E85-powered Dodge Viper Sets Speed Record

Not very many production cars can surpass 200 mph, and all of them require premium gasoline and a really long stretch of road. But a diet of E85 ethanol/gasoline and one mile of Oscoda, Michigan, runway recently allowed a 2005 Dodge Viper SRT10 roadster to set a new target for street cars in the standing mile - 220.7 mph-which broke the old record of 217.9 mph, held by a Hennessey Viper. For reference, the new 600-hp Viper could reach an estimated 175 mph in the standing mile.

The E85 Viper is street - legal but far from stock: the V-10's power was more than doubled to 1200 hp by installing two intercooled turbochargers (that pushed up to 15 pounds of boost during the record pass) and updating the fuel - and computer - systems to work with E85, which enhances horsepower but reduces fuel mileage.

Car owner Karl Jacob undertook the project to "prove that you can go fast and be environmentally conscious." The car was driven by Ron Misjak, Jr., of Chicago's Super Viper Systems (SVS), which modified Jacob's Viper. (SVS has also converted several other Vipers to run on E85.)

"E85 behaves a lot differently than gasoline under extreme circumstances," Jacob points out. "It runs cooler, so you need more spark advance. The way it delivers power is very different. We had to retune the engine with additional fuel delivery and revised ignition timing. It's one thing to run E85 in a flex-fuel vehicle at 55 mph, but it's totally different when you're pushing the kind of heat and temperatures at 200-plus mph."

Jacob believes that E85 is the fuel of the future: "The great thing about E85 is it enables us to transition to a biofuel with a lot less pain than other fuels. You can buy an $800 kit to convert your car; you can buy a brand-new car that runs on E85. I think for a lot of people who are into performance, they're just not gonna switch to a biofuel - or to any fuel-unless there's a performance benefit. What we're proving here is that E85 is a superior fuel to gasoline for performance."

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