Dealers are trained in the art of SRT® products
Four hundred SRT® dealer representatives met in Auburn Hills, Michigan, for the SRT Performance Dealer kickoff event in October. The two-day event began at the Chrysler Styling Dome where the entire line of SRT vehicles was on display, including the new 2013 SRT Viper. For many, this was their first encounter with the new Viper, as well as their first time setting foot inside the hallowed grounds of Chrysler's Styling Dome.
Welcoming them to the event were Beth Paretta, Director of Marketing and Operations, SRT Brand and Motorsports, and Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, SRT Brand and Motorsports and Senior Vice President, Product Design, Chrysler Group LLC. "Without you, we wouldn't be here," said Paretta.
The group was split into two groups. One group remained at the styling dome for a day of classroom training, while the other headed off to Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds to drive SRT vehicles.
In the classroom, SRT instructors discussed the product line, the demographics of SRT customers and how those special customers should be treated. In the Styling Dome, program managers for each of the vehicles were on hand to present an overview of the vehicles and answer any questions from the dealers. Of course, the main attraction was the new Viper.
Dealer representatives sat in the new car and were impressed with the all-new Laguna leather interior. Many of them already had a long list of customers who were interested in ordering the car. Later in the day, the guests took a tour of Arrow Engineering, where every Viper engine is hot-tested on the dyno before being installed in a car. Arrow also handles any factory warranty work on the engines.
Meanwhile, at the proving grounds, three Shadow Blue with silver stripes Viper GTS supercars were available for dealer representatives to test drive. The route was limited to a couple of straight lines, with Richard Petty Enterprises instructors riding shotgun. "I got up to 115 mph!" exclaimed one dealer.
After driving the Vipers, participants could take hot lap rides around the handling course with Petty instructors at the wheel. The instructors did not disappoint, taking the Vipers to the ragged edge of adhesion around the track – at least until the tires were worn out!
At the Vehicle Dynamics Facility, on a large expanse of asphalt, autocross courses were set up to allow participants to test the handling of the other SRT vehicles. For many, it was their first opportunity to put an SRT vehicle through its paces. One participant said, "I was really impressed with their handling, especially the Grand Cherokee SRT. I didn't realize something that big could handle so well!"
That night, Gilles joined them for dinner. A line quickly formed as guests waited for the opportunity to talk with Gilles in person. Like a rock star, Gilles graciously posed for photos and signed autographs. "He's such a down-to-earth guy. He's one of us. His passion for SRT is infectious," said one dealer.
Paretta introduced guest speaker Gary Johnson, who heads up the SRT Motorsports program. "Racing is in our name. So here to tell you about it is Gary Johnson who heads up the Viper racing program." Johnson showed several videos and outlined the program for the Viper GTS-R's return to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) after a 12-year absence. SRT will be providing hospitality for dealers and customers at next year's ALMS races.
The following day, the groups switched so everyone had a chance to drive the cars. "What a great event!" said Paul Normandin, from Normandin Chrysler Jeep® Dodge in San Jose, California, after returning home. "It was a great networking opportunity, and my guys are all excited about SRT and the new Viper. It's spreading like wildfire throughout the dealership!"