2008 Dodge Viper ACR: From L.A. to Bonneville
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We're about to make our first high-speed run in the still-black 2008 Dodge
Viper ACR when the old guy pulls up to our makeshift pit. He looks exactly
like the guy you'd expect to meet in the middle of the Bonneville Salt
Flats, like a worn-out Hank Williams, Jr.
Over the deafening cackle of his Cummins-powered diesel pickup, he yells,
"What's you boys doin'?"
"We're going to make a few runs in this Viper here."
"Yeah, how fast will she run?"
"We don't really know. Maybe 190 or so."
By the expression on his face, it's obvious ol' Hank has figured out that
we have no idea what we're doin'. He knows we're just a bunch of yahoos
with a fast car. He takes a good long look at the big winged Viper, then he
shuts off the truck's engine so we can hear him better.
"When you're going fast, the slightest gust of wind can flip you," he says.
"That's why we only ran early in the morning when the air was calm."
We look up at the mid-afternoon sun and wonder what we've gotten ourselves
"And make sure you don't run out of room," he continues. "You think you
have all the space in the world, then Floating Mountain is suddenly right
in your face. I remember when I went for 300 mph back in 1978; my chutes
didn't open and I almost didn't get her stopped." He runs his fingers
through a white beard. "Didn't make 300 either," he adds. "Only 280."
Great. We thought this Bonneville thing was as easy as holding our foot
down until the speedometer stopped moving. Now Mr. Monday Night has us
imagining our $100,000 Viper sliding across the Utah desert on its roof.