2009 Dodge Viper SRT-10: Help from the Marines
August 28, 2010
On the drive back from San Diego, our long-term 2009 Dodge Viper and I stopped in San Clemente to refuel. Some Marines from Camp Pendleton were holding up signs for a car washfundraiserdown the street. I looked down at the Viper. It was due for a wash. Also, if the Viper was a person, I'm pretty sure it would love America and want to support the Marines. We pulled into the car wash.
Immediately, I knew the Viper was in the right hands. The men sprayed it down and then went at it with clean, soapy shammies. They sprayed it down again and lovingly dried it with cotton towels. Turns out the Marines are raising funds for an annual end-of-the-year ball, but it has been moved to September, because the unit is shipping to Afghanistan in October.
Back to the Dodge Viper: This thing isreally an enigma among sports cars. It may be out of production, but the mystique continues and people want to be near it. One of the Marines asked if we could go for a "hot lap" down the freeway. I said sure, and within seconds, he was buckled into the passenger seat and waiting. He had no idea who I was. I could have been anyone. Most importantly, I could have been a terrible driver. But he didn't care and off we went. I got him back in one piece.
It's always neat to be around people who dig on the car you're driving.
After I left the Marines, I did the Viper a favor and paid $4.75 to take the Highway 73 tollroad north through Orange County. With few exceptions,the 73 isbaby-butt-racetrack-smooth and in the middle of a weekday, it's light on traffic.
There was room to open the throttle, let the 8.4-liter V10 wind out a bit, upshiftwith some authorityvia the industrial-grade shifter and clutch. If you can't make it to a racetrack, this isa pretty goodpublic road for a Viper. The chassis is perfectly at ease here, and the roadstretches out before you--all rolling hills and gentle sweeping turns. It's only 15 miles long, though, and in a Viper, those go by pretty quickly.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,530 miles