Viper ACR’s record-shattering tour

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” Mark Twain famously said. Slap his words on a Dodge Viper bumper sticker.

As if to snuff reports from UAW contract negotiations that the Viper program was finished, the sports coupe’s 2016 ACR performance model completed a year-long journey across 13 American race tracks this fall by setting the production car lap record at each one.

“The new Viper ACR beat everything including supercars like the Porsche 918,” said Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis, leaning against a wall-sized mural of the menacing, 645-horsepower beast at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week. “The ACR holds more track records than any other car and it’s been certified by the SCCA, which is how it should be.”

SCCA is the Sports Car Club of America, the country’s largest amateur racing club.

The ACR’s epic tour put an exclamation point on a year in which Detroit-made sports cars proved themselves to be among the world’s performance elite. This month the ACR, Mustang GT350, and Corvette Z06 were nominated for Road & Track’s Performance Car of the Year alongside the Ferrari 488 GTB (Mustang took the gold). And in September the 2015 Z06 beat out all comers — including the latest cyborgs from Lamborghini and McLaren — to capture fast time at Car & Driver’s annual Lightning Lap of Virginia International Raceway.

The ACR’s records include a staggering 1.28.65 minute circuit of one of America’s most famous tracks, Laguna Seca in California. With accomplished racer Randy Pobst aboard, “The Snake” eclipsed the previous lap record by more than a second — set by Pobst in the $900,000 Porsche 918 hybrid which costs seven-fold more than the Viper. Most of the lap records were set by SRT vehicle development engineer Chris Winkler, an accomplished SCCA champion.

Developed as the “ultimate street legal race car,” the ACR first appeared in the Viper lineup in 1999. While shattering track records, Viper has struggled to eclipse 1,000 units in annual sales. Hand-built in Detroit’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant, the Viper’s $90,390 base price is well above cross-town rival Corvette. The ’Vette starts at just $56,395 with annual sales in 2014 of over 34,000 units.

The 2016 ACR is powered by the same 8.4-liter, V10 engine as the base Viper with an industry-leading 600 pound-feet of torque for a normally-aspirated engine. But its track steroids come from an “Extreme Aero package,” which sucks the car to the ground with technical wizardry including a dual-element carbon fiber rear wing, rear diffuser, unique hood, front splitter, and dive planes. The resulting 2,000 pounds of downforce at a top speed of 177 mph is the most of any production car made.

Add carbon ceramic Brembo brakes and massive, Kumho 14-inch rear rubber and the ACR stickers for $122,490.

The ACR is developed by Dodge’s SRT performance program, which includes 200-mph Hellcat versions of the Dodge Challenger and Charger.

“If the Hellcat is the King of the Road, then the ACR is King of the Track,” says Kuniskis.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @HenryEPayne. See all his work at

2016 Dodge Viper ACR lap records

Laguna Seca (Salinas, California), 10/28/15

Lap Time: 1:28.65 min.

Driver: R. Pobst

Road Atlanta (Braselton, Georgia), 10/11/15

Time: 1:26.54

Driver: C. Winkler

Waterford Hills (Waterford, Michigan), 9/30/15

Time: 1:10.89

Driver: C. Winkler

Nelson Ledges (Garrettsville, Ohio), 9/21/15

Time: 1:06.21

Driver: C. Winkler

Motown Mile (Detroit, Michigan), 8/28/15

Time: 51.17 sec.

Driver: C. Winkler

GingerMan Raceway (South Haven, Michigan), 8/27/15

Time: 1:31.91

Driver: C. Winkler

Pittsburgh International Race Complex (New Alexandria, Pennsylvania), 8/18/15

Time: 58.37 sec.

Driver: C. Winkler

Grattan Raceway (Belding, Michigan), 5/19/15

Time: 1:22.09

Driver: C. Winkler

Virginia International Raceway (Alton, Virginia, Grand Course), 4/23/15

Time: 2:40.02

Driver: C. Winkler

Willow Springs Raceway (Rosamond, California), 4/2/15

Time: 1:21.24

Driver: C. Winkler

MotorSport Ranch (Cresson, Texas), 2/25/15

Time: 1:16.98

Driver: T. Kendall

Buttonwillow Raceway Park (Buttonwillow, California), 1/21/15

Time: 1:47.70

Driver: C. Winkler

Inde Motorsports Ranch (Wilcox, Arizona), 11/19/14

Time: 1:33.75

Driver: C. Winkler