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2006 Gen-3 Viper convertible

Lou Leto August 24, 2022 All Feature Vehicles

Chasing Viper Velocity with a Vengeance

Talking with Chase Lautenbach of Oklahoma City was not the typical car owner interview experience.  At 24 years old, he is a man on the move, a move that can be clocked at high miles per hour. Very high miles per hour.

Lucky enough to be ‘shown the direction’ by a father who started taking him to car races when he was still in a car seat, Chase has already been through a Porsche phase. He’s also already proven it with an brand new 2011 Mitsubishi Evo 10, a two-liter car that he and his sponsors had ultimately built up to nearly one thousand, yes, 1,000, horsepower. It became so visible on the Internet, through underground racing forays that made the car famous for punishing twin-turbo Lamborghinis, that he reluctantly yet admittedly sold it to an enthusiast in Norway, “So I would never have to see the new owner in my ex-car.”

I want an 8-second quarter-mile Viper that I can still drive to church on Sunday. With a parachute still mounted on the back.

Moving on to the next platform, “I tried to imagine a big motor that could work on the street. Big was the obvious choice, as the old adage of ‘there is no replacement for displacement’ still applies.”  A Corvette was a viable option, as the market is so plentiful in choice of supply and aftermarket support.  Then the thought of a Viper with an 8.3-liter engine was considered.  “I enjoy being the underdog, and the ability to technically pull the rug out from under others.” Lautenbach set about finding a vindictive Viper with vehemence. The Viper specifications validated the ability to offer torque and pull hard; a big, solid platform from which to build.

Shopping around, he found a Paxton-supercharged car in Nebraska, test drove, and “accidently bought” this 2006 Gen-3 Viper convertible with only 4,000 miles on the odo.   On the way back from Omaha, Chase chastised himself by soul-searching his decision to buy “the most awful awesome thing.” He says, “It’s hot, creaky, and loud. It had to earn my love.” And it did earn his love. While he has other cars, he has put 15,000 miles on the Viper in 15 months. “I can’t wait to get home to drive it.”

At 24 years old, he is a man on the move, a move that can be clocked at high miles per hour. Very high miles per hour.

Caption: 800 horsepower and 900 pound-feet of torque is barely enough for Chase.

Though purchased in Viper Slate Crystal with silver striped exterior (a very rare Viper color combination), Chase has chased the color palette through three changes since, including two liquid wraps of flat white and grey pearl. With this snake shedding its skin once more, it now glows glossy again, this time wrapped in eye-blistering outrageous orange by Chux Trux and Jason Sandusky of Kansas City.  The exterior feature changes go further, but only for function. Carbon fiber components reign supreme, literally top to bottom.  The custom-made hardtop by Vipair draws visual attention, yet the understated extended side skirts don’t really reveal their wind-managing prowess. Nor does the one-off front splitter by Nth Moto, which wraps to form a very effective undertray.

The black wheels are an interesting stagger, with the taller eighteen-inch front wheels that are eleven inches wide wrapped in 295/35 Toyo tires, while the seventeen-inch diameter rear rims are a whopping thirteen inches wide, strapped with 345/40 Proxes.  There were no body modifications required to fit all this rubber on the vehicle, though the back brakes were switched to smaller gen-2 Viper discs that would fit inside the smaller diameter rear wheels. Chase drives the Viper on the street with the big tires.

Everybody has to grow up eventually… the faster my cars go, the slower I drive them.

“Nitrous is a beautiful thing. I’ve used 1,000 pounds of nitrous in one summer,” Chase says.

The engine is virtually stock at the moment, other than “rods and mains,” according to Chase. “This generation of Viper engine was considered a ‘creampuff motor;’ you have to build it,” Chase emphasizes. Bolt-on B&B headers are visible, as is the fully custom direct-port nitrous system that “looks like a spider on top of the modified intake manifold.” Fresh air is fed to the intake after being filtered by a K&N system. The ten-cylinder engine exhales freely through a set of catless Corsa pipes.  With an absence of mufflers or catalytic converters for noise restrictions of any kind, the Viper exhaust has a vociferous effect on the street or track.

Nitrous Outlet is responsible for the spray for play.  Chase keeps two fifteen-pound nitrous bottles in the trunk. “Nitrous is a beautiful thing,” Chase admits. “I have used one-thousand pounds of nitrous in one summer.” That is a lot of time with a foot to the floor and the nitrous system engaged. There is also a standalone fuel system plumbed in, with a one-gallon tank located under the hood that carries C16 by VP Racing (117 octane). Dyno numbers reveal 800 horsepower and 900 foot-pounds of torque documented at the rear wheels.  “It’s a flame thrower,” Chase reveals. “There are YouTube videos with four-foot flames flying out of the sidepipes.”  A Race Logic traction control system manages grip from all that power passing through the stock transmission and stock rear gearing. Chase claims: “It’s street lethal. The car hooks.” With the factory ‘long gearing,’ Chase admits to seeing 200 miles per hour – on the street!

I want an 8-second quarter-mile Viper that I can still drive to church on Sunday. With a parachute still mounted on the back.

“Everybody has to grow up eventually,” he says with a mature sincerity far greater than one expects for his age. Admittedly liking street racing, he has seen how it dramatically changes lives when things go wrong. When it comes to driving on the street, “the faster my cars go, the slower I drive them.”

Wanting to offer a solution rather than be a part of the problem, he and his friend Justin Keith formed just one year ago, along with organizing their own events. Benchmarking the events offered by others for the past for six years, “Our events treat the track like the street, only safer.”

For 2015, a schedule of ten events in major cities primarily around the central U.S. will occur. Each will start with a ‘Dyno Night’ party, complete with a DJ, followed the next day(s) at a rented drag strip, where they have created multiple street-oriented classes of competition.  Expect to see friends of drivers near the starting line making side bets, just like they do in street racing situations. In addition to typical 1320 (quarter mile) drag racing, the guys offer ‘Roll Racing,’ where the vehicles are going (rolling) 40 miles per hour before start of the actual racing begins. “It’s easier on the vehicle equipment; less breakage equals more fun without the hassle of expensive repairs,” Chase claims.

At the end of the interview, Chase revealed a plan was underway for the Viper’s next iteration.  The V-10 engine is out of the car and at the builder for a complete teardown and re-do. Large twin turbochargers will be added. A decision is yet to be made on the transmission replacement, but expect it to be an automatic that will take the punishment of even higher horsepower. He plans a wheel and tire swap, with even more rear tire for added traction. Another exterior color change is planned, too.  Summarized in Chase’s words: “I want an 8-second quarter-mile Viper that I can still drive to church on Sunday. With a parachute still mounted on the back.”

Amen to that.


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