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Christopher Bruce2012-04-14 20:26:51

The History of the Dodge Viper in Racing with Videos

The Viper at times was faster than some prototypes

Viper announced last week that it would return to racing in the American Le Mans Series. During the weekend lull in automotive news, we thought that we would take a moment to look at the history of the Viper in racing. 

The Viper was first entered into international sports car racing in 1994 when two cars were entered into the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Performance was not fantastic with one car coming in 12th place in its class, and the other finishing in 19th but not covering enough distance to qualify as competing.No Vipers were entered in 1995, but four cars were entered in 1996. They managed to finish in 10th, 21st, 23rd and 40th. The best car was ninth in its class. Four more cars were entered in 1997, but the teams dropped in performance again. They finished 14th, 15th, 20th and 41st. The best car was fifth in class. 

For 1998, the Viper was finally finding its place. They finished 11th, 13th, 19th, 21st and 44th. However, that gave the cars first and third places in its class. The Viper had another very successful year in 1999. Of the eight cars entered, they were the first through sixth fastest cars in their class. They continued to be first and second fastest in their class in 2000, but the Corvette was beginning to challenge the team taking the third and fourth spots in the same class. 

The 2001 Le Mans race is when Viper began to fall down the order. The best car was fourth in class. Things improved slightly in 2002, when a Viper was third fastest in its class. The last Le Mans that the Viper participated in was in 2003. Just two cars were in the race that year. One did not finish and the other was the fourth fastest in its class. 

The Viper was also very competitive in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. It won the overall race in 1999, 2001 and 2002.

In its heyday, the car was dominant in endurance racing winning the 24 Hours of Daytona, 24 Hours of Spa, Petit Le Mans and other major races. 

Here is a video of a Viper and Porsche racing during a VLN race on the Nordschleife. There is no indication of when this race was held, but it was uploaded in April of 2009. It could be from the first VLN race of 2009 or a late race on the course in 2008. Without knowing exactly what race this is, it is impossible to say how the Viper finished, but it certainly shows some great racing. 

ALMS released this video showing the history of the car in the series. It was dominant in 1999 and 2000 when it won its class in the series. 

We posted this video in last week's Car Videos to Brighten Your Weekend showing the top 5 Viper victories in American Le Mans. 

And this one showing a lap from 1999 of the Viper at Le Mans. 

Car Videos to Brighten Your Weekend: The Porsche and Viper

Viper Gen.2Viper Gen.2
Viper GTSViper GTS
V 10 ( 90.0º vee)
487 cu in
Top Speed
177 mph
6, Manual
Maximum power
456 hp @ 5200 rpm
Fixed-head coupé
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost
$ 2.413




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