Passionate Viper enthusiasts celebrate another successful Viper Owners Invitational.
There was a time when the automotive industry wrote off the Viper as another casualty of the economic downturn. Despite industry analyst professions, owners knew Viper was simply lying dormant.
Two years ago in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Viper Club of America (VCA) held its 11th bi-annual celebration of America’s beloved supercar. At that time, attendees received their first look at what would become the Gen V Viper. Its outward appearance was nearly complete, but there was still plenty of work to complete before the car would be ready for the garages of the passionate group’s members. Over the next two years, SRT® engineers and designers would work tirelessly to perfect the latest Viper with improvements to every facet of the car.
This weekend, nearly 1,000 Viper owners descended upon Charlotte, North Carolina, for VOI12 – a celebration of the Viper and its tight-knit community. The bi-annual event draws hundreds of enthusiastic owners from across the globe. With a multitude of engaging events offered throughout the weekend, attendees are never short on Viper-related activities.
Billed as a welcome day, Thursday started early with a track session Q&A, giving drivers an idea of what to expect from the many on-track events offered throughout the weekend. Later in the evening, the VCA held its welcome dinner, kicking off the weekend in grand style. Awards for member accomplishments made over the past two years were also presented. The club welcomed each of the chapters, including international chapters of the VCA from Great Britain, Switzerland, Germany and even Japan. No matter the region or language barrier, everyone in attendance shared the same passion for Viper – a bond like none other.
Due to the large number of members in attendance, attendees were split in two groups running opposite schedules Friday and Saturday. One group spent the day at the track, honing their driving abilities and testing the capability of their Vipers. Track events included runs down zMax Dragway, an intense autocross competition and hot laps on a road course variant of the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway. Each event would put driver and machine to the ultimate test of skill and ability. As an added bonus, VCA members were given the opportunity to check out the 2013 SRT Viper in a short ride and drive, where SRT engineers carefully walked them through the countless upgrades to the new car.
The other group spent a six-hour day traversing the North Carolina countryside, with several featured stops. A number of scenic sights along the way provided excellent photo opportunities and time to take in the picturesque backdrop. The group visited Petty’s Garage on their drive where they had the opportunity to meet “The King” himself. A second highlight to the drive involved a guided tour through the immaculate Penske Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. Whether on the racetrack or countryside, the Viper does both in style.
Friday evening, members were treated to a surprise dinner; they boarded busses with no clue where they were headed. After a short drive to downtown Charlotte, it was clear the NASCAR Hall of Fame was the secret location. Filled with decades of history, the museum served as an excellent location for an evening in Charlotte.
Saturday night, SRT hosted VOI12 attendees at a formal dinner with reflections on the history of Viper and its owners. The stage was surrounded by a quartet of Vipers providing a visual lineage of the American supercar. The evening highlight came with presentations from both Beth Paretta, director of operations -- SRT brand and SRT Motorsports, and Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – Street and Racing Technology Brand and Motorsports, where the two shared the latest news from SRT, including a few surprises.
Sunday allowed for even more track time. Guests were also invited to tour Riley Technologies -- home of the ALMS Viper GTS-R race team. The last day concluded with a charity auction where one-off pieces of art were sold benefiting the Victory Junction Gang.
Anyone in attendance at VOI12 was immediately reminded that Viper Nation is stronger than ever and to say guests were excited for the launch of Gen V would be a severe understatement. Owner or not, the enthusiasm of Viper Nation in Charlotte this weekend was inspiring and a true testament to the community.