After a lot of rambling behind the scenes, it's now official:
The Viper is sold to the new "LP Lacktechnik Racing Team" from Hilkenbrook / Germany.
LP stands for "Laing & Pape", two guys from north west Germany, who run LP-Lacktechnik, a company specialised in painting and powder coating for the industry.
This news unfortunatly means the slow exit of Joop Wouters, another pioneer of Tractor Pulling in Europe.
Joop started his career in the 70s, relying on V8 engines. In the early 80s he was very succsesful in the 3.5t modified class with a tractor called "Double Trouble".
The tractor was pretty up to date for it's time, utilitizing a Ford 5000 rearend with two blown, Hilborn injected 440 Dodges up front. Actually, it was the first European tractor with blown V8 engines, when it roared to a victory at the 1982 Ahoy Super Pull.
Numerous championships and victories where achieved.
In the 90s Joop came up with a new machine, a new "Double Trouble", spotting a up to date tube frame chassis below the two Dodges and a Keith Black Hemi sitting on top.
A few years later Joop again was right on the edge of technology, changing to a wedge chassis with two Keith Black engines on the nose. Lack of manpower forced him to drop out for a while, but with his son becoming the "right age" and bringing in a few of his friends, the "Viper" was reactivated and set up with 3 Keith Black engines.
A major set back probably was the destruction of an engine during the 2006 season, which forced the team to change their focus from the 3.5t into the 2.5t class, where they actually did pretty well. They also joined the 2007 2.5t Euro Cup and laid down some nice results in the end.We all had hopes, the Wouters family would now be out strong again, but life doesn't always play that way. His son wants to study, engine parts are not getting cheaper and the competition in the Netherlands and also the Euro Cup becomes more and more of a money game.
Joop will still be involved with the new team though, being kind of their teacher for at least the next season.
Because a teacher is what they'll probably need with the plans they have. For 2008 they have set their eye on competing in the german championships and the 2.5t Euro Cup, to learn what it takes to go big in the future. To be competetive, they have aquired one complete new Keith Black engine and brought the two Viper engines "up to date" with new parts.
Their goal for the next three years, after having gained some experience, is to join the 4,5t Euro Cup and I can tell you, they mean business!
They hope to receive an invitation for the upcoming Indoor Pull at Zwolle, which is very close to home for them, and present the tractor there under the new name "Red Painter".
Where the "Painter" comes from should be clear - why "Red" is something I will tell you about next month, when I'll pay a little visit to their workshop.