By on September 19, 2011

Last week, news about a Dodge Viper ACR kicking “the ever-living crap out of the Lexus LFA and the Corvette ZR1” (in the matchless and breathless words of Jalopnik) made the rounds trough the webz. At the time, Jack Baruth warned that “there’s no ‘official’ word yet” and mused that the slick boys could have used non-stock tires. Ever since, it became quiet.

A contact who works in one of those top secret garages behind bucolic Eifel farmhouses confirmed that there was a lot of activity last week. He saw ACRs and Corvettes arrive. He saw Tom Coronel come and go. He voiced his doubts whether the ACR was street legal, and called it a “racing version.” If and when the record is confirmed (currently, even Viperclub, where the story originated, does not have anything official – the video above is an old one, got you), the question of street legality will play a big role.

Will the car go in the “production vehicle” column and kick the aforementioned ever-living bowel movement out of the LFA?

Or will remain in the “Non-series/road-legal vehicles” list (where it currently sits until a nitpicking Wikipedian demands “citation please”)?

In the former case, America will have subjugated Japan, again.  In the latter case, the Viper will have beaten a hopped-up BMW E46 CSL of dubious road-worthiness, and a Porsche 911 “non-production prototype.”

My wrenching friend in the Eifel told me that there is a lot of activity in those garages behind the farmhouses, and that there are many taunts in the local Gasthaus.

Stay, well, tuned.

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16 Comments on “Nordschleife Mystery: Viper Or Blindworm?...”


  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    Count down until Lutz takes credit for this too…
    And everyone gets all misty about it in 5,4,3,2…

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    as stated previously,there is no mechanism for “official” timekeeping at the ‘ring…….if a team hustles a ringer car onto the circuit, cuts a corker lap (with a track supplied in-car video), and then exits the premises, nobody really knows the whole story. Website “Bridge To Gantry” have made themseves the official unofficial arbiters of myriad “fastest lap” claims. As of this writing they have acknowledged the Viper attempt, but have yet to comment on it’s validity. I’ll wait for their handle on this.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      if a video isn’t edited and shows the full lap, it’s a full lap. one can’t be sure whether the car has been tuned in excess of it’s stock conditions (calibration, unique stock-looking but sticker tires, non-stock dampers, etc) however. I don’t think Bridge-to-Gantry is any more definitive a source than an unedited video.

  • avatar

    In 40 years, people will laugh about how the ‘Ring cars were prepped, just like we do today about Jim Wangers’ Pontiac GTOs specially prepped for the buff books.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      if you’ve watched as many ‘ring videos as I have, you will note that the cars often drive straight in off the local highway and onto the track, with only a 10 second stop at some sort of toll booth (presumably, fees, waivers, and paperwork have been pre-arranged). Taking the Wangers precedent a step further, what’s to stop a manufacturer (in this case Chrysler/Fiat/Ferrari) from parachuting Fernando Alonzo (unrecognizable in his full-face helmet) and a tuner “prepped”, but stock appearing, rocket onto the track for a record run?……in the absence of the FIA…..nothing! Of course it’s a bit of a stretch to believe they’d do this to promote an extinct brand, but the possibility exists for some maker to pull off some serious, and relatively inexpensive, marketing piracy, with free publicity galore…….even getting caught would guarantee media buzz!

      • 0 avatar
        faygo

        as Jack has mentioned in previous pieces on the ‘ring, the only way to set a full lap time is to have the full track (without needing to start from the entrace/go thru the toll booth/exit before the full straight is run, thus the “Bridge to Gantry” qualification) rented/available for a private test. this isn’t cheap, but it’s done.

        there are no “fees, waivers and paperwork” to be pre-arranged. you only need to have the appropriate pass for the gate (either an industry-specific one, or the per-lap tickets anyone, driving anything, when open for public days uses) and you’d onto the track. none of the “record” laps set by any manufacturer are set during open/public days, that would be far too dangerous as well as slower due to needing to pass slower cars.

        what would be wrong with the fastest possible driver being used for setting a ‘ring time ?

        the mention of Tom Coronel in the original post would tend to indicate that he was brought in specifically for the lap time, just as you’d get Dirk Schoysman or a similar ‘ring specialist to help you tune your car and/or set a lap time. the capacity of the car is in question, not the driver.

        if the car is not equipped with any non-stock parts but has a track-optimized alignment (I’m sure the ACR has fully adjustable suspension, it is practically a race car in it’s street legal form), it’s not a cheat.

        Viper is not an extinct brand by any means, just between iterations. Dodge has made it very clear that there will be a new Viper coming, keeping it in the public eye with a “record” lap time is lots more fun for all involved than putting out a show car.

  • avatar
    faygo

    the piece you link to from the Viper Club web site clearly states that both ACR-X (non-street legal spec racer) and ACR were present that the test, so it’s very likely that your contact wasn’t clear on which was which with his comments about the car not being street legal. I suspect a non-Viper person might have a hard time telling whether an ACR wasn’t a race car anyway however, given the amount of aero and other race car-ish bits it has.

    I have no issue if the ACR set it’s time on a newer spec of tire, assuming they are legal street tires.

    as others have noted, ‘ring times are amusing, but not really relevant to anything other than ‘ring times, where they are not even conducted under equivalent conditions or controls.

  • avatar
    Byron Hurd

    Seems pretty cut-and-dried to me. If it’s an unmodified ACR, it’s a street/production car. If it’s an ACR-X (if it has a VIN, it isn’t an ACR-X), it’s not a street/production car.

    If it’s an ACR with all the “trunk kit” parts installed, it’s still as much a street/production car as the caged CTS-Vs and ZR-1s the General’s PR team likes to run at the ‘ring.

    Short answer: Viper wins.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    It wouldn’t surprise me. An unmodified ACR is a frigging monster.

  • avatar
    evan

    It would be really great if some sort of organization could oversee all of this, and then perhaps the cars could even be required to meet certain standards regarding their design and specifications, and then maybe they could all run timed laps on the same day – or even the at the same time – and it would be great, too, if they had to complete many laps rather than just one. At the end they could have a guy with a flag or something to signal the winner. It would be like an organized event or competition. Maybe that way we’d all know what driver and which car were fastest and we could finally get on with our lives.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      such a phenomenon already exists…..it’s called racing. But other elements come into play, like aggression, will-to-win, and, surprise,……..cheating!

    • 0 avatar
      cammark

      If that’s sarcasm I’m picking up, I’m right there with you. So yeah, racing. To be more specific- time trials. Where else to “records” count when there is no sanctioning body or rules or officials..? You don’t hear guys claiming to hold the record at Monnaco for driving through the streets at any time other than durring the grand prix…

      I’m all for striving for a goal (especially when it has to do with fast vehicles) but if it’s not sanctioned/regulated it’s meaningless.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        …….love them or hate them (they’re maddeningly easy to hate), the bureaucratic caristocrats at the FIA’s gilded Parisian palace dispatch their stopwatch* laden road warriors to any (FIA approved) venue in the world where someone is looking for their imprimatur (and world class bragging rights on all things with wheels). There are some considerable fees involved, I’m sure, but someone’s got to pay for the foie gras and Kruger Brut at the freeloaders’, er….members’ nightly meetings.
        *….Patek Phillipes, probably, but Tissots in a pinch…any
        watchmaker that ponys up the exorbitant “official sponsor”
        euros in reality….maybe Jack would know, he’s a watch
        boffin.

  • avatar
    RRocket

    I was flat out told that the front splitter on the ACR is NOT street legal in any form. Apparently, portions of the splitter extend beyond the bumpers edge and at that point the “splitter” ceases to become a splitter and starts becoming a “bumper”. Therefore, the splitter is subject to bumper crash regulations which it would fail. I was told this by a member of the SRT team.

    Anyone else been told this or hear about it??

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Yes, but by that token the Chevrolet and Cadillac Ring racers are illegal, too: most states don’t let you have a rollcage inside your car, and for good reason.

      • 0 avatar
        RRocket

        Understood. But as delivered, the ACR is not for street use with that splitter. So even with or without a rollcage, the ACR isn’t technically street legal with that splitter. The ZR-1 and Caddie are at least legal. And at the speeds they travel at the Ring, I don’t think anyone is terribly upset at the additional of roll cages for drivers.


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