Our 2008 Hennessey Venom 650 R Experience

We attended our first VOI this year in Salt Lake City; we had an absolutely marvellous time; thoroughly enjoying the intense enthusiasm and camaraderie of the large contingent of Viperholics at the event. Our Western Canada Regional Club has been invigorated in the last couple years and that came thru clearly by the participation of members; indeed we were recognized for our efforts at the ceremonies. During the weekend we all had an opportunity to view the vast array of Vipers from all of the regions; most of the cars were immaculate all of the owners took extra care to preserve our tradition of caring for our babies.

Hennessey 1Viper display at Park City Utah; Main Street closed for the event October 01 2010

On Saturday night we all attended the Dodge sponsored dinner; our Viper advocate, CEO Dodge Brands Ralph Gilles presented a collage of information and prepared the Viper owners for the BIG announcement; Viper lives on into the future. Dodge has the mandate to continue with manufacture of the Viper. The atmosphere at the evening event was absolutely mystifying; all of the owners were awaiting the news. The audience was afforded the opportunity to view the new line of Dodge vehicles including the concept car developed for the next generation of the Viper.

Ralph GillesPersonal meeting and interaction with Ralph Gilles at Miller Sports Park October 03 2010

I had the opportunity to meet Ralph at track day on Sunday we shared our perspectives on the Viper’s future. At the time I confirmed the enthusiasm and encouragement of the owners, the atmosphere during Saturday night’s announcement was electrifying. At this juncture my enthusiasm with the
Viper was over the top and I suggested to Ralph that his commitment and sincerity in the future of Dodge instilled enough confidence in me that my dreams to purchase a second car would come to fruition.

On our trip back home to Canada I shared this optimism with our great friends and fellow VCA members Dave and Linda; we were on our blackberries searching the market for new vehicles utilizing the contacts and links we gained at VOI 11; what great fun.

Upon my return to Kelowna the search for another Viper increased in intensity; the entire market place was reviewed and the focus to purchase a newer coupe was fine tuned. As it turned out Texas had a greater percentage of preferred vehicles; the internet is such a great tool for the potential purchaser. I found the dream vehicle; a Venom Red 2008 Hennessey 650R GTS currently owned by a fellow VCA member Mr. Danny Baum from Dallas.

drive homeHennessey 650 R on route home at Tucson Arizona November 16 2010

Our return trip included a stopover in Palm Springs California to enjoy the prevailing 80 degree sunny weather; we had the opportunity to visit some of the tourist attractions and sit by the pool to relax. For the final stages of our journey home we decided to travel west to the coast of California and Oregon to avoid the possibility of encountering winter conditions on Interstate 5 as we headed north.

As we entered northern California the latest pacific storm front was crossing our path; rain and cooler weather could not be avoided; we spent the night in Santa Rosa as the storm subsided. The next day we travelled to Florence Oregon travelling along Highway 101 which traverses the beautiful California –Oregon coastline. We awoke to a cold, below freezing, but clear day to continue our journey, heading north along the scenic and winding Highway 101 to Long Beach Oregon.

By mid afternoon the storm clouds were advancing off the Pacific Ocean; snow started falling at sea level, which took us totally by surprise; we had presumably planned our trip along the coast to avoid winter conditions. By this time we had reached the point of no return, no place to stay and our schedule to return home was becoming pressing. One of our colleagues Mr. Fred Kappler a long time Viper owner/driver had told us that he travelled over our mountain pass in winter conditions without incident; with Fred’s sentiment in mind we continued on our adventure.

viper in the snowHennessey 650 R GTS travelling over the Willapa Hills in Oregon November 21 2010

With hands gripped to the wheel and sheer determination to succeed we continued on our journey over the mountain pass. The car performed amazingly well; in fact the huge torque available saved the day. I stayed in 3rd gear up the hills; steering around other vehicles that had spun out and hit the ditch. I traversed the corners staying on the high side of centreline to avoid sliding off the pavement, and down the steep hills hugging the shoulder to keep two wheels in the fresh snow to keep a little stopping power as needed. Several vehicles had lost control on the corners and had to be avoided; I could not stop; the stock Michelin Pilots would not have enough traction to pull out of the snow.

After what appeared to be an eternity we made it to flatter terrain on Highway 107 which connects to Highway 08 and on to Olympia. The snow storm was subsiding and by the time we got to Highway I 5 at Seattle the roads were dry. We were determined to reach Bellingham by day’s end so we continued through reaching the Hotel by mid evening.

We awoke to a bitterly cold morning; the Venom’s back hatch was frozen; we heated up the key to gain entry and load our luggage. We were underway finally on the last day of our adventure, we had to stop at the border and remit all of requisite information for import, after which we arrived at the BC Ferry depot at Tsawwassen and finally made it home to Vancouver Island safe and sound. Our Hennessey Venom 650R dream car is now secure, under cover in our home garage.

Jim Tait


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