Dodge Viper Cup Race 7: Schimsk, Putman, and Gilles Grapple for Winner’s Circle

The 7th Viper Cup race of the inaugural season roared to life yesterday with a clean start and the coveted top three spots occupied by Ryan Schimsk, Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles, and guest driver Charles Putman (respectively). Although the launch was flawless, action quickly heated up around turn one with a flurry of attempted passes and the squealing of locked brakes. Putman and Gilles battled neck-and-neck for the privilege of ousting Schimsk from first place, with veteran Viper Cup racer Ben Keating trailing close behind. Unfortunately, a mid-race spin out forced Keating to surrender his chokehold on his position, allowing Putman to plant himself firmly in 2nd with Gilles staking claim to 3rd. Still determined to pursue the victory, Gilles and Putman continued to jockey for the top position until Gilles temporarily lost control and careened into the dirt. Executing a flawless 180-degree turn that would have brought a tear to even Andretti’s stoic eye, Gilles quickly righted his racer and narrowly kept Keating from swiping 3rd place. When the checkered flag finally dropped, the top positions were claimed by the usual suspects: 1st place Ryan Schimsk (1:36.441), 2nd place Charles Putman (1:36.970), and 3rd place Ralph Gilles (1:36.858).


Photos from their white-knuckle run after the jump.



  • CJ

    It’s great to see Dodge’s CEO involved in Motorsports. This is how you capture the passion and heart of automobile enthusiasts. Now, let’s beef up Dodge’s presence in NASCAR!

  • tr4petty

    I hope the season for this “Viper Cup” is over now. Nobody cares about Vipers racing Vipers! Maybe now you guys can start reporting on the Chase in the Cup series!?!?!?
    C’mon Ralph Gilles; get your butt out of that Viper and start talking to some Cup teams about switching to Dodge. Can you please TRY to get RPM back into Dodges so that us Mopar guys can brag about Richard Petty again? How about the Red Bull team? At least talk to Whitney Motorsports or Robby Gordon about running Dodges and giving them enough support to be competitive. How about supporting Brad Keselowski’s RAM in the Camping World Truck series? C’mon, Dodge, do something to keep us Mopar fans happy! There are barely enough Dodges in Nascar to keep me watching and it’s by FAR my favorite motorsport! You guys lost Richard Petty and RPM; you lost Kasey Kahne; you lost Chip Ganassi; you lost Bill Davis; you lost BAM racing; you lost Robby Gordon racing; you’ve bowed out of the Camping World Truck series; you have only two competitive Dodges in the Nationwide series and it looks like you’re losing one of those guys (Justin Allgaier); you have NO competitive Dodges (RAMs) in the CWTS except for the few races that Brad Keselowski is running in without your support; you have ONLY ONE Cup team that you support and only one competitive driver within them (Kurt Busch); and I’ve noticed that Kasey Kahne Racing’s sprint car teams have pulled all of their Dodge stickers off of their cars and driver uniforms! But you have the time and money to waste on Viper Cup!??!?!?!?!? At this rate, Dodge Motorsports should just throw up a white flag and surrender competitive auto sports to its’ competitors!
    P.S. AND I just read on SpeedTV.com that Roger Penske, your ONLY supported team in Cup and Nationwide, may be switching to VW soon, as that manufacturer is eyeing entry into Nascar with it’s new mid-sized VW, made in Chatanooga, TN for 2012!!!! What’s a Mopar Nascar fan supposed to do on the weekends in the future?!?!?!?!?!?

  • SUBLIME

    I must echo tr4petty’s concerns. Now that Brad is winning, your car sales are soaring. People equate Dodge with winners and not a losing car maker on the verge of bankruptcy again. Petty is customizing Challengers and selling them for God sakes. Lets do the right thing and find a few extra dollars for NASCAR because in the long term it is money well spent and good for business.

  • HEMIhead

    You’ve got to be kidding us here? You’ll waste a ton of money on a Viper cup series, for sales of about 20 cars a year, and forget/not put any effort into supporting blue collar workers, who by the way keep your paychecks coming in. I watch Nascar, and I will be buying a new minivan in spring of 2011, you know, the vehicle that brings in a profit? You need more teams and provide more support in Nascar. Get Richard Petty back (bad move by the way, letting “the King” go), Forget about RPM/Gillette, get Richard to form a new Dodge team. If you lose Penske, Busch, or Keselowski, you’re screwed! It will be suicide for Dodge. Should’nt have let Kahne go, stupid move. Could have gotten Penske to take him on. Hornish can’t even find a sponsor now (maybe collision clinic or maaco can sponsor him?). As a huge Mopar fan since birth, my patience is wearing thin with this company. What does that tell you RLD?
    Come on! Get your act together!
    Here’s a clue, if you don’t know what to do, take a look at what other companies are doing. More and more manufactuers’ are seeing the benefit of Nascar and how it potentially brings in sales. You are already in Nascar, and brush it off like it’s no big deal. Well I am here to tell you, as with other people who posted above, It Is A Huge Deal!

  • CJ

    I echo the comments above – NASCAR! NASCAR! NASCAR!

  • tr4petty

    I think it boils down to the fact that Ralph Gilles, CEO of Dodge AND Dodge’s Motorsports arm, is driving in the Viper Cup series. Therefore, RLD folks are sucking up to the boss and reporting on this series that almost nobody cares anything about. This is the same Ralph Gilles that has allowed its’ Nascar funding to practically dry up. The folks at Dodge don’t have a clue!

  • HEMIhead

    I don’t know if it’s Ralph Gilles or not, but I can tell you one thing, Dodge is majorly out of
    touch with the general public. Maybe with Fiat now they’ll just focus on Ferrari? Who knows?
    All I know is that it’s embarrassing to say the least.
    I know they have a motorsports website, but there’s no blog there for us motorsports fans
    to comment. I’ve been trying to give them the hint that if they included a blog on that site, I wouldn’t have to visit this one, because to be honest, this isn’t my favorite site.
    I am not interested in the “Company Politics”, because to be honest, nothing that they do, or
    say at times, makes a bit of sense to me.

  • CJ

    We need to give Dodge some credit. The drag pack Challengers are awesome and the next batch will be packing V10 Viper engines. And as I mentioned in a previous post, it’s great to have a CEO who participates in any form of motorsports. He’s racing in the Viper series and he has also participated in the One Lap of America series (even though they wrecked the Challenger!).

    However, Dodge has drastically underestimated the marketing machine that is NASCAR. I was at Kansas Speedway this past weekend along with 100k other auto fans and millions more through the TV. As we all know, Dodge has three cup cars in a field of 43 and only two are competitive (sorry Sammy). Furthermore, I saw merchandise booths for Chevy racing and Ford racing. Even Toyota which has only been in the series for a few years has a much bigger presence than Dodge on and off the track. I’ve said it a million times, but Dodge needs to tap into what their fans are passionate about.

  • HEMIhead

    Well, like CJ just stated, not much going on at the track from Dodge. I suspected as much.
    The challenger drag packs are awesome indeed. Not sure how people will feel about a V10
    engine in drags though. I don’t follow NHRA much. Maybe someone else out there could reply
    as to what impact or image a V10 would have on that racing scene. Will it be fair competition?
    Will it be accepted or hated? (by fans or competitors).

  • tr4petty

    Personally, as one who used to do a bit of street racing in the old days, I’d much rather see Dodge squeeze more horses out of the Hemi than to put the V10 in the Chally. The competitors will simply say, “but you’ve got 2 more cylinders.”
    CJ, the CEO of Dodge needs to pay attention to the kind of motorsports that the vast majority of his customers are interested in instead of trying to patronize the few wealthy folks that buy the Vipers! The last Nascar Cup race I went to was almost totally void of any Dodge Motorsports presence. There were NO Dodge Motorsports souvenir trailers there at all! A couple of years ago, there would have been at least two! And the lack of fans wearing Dodge or Dodge driver gear compared to a couple of years ago is really eye-opening! It’s almost as if Dodge has thrown in the towel and given up! I’m going to the Martinsville race in a couple of weeks so I’ll let you know if anything has changed. Don’t hold your breath, though; I’m not!
    Toyota has totally capitalized on their Nascar involvement and it is starting to show big-time. I’m seeing more and more folks wearing Toyota and TRD swag. In the meantime, Dodge and their CEO are off in Utah, racing Vipers against Vipers in front of practically nobody and twiddling their thumbs when it comes to the most popular motorsport in the world, Nascar!!! Unbelievable!

  • SUBLIME

    There is nothing like the sound of a V8. Challenger sales are up this year so Dodge has to push the Vipers. Viper sales are half of what they were last year and that was the worst year in automotive history in a long time and that is why we see so many blogs from RLD on the Viper. $100,000 for a Dodge is just too much money. Dodge will never be a Ferarri, Lambo, Caddy, Lexus, nor should they be. Dodge is sporty and tough blue collar muscle, and I am surprised they have sold so many Vipers in the first place. Gilles is just trying to move these cars so give him a break. At least we got to see what the new Charger will look like so that is a start in the right direction. As for NASCAR, yes they need more cars so they can crash JJ and the Toyo cars. If JJ wins another championship, I will never watch NASCAR again so I really don’t care what Dodge does. It looks like we are headed that way. I just hope to God that Brad Keselowski can win the Nationwide for Dodge. This is a good start in the right direction and maybe next year Dodge can support more teams in the Sprint cup. However, they do need to bring their trailers to the races so people can purchase merchandise. They should have diecasts made of their NASCAR Challengers and even sell diecasts of their new 2011 Charger that just came out. You have to promote your products if you want people to buy them.

  • HEMIhead

    Just recently watched “The Kings” documentary, “Petty Blue”. Not much mention of Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler there. Never showed a Superbird either. However, The King does pull up at the beginning in a petty blue “Dodge by Petty” Challenger!
    It’s sad that Dodge let this franchise go. It does hold alot of glory for them.
    I hope they put more support behind their Nascar efforts next season. God knows they need it.

  • CJ

    I agree that it was a grave mistake to let the king go. How do you let such a legend walk away without coughing up some dollars? Again, corporate Dodge/Chrysler/Cerberus/Fiat doesn’t seem to care what the fans connect with. Losing Richard was like losing a family member. They also had a huge marketing opportunity in Kasey Kahne and now he is racing Fords.
    I’m Mopar to the core, but I’m beginning to like Ford’s presence in the marketplace and their responsiveness to their customers/fans.
    As for Viper sales, they’ve ceased production, so why do they need to promote these vehicles. I pretty much like all forms of racing, so I think the Viper series is cool. The problem is Dodge is pouring money into a non-mass market series to which the majority of fans cannot connect.

  • HEMIhead

    Cj, exactly. I think Fijord is on top of the game with consumers. Like I said before, If Dodge don’t know how to connect, then just follow what the other manufactuers’ are doing. GeeM & Fijord have copied Chrysler for years, time to give them a taste of thier own medicine.

  • tr4petty

    One thing that Ford and GM have done right and that Chrysler seriously needs a lesson on is fostering LOYALTY. Look at the loyal GM teams in Nascar; Childress, Hendrick, JR Motorsports. Look at the loyal Ford teams; Roush and the Woods brothers. Now try to find a Chrysler loyalty among owners!
    I truly think that they could have fostered a super-loyal owner in Richard Petty but they blew it. They’ve had the Keselowski’s for years but Chrysler hasn’t recognized them enough to keep their loyalty. Dodge even pulled the plug on K-Automotive (Bob and Kay Keselowski) a few years ago in the truck series and gave that support to Jim Smith (Ultra Motorsports) who was never loyal to Chrysler. I believe they “could” have fostered the loyalty of Ray Evernham but they allowed that possibility to get squandered away too. The fact is, there are NO Nascar teams out there that you can look at and say, “those guys are loyal Mopar guys.” Chrysler has had opportunities to foster loyalty among some teams but have always been perfectly willing to drop them in favor of another team if they thought they could get more for their money. Oh, how I wish that Mopar had a “Roush” or a “Childress” that I could feel comfortable with buying their swag, etc. without thinking that I’d have to give it away at a yard sale soon because Mopar would drop them in favor of someone else. Now all they have is Penske and if they think Penske is loyal to them, they’re dreaming! Penske has never shown any brand loyalty to any manufacturer. Every year, there are rumors that Penske is switching to Toyota and this year, the rumor is that he’ll be switching to VW when that marque makes the decision to get involved in Nascar! Can you see Roush or Childress switching to Toyota or VW? I didn’t think so. That’s why all the rumors are always about Penske!
    It just gets harder and harder to be a Mopar/Nascar fan!

  • HEMIhead

    True That! TR4PETTY, I’ve often thought about that myself. Not one person in Nascar ever says
    anything about being loyal to mopar/dodge. I’ve heard plenty say, “I don’t know who I am driving for next year, but it’s going to be a chevy.” Haven’t got one driver on board. Total nuts. People already have them written off.

  • tr4petty

    The last racer in Nascar that I actually heard say, “I would consider a ride in the Cup series but it would have to be a Dodge team,” was Bobby Hamilton, a couple of years before he died. He was running Dodge Rams in the truck series at the time and it seems that he actually felt loyalty to Dodge at the time. Good for Bobby! Since then, though, I don’t believe there’s anyone left in Nascar that would say such a thing. Dodge has too much of a reputation for abandoning teams and drivers for any of them to feel any loyalty. So sad!

  • HEMIhead

    That’s a good fact to know tr4Petty. I know the Keselowski’s were all Dodge and pretty loyal
    also, but they too eventually were alienated from Dodge. My only explanation of the situation would be that all those people who Loved the company and cared about loyalty have long since
    left/retired/died. All that’s left now is a bunch of people who mindlessly punch the clock, and
    probably don’t have a clue who Richard Petty is. Shame really.

  • tr4petty

    The Keselowski’s have tried hard to be loyal Mopar guys for years. Chrysler hasn’t made it easy for them though. Ron ran Mopars in the Cup series. Bob ran Mopars in ARCA (for many years, he was the ONLY Mopar in ARCA; he won the ARCA Championship in 1989 at a time when Chrysler really needed some success in Motorsports) and the Nascar Truck series. Then Chrysler showed their appreciation to the long-time Mopar folks by pulling support from their K-Automotive trucks and giving it to Jim Smith’s Ultra Motorsports, who had been a Ford guy for years! And the K-Automotive Dodge Rams were actually running very well when Dodge pulled their support from them in favor of Ultra Motorsports, a long-time Ford team! The Keselowski’s are back in Dodges now but with no support from Dodge! No reward for their loyalty over the years! Way to go Dodge! (sarcasm)
    When Bobby Hamilton was running his Dodge Rams in the truck series, Bobby was very loyal to Dodge and made the statement that if he were to ever go back to the Cup series as a driver, it would have to be with a Dodge team. I was SO proud of him, I went out and bought a couple of his t-shirts! I’m loyal to drivers who show loyalty to Dodge! But, what happened after Bobby passed? His wife tried to keep Bobby Hamilton Racing going in the truck series but Dodge pulled their support from them and left poor Mrs. Hamilton under-funded until she closed shop! Way to go Dodge! (sarcasm again) It is sooooooooooooooooo hard to be a Mopar fan these days! I’ve been a Mopar fan for so long, though, that I find myself holding on, grasping at any hopeful news that I can, making excuses to myself for staying loyal in the face of overwhelming odds, just hoping that Chrysler/Dodge/Mopar will wake up and realize that it would be in their best interest to get back into Nascar with a renewed fervor and to try and establish some loyalty among teams out there; entice RPM back to DODGE; start supporting some Nascar truck teams again; etc, etc, etc.

  • HEMIhead

    I hear you tr4petty. It’s sickening to say the
    Least. People think I am crazy for sticking by
    Dodge. And to be honest, it’s a lonely hobby,
    And it isn’t getting any better.

  • Parter Cousins

    Dodge Viper Cup instead of Sprint Cup. Hmmm… Well Viper Cup is a spec series. Can’t say that about Sprint Cup right? No, wait. I forgot. It’s even more of a spec series than Viper Cup which bears almost no relation to the products that Dodge, Ford, GM, Toyota, Kenmore, Maytag (sorry, the last two sell refrigerators…still, that’s about right) sell at the dealership. And surely Viper Cup is just as sizeable an investment as Sprint Cup. Not. Well then, those Viper fans can’t be as passionate about Dodge products as Sprint Cup fans, right? That must be why they’re not interested in seeing fascinating TV features on Kurt Bush trying to water ski or Jimmy Johnson walking his Weimaraners to the mailbox. Riveting stuff. By all means, let’s have Dodge fork out some cubic dollars to participate in some over-hyped, dumbed-down endurance racing called NASCAR which has “succeeded” in seeing its at-track crowds and TV ratings steadlily decline for the last 5 years.

    Yes that would demonstrate the folly of Viper Cup. Srint Cup does make me want to buy a minivan though. You can sleep in it if you’re stranded at a NASCAR race and feel all blue collar-like while you’re doing it. Hurray for the lowest common denominator!

  • You ought to

    When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!