[Oregonian] Cindi Lux Wonders if Running Her Viper in Rose Cup Race is "Like Bringing Knife to a Gunfight''
Reprinted from Paul Buker's article that appeared in The Oregonian.
THURSDAY, the day before the start of the 49th Rose Cup weekend at Portland International Raceway:
She is one of the most accomplished sedan racers in this country, and she was blowing the doors off her male rivals long before the racing world had heard the name Danica Patrick.
But on Thursday afternoon, after a somewhat eye-opening practice session at PIR in her Dodge Viper, Aloha's Cindi Lux just felt, well, slow ...
It was a longshot to begin with - the idea of Lux getting that Viper across the finish line in Sunday's Rose Cup race ahead of the Trans Am regulars and local favorite Todd Harris.
But after actually being on the track with the rest of the field, Lux realized her impressive resume that includes 12 road racing championships and 78 first-place finishes likely won't amount to a hill of beans when she's chasing the Pickett XKR Jaguars, or Tomy Drissi's Corvette, or the Klaus Graf Jag that has won twice in the Muscle Milk Trans Am series.
"It's like bringing a knife to a gunfight,'' said Lux.
But if you know Cindi Lux - who is thrilled to be home, racing on her home track, and not galivanting around on the SPEED World Challenge circuit - you know that she is nothing if not ultra-competitive.
The little angel on Lux's shoulder tells her to forget the Rose Cup race - where she stands a good chance of being hopelessly outclassed - and just run with the local SCCA guys.
The devil on Lux's shoulder tells her to hell with it, get in that World Challenge Viper and put on a show.
After all, as Lux points out, "it isn't always the fastest car that wins.''
The Viper, in World Challenge trim, "is on a little more steroids and it has more downforce,'' said Lux. But even if her crew can remove the Viper's restrictor plate - which might screw up the electronics - she is still giving away a bunch of horsepower.
By Thursday afternoon, Lux was thinking about scratching from the Rose Cup race because of the fact her disadvantaged Viper was giving away too much horsepower and too many pounds to Pickett's Jags and the rest of the Trans Am field.
"We were pedaling as fast we could out there,'' she said of the practice session, "I was going 160 mph but those guys were just blowing right by me. ... I was jealous.''
In the next breath, Lux says it wouldn't take too much to talk her into running in Sunday's 2:55 p.m. race.
"Depends on how many beers they get into me (tonight),'' she laughed.
Qualifying for the Trans Am cars is at 3 p.m. Saturday at PIR.
No one knows better than Lux what a terrific story it would be if the Viper dusted the Trans Am cars, given the horrible last few months for Chrysler and the fact the orphaned Viper brand will probably go up for sale to the highest bidder.
The Chrysler bankruptcy hits very close to home in the Lux household because her family's dealership in Yakima, Wash. is being forced to close after 84 years.
Cindi's father, Dick Hahn, won the first Rose Cup in 1961.
"Normally, he would be here, but he's not in a very good mood today,'' said Cindi.
One day, said Lux, she will find herself "a real good hot rod'' and make a serious run at the Rose Cup trophy, which signifies the winner of the largest amateur racing event west of the Mississippi.
Lux thinks Viper will come out of the Chrysler mess OK, and be a viable racing entity again.
She misses her days as a "factory'' driver, but still keeps busy as a driving instructor at the late Larry Miller's Miller Motorsports Park outside of Salt Lake City.
Lux has been racing Vipers since 2004 and she is not going to bail out on the famous Dodge marquee.
"We're in idle mode until Chrysler comes out of bankrupty but I'm hanging on to these cars,'' she said.
"I'm hoping they get the factory program back again.''
Lux has learned, through her association with Dodge, that Viper owners are fiercely loyal.
"It's funny,'' she said, "I came over from the BMW and the Corvette side of the world and I didn't realize until five years ago what a following there is for this thing. There is truly a culture of people out there who just love these cars. .. I mean, I'm hearing from the Seattle Viper Club and the Portland Viper Club and they're telling me, 'Cindi, go beat up on the Jags!' and I tell them, guys it's not gonna happen unless you wanna give me a blower (for more horsepower) and I mean, they're out there trying to get one! I mean, seriously....''
Whether or not she runs in the Rose Cup race itself, Lux said she will be around all weekend, soaking up the sights and sounds of home.
The two-seater Viper that was used for sponsor rides will be on display at Saturday's Cruise-in, and the World Challenge Viper will also be around for fans to oogle.
If you see Lux climb into that thing Saturday for Rose Cup qualfiying, you know that the little devil on her shoulder won the argument and somebody sprang for that last round of beers.