I was on my way to my parents house in Colorado and saw in front of me the telltale rear end of a high performance car. You know it when you see it because its very wide and low to the ground, and the tail lights don’t look familiar, the tires are entirely too wide, you know what I’m talking about… I was excited to see what it was, so I accelerated to overtake this sure to be exotic car… to my satisfaction, an 07 viper fulfilled my suspicion. to make things even better, the license plate said “race me” (literally), and that was all I needed to know that my otherwise dull ride home was going to get a lot more interesting.
A little back story about my car, it is a pretty much bone stock civic si, d16a6, stock si trans, cold air intake, k&n air filter, dynomax superturbo exhaust. And my favorite feature, a turbo-edit tuned, launch control equipped pm6 ecu, chipped and programmed by me. Now I know what you are thinking, I don’t have a chance in hell, and there you would be correct. but that is not the point. The point is to have a good time driving and see how my car stacks up to a modern supercar, and this is exactly what I got.
The guy driving the Viper was pretty young, which surprised me. Usually with cars like this, you get the mid-life crisis, “I don’t want to scratch it” much less get on the gas type old guys who are content just cruising it but maybe gassing it once or twice to get people to stop staring. This guy seemed like he was out to have some fun, and being late at night, and on the outskirts of a small town, he was.
I overtook him about 2 miles to the transition between the city street we were on and the highway that would get me home. The stretch of street we were on was free of stoplights, quite curvy, and it was late at night. I decided to just stay with him, but accelerate out of some curves to see if he was going to play along. Sure enough, to complement my 7000rpm whine, I got a grunt and the burble of an angry pushrod motor pulling to catch up.
At this point, I didn’t know if this guy was gonna be a jerk or a nice guy.. So I just kept my eyes on the road and drove through the curves to get to the stoplight I knew marked the beginning of the highway. He stayed with me, matching speed and gassing it to make sure we stayed even. Then came the stoplight.
My usual reaction in situations like this is to look at the other person and flash a “I know I’m gonna get my ass kicked” smile. Luckily in this case, my smile was met with a grin and a rev from a car that probably cost 70x what mine does. That’s when I knew it was going to be a good time.. I watched the cross street lights to see when they were going to go yellow. The light had to have changed for no other reason than they were on a timer for some reason at this time of night. The Yellow cross-light flashed.. My heart started pounding, as my car bounced of the rev limit from launch control. “Any second now”, I thought.. And then the light turned green.
My car did the familiar light wheel spin and then caught traction. The 4.25 final drive gave me all the acceleration it could. He on the other hand, stayed off it a bit and was behind me already. “Second Gear time” I thought, and shifted fast. “Sweet, no embarrassing grinds..this time” I thought, trying to memorize that shift length to give my syncros *just* enough time to do their job. He was gaining, but not that fast. “Feathering it I guess.. Maybe his license plate wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. ” At that instant, I hear that pushrod engine growl and I see headlights moving fast to overwhelm me. I was going about 60 mph in a 55, and he accelerated to catch me, and then matched my speed. The thought ran through my mind, “I think this first light is to see how fast I really was. ” In retrospect, it probably was. Another stoplight on the highway was coming up, and we stayed pretty much right with each other the whole way. “That whine from the engine is not good”, referring to the definite turbo or supercharger whine from the engine, “He probably has like 700hp” I thought. And I was about to find out.
The next stoplight was in the middle of nowhere, again. Another light that probably changed for no other reason than it had to change every 15 minutes, so some poor schmuck, usually me, doesn’t get stuck waiting forever. We lined up, and I knew this time was for real. “Ok watch the cross lights, wait for yellow, then rev to 3800, but try not to hit launch control”, I thought, as the dull murmur of a viper ready to strike just feet away on my left reminded me of my all too probable fate. Green…
“Holy shit this guy is fast. Wait.. Did he just shift?”, as my tachometer still read 5000rpm in first gear. “He did..What the hell??”, time for me to shift. “7000 rpms is not good for this quarter million mile engine. Haha, 7000rpms.. Maybe it will be new motor time.. YES..k-series here I come..” as the viper driver firmly planted the go pedal in the down position, and melted the 20 inch wide rubbers in second gear. This left me contemplating whether or not I was working hard enough in my life to be able to afford a Ferrari F430. “Then i would give viper guys a run for their money”, i thought. Well, I got into second gear nearly door to door with a viper, and even though he may have been feathering the gas, I still stayed with him, until he got to second and realized he needed a little less rubber on the rear tires.. Either way.. I got wasted, but I stayed with him for about 2 seconds.
At this point, the pecking order was in line, and the guy slowed and just stayed with me. We came to another stop light on the same highway, about 5 miles from the previous “big race” light, and I finally had a chance to talk to him. “That second gear is murder!” I yelled across the noise, referring to the burnout, “Is that thing turbocharged”, instantly realizing that turbochargers aren’t quite as popular with the pushrod people. “No, its supercharged”, he replied. “Well, your car is really nice and REALLY FAST”, I said. He grinned ” Yeah, I have another 06 twin turbo at home”, he said. “How is that possible, this guy is like 30, MAX” I thought, “I’m definitely not working hard enough, if this guy is telling the truth.” Either way, the light turned green and off we were, but at a more leisurely pace. another guy or girl in a Toyota Corolla had joined us from out of nowhere. We both just stayed behind him or her, and just drove next to each other for a couple miles, not really saying anything, just running together. We got to the next stoplight on the highway, and he yelled “this is my turn” out the window. We hit the stop light, and I yelled “Thanks for the runs”, and my light turned green. Another 7000rpm run to say good-bye, “thats all my little hatch should have to succumb to for the night”, i thought. I settled back into the 65 mph drive, thinking about what I can do to save for a Ferrari.