The original Dodge Viper was developed by Chrysler’s Advanced Design Studios back in 1988 after Bob Lutz suggested they build their own version of the Shelby Cobra. The Viper was released to the public in 1991 and official deliveries began the next year. In the twenty five years between its origination and the official end of its production in 2017, the Viper had cemented its name as one of the greatest American sports cars of all-time. The Dodge Viper GTS-R, a hardcore racing variant developed to spur sales numbers in Europe, helped do just that and more. If you want to hear the GTS-R’s glorious V10 racing engine on a race track, check out this compilation put together by Youtube creator 19Bozzy92:
Dodge Viper GTS-R Development
In 1995 Chrysler approved a racing team for the Viper while developing the original RT/10’s successor, the GTS coupe. Chrysler initiated a partnership with the French racing firm Oreca for motorsports efforts in Europe, with production assistance from Reynard Motorsport. In the North American continent, Chrysler chose the Canaska/Southwind Team to head its racing efforts. As visible in the video, the Viper GTS-R sports the same design as the road-going Viper GTS, except it’s got an absurdly large rear wing, front splitter, and rear diffuser. The exhausts are located on the rear just like the GTS, as Chrysler was responsible for plenty of medium-rare ankles due to the original side-exit exhausts found on the RT/10.
The Dodge Viper GTS-R Found Its Groove in GT2
The Dodge Viper GTS-R debuted at 1996 24 Hours of Daytona in the GTS-1 class where it managed to place 29th. If that seems unimpressive, which it is, remember that it was competing alongside GT titans like the McLaren F1, Porsche 911 GT1, and the Mercedes CLK GTR. The GTS-R had a mediocre performance in the GTS-1 class until 1997 when Canaska/Southwind ended their partnership with the Viper racing team, and left Oreca to switch to the less-ferocious GT2 class. By 1999 the Oreca team was racing in two championships, both the FIA GT and the new American Le Mans Series with more than just a handful of victories.
By the mid 2000’s the Viper GTS-R was becoming less relevant, with most of its racing appearances coming from French and Italian GT races. Most notably, former F1 champ Alain Prost even drove a season with the car in the 2005 French GT season, claiming one of nine total victories. In all, 52 Viper GTS-R were built. You won’t see any of the original cars competing in the modern day, but they are a historical symbol of American prowess in GT racing. Thank you, Bob Lutz.