Route Recap: SRT® Tour week 11 – The End
Heading into our final week, the SRT® Tour team was getting excited: "We've been living out of hotels for three months...it's going to be nice to finally get back in my own bed," said Sean. "But first, a handful of stops and another 1,200 or so miles."
We started our final week traveling from Charlotte where for the fifth time on the SRT Tour we crossed paths with the President as the Democratic National Convention was in the Queen City). And while the Carolinas are known for BBQ and Hootie and The Blowfish, there's also an incredible car scene.
We were welcomed with gracious southern hospitality as we rolled into Charleston, South Carolina, for the Charleston Auto Expo. Hundreds of cars from rat rods to priceless exotics were there, but Rachel will remember something else. "One of the best lunches I had on the entire SRT Tour was a vendor doing gourmet hotdogs from a hot-rodded Airstream," she said. "I fell in love with the blue cheese and slaw dog."
Interesting side note: in Charlotte, the 300 SRT caught people's eyes left and right, but when we got to Charleston, our Grand Cherokee SRT was the belle of the ball. Folks really loved it's rugged good looks, thrilling speed and (now for '12) 5,000-pound towing capacity.
It's no secret that SRT enthusiasts like to modify and personalize their cars. Plenty of mail order and internet sites can sell you parts, but we met Chris and Lisa from SpeedLogix years ago and they truly "get it." So we rolled down the Florida coast and set up shop at their place in West Palm Beach, Florida. "By the way, did you know West Palm Beach is actually on the east side of the state? Neither did I," said Hammer. "Good thing our SRT's GPS was there to save the day."
On a Monday night, the club came out in force. More than 40 cars and dozens of us came to SpeedLogix to show off our cars and swap stories. Nights like this are what make you feel great about being in the car hobby and we wound up staying nearly two hours longer than we were scheduled. We had that much fun.
While we were in Florida, we just had to stop and visit Mickey Mouse, right? Actually, we had a legitimate reason to be in Orlando. "Most people have no idea there's a racetrack in the middle of Walt Disney World," said Jen, who lives in the Orlando metro area. "It's officially known as Walt Disney World Speedway, but it's often referred to as 'The Mickyard.' Get it, a cross between Mickey Mouse and the Brickyard?"
"Our friends at Exotic Driving Experience can get you behind the wheel of supercars that cost more than most peoples' homes, and our SRTs made the perfect backdrop. Plus, our HEMI® engines' rumble contrasted nicely with the high-pitched screams of those Europeans."
After that, we had a full day on the road to return to Charlotte Motor Speedway and the 12th Viper Owners Invitational. This event is held every other year and brings more than 800 Viper owners together for a weekend of twisty road tours, question and answer sessions with SRT engineers and lots of track time on the autocross, the Speedway and even ZMax Dragway where they hold the NHRA Four Wide Nationals.
Jen pointed out, "We saw so many people at VOI that we met along the SRT Tour." But this time we were giving them a chance to drive pre-production versions of the all-new SRT Viper that goes into production soon. We were joined by SRT's Ralph Gilles, Beth Paretta and a slew of SRT engineers who shared the weekend and put a cap on this year's SRT Tour.
Hammer wraps it up nicely: "Three months, four SRTs, four willing drivers, 32 states, more than 13,000 miles and no speeding tickets (honestly). This SRT Tour has met our goal to share these incredible cars with you and spread the word about the passion we share. It's our honor to represent the company and the enthusiasts who make SRT so special."