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Thread: SRT Track Experience

  1. #1

    SRT Track Experience

    I've posted this in many diffferent forums, I think that anyone that's a potential SRT buyer should know that if they buy a new SRT, you get to attend this for FREE. Since I bought my SRT4 before they even INVENTED the SRT Track Experience (Bought in NOV 2003, SRT Track Experience started in May 2005), I had to pay, but it was a gift from the wife.

    Content follows:


    SRT Track Experience 10/13/06 @ VIR

    (All Photo credits: Chris Leiter http://www.leiterphoto.com PHOTOS MOVED TO SEPERATE POST )

    On Friday, October 13th, I attended the SRT Track Experience with a buddy at VIRginia International Raceway. The event's registration was a $500 anniversary gift from my wife since I have owned my SRT vehicle (a 2004 SRT-4) since November of 2003. My buddy, Patrick Moran, was fortunate enough to have received his invitation 'free' with the purchase of his 2006 Chrysler 300C SRT-8. (Any SRT purchase after May 2005 gains the purchaser a free entry to the Track Experience.)

    We left my home in Lorton, VA at about 2:30 AM on the 13th. As we drove the SRT-8 to Alton VA, a grand total of 2 miles from the North Carolina border (in fact, it's easier to get to VIR by going into NC first, and then coming north), we were anticipating the event and neither one of us slept. We had entered the desired location into the navigation system, and when the woman in the dashboard told us that we had arrived at our location, we were literally staring at someone's front-(or was it their back) yard. Nav 0, Map 1. We whipped out the map from the VIRClub.com website and eventually found out where we REALLY needed to be. About a half hour later, we drive up to the main gate at VIR. A guy who had just gotten there himself asked who we were with.
    "SRT TrackExperience" I said.
    "That's Skip Barber'ss group right?" he asked
    I nodded. He then handed us a clipboard with the standard "If you get hurt, it's not our fault" waivers on it. Pat and I signed them and then he told us where to go.

    We made our way down the road from the entrance booth and we saw a sign that pointed towards the SRT registration area. We came to a turn in the road and had no clue where to go until I noticed another sign that had fallen over. Pat jumped out and picked it up. As we passed a group of Vipers and Crossfires, we got REALLY excited. When we finally got to the lot where the registration building was, it was still only 6:30 AM. The registration didn't officially open until 8AM. We got out the car and walked around for a few minutes, looking at the cars in the lot, just WAITING for us to use and abuse them.



    It was more than obvious that we were the very first people there for the event, and we decided to jump in the car and try and get some rest before others arrived. A half hour later, I heard voices outside of the car laughing and talking loudly. I sat up to see about 5 or 6 other SRT8 vehicles there already, all parked right near us. I jumped out of the car just in time to see one of the crew driving the White and Blue Competition Coupe to its resting place next to a brand new Viper SRT-10 Coupe.

    After meeting some people from NC, VA, and even from New Orleans, we made our way (after taking a couple dozen shots of the SRT-10 CompCoupe) to the registration buiding to get signed in and eat some much anticipated breakfast. After filling our stomachs with eggs, bacon, and sausage, the head instructor from Skip Barber racing school gathered us for a brief, yet informative driver's meeting. Going over the basics of Oversteer vs. Understeer, braking, racing line, etc.



    After blinding Pat with my ridiculous new flash (Canon 580EX for the Photogs), we made our way outside where they seperated us into our groups (red, white and blue). Pat and I were in the red group, which apparently meant we were going to the Autocross first, which was great because that's where they keep the Vipers! A short walk to the autocross course, and we were presented with 3 Vipers (1 copperhead convertible, a yellow coupe, and a black convertible) and a new chapter in my automobile obsessions. Along side of the Vipers were three SRT-6 Chrysler Crossfires. Instantly I was excited to get the Crossfire 'warm-up' out of the way so I could get at some Viper action. HOWEVER, I was about to be VERY surprised.


    The SRT6 is a little cramped in coupe form when you're wearing a helmet, especially when you're 6'3" like I am. Ironically, that was the Crossfire I drove on the autocross AND road course, granted, on the autocross, a helmet was not required. There were two convertibles, and a coupe, and I lunged for the chance to drive the coupe (never much a fan of the convertible car). A simple turn of a key and the supercharged motor sprang to life and I waited my turn to get on the autocross course. The interior of the Crossfire is very nice, and reminds you that even though the front and back of the car say 'Chrysler', it is indeed only a Mercedes Benz SLK32 AMG. The car is literally identical to the benz in everyway other than looks and electronics. And those three little letters can't hurt, can they? AMG.. ooh yeah, we're about to have some fun.



    As I get out on the course I take it easy the first lap out to get used to the steering on the SRT6.. it's very tight.. VERY responsive, and helps to plant the idea that the car simply will NOT slide. PERIOD. A few laps into the course and I'm loving the car, and then the instructor tells me that its time to take it back in so others can get some wheel time.. "OK" I reluctantly say.. that is, until I remember that every person that drives the SRT6 is one person closer to me driving the SRT-10 Viper Coupe!!



    Pat's the first person to jump into the SRT-10. Here's the chance for him to really get a feel for a car that would embarass his SRT-8 no matter what, right? What does he do? In the first 2 seconds of his 3rd lap, he spins the Viper out in a cloud of smoke! ([anchor]Click[/anchor] HERE to watch it) The above picture is AFTER that spin out, and after the instructor told him to pit the car. I finally get my chance in the Viper. A car that makes my adrenaline pump just LOOKING at it. I get in the car and the world was quiet for those few minutes. I know now why people spend so much money on cars like this. There is NO substitute. Nothing can come close to RAW POWER and the intense handling that a road-ready race car can deliver. And I haven't even turned it on yet! I put the key into 'drive' and Push the button to start the car. The massive 8.3L V10 roars to life and I ease in the clutch, hit first gear and move the car forward a few dozen feet to the 'ready' line. I wait patiently for the person in front of me to be finished with their laps, and then I set off.

    I slowly take turn one, and then give the beast some gas and shift into second gear, where I leave it for the remainder of the laps. After that, every turn, every straight, I gave the car more and more. I was taking turns as fast as I could, accelorating to over 80MPH on the straight, and braking like the car wasn't even moving more than 30. The Vehicle simply delivers more than I'm willing to take on my first oppurtunity driving it. I felt that I was pushing the car decently through some of the turns, getting a good amount of wheel spin on some corners, getting a little sideways on others, all the time my instructor telling me that I'm doing great and to 'go faster'. I get so into the groove with the car, it seems like it becomes part of you. A precision instrument that you use to carve lines into the track. I start talking to the instructor about the car. Saying that the car handles 10 times what I thought it did, that it's 10 times more powerful than I THOUGHT, and was EXACTLY what I THINK I should have in my garage (reality sucks). After I pit in and relinquish the car to its next victim, I admit that I've been bitten and will never rest until I receive that poison again.
    I live in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER

  2. #2

    Re: SRT Track Experience

    So.... enough about my love for the Viper. We moved from the Autocross course to the 'drag course'... which, in my opinion, was VERY lame. They had the 300C SRT8, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, and the RAM QuadCab SRT10 all lined up ready for us to take down a drag long enough for us to get to about 65MPH, and then take the cars through a slalom. YEEHAW. (SRT, I want 1/3 of my money back BTW) We take each car out with FOUR passengers in each.. yeah.. FOUR. I drive the Jeep first. I put it in 'manumatic' and turn off the ESP. I line up at the light, nail the gas, and get the expected result. 0-60MPH in 4.5 Seconds, lightning fast transmission shifts, and incredible braking power. Through the slalom, the Jeep doesn't feel much difference from the 300C.



    Next I drive the 300C SRT8.. which I'm familiar with because Pat drives one, and he's let me drive it a few times. I turn off the ESP, and leave it in 'D'.. the passenger next to me decided that 'ESP off' wasn't 'cool' enough. No. He holds in the ESP button and the display flashes ESP 'DISABLED'... oh boy.. recipe for disaster with me... it's like telling Homer Simpson not to push the button that says 'DO NOT PUSH'. I kinda ease it off the line so I can get traction and get a decent 0-60 time. I brake for the start of the slalom and then that's where teh fun began. I hit the first section perfect, and instead of braking, I gas it and hold hard to the left. The rear comes out and I brake, snap it to the right, gas it again, and ATTEMPT to snap to the left again.. that's where the skill stops and the 425HP HEMI takes over.. the car did a 360 and I was somehow able to keep it on the track, even after doing about 60MPH into it. The engine shutoff, and the good-ol-boys in the car are hooting and cheering, and laughing about it. I get the car started and roll up to the SRT-10 at the end of the course who's supposed to give you your times. The expression on his face is amusement met by puzzlement. "watch that ESP button next time" he says. I simply ask for my time. Another instructor rolls up in a 300C SRT8 and simply says "THAT WAS SPECTACULAR!! How'd you do that?!" We share a laugh and he rolls off.

    When we get back to the 'pit' the lead instructor comes up to me, not to scold me but to offer ideas on how I could have controlled the slide better. I told him that I had let off, and we had a difference in opininon, but in the end, we were good to go. So next, we get into the SRT-10 RAM. First off, the truck is a BEAST! Absolutely HUGE. Second, the truck was loaded with 4 full grown men. Third.. the truck was not in one hundred percent condition. There was an issue with the rear end or the transmission.. HOWEVER, that was still not a good enough excuse for me.. the performance of that truck simply did not impress me at all. It may have been because I had just driven the SRT8 Jeep, but I still walked away a non-fan, and I can tell all my buddies at the VTCOA that I'm VERY sorry in advance for my negative press, but I guess it'll help make the truck even more rare!


    So we go back to the registration building, have lunch, and I buy a Hat and a Mopar vinyl logo. I get to tell my side of the story to all the people that got to see my smokey display, and I listen to some more accounts of it. All the people I talked to said they thought the car was going into the grass.. I guess I'm a better driver than I thought After lunch, we make our way outside for a few short 'revving' competitions, which I think that Pat won with his straight cutout exahaust dominating the parking lot. And then we make our way to the road course, and towards the best event of the day (aside from driving the Viper of course).


    The lead instructor for the road course began giving his guidelines for the event and showed us how to pass on the straights, and layed out how he was breaking down the groups. He then started assigning people to cars in the order that they had filed into the track-side booth. Pat and I had been right next to each other as we entered, so we were in the same groups on the track everytime. He assigned three people to the Charger SRT8s, then three people to the 300SRT8s and then Pat and I and a woman to the CrossfireSRT6s. For the road course you must wear a helmet as there is no instructor in the car with you. You follow the instructor's SRT8 Magnum.

    Like I mentioned before, the Crossfire is VERY tight fitting when you're wearing a helmet. I finally got the seat and steering wheel in a good configuration, and gave my thumbs up to the instructor. We set off onto the north course at VIR and I prepared to have some fun.

    A little bit of background on me and my buddy Pat. We're not race car drivers, however, we're not your typical drivers either. Between the two of us, we've had a couple accidents at the expense of going fast. We've got performance oriented cars on purpose. We like going from A to B very fast. We drive together all the time, many times literally inches from each others cars. We've spent a good amount of time behind the wheels of our cars and have been through a couple different driving events together. Also, Pat and I have a stupid obsession with cars, that is shared with the majority of our friends and seems like it will never end until they make Gasoline illegal. (or until the wife threatens divorce)



    As we set off, the woman in our group is in front. We follow the lead car around the track with me on Patrick's rear and him on hers. She has quite a bit of room between her and the Magnum, and its VISIBLY annoying Pat, as he's swerving left and right trying to signal her to speed up. I'm laughing at this as she had previously told us that she races SCCA, which I'd LOVE to do. Anyway, as we get to the main straight, the instructor signals us to initiate the passing sequence. I guess I let dyslexia kick in and I was supposed to pass Pat and the woman and go to the front of the line, but I let Pat take first spot. Which was ok because I love following behind him to get a good feel for the course. Pat IMMEDIATLEY gets the instructor to step up the pace. We instantly start going faster. All the corners are demanding us to brake harder, the S curves suddenly become fun, inviting obstacles, and the hills and decreasing radius turns really let you get a sense of how BAD ASS the SRT6 really is. It out handles the SRT8 with ease as Pat and I are on the Instructor's ass the ENTIRE time. Neither one of us loses the line as we snake through the mile or so long 'North' course.

    As we get ready to do the passing sequence so I can take my turn up front, I happen to glance in the rear-view mirror. The SCCA woman is NO WHERE to be seen. It wasn't until after I had passed Pat and gotten on the SRT8's ass that I saw her come around the last corner, and by then it was time for us to brake for turn 1. I ran the SRT6 as hard as I could for that lap and enjoyed every bit of it. The car is simply BRILLIANT. I loved it. We pit in and go back to the stand and Pat and I talk about the SRT6, calling it the #2 car of the day.

    Shortly after the SRT6, they loaded us into the SRT8 300C. I adjusted the seat from the 'bamma' position it was in, to an upright 'racing' oriented position. Pat and I were in line with each other again, and we were ready to have some fun. The SRT8 is much faster in the straights than the SRT6, but at the same time, it's MUCH slower through the corners. Braking must be earlier and the amount of power out of the corner must be MUCH less or else you'll do what Pat does in turn 3 and gets the car a little sideways.. GRANTED, we were just playing with each other waiting for our turns up front with the third wheel of our team, this time a man, taking his sweet time around the track. I compensate instantly for Pat's slide and we get back on the line and back on the third wheel's ass. FINALLY we get to the straight away and pat takes Lead. I follow him closely and we take the track on like its the enemy in a kind of war. Attacking every corner as fast as possible, making the most out of the straights, and making sure that I'm not going to run into Pat's car, a mere 5-6 feet in front of me. When we get out of the 300c, the guy with us appologizes for slowing us down, which we immediately respond "that's ok, we were just trying not to hit you". The instructors thus far have both times (SRT6 and SRT8 300C) come to Pat and I and told us that the runs were great and that they were impressed. Now all we had to do was wait to drive the Charger SRT8.


    As I get into the Charger, it's apparent that there is a difference from the 300C. The 300 is more of a 'luxury' car, whereas the Charger is a sports car with 2 extra doors. (and 5-6 extra hundreds of pounds) The car's interior is more oriented towards the driver with 'scope like' gauge clusters, and less 'bling' all around. But I really don't care about all that. I'm there to drive it! Pat and I are in the same group again, this time I'm in front of him. We take the car out and instantly know that they're more than different inside, the suspension is COMPLETELY different. Where the 300c smoothly transitions from turn to turn, keeping you comphy and safe, the Charger is a rough, firm and very satisfyingly fun ride. It makes it known that you're in a car that is meant to go around a corner. In the 300C it seems like the car tosses in cornering well as a surprise.

    The cars have the identical engines and transmissions, however, the suspension and the SLIGHT weight difference make the Charger seem more nimble and willing to get around those corners. I deeply enjoyed driving the snot out of that car, and was able to get the car sideways on more than one occasion, where the 300C was only able to do so under extreme conditions. Overall, the Charger seems to be more aggressive and has a better road to driver feel.


    Phew.. so after all of that, we gather back in the registration building. They give us a 'good-bye' speech and let us know that the instructors are looking forward to driving us around the track as fast as they can in any of the SRTs there. I instantly know that I'm only interested in one car.. the Viper. Pat and I make our way back out to the road course and stand in line to get rides in the Vipers. I finally get in one and it's a black convertible with the top down! I strap in and hold onto the windshield. The driver asks me if I'm ready, and I say "Show me what she's got!"

    We set off down the main straight, hit about 110MPH and he sets off into corner 1 in a drift.. same with corner 2 and 3... in fact, he drifts EVERY CORNER. after the S Curves, he takes it up to about 130MPH, drifts the next corner or two, and then takes the car up to about 160MPH. There's a long left hand turn where some dirt has been exposed on the right side of the track. The driver keeps the right rear tires in the dirt the whole time!! Totally under control, he takes another corner over a hill in a drift and then gets ready for the straight, hits the gas and then heads for the pit. My 'hot lap' in the Viper was over.. over 3Miles and it went by in only what seemed to be one or two minutes.. Totally impressed, I thanked him, the instructor that had tried giving me a pointer after I spun out the 300C, (he also told me to drive home VERY CAREFULLY) and all the other instructors I saw on the way out. We collected our goody bag ( had a keychain, dvd, and certificate of completion in it) and then headed off.

    Our ride home was over 230 Miles. We had a lot ot talk about on the ride home. We debated on the Charger vs 300C. We decided that neither of us liked the RAM SRT-10, and we both agreed that the Viper and the SRT6 were completely Badass. In the end, we used two tanks of gas to get there and back. We spent $10 on drinks on the way home (and I spent the $500 entrance fee) and we got to drive all of the SRT vehicles sold now (save for the Magnum and the SRT-10 Regular cab). In my opinion, is it worth the $500? Maybe. Do you have a racing background? Then no. Have you been to a BMW Ultimate Driving Experience? Yes. It's like that only X100. Next year, a group of guys from my office are going to try and get out to the Skip Barber Racing School and do some real racing. I can't begin to tell you how much I love that Viper.

    -Chris Leiter


    Originally posted on MilitaryPerformance.com
    I live in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER

  3. #3

    Re: SRT Track Experience

    SRT Track Experience

    We're the first ones there!!

    Viper Competition Coupe - factory car

    At the driver's meeting

    8.3L Goodness



    The SRT-6 is an AWESOME driver's car

    Pat in the car that hates him

    The SRT-8 Jeep is a stop light MONSTER.. scary fast 0-60 times of 4.5 seconds!

    I like these.. they were the pace cars on the track. SRT-8 Magnum. I don't like the new 'redesign' that's on sale now though

    On the road again...

    I live in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Re: SRT Track Experience

    Chris,

    Fantastic stuff here. I would like to post it on the main site page - www.ericpetersautos.com - with pictures - would you have any objections? I'll post it in your name - giving you full credit.

    I have driven all the SRT8 cars except the Magnum. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 as you mentioned is a monster. I test drove a new one back in May of 2006 - I could not believe the power it had. I came within a hair of buying it. The NoVa dealers back then would only sell them for minimum of $5 - 10K over sticker. I got one dealership down to $47K. I will probably pick up a used one in the next few years. I bought an 5.7 Hemi powered Overland instead - a little more comfortable ride - still Hemi powered - sticker price was the same as the SRT8 but I got it for $7K under what I would have gotten the least expensive SRT8. If they had just sold the SRT8 to me for sticker, I would have bitten. Never-the-less I was out in the sticks in VA a few weeks ago and I got behind a slow truck going about 40 mph on a two lane road - I passed him in the "pass zone" when I passed him and let off the accelerator - I was doing 90 mph. The 5.7 Hemi in a few short seconds went 40 mph to 90 mph. I am very pleased with the 5.7 Hemi however when an SRT8 pulls up I kinda wish....


  5. #5

    Re: SRT Track Experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Chris,

    Fantastic stuff here. I would like to post it on the main site page - www.ericpetersautos.com - with pictures - would you have any objections? I'll post it in your name - giving you full credit.

    I have driven all the SRT8 cars except the Magnum. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 as you mentioned is a monster. I test drove a new one back in May of 2006 - I could not believe the power it had. I came within a hair of buying it. The NoVa dealers back then would only sell them for minimum of $5 - 10K over sticker. I got one dealership down to $47K. I will probably pick up a used one in the next few years. I bought an 5.7 Hemi powered Overland instead - a little more comfortable ride - still Hemi powered - sticker price was the same as the SRT8 but I got it for $7K under what I would have gotten the least expensive SRT8. If they had just sold the SRT8 to me for sticker, I would have bitten. Never-the-less I was out in the sticks in VA a few weeks ago and I got behind a slow truck going about 40 mph on a two lane road - I passed him in the "pass zone" when I passed him and let off the accelerator - I was doing 90 mph. The 5.7 Hemi in a few short seconds went 40 mph to 90 mph. I am very pleased with the 5.7 Hemi however when an SRT8 pulls up I kinda wish....

    Absolutely, post it!

    the Jeep is a great performer, and I saw one at Rosenthal on RT1 in Alexandria about a year ago for $40k even! I'd get one, but I'm actually trying to save up for the 2009.5/2010 Challenger SRT-8 with the 6.4 and a 6 Speed :P
    I live in a van... DOWN BY THE RIVER

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Re: SRT Track Experience

    Chris,

    Great! I'll have it posted by COB today.

    I was out at carmax in Sterling/Dulles Town Center over the weekend they have a 2006 Charger SRT8 with 17K miles and it was $27K - now that's what I call a lot of bang for the buck.

    You are smart in waiting for a 6-speed SRT8 Challenger - that's the best SRT8 vehicle to own. Did you see what axle ratio Dodge is putting on the 6-speed SRT8 Challenger? 3.92 - now that's fantastic - here's more info on the engine/tranny/rear axle combos:

    http://www.allpar.com/cars/dodge/challenger.html

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Re: SRT Track Experience

    Did anyone wipe out on turn #4?

    That's where most people end up going into it with too much speed, and end up in the dirt by the snackbar.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: SRT Track Experience

    VIR is lots of fun - and this event is a strong inducement to buy an SRT... as if that was even necessary!

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Re: SRT Track Experience

    Thanks Chris - here's this article on the main page with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...8&Itemid=10817


    I never got a chance to drive the SRT6 Crossfire - after reading your article I wish I had.


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