The Gen 2 Viper has a pretty serious, fundamental flaw that’s not widely known. The rear toe deflects by HALF AN INCH under hard cornering and acceleration. Unfortunately most of the “anti-toe brackets” out in the market do not properly address the problem or even make a difference. EMI Racing not only found the true cause of the problem, but solved it with their Toe Stiffeners that greatly improve the handling, consistency and safety of the car.
The Dodge Viper has a bad reputation for being hard to drive, despite inexperienced journalists and professionals alike turning blindingly fast lap times and beating the Viper’s ‘easier to drive’ competitors on the racetrack. As we found out in Part 3: Baseline Track Testing, the Viper is truly a well-balanced and highly capable Driver’s car. After multiple days on track, I related the Viper’s handling and character much like that of a big Miata or S2000 and feel that anyone who is comfortable in those two cars would be competent and enjoy driving the Viper.
While I loved the balance and corning ability of the car, my biggest complaint on the stock Viper’s handling was the lack of precision and consistency of the suspension before the car took a set in the corner. I contributed this transient-phase vagueness to poor damping but that was an incorrect read on my part, because the main issue was not the stock dampers.
Under hard cornering or accelerating, the rear toe deflects by Half an Inch!!!
Everything about these toe stiffeners is engineered to the highest level. From the manufacturing process of the stiffener to its Mil-spec mounting hardware and Aerospace-grade washers, Erik does not cut corners in doing things right and prefers an over-engineered solution over the alternative. While the Aerospace-grade washers are probably overkill, they help to properly spread the load and ensure a proper torque spec.
Enter Erik Messley of EMI Racing. Based in Huntington Beach, California, Erik is a Penske damper specialist and probably one of the best driver/engineers/setup experts out there who is well-versed with the Dodge Viper and Acura NSX. Erik is an extremely humble guy (who probably won’t like me writing this paragraph) and does not boast of his background and accomplishments, which is why you might not have never heard of him. In addition to his track support, damper building, engineering, and product development, Erik has a very successful professional racing background. He even has multiple Grand-Am wins driving the iconic Gen 2 Viper GTS-R including winning at Daytona in 2000.
Most of EMI Racing’s business is by word of mouth by those ‘in the know’ of this chassis setup expertise. Heck, when you have a multi-Indy 500 winner coming to you for suspension work, you probably know your stuff. Erik has tested and developed products that really need to be brought to light, like his Toe Stiffeners.
EMI Racing Toe Stiffeners. Through testing, development, and racing the Dodge Viper in the 90’s, Erik discovered the rear toe was deflecting by over half an inch (1/4” per side) during cornering on a road course and at the drag strip. Erik found that the deflection was caused by the toe link arm flexing in the cast aluminum upright (knuckle).