SPEED GT in Limited 2008 Schedule
Mopar Viper Comp. Coupe Makes History in Hands of Sophomore Driver
Despite the limited schedule of the No. 2 Team Mopar Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, Cindi Lux left her mark on the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) SPEED World Challenge GT record books in 2008. The Aloha, Ore.-based driver started eight of 10 races - unable to travel to the season opener at Sebring or the mid-season event at Watkins Glen - and scored a season-best start (third) and finish (fifth) at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. The 12-time road racing champion finished 14th in the season-long championship with five Top 10 finishes. Lux earned 458 driver's points and helped Dodge secure fourth in the manufacturer's championship with its Viper Competition Coupe.
The Salt Lake City event in May, only Lux's second start of her second season of SPEED GT competition, placed the 1999 American Le Mans Series' Women's Global GT Champion in rarified company. The impressive start and finish allows Lux to lay claim to two significant achievements in SPEED GT. In starting third, Lux became the highest qualifying female driver since 2003 (Shauna Marinus, SPEED Touring Car, Puerto Rico) in World Challenge. Even more notable is that, with the fifth-place finish, Lux ranks as the highest-finishing woman in all of World Challenge since Marinus finished third in Touring Car (2003). No woman has ever scored a better result in the high- horsepower, intensely competitive GT class than Lux. Lux opened the season with a ninth on the tricky street course at Long Beach, Calif., at the time her career best finish. Despite several "performance balancing" modifications brought to bear on the Mopar V10- powered American supercar, Lux, Mopar and Dodge Motorsports continued to make progress. The Utah event followed Long Beach entering a two month break for the Northwest-based team. Lux's third race of year got off to a difficult start at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in July when the Mopar Dodge Viper Comp. Coupe was struck from behind in the first practice session on Friday. The impact caused substantial damage to the left-rear of the car. In the race, the gearbox faltered ending the team's day early. While the exact cause for the malfunction of the six- speed gearbox in Sunday's race cannot be confirmed there is speculation that the issue may have been a result of the on-track incident.
Road America, the longest track on the schedule, followed Mid-Ohio. Always a favorite of Lux's - she is a two-time winner of the prestigious June Sprints held there - Road America was good for Lux's third Top 10 of the season. She brought the Mopar Parts Viper across the finish line battered but still standing in ninth-place after an all-out brawl left two cars in flames during the 50-minute race. Mosport in 2007 had been the site of one of Lux's best races. However, this year, it was not meant to be. A transmission issue ended the car's day early as Lux continued her mid- season slump with an 18th-place result, her worst of the year.
Lux powered into the "Motor City" with the Mopar Comp Coupe at a marked disadvantage on the tight confines of Detroit's Belle Isle street course. Refusing to give up despite more "performance balancing", Lux pulled full torque from the mighty, Detroit-built V10 engine and moved from 13th to eighth; her fourth Top 10 of the season. She walked-off Belle Isle with two of the most prestigious performance awards given to a World Challenge driver: the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award - most positions gained during the first lap of an event - and the Sunoco Hard Charger Award - most positions gained in an event.
Momentum built at Detroit would fall off again due to circumstances out of her control at New Jersey Motorsports Park. The brand new, still under- construction, Thunderbolt Raceway proved to be a challenge as dirt and debris littered the course throughout the weekend. Lux had a strong qualifying run in New Jersey to start tenth. In the race, the No. 2 Mopar Viper Comp. Coupe was under braking for the second of 14-turns at the new facility when an over- aggressive out-braking maneuver by a competitor would take the Viper off course. Despite heavy damage and being dead-last on course, Lux returned to the track with her "never give up" attitude. She refused to make a pit stop instead relying on years of experience to diagnose and then overcome the handling maladies that resulted from the brutal, blindside blow. With a machine many would have retired on the spot, Lux fought from last in the field to just outside the Top 10 to take 12th.
In classic Road Atlanta fashion, Lux's season-finale came down to a side-by-side fight for supremacy in the closing laps. With one lap to go Lux was challenging for eighth but had to give up the pursuit in order to hold ninth-place. Despite being hit in the left rear with three turns to go, Lux held on for her third ninth-place finish of the season, fifth Top 10.
In 2008, Lux received the prestigious honor of being selected to the elite group of drivers known as Team Mopar. The Lux Performance Group, LLC-prepared Dodge Viper Competition Coupe carried the liquid metal livery draped with the famous Mopar "M" at each World Challenge event Lux contested. Lux was the only road racer asked to represent Chrysler's world- recognized parts division. Other categories represented on Team Mopar include NHRA Funny Car and Pro Stock drag racing, USAC Silver Crown, National Sprint and Midget Series short track racing as well as the winged World of Outlaws sprint cars. SCORE off-road racing trucks and Formula Drift were also represented on Team Mopar.
Lux will make her final 2008 appearance for Mopar at the annual Specialty Equipment Manufacturer Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas. On November 4, Lux will join other Team Mopar drivers signing autographs at the Mopar Booth (number 43129) beginning at 11 AM local time.
When Chrysler bought Dodge in 1928, the need for a dedicated parts manufacturer, supplier and distribution system to support the growing enterprise led to the formation of the Chrysler Motor Parts Corporation (CMPC) in 1929.
Originally used in the 1920s, Mopar (a simple contraction of the words MOtor and PARts) was trademarked for a line of antifreeze products in 1937. It was also widely used as a moniker for the CMPC. The Mopar brand made its mark in the 1960s - the muscle car era. The Chrysler Corporation built race-ready Dodge and Plymouth "package cars" equipped with special high-performance parts. Mopar carried a line of "Special Parts" for super stock drag racers and developed its racing parts division called Mopar Performance Parts to enhance speed and handling for both road and racing use.
Today, Chrysler LLC's Global Service & Parts division is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of nearly 250,000 authentic Mopar replacement parts, components and accessories for Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles sold around the world. To assure quality, reliability and durability, all Mopar parts and accessories are designed in strict adherence to Chrysler Engineering standards.
QuotesCindi Lux: "The World Challenge GT is the most competitive and intense road racing series in the US. It truly brings out the best of the best from all manufacturers and drivers. It was a privilege to drive the Mopar Viper. Even though we might be smaller than a few other teams we certainly make it up when it comes to passion and commitment. We are putting together our program for next year to continue our quest for the top step on the podium."
Sunil Lahoti, Senior Manager - Mopar Marketing and Brand Strategy, Chrysler LLC.: "Cindi enjoyed great success in her role as Mopar's factory-backed driver in the 2008 SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT campaign. She harnessed Mopar power to capture five top-10 finishes on the season, which is a superb testament to the performance of Mopar parts and also to Cindi's talents on the track. Her strong 2008 run demonstrated the outstanding power and performance of the Mopar Viper Competition Coupe program for racers and fans across the country."