Viper Racing Interview, NY Auto Show Racing - SHAKEDOWN

Uploaded by drive on 06.04.2012


LEO PARENTE: Today on Shakedown, it's our look at
the New York Auto Show.
And that means racing, versus the typical road car auto
industry fluffery.
Plus a few other timely topics.
The passing of Ferdinand Porsche, and the beginning of
the 2012 Formula Drift season.
At the New York Auto Show my two days were spent, for me,
as a combination of consulting
work that I needed to get done and doing the Shakedown thing.
Frankly, not a lot of on-camera interviews.
Because really, I get more truth talking to executives
off camera.
Still, we got some words with Ralph Gilles, head guy at SRT,
to show you as he talks Viper Racing with us.
Plus, I got in the faces of a few American Le Mans Series
people and others in the know as to Viper Racing, the
technicals and the marketing to get more
clarity on the program.
So we got SRT Viper going racing, and that's great.
But no it's not going the big Ganassi Racing conspiracy
theory I cooked up in my head on the
Monday, April 2, Shakedown.
So today it's racing at the New York Auto Show.
And if you need some insight into the rest of the cars at
the show, catch the two days of Fast Lane Daily with Derek
D and Mike Spinelli on Road Testament.
He did his thing about the relevancy of auto journalism
in the automotive media world.
So that's a good thing to watch, as well.
But you know, I used to be a car guy, not
just a racing guy.
So let me do a quick review of one of the new cars at
the New York show.
This is the 2014 Toyota Avalon.
It's improved in every way versus the old Avalon.
It's lighter, more refined, more
spirited, should be younger.
It's got the Entune active dashboard system to distract
you from the better handling and performance.
But did they have to style it so it looked like a Camry
[BEEP]ed a Ford Fusion?

Racing at the New York Auto Show is
always a little abstract.
You know, I really do think the industry sees New York as
aloof to the sport.
But some brands step up.
Porsche, obviously, is one of them.
They came with the Porsche 917LH, the long-tail in 1971
Martini trim.
But you know what?
That's also the exact same car that ran in 1970
at Le Man in white.
It was the Le Mans movie lead laps car.
I spoke with Vic Elford.
Vic is the Porsche legendary driver that raced that car in
both '70 and '71.
And he's the ex-rally guy that stepped up into road racing.
So when we spoke about driving this 917LH, and he spoke about
how it was stable in a straight line, kinda
[INAUDIBLE], because that was the whole purpose of the
But he also mentioned that it was much more nervous and
unstable into the corners and out versus the short-tail 917.
But as a rally guy, the guy that won Monte Carlo and
stepped into these cars, he felt he was pretty comfortable
adapting to it.
He also talked about tires.
And back in his day there really was no difference in
the performance of the tires between the manufacturers.
Unlike now, where you see a Michelin tire performing in
one way and a Dunlop tire doing different things.
So in Vic's day, it was car and driver that made the
And then finally we spoke about the huge speed
differentials that existed.
Because you know, in America Le Mans right now, they're
talking about how the various classes are really running
pretty close.
The Audi R18, as we saw, excepted.
But in Vic's day, the speed differentials were huge.
He'd be blasting down the Mulsanne at something like 240
miles an hour and, frankly, come up upon a TR4 Triumph
maybe doing 80 to 100 miles an hour slower.
My question was, how did you adapt?
And his answer was really old school-- you
just get used to it.
On a serious note for Porsche, Ferdinand Porsche passed away.
I know you've all heard that.
And yes, he did the 911.
But from a racing standpoint, his first race car, the 904,
was a profound car and, frankly, one of my favorites
and really beautiful.
And it launched the Porsche Motorsport approach to
creating new Porsche race cars, and better race cars,
which got us those cars such as the 908, the 910, and that
legendary 917.
Now speaking of passing, we may be at the end of the Scott
Tucker racing era.
You know, he's the guy that runs Level 5 and races in the
American Le Mans and sometimes in WEC.
He also runs a number of companies that do some type of
fast cash, check paying, pay through the
lungs financing thing.
And the FTC has finally caught up and filed
action against him.
Now I know, you're innocent until proven guilty, but the
FTC has over 7,500 claims against his companies.
And they filed motions against all of his properties, Level 5
included, claiming that he funneled $40 million from the
businesses to Level 5.
And they want the money back.
So who knows whether he's going to show up at
Long Beach or not.
We're going to go find out.
Level 5 says it's business as usual, and they're going.
But here's the problem.
Level 5 was the highest-placed ALMS team at Sebring.
They finished fourth overall.
Now I'm going to tell you the other two drivers, not Scott,
got it done.
But they did.
And that's the issue.
Are they the best image for ALMS?
Level 5 and an FTC filing?
We'll see.
But here's a better image for the American Le Mans Series.
The return of the SRT Viper to American
Le Mans Series racing.
And let's start with the interview we
had with Ralph Gilles.
He's the head of SRT, as I mentioned, and we spoke about
the technology going into the race car, that connection to
the road car, how their teams are working together.
And we tried to get a little info about whether there's
going to be some racing programs in the Viper world
beyond just the Pro series car.
RALPH GILLES: I'm a big believer that racing
improves the breed.
If we're going to be called SRT, which stands for Street
and Racing Technology, we better be racing.
And the Viper is a thinly veiled race car.
I mean, there's really a lot of componentry that's
classic race car.
It's 50-50 weight distribution, camber-gaining
suspension, a lot of stuff that
really works at a racetrack.
And a lot of the things are already showing up in the
production car.
We have carbon-fiber exterior body.
The same supplier that works on the carbon for the street
car also helps with some of the race car parts.
So we're getting lot of cross-pollinization which
improves the breed.
Developing the GTSR's been a unique experience.
Yes, we contacted Riley, and they're experts.
They've been doing it forever.
They're very famous with the racing industry.
But what's unique, is we actually used the same team
that does the street car to help design the race car.
So what we'd do is we'd put it in the tunnel, we'd actually
simulate what the race car wanted to be, show the
designers, they actually sweetened the surface up a
little bit.
And it turns out the sweetened surface was actually better
than even the engineering-demanded surface.
So it makes the car more attractive, but every bit as
functional as it should be.
As Viper, we can't afford a normal campaign, a typical
tier-one level campaign.
So really, the American Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans is
going to be our marketing campaign.
So we're actually going to talk to a new audience.
You know, our current owners have been paying attention.
They know where to find our information.
But our incremental owners, people that we don't normally
talk to or sell to, they watch American Le Mans.
They pay attention.
So we thought why not reenter that fold, mix it up with some
of the most storied brands in history.
And now we'll get the attention of the very people
that we've been wanting to get the attention of.
So we're excited.
We're launching the Viper with an SRT Viper and a Viper GTS.
And we actually are going to offer a track pack
right from the start.
So someone can take either one of those vehicles and check
the box to get the track pack package, which will bring the
two-piece rotor kit, much stiffer suspension, a
different brake pad.
If they want to go more radical than that, we're
investigating, things like we did just in recent past.
We did the ACRX, which was really a street car gutted
out, roll cage, with headers, boom.
There you go.
Very little to do to turn a Viper into a race car.
They love racing it.
A lot of our owners actually buy two, one to race and one
to do some touring with.
So it's a very exciting thing to develop this vehicle and
really design it to do what it was always meant to do.
And that's to go fast.
LEO PARENTE: In addition to Ralph's comments, here's what
we know about the Viper race car.
8-liter V10, may not be fully finalized at an 8-liter, but
they got the waiver from the ACO at that capacity.
And the waiver, quite frankly, is to allow the car to perform
at where it is with its current weight in development.
And it's rumored to be about 250 pounds heavier.
Every GT car now runs at a standard weight, and then they
make the engine adjustments from that.
That's why a 4-liter BMW gets the air restrictor waiver.
It gets a 5.5 Corvette and this 8-liter V10.
Now testing is going to start in May, and there's a lot of
development work still to be done.
But that's the typical of any race car,
bringing it to track.
But here's a little factoid.
Bill Riley let this leak in another
interview he did with Speed.
This is the show car.
No race car has been fully built yet.
So they've got their work ahead of them to get the
development and testing going.
Here's the other news, and I knew this one.
There's no Riley team built yet.
Bill Riley's team is going to build a car and run the car,
too, with the two-car program.
But he doesn't have all the people place.
Some engineering people are there, but he's heading to
Long Beach to start the hiring.
Watch out other teams, he's going to poach.
And the whole question of when to race.
We're hearing multiple stories here.
Three to four races has been spoken about for 2012.
But Ralph's comment about when the marketing to support the
racing would start, he referenced Petit Le Mans.
So I would not be at all shocked if, based on the
development progress, we end up with a 2012
one-race season at Petit.
If it goes well, they may show up earlier.
But I'm not sure I'd opt for Baltimore as a street race,
but then maybe it's a data-collecting scenario.
What other racing at the show?
Staying in the Dodge SRT world, we walked by the Global
RallyCross Dodge Dart.
As we were walking by it, I off-handedly said to Ralph,
you know, I fear that a lot of people are going to be asking
to buy a four-wheel drive Dart because of this car.
And he said, you know, guess what, we're working on it.
And it will be in the showroom.
So that's cool.
Infinity keeps showing their F1 car, which I applaud their
commitment to F1 racing and all the marketing they're
doing, but I asked them, have they been hit up by any one of
the two US races for sponsorship?
The answer is yes.
But no commitments.
I'm not sure they're going to be the ones that
are gonna do it.
Watch Red Bull, though.
Cadillac kind of made a half-something commitment to
racing by not having a race car in place, the World
Challenge car but having a video wall showing some of the
action to create that connection between performance
and V. And we're going to be at Long Beach watching the
World Challenge cars run.
Mazda showed us two cars.
They brought their Daytona-winning RX8 and the
B-Spec Mazda.
And I'm particularly loving the B-Spec because I'm
talking, lobbying, to get behind the seat to do a
Shakedown to take you through one of those ride and drives.
With or without Chris Harris?
Eh, I can do it.
Honda showed their Indy car.
And yes, it's last year's car.
But I'm assuming that's only because the new car is in such
limited availability.
Honda also showed the correct engine in the back.
And here comes the Lotus, snark, because Lotus doesn't
have enough engines for Indy to even show.
But this is the wrong last year's car, but the
interesting thing about this picture is it was
set up for an oval.
And look at the tilt in all the tires.
It may be visible in the picture.
Josh and I spoke a lot about how that tilt is to work an
oval, and when the car compresses, those outside
tires straighten up for stability.
Different tilt at different corners, and it literally had
four different alignments.
It's to adjust the car and how stable it is turning in,
that's the front tilt.
And the back is to allow rotation, to get the car to
turn through the corner.
Next, Pirelli.
Pirelli brought a Lotus F1 car.
And obviously we have to say a word about-- enjoy the picture
and the logo as it is.
Because I'm sure you read that Lotus the team and Group Lotus
the sponsor have decided to part ways.
And Team Lotus is making a judgment call, because the
sponsorship, as we learned at New York, is not a full
Gentile pricing pay full check.
They cut some type of deal with Genii
Capital to create a discount.
Now Genii was involved in a little bit of the Proton
discussions with the possibility for
Proton to buy in.
And they're lingering around to see if they want to be
investor in whatever Group Lotus is going to become with
their latest acquisition or divestiture from the Malaysian
Bottom, bottom line is, we don't know whether the car's
gonna be black and gold going to China.
It probably will be.
But I bet you the logos will change.
It's not a factory Lotus.
And speaking of not a factory Lotus, here's the ALMS car
that will show up at Long Beach.
We're going to be there to check it out.
But it allows me to segue into a little bit of a rant.
And I'm gonna connect the dots to Viper
and try to stay positive.
This Lotus was positioned at the New York show as a
full-factory effort.
Not by Lotus, they were smart, they know the truth.
This really is a factory-supported,
private-team effort, and a gentleman driver writing a
check to get this car on the racetrack.
That's good.
But watch how they run.
They're going up against factory efforts
like BMW and Corvette.
And that's a substantial thing.
Porsche is the other one I obviously should mention in
terms of a commitment to racing.
And I fear that Viper is going to do what happened with Pratt
& Mille and Corvette.
If they don't understand the full level of factory
commitment that's needed to make this car win, they're
going to take two or three years to get it right.
And that's the part where Riley running his own program,
and the fact that there is the Viper kind of continuity here
that doesn't seem to be as aggressive as I would have
expected, will be one of those things we'll have our eyes
open and our ears to the ground listening how that car
is going to perform.
Next week, we're going to Long Beach.
So we'll probably learn a little more.
We're going to focus on the GT class of ALMS there.
And I've got my reasons, you'll see.
But also at Long Beach is Formula Drift this weekend.
And everyone's waiting for the Scion 86
FT-whatever it's called.
That's OK.
I get the name and I really don't care anymore.
It's the same car.
And it's going to run.
But it's going to run not the V8 that they've
got built in Japan.
It's gonna run some type of turbo four, which is good.
V8s, non-V8 cars are a big issue coming into 2012.
And this purple RX8 is one of the non-V8 cars that
everyone's looking to to perform.
Finally, there's a Camaro.
And this is our buddy Tyler McQuarrie.
Remember we spoke to him at Daytona?
And he really was unsure of whether a program was going to
come together for drifting.
He's going to continue road racing, but he didn't want to
leave drifting.
Well, something did come together.
And I'm going to be a little bit close to the vest because
I'm not sure how much I am allowed to breach
But Tyler's in the car.
It is a car from the Gardella Racing stable.
And it's more than just a pure sponsorship.
There's some type of financial
partnership that's come together.
But the bottom, bottom line is, Tyler McQuarrie will be
racing and drifting.
That's pretty much it.
Enjoy the racing this weekend.
We'll see you at Long Beach.