The Viper’s one-time Nurburgring lap record almost never happened. In fact, Dominick Farnbacher, who set the incredible 7:12 lap time, was never even supposed to drive the car.
That, at least, is the story according to Farnbacher’s SRT Viper #91 co-driver Marc Goossens.
It’s only part true.
Some of the official details of the story are already known. With production of the second generation Viper coming to an end and the new car not yet being made, Chrysler officially had no cars to use for its record-setting attempt back in 2011.
Instead Tomball Dodge donated two 2010 Viper ACRs for the test, which were then promptly shipped to the German race track.
Where the story really gets interesting is what happened next, something Farnbacher told us over dinner ahead of his race this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park outside Toronto, Canada.
Another driver had already been hand picked to set the record, but he couldn’t do it. Less to do with his driving skill, it was more the result of the setup of the car and nature of the Nurburgring, which, Farnbacher explains, is a unique beast.
Here’s where Goossens’ version of the story isn’t quite accurate. Farnbacher wasn’t hand picked by Dodge to drive the car, but he also wasn’t kicking around the Nurburgring paddock by coincidence.
In fact, he had been invited by Ben Keating the owner of Tomball Dodge. Farnbacher and Keating were racing buddies and Keating, it seems, had the foresight to lock down a backup plan.
When the other driver couldn’t set the record, Farnbacher was given a shot. His knowledge of the Nurburgring was critical in making it happen. “It’s so stiff out of the factory it won’t work on the ‘Ring,” he says of the Viper. In fact, the best setup for the Nurburgring is the opposite of what you’d want for most other tracks. With the ACR’s adjustable shocks and springs, the car’s ride height had to be raised to its max says Farnbacher. The shocks were also softened up significantly.
With those changes, Farnbacher set the Nurburgring record after just two hours behind the wheel. But the most amazing thing is, he had never driven a Viper before. . . in his life!
The goal, he said, was simply to beat the Corvette ZR1’s time of 7:19, but when they saw the capability of the ACR, the team decided that a ‘Ring record run was possible and they went for it, setting the 7:12 time, a full two seconds faster than the Lexus LFA, which had claimed the record only a week before.
Since that run back in 2011 the ACR’s record has fallen. First the Gumpert Apollo squeezed in a 7:11, then the Nissan GT-R NISMO set a 7:08. Most recently Porsche obliterated all other records with a stunning 6:57 in its million dollar hybrid supercar, the 918 Spyder.
The new Viper has never officially had a run at the Nurburgring so it’s not clear where it would sit in the lineup. Could Dodge ever plan to take back the ‘ring Record? Farnbacher thinks so.
Former SRT boss and president of Chrysler’s motorsports division Ralph Gilles has, “a fighting spirit” says Farnbacher before slyly adding, “I think there might be something in the future to go for the record.”
GALLERY: SRT Viper Race Car
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