This Is What Dodge Vipers Are For

Gif: Targa Tasmania

What is a Dodge Viper? Is it an idea — a reinvented Shelby Cobra, an American TVR, a spectacle in horsepower too imposing to drive — or is it a car? Is it meant to sit in a garage like a trophy? No. It is meant to be driven as fast as possible, to crush roads into submission. Here, then, is the Viper as it is meant to be, at the deadly Targa Tasmania this year.


Targa Tasmania is something like an extended tarmac rally, with high-power performance cars getting free rein to rip across closed roads on an island off the bottom of Australia. It’s one of the few places that something like a Viper ACR can get rung out that’s not VIR or some other trackday-friendly circuit. Not that a Viper ACR at VIR is a bad thing:

As good as it is to see Vipers run on track, there’s something more charming about seeing them take up the vast majority of narrow, winding country roads. There’s also something satisfying about hearing their V10 engines echo off mountainsides, rumbling through eucalyptus trees.

Targa Tasmania has been uploading a few videos of this year’s field, and the Vipers stand out as the biggest, boldest, and brashest entries. At the end of the video is a mention of the three deaths at the event.

It’s not surprising that the event organizers also uploaded videos of those Viper entries individually. Very kind of them! Here’s Eddie Maguire and Zak Brakey, who won the event overall, as if winning is in some way important.

And this is the ACR of Jason and John White, with a few very on-the-limit moments taking up all the road:

If you’re curious what it looks like inside one of these cars, sitting about 15 feet from front wheels as far apart as the road is wide, here’s an onboard:

This is the kind of thing that we should see all over the world. Hell, half of California is ripe for an event like this, full of quiet, out-of-the-way mountain passes that would hardly notice a few days’ shutdown. If you head down into the foothills, eucalyptus isn’t hard to find, either.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.



Targa Tasmania had two fatal accidents this year, one of them driven by a 68 year old meat whole salesman driving a 911 GT3. “The latest fatalities bring to five the number of competitors killed during the Tasmanian race since the inaugural event in 1992.”

This article should be a bit more measured about lauding high performance cars being driven flat-out by amateurs on public roads with minimal safety accommodations.