Home / Auto News / News article: Viper Owner Invitational: In Pictures - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Oct 14 2010, 11:42 AM

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Held this year in Salt Lake City, Utah the bi-annual Dodge Viper Owner invitational brought together fans of the American exotic from all over the world. Hosted by the Viper Club of America, over 350 Vipers were in attendance, with owners traveling from as far away as Switzerland, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Along with the usual activities like a show ‘n shine and auto-x, attendees were treated to the road of racing Vipers in both the Viper Cup and World Challenge series. Better yet, Kuno Wittmer piloted his Viper to first in the World Challenge GT Class race in front of the enthusiastic Viper crowd, finishing second overall for the season.

Dodge was kind enough to photograph the entire event and also took plenty of shots from both races. Check out our selection below and hit the link to Dodge’s Flickr photostream for all the shots.

GALLERY: Viper Owner Invitational

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[Source: Dodge's Flickr Photostream]

Official release after the jump:

Viper Owner Invitational Celebrates The People and Passion Surrounding America’s Ultimate Super Car

  • Ryan Schimsk sweeps Dodge Viper Cup series doubleheader, and Dodge’s Kuno Wittmer captures season finale in World Challenge GT– all in front of the Viper Nation faithful
  • Chrysler Group’s Dan Knott is inducted into the Viper Club of America Hall of Fame

October 5, 2010 , Auburn Hills, Mich. -

Hundreds of Dodge Viper owners from around the world gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah this past weekend for the 11th edition of the Viper Owner Invitational (VOI.11).

The three-day event offered the ever-expanding “Viper Nation” crowd the chance to gather and enjoy a long list of activities, driving events and entertainment. Hosted by the Viper Club of America (VCA), the bi-annual event attracted more than 800 participants from as far away as Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom and close to 350 Dodge Vipers.

An extensive Viper memorabilia showcase, vendor displays offering clothes to collectibles to performance parts, along with roundtable discussions and informative tech talks with Street and Engineering Technology (SRT) engineers kept all attendees entertained throughout the weekend.

VOI.11 also offered the chance for Viper owners to drive America’s ultimate supercar during planned caravan drives on the many scenic roads between Salt Lake City and Park City to the northeast and in the wide array of performance driving and racing activities taking place at Miller Motorsports Park to the southwest.

“This script for this event has never changed – it is planned and carried out for the passionate people of Viper Nation by the passionate people of Viper Nation,” said Chris Marshall, President of the Viper Club of America. “We believe the Dodge Viper is a truly iconic American super car and it deserves to remain in the spotlight and help to carry the torch for Dodge as Chrysler Group’s performance vehicle brand.”

Retired Chrysler executives Francois Castaing, Tom Gale and Tom Sidlik joined Ralph Gilles – Dodge Brand President and CEO, and Dan Knott – Senior Vice President, Purchasing and Supplier Quality, Chrysler Group, at VOI.11. Gilles not only played the role as an official Dodge host, he also drove in both Dodge Viper Cup series races at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday and Sunday.

“I can’t say enough about all the hard work the Viper Club of America continues to do for not only the Viper owners and fans around the world, but for the Dodge Brand as a whole,” said Gilles. “This spectacular VOI.11 event once again proves that the passion and camaraderie runs deep in the Viper Nation, as volunteers came together to make this event a success. We are privileged to be able to share so many special moments with our owners and enjoy ourselves in what continues to be very unique and lifelong relationships that only Viper enthusiasts can have.”

Past VOI events have been held in Detroit, Monterey, Calif., Indianapolis, Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas, St. Louis, Nashville and Dallas.

Since its debut in 1992, Dodge has built 28,056 Vipers.

Knott named to VCA Hall of Fame

During the VOI.11’s opening night reception, Dan Knott, Senior Vice President – Purchasing and Supplier Quality, Chrysler Group, was inducted into the Viper Club of America Hall of Fame.

As director for Chrysler Group’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team from 2002 to 2006, Knott managed the application of “Viper DNA” across the product lines within Chrysler Group delivering an impressive portfolio of vehicles, including the Dodge SRT4, Dodge Challenger SRT8, Dodge Charger SRT8, Dodge Magnum SRT8, Dodge Ram SRT10, Dodge Viper SRT 10 American Club Racer (ACR) Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 and Chrysler 300 SRT8.

Knott joined the former Chrysler Corporation in 1988. A native of Detroit, he holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in engineering, both from Michigan State University.

Dodge Viper Cup And World Challenge GT Races Add Excitement To VOI.11

Ryan Schimsk completed a sweep of the weekend race doubleheader by running away with both Dodge Viper Cup series races at Miller Motorsports Park in front of hundreds of screaming Viper fans.

Season race No. 8 on Sunday was tight for the first few laps as perennial series front-runner Ben Keating chased Schimsk who led from the pole on the East Course but was closely followed by Dodge Brand President and CEO Ralph Gilles and Keith Verges. About halfway through the race, Keating ran just a bit wide out of the left hand Turn No. 7 while running second, and Gilles jumped on the opportunity and made the pass. Verges then tried to go two-wide when Keating got loose and went off, taking Verges with him. Keating then drove slowly around to the pits for a lengthy checkup.

After that, it looked as if Schimsk had enough breathing room to cruise to the finish in the fourteen-lap race, if the rainstorm brewing in the desert would hold off.

Gilles had a comfortable gap on third-place Charlie Putman with two laps to go, but then the weather turned ugly as the storm blew in violently and the course became rain slick in places, slowing the pace. Putman began to close in on Gilles and was on his bumper as the two crossed the start/finish line to begin the last lap. Gilles held him off for half of the final lap, but then Putman was able to get by Gilles as the rain intensified.

Schimsk carefully crept through his last lap and still finished 6 seconds ahead of Putman in second place. Gilles finished third, while Verges finished fourth, ahead of Ted Hughes.

Just one day before, Schimsk took his same Viper ACR-X to an easy race win once again from the pole position. But just behind him, there were some epic battles that broke out.

Gilles, who qualified just four hundredths of a second behind Schimsk, fell behind second-row starters Keating and Putman early in the race as they fought for the runner-up position.

Working hard behind the wheel of his red No. 52 Viper ACR-X, Gilles continually challenged Putman into Turn 1 of the East Course, while Keating ran on the ragged edge in a vain attempt to catch Schimsk. All four drivers had best laps within a half second of each other, with Keating, Putman and Gilles blanketed by only a tenth of a second.

Keating eventually spun and dropped to fourth, several seconds behind Putman and Gilles, but was tantalized when Gilles half-spun out of the ever-exciting Turn One on the last lap of the race. Gilles turned the bobble into a spectacular 360 in a big cloud of desert dust as he got the Viper pointed in the right direction. He blasted off just in time to retain his place on the podium. Keating tried to catch him, but the checkered flag intervened.

“I had to check up as I was coming up behind Charles [Putman], and I got deep into the gravel,” said a smiling Gilles. “But I used my Jeep off-roading skills to wheelspin back on!”

As a result of Gilles’ two third-place finishes, Dodge Motorsports will donate $5,000 to his charity of choice, the National Organization of Albinism and Hypopigmentation (http://albinism.org) which assists the 1 in 17,000 people in the United States that has some form of albinism.

Schimsk was excited to see his team perform so well throughout the weekend. “Our doubleheader sweep means a lot to our team and will definitely help us in the run for the championship,” said Schimsk, who with his back-to-back wins, overtook Ben Keating in the overall season standings.

The 2010 Dodge Viper Cup series standing – after 8 of 10 races.

Name
Car No.
Race Wins
Season Points
Ryan Schimsk
67
4 (VIR, Hallett and MMP)
472
Ben Keating
33
2 (VIR and Pocono)
419
Keith Verges
90
1 (Pocono)
314
Jim Stout
1
271
Michael Von Quilich
19
232
Connie Bogan
10
204
Eric Galerne
37
167
Richie Hearn*
52
1 (Hallett)
129
Ted Hughes
5
128
Kurt Sollberger
84
117
Charlie Putman
99
105
Ralph Gilles*
52
101
AJ Morgan
59
77
Bucky Lasek*
53
74
Dave Mazyck
3
62
Jeff Courtney
99
60
Steven Cole Smith*
53
56
Allen Johnson*
52
56
Michael Kohn*
53
48
Shaun Bailey*
52
40
Rob Pacione*
53
36
Larry Carter
44
28

* Drivers listed in italics are celebrity drivers.

Race No. 8 Results:
Sunday, Oct.3
Miller Motorsports Park East = 2.242-mile road course

Finish Position
Car No.
Name
Laps Completed
Total Time
Best Lap Time
1
67
Ryan Schimsk
14
23:26.288
1:36.701
2
99
Charlie Putman
14
23:32.446
1:37.532
3
52
Ralph Gilles
14
23:33.206
1:36.844
4
90
Keith Verges
14
23:46.085
1:37.174
5
5
Ted Hughes
14
23:46.484
1:37.551
6
19R
Michael Von Quilich
14
24:05.661
1:38.455
7
84
Kurt Sollberger
14
24:33.006
1:40.393
8
10
Connie Bogan
14
24:40.811
1:39.492
9
1
Jim Stout
14
23:55.558
1:38.406
10
37
Eric Galerne
14
24:43.092
1:40.826
11
3
David Mazyck
14
24:56.383
1:39.632
12
53
Rob Pacione
13
24:39.596
1:48.314
13
32
Ben Keating
13
24:51.183
1:37.107

Race No. 7 Results:
Saturday, Oct. 2
Miller Motorsports Park East = 2.242-mile road course

Finish Position
Car No.
Name
Laps Completed
Total Time
Best Lap Time
1
67
Ryan Schimsk
14
22:49.575
1:36.441
2
99
Charlie Putman
14
22:54.583
1:36.970
3
52
Ralph Gilles
14
23.03.970
1:36.858
4
32
Ben Keating
14
23:04.296
1:36.889
5
90
Keith Verges
14
23:07.620
1:36.859
6
1
Jim Stout
14
23:12.278
1:37.860
7
5
Ted Hughes
14
23:23.988
1:38.083
8
19W
Michael Von Quilich
14
23:25.055
1:38.124
9
84
Kurt Sollberger
14
23:41.129
1:39.088
10
10
Connie Bogan
14
23:44.808
1:39.655
11
37
Eric Galerne
14
24:02.781
1:39.782
12
3
David Mazyck
13
24:02.781
1:47.988
13
53
Rob Pacione
12
23:23.034
1:38.627

Earlier in the day on Sunday, Dodge’s Kuno Wittmer captured the season finale of the 2010 World Challenge GT, in front of the enthusiastic Viper faithful.

Wittmer’s No. 13 Dodge Motorsports Dodge Viper started second and held that position through the first corner. After falling behind the Volvo of Randy Pobst by just over a second early in the race, Wittmer took the lead on lap nine as the pair encountered traffic in Turn 5.

Once in the lead, Wittmer was challenged by the Volvo-powered teammates Pobst and Andy Pilgrim.

Wittmer and Pilgrim pulled away slightly from Pobst and the remainder of the race was a two-car, nose-to-tail battle between the Dodge Viper and the Volvo. Wittmer never faltered and ran a mistake-free race, however, and finished the 22-lap race ahead by just 0.346-second.

It was the second win of the year for Wittmer, who finished the season second in the Drivers’ Championship. “We’ve been fighting all season-long to win this championship,” Wittmer said. “We couldn’t win it, but we were able to get second place, so we’re really, really proud. This Dodge Viper has been really fast and consistent all season long. We’ve had some highs and lows, but it’s been mostly highs. To win at Long Beach back in April and then to finish off with a win here in front of the Viper Nation shows how outstanding this Woodhouse Dodge team has been.”

On behalf of the Viper Club of America Board of Directors, we are very pleased to announce the dates and location for the eleventh Viper Owner Invitational. Your national officers and board of directors have worked countless hours with a number of different possible locations around the country. Once narrowed down, we then worked tirelessly with the different venues and other participants to make sure this will be the BEST and one of the most affordable Invitationals to date. So ladies and gentlemen, here you go: