why would it be unlikely that the Viper was profitable? Other than the engine, all the major components are supplied by vendors, in an advanced state of assembly. They refreshed the car twice, both fairly modest updates. I think there were only 100 or so people doing assembly at the Connor Ave plant. It’s a simple, some say primitive, car. Not much in the way of expensive electronics.

      I’d be surprised if Chrysler has spent more money developing the Viper than it did on the lamebrained idea to build two different compact Jeeps off the same platform (Compass and Patriot). The fact that they let the Viper die rather than kill it in ’08 and ’09 when things were melting down says to me that they probably made money on every one they sold.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      Ronnie is correct – the Viper program was/is likely very investment-efficient. you pay a premium in piece price for low volume parts but you charge for them. low vlumes mean you can take advantage of much cheaper limited life tooling as well as the high degree of sub-assembly.

      the plant facilities and tooling necessary to do unique sheet metal for two compact “Jeep” products which were abject failures is certainly far higher than the cost of Viper.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I don’t get the whole ring obsession. The design goals of speed around a racing circuit and everyday usability are diverse and very often conflicting. Nor does track capability equate to driving enjoyment. Thus any car designed to set a headline worthy time is not really a road car or anything that anyone would want to drive in their daily lives or even anything that would be fun on the road. They are essentially race cars. Some manufacturers like Porsche do well to keep a foot in each camp, providing sporting capability without sacrificing usability but that will never yield a record time.

    The Viper ACR may be a capable race car but its also an uncomfortable ergonomic nightmare with an interior that can double as a sauna even in normal driving. It also looks like it was assembled by Chrysler workers after a rather long liquid lunch with all the love and attention to detail they are famous for. To call it the finest vehicle ever built is somewhat of a stretch even when done in jest.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t get the whole ring obsession.

      It’s about keeping score. This whole market is about keeping score. If we had to be truly rational, we’d be buying Toyota Matrixes, but very few people can feel superior about that.

      Once you get above the first few tiers on ol’ Maslow’s hierarchy it really is all a matter of who has the biggest peacock feathers.

      • 0 avatar

        Once you get above the first few tiers on ol’ Maslow’s hierarchy it really is all a matter of who has the biggest peacock feathers.

        It’s been almost 40 years since I read Maslow but I’m pretty sure that he’d disagree with you. Self-actualization and peak experiences are hardly a matter of who has the biggest peacock feathers. Though it’s possible that some individuals find their peak experiences in a nice display of feathers.

        Those with a materialist philosophy would think it’s all about keeping score. That kind of keeping score is only important if the economy is a zero sum game.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        psarhjinian – yes it is about keeping score – but an irrelevant score. A score that has nothing to do with actual driving enjoyment – just numbers. Mazda’s Miata, Ford’s GT Mustang, Audi’s R8 and Porsche’s 911 are all a blast to drive but are also cars you can live with. Neither of them has a boast-worthy ‘ring time. And that is my point – the ‘Ring time game is now so irrelevant that the cars that are designed to get newsworthy times are usually undrivable in any other environment.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        @carguy
        Not everything needs to be a daily driver. Not everyone wants a car that can be a race car and a daily driver. Some people just want the race car that is street legal. The Viper ACR is for those people. BTW, I am not a fan of the Viper, with or without the ACR trim. I haven’t driven one, but have sat in one and didn’t like it at all.

        You could make the same argument about why do people need V8s in cars, or why is anything made with 2 doors when 4 are much more practical. Most people aren’t going to take a (name your favorite sports car here) to the limit, so why engineer it to do much more than what people need on a daily basis.

        People want different things from their cars. While I like the idea of having a test track where all manufactures can compete to see who has the fastest car for that track from a cool factor, it also lacks in many ways. There is nobody making sure anything that runs there is stock. Whose to say that anything running there was running a different suspension, tires, or tune from what is available on the stock version? There isn’t a defined start/finish for the track either. Lexus used a ‘ring edition LFA to make its quickest lap to date. My guess that it will have a quicker than that lap coming soon as well since it was a warm up lap. I am not trying to knock Toyota for doing this, they see value in running the lap and selling the ‘ring edition LFA. My point in the ‘ring edition is that you might see more cars with a special trim to try to set this record.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        @Steven02

        This is not a “sports cars/trucks are stupid” argument – each to their own. Yes some people will want a road legal race car (which is fine by me) but they are so few and far between (even among car enthusiasts) that has me wondering why ‘Ring times have become such mainstream automotive news.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        It’s more like having someone designated an expert keeping score for us. In an entirely artificial environment, to boot.

        People who really care about having fast street cars, realize Vipers etc. are just too big and heavy to work well on actual roads.

        The moral of the story; bring back a culture of street and canyon racing for pink slips. That will keep road going gofast car development honest. Anything less won’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        These people are out there though, that is the point of these cars. Why does Lambo and Ferrari exist? These type of people. Also, people who have more money than sense. But ring times will continue to make news for a long time.

        But, let me pose a different question to you. Why do all car magazines include 0-60 times? Do people turn off TCS and do a clutch dump from 4k+ rpms normally? Point being, it is just showing what the car is capable of. So are ring times.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        @Stephen02
        I may not be making myself clear here. The Lamborghini Galliardo and Ferrari 458 are great cars but neither get great ‘Ring times by today’s standards. They are for fun on the road with some track capability thrown in. These days if you want a great ‘Ring time you’d better come equipped with a Radical SR3 or Caparo T1 in order to make a splash. My point being that the ‘Ring game has moved even beyond most Porsches and Lambos into stupid territory.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    When I hear “Ring” I think of Sebine Schmitz and then it’s me and her in the back of a limo enjoying beer and “censored”!

  • avatar
    Morea

    I think the ‘Ring time obsession is based, in part, on the fact that these cars aren’t raced head-to-head anymore. In times past winning on the track is what counted for bragging rights among owners and corporate engineering departments. But, in the USA at least, sports car racing is not as popular as it once was…

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      These cars are raced head-to-head in NASA, Grand-Am Continental Tire Challenge, and Speed World Challenge GT.

      Hell, there was one year in the NASA National Champs where a Corvette beat a Riley Daytona Prototype. California driver, rainy Ohio track.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven02

        Not that I am familiar with all of these circuits, but are there any that race cars in truly stock format (except for safety items such as roll changes and tires)? The closest I have seen have displacement limits and “reward” weight.

  • avatar
    Morea

    There is nothing like NASCAR or Indycar for sports cars. There are just a bunch of small series (you didn’t mention ALMS) mostly with amateur, part time contestants, all competing for attention. You can win a championship in one of those series and not make a ripple. Ring times will get you more press coverage. Thus, companies put more effort into Ring records and less into sports car racing. But you are right, these cars are raced head to head.

    • 0 avatar

      Pretty sure that GM spends more money on the Corvette racing team than on their ‘Ring efforts. One reason why sports car racing doesn’t get more press coverage is because GM doesn’t hype Corvette racing as much as they could.

      • 0 avatar
        SKUSA_boy

        Sports car racing doesn’t get that much coverage because the “fastest” international sportscar racers are open wheel rejects to begin with.

        If they were really fast they would be F1 drivers. If they couldn’t cut it in F1 then they could always try the Champcar series. If they weren’t fast enough for Champcars (or now the IRL) then professional sportscar racing is where they end up.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    Is this the same Viper ACR with the not-legal-for-the-street front splitter? Was it used during the ‘Ring run?

  • avatar
    John R

    Were they able to do this without the burning the driver’s legs off?

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …before everyone gets too excited, it’s worth mentioning that there’s no such thing as an “official” ‘Ring time. The closest thing to an authorised timekeeper can be found at the “Bridge To Gantry” website. These guys are at the track every day, and are as close to impartial as possible. They carefully monitor just how “stock” the vehicles are,whether the videos match what they see in person,and other variables. They’ve caught ringers before and function as an ersatz FIA……..let’s wait for their nod before popping the champagne corks at Highland Park.

  • avatar
    LeadHead

    I don’t understand why people compare the ACR to the ZR1. They are two, very different cars.

    The ZR1 has an acceptable interior (supposed to be better for 2012), a good sound system, and decent build quality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the record-run ACR’s have the hardcore package which deletes the radio and associated sound deadening. Not to mention on the street the ZR1 is probably one of the most docile and friendly “supercars” around. Just pulling out of your drive a Viper gives you the feeling that it’s trying its hardest to kill you.

    Viper guys will usually reply to an argument like this saying the Viper ACR is a dedicated racer, and doesn’t need “luxury” stuff. Well than why are you comparing it to the ZR1? Which is actually perfectly liveable on road (which was actually one of the Corvette Design team’s goals)

    Yes the ACR’s time is very impressive, and sure the ZR1 is a tad “slower”, but it’s a car that you actually could and would want to drive on long trips.

  • avatar
    Les

    It’s not about making good ad-copy anymore, it’s about manufacturer’s waving their [CENSORED] at each other.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I know you love to dump on the Top Gear Jack, but bravo to those guys for calling for an end to the “Nurburgring development” crap this season.

    Great for the ACR, you mentioned all the work that went into setting the time, except you didn’t mention that they started with a Viper ACR. I bet it had the hardcore package, I mean they are out to do this thing right. That is a track car, it absolutely sucks on the street.

    I guess this laptime showboating stuff is for all the rich guys who just *have* to have the best out there. They need the ACR, the Z06, the GT3, or the GT3 RS, or the “GT3 RS America super happy funtime check out my straps for door handles I am soooo hardcore” edition. Meanwhile the regular version is a quicker and more comfortable car over our crumbling American roads.


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