4:40 pm: Standing in the Winner’s Circle

Ralph Gilles congratulates driver Chris Winkler on his record-breaking lap in the 2010 Viper ACR (before sending him back out on the track to try a few more runs), which shattered the previous production car record of 1:35.075 by more than a full second.

“Viper is known as a great cruising car, a great hobbyist car, ” Gilles says. “But now it’s becoming a track legend.” To commemorate that legend cemented here today, Gilles announced a spur-of-the-moment plan to produce a limited “1:33” edition of the Viper — limited to 33 cars. “If he’d broken the record in 1:34, there would be one more car — but he was a bit too fast, ” Gilles laughs. “Now this car will be one of 33.”

So how did he do it? Gilles credited the 2010 Viper’s newly engineered 5th gear, with a ratio revised from 0.741 to 0.796, along with a shorter shifter height and a new wing for 2010 that gives more lateral downforce. “Even after owning one myself for some time, I’m still amazed with what the Dodge Viper can do on and off the race track, ” he says.

For his part, Chris Winkler, living up to his famed unassuming demeanor, gave all credit to the car. “It was definitely exciting, but a somewhat uneventful lap from behind the steering wheel, ” says Winkler, who is actually relatively new to the course. “The Dodge Viper ACR has amazing power and handles like a dream, so following my first practice here last month, I came away pretty confident that we’d be able to set a new record.”

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