The independent, crowdfunded effort to set a Dodge Viper ACR Nurburgring lap time has come to a close in both victory and defeat. The victory: Driver Lance Arnold set a 7:01.3 lap time around the legendary circuit, a new all-time record for American, rear-drive, and manual-transmission cars. The defeat: Shortly after setting this time, Arnold suffered a tire failure that led to a crash, bringing the privateer effort to an end.
This week marked the third attempt at a lap time for the independent group. It was a week of several misfortunes. Early on, driver Luca Stolz suffered a sudden left-front tire failure at speeds exceeding 170 mph. After replacing the tire, Stolz returned to the track, but a loose drain plug caused the car to lose its differential oil, seizing the diff and putting the car out of contention.
Driver Lance Arnold set the 7:01.3 lap time on his first full-speed lap in the second Viper ACR, beating the previous 7:03.23 the team set late in August. But on his second lap, Arnold’s car suffered nearly the exact same tire failure that hobbled Stolz. At around 160 mph in a corner, Arnold’s left-front tire gave out. He grazed the left side guardrail, then skidded across the track into the railing on the right. The airbags deployed, but luckily, Arnold walked away without injury.
With both cars out of contention, and an unforeseen expense to repair the damaged railing, this seems to be the end of the crowdfunded, privateer effort to set a Viper ‘Ring lap time. Russ Oasis, the man who hatched the idea and who has been at the legendary circuit for every minute of this gargantuan effort, was understandably disappointed to have it end like this.
“The combination of this powerful car and this track demands too much from any tire that can also be street legal,” Oasis told me by phone from Germany. “This wraps up our effort, trying to bring home the ultimate worldwide production car record at the Nurburgring.
“It’s been an honor to have worked with drivers of this elite level,” he continued. “Luca Stolz, Lance Arnold, Mario and Dominik Farnbacher, we couldn’t have done this without them.” Dominik Farnbacher in particular was a driving force in the effort, Oasis said, working as the development driver who provided the feedback for the team to get the ACR’s suspension and aero settings idealized for the demanding 12.9-mile circuit.
Those racers, Oasis noted, had high hopes for the Viper too. “Everyone thought it was good for a 6:55,” he said. “Not one of them thought it couldn’t do that. Every single driver said this car is unbelievable.”
While the Viper crew wasn’t able to get below seven minutes, their effort has put the 2017 Dodge Viper ACR firmly into the record books—without any support from Dodge. As we told you back in July, this has been the only privately-funded, non-factory-backed effort to set a ‘Ring lap time. The fact that they did it with showroom-fresh, bone-stock Vipers (provided by ), full-tread-depth street-legal tires (supplied by Kumho, a major sponsor of the effort), and transparency unmatched by any automaker effort, sets them apart from any other ‘Ring lap attempt known to Road & Track. We can think of no better tribute to the Viper as it ends production.