SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA VIPER CLUB HISTORY
Rome wasn’t built in a day; nor was the SoCal Viper Club. The folks who have donated their time to take on the leadership of the SoCal Viper Club have done so out of love of the Viper and a desire to promote the driving experience of the Vipers. With Vipers having no traction control up through 2011, and so much torque and power, the SoCal Viper Club has always been passionate about helping Viper owners learn how to safely drive their cars. The Car Control Clinic has become a popular annual event that helps Viper owners learn their limits with these cars. The many track, social and driving events the SoCal Viper Club provides throughout each year gives all members an opportunity to enjoy and learn about their cars as well as to socialize with other Viper owners.
Prior to 1996, there were 2 Viper Clubs in Southern California. The one in the Los Angeles region was founded by Drew Alkazar, who later went on to run the Steele-Russo Auctions. Marilyn Cocolin was the President and founder of the San Diego Club. She also produced the first VIPERFEST! at Coronado, which became the model for all future Zone Rendezvous. Professional photographers and delegates were sent by Dodge to document the event, and to observe first-hand the enthusiasm of the new Viper Nation.
In 1996 the President of the San Diego Club was Frank Creede. Lou Neise was the Los Angeles President. Paul Hawker could see that the two clubs would benefit from a merger into one big powerhouse. Paul was elected President with the joint agreement between the two clubs of merging them into the Southern California Viper Club under the Viper Club of America’s new Regional Club Program. Membership grew rapidly after the merger. The prime directive of the SoCal Viper Club was then, and always has been, TO ENHANCE THE VIPER OWNERSHIP EXPERIENCE.
Thanks to the efforts of the past Presidents as well as the enthusiasm and outright friendliness of the Southern California Viper owners, as of 2010 the Southern California Viper Club is the largest Viper Club in the world.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA VIPER CLUB PRESIDENTS (Past & Current)
- 1996-1998 PAUL HAWKER
Paul merged the two local Viper Clubs into a VCA recognized SoCal Club, then went on to become a Western Zone Director in charge of Regional Presidents from 1999-2001.
Paul had always been a car guy, owning a variety of interesting cars, but nothing prepared him for what he saw the first day of 1996 at the San Diego International Autoshow. Up on a raised, rotating platform was a spectacular blue with white stripes Viper GTS which took his breath away. As he gazed upon this car, he quickly realized that it had taken all of the oxygen out the auto show floor; there were more people gathered around this one display than the rest of the show combined! Shortly after the show he attempted to order a Viper from a Dodge dealer, finding out that this was a special production and available only to those who had previously purchased earlier models. Now, desperate to have one, he discovered Maurice Liang in San Francisco, who had founded the Viper Club of America. Maurice knew about a coupe that was mired in a bankruptcy. Paul flew to San Francisco, purchased the Viper and upon returning home, his neighborhood went wild.
Paul has enjoyed success at his track events and the social events and runs are also a favorite of his. He is pleased to know that some of his best friends have come from the Club.
- 1999-2000 BILL LUNDEEN
Bill started the website and continued to help the SoCal Viper Club grow. He went on to become a Western Zone Director and was instrumental in creating the first Zone Rendezvous in 2001.
- 2001-2002 DOUG DYE
Doug and his wife, Myrna, continued to build interest in racing at the tracks and scheduled several events for the Club members. He was instrumental in getting the NHRA to accept the Viper on the drag strip. The Ten and Eleven Second Club was formed and our members have pushed that to now include and Eight and Nine Second Club. Doug was the founder of the Viper Review and encouraged vendors to advertise in the magazine. He saw the value of being able to communicate to members via e-mail and encouraged members to give the Club their e-mail addresses. He hadÂ Ron Levy help improve the website. By 2002 the Club now boasted about 400 members.
- 2003-2004 GREG BAXTER
Although Greg was a “track rat” and enjoyed all of the Club sponsored track events, he and his wife, Melanie, focused on bringing a better balance to the Club’s events. They added annual picnics and a few other family-friendly events. In 2003 they introduced a nautical theme, starting with the Western Zone Rendezvous at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. They also had a floating Christmas party on board the œIcon motor yacht in Newport Beach. Through their efforts, the reach of the SoCal Viper Magazine was expanded.
- 2005-2006 TONY CAPPELANO
Tony and his wife, Sherrie, understood that one of the reasons people joined the club was to get together with other Viper owners, and to have a reason to drive their cars. His main objective as President of the SoCal Viper club was to have more events; at least one per month. This tradition has continued over the years, and continues to bind SoCal Viper Club members into an active group with a wide range of social and racing events.
- 2007-2010 DAN EVERTS
With his wife, Cathy’s, help and expertise, the SoCal Viper Club continued to grow and improve. Their primary objective was to mix up the events and try to make every event fun. They held events that centered around the car, its owner’s desires and the Viper’s incredible performance capabilities. A few of these events were visits to places such as Saleen Motors, HRE Wheels, Meguiars, Mopars at the Strip, Viper Days, Coronado Festival of Speed, Barrett Jackson, Chip Foose’s shop, and Dyno Days at DC Performance, which became an annual event. Their most memorable events were the trip to Hearst Castle, the visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Base and the Western Zone Rendezvous that they organized in Las Vegas. Their annual Car Control Clinic became the most fun event of the year, and the annual picnic and Christmas party were favored events. Due to the individualistic nature of each Viper owner, Dan often remarked that organizing a bunch of Viper owners could be a lot like “herding cats”.
Cathy brought the Club’s quarterly magazine back to life to improve communication with the membership and to help get vendors involved with our group. They re-worked the club’s website to enhance future club communications.
Dan’s favorite part of the Viper ownership experience is driving the car fast and safely, and sharing that knowledge with club members. The Sidewinder Track Group was created under Dan’s efforts in 2009; at the end of 2010 it was 50 members and growing!
- 2011-2013 LANCE KOUCHI
Lance Kouchi enthusiastically lead our Club from 2010 to 2013. His modern vision and energy created new approaches to the Club. In 2012 Lance lead the Club to the last great VCA National event, VOI12, in Charlotte, North Carolina and in 2013 he organized the last VCA Western Zone Rendezvous at Fess Parker Resort in Santa Barbara that included a cruise to the Ronald Reagan Library & Museum in Thousand Oaks for a wonderful dinner and tour. Other memorial events were Holiday Parties at The Malloy Foundation Historic Race Car Foundation and The Queen Mary. During his term, Lance continued to build up the Sidewinders Track group with race days at Willow Springs and Spring Mountain. Lance, a master woodworker, always wowed us with his originally designed awards and raffle items for the club.
- 2014-present GLENN IZARD