The modern American renaissance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans began when Chrysler shipped the second-generation Viper to a bunch of French and British racing engineers, creating the Viper GTS-R race car that dominated the GT field in the late 1990s. This year, the new Viper has returned to GT racing at Le Mans, and today Chrysler revealed the race version it would sell to private teams, the SRT Viper GT3-R. This is one reason why kids dream of going racing.
Built in conjunction with Riley Motorsports, the North Carolina shop behind the Daytona-class endurance racers, the GT3-R features many of the suspension, aerodynamics and other engineering tricks Chrysler gathered from its GTS-R racing program. For a starting price of $450,000, teams get a six-speed sequential transmission with paddle shift, race-quality brakes and a multi-disc clutch. While the race Viper has done well in its second season on the track in American GT racing, it's the first time a factory-backed Viper has come to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a decade, and simply finishing the race would be an accomplishment. The previous GTS-R took a couple of years before it became an all-conquering force, but the GT3-R looks like as close as a race team can come to buying a rocket with a single check.