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2013 Vipers at Le Mans, France: Preparation

On February 1, SRT Motorsports accepted an invitation from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to field two SRT Viper GTS-Rs in the 81st race on June 22-23. Participation in the world’s oldest sports car endurance race is by invitation only.

The team transported around fifty people to Le Mans, along with tons of materials.

Mike Croake, the director of product support at Riley Technologies, was in charge of getting everything needed for the two cars to compete in the race transported to France. He said, “Checklists are extremely important. Obviously Customs has to have their lists of things that you are bringing over. We’ll take that list, add detail to it, and that will become our checklist. Customs really doesn’t care if the torque wrench is in bin number AF2; they just want to know that we’re bringing it over and we’re bringing it back. You make a list and just check things off. Hopefully, it all gets there.”

Support equipment was sent in a sea container that departed on May 6, 2013, on a three-week journey. The two Viper race cars, six engines, telemetry, gearbox assemblies and other parts left on May 23 for Orlando; on arrival, the 15 tons of cars, engines, transmissions, spares, and pit equipment were loaded on a cargo plane to Heathrow Airport.

Air freight is around nine times more expensive than shipping by sea; so the sea container was useful. “We bought extra stuff like brooms, you throw it into the container, and you don’t have to worry about air freighting it.”

Bill Riley, vice president and chief engineer at Riley Technologies, said, “I still get those goose bumps when I walk into that track.”

viper racing at le mans 2013

The world famous twice-round-the-clock race is brutal on man and machine. Riley Technologies Crew Chief Frank Resciniti said he advises team personnel to “take a lot of naps... [The crews’] day starts at 7 a.m. when you get to the racetrack and it continues if you are lucky enough to keep running, which we’re planning to do, all the way through the 24 hours. So, you’re more or less up for 36-40 hours straight. You’re in the fire suit the whole time. You’re got your helmet on, your radio headset on. Every 45 minutes or so the car comes in for a pit stop. You’re constantly aware of the car and what it’s doing because you’re hearing it in the radios. you've got TV screens all around the pit and garage area so you can watch the race. But during that time, you do try to take naps between pit stops. You’d be surprised how much that helps. Whatever you’re doing, you still have your radio on – never take your radio off.”

Jessica Rowe, logistics manager, pointed out, “I've reminded the crew they need to call their cell phone providers, call their credit card companies and banks and let them know that they’re going to be overseas...”

Riley said that a positive attitude makes a huge difference. “If you go over there with the attitude you’re going to have a good time, then you’re going to have a good time.”

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