I’ve been in some pretty fast cars on track and on the street, but so far nothing’s topped riding right seat with pro driver Kevin Burke while he piloted the Torco USA Dodge Viper ACR around Willow Springs International Raceway for a couple of laps.
We were both at GridLife’s Skip Day event, a mid-week chance to get out of the office and rip some laps and make fun media content. It was a great way for the brand to raise awareness on the West Coast for sure. We’ve posted up a nice bit of content from it so far, with more to come.
I had fun piloting my Mazda2 around Willow Springs’ Big Willow track, but not as much as I was hoping for. Slow momentum cars like mine aren’t really cut out for this track’s high speed; a couple of corners are fun, but for the most part I was accelerating, lifting a little, turning in, and giving a lot of point-bys. And not in the most exhilarating of successions.
However, since daylight and track time were a-plenty, Kevin offered to take me for a spin around the track in the Torco USA Dodge Viper ACR, quite possibly the best promo vehicle for an oil company ever. We’ve known each other for a few years, and he knows I’m very much used to small momentum cars on track, so he seemed especially stoked on showing me what the g-force brutality of the Viper was all about. He’s a very skilled driver, too, so I didn’t have any inkling that he might send us sailing off into the desert.
Around midday he jumped out of a fresh C8 Corvette that its owner let him rip a few laps in, grabbed me, and we both squeezed into the Viper to head out on track.
The first lap was just a slow warm up, but still plenty mind-boggling, and more seconds than I care to mention quicker than my very slow Mazda2 laptimes.
When he came around the final corner, Turn 9, all hell broke loose. The 3,400-pound, 600 horsepower beast was set free, and man what a ride it was. Turn 1 was generally a fast, lift-or-barely-braking corner in the 2, whereas Kevin had to be pretty hard on the brakes in the ACR. The following sweeper that was plenty fast too, though surprisingly not terribly faster than my speed in the 2. Though the rest was truly insane. We entered Turn 8 at around 145 miles per hour, and reached a pupil-dilating 148 on the front straight. With plenty of hard braking and lateral Gs in between.
It was an epic amount of fun, and periodically throughout the experience we couldn’t help but laugh with all the glee in the world.
Check out the video of the whole experience. Listen to the monstrous, 8.4-liter V10 scream, listen to our cackles, and just sit back and see what setting somewhere south of a one-minute-thirty-second lap time looks like.