How Eat Sleep Race Built A 600hp Viper to Inspire Young Enthusiasts to Strike a New Path

Photography: Brandon Cody

  • Since 2001, Eat Sleep Race (ESR), founded by Brian Mabutas, has lived by its name.
  • Modifying a stock Dodge ZBII Viper SRT-10 VOI-X gave Mabutas and company a chance to inject JDM, hip-hop, and graffiti influences into a domestic platform.
  • The finished product was unquestionably unique and has become synonymous with ESRs commitment to do things differently within the industry.
  • That do different” attitude, coupled with his own growing family, eventually inspired Mabutas to create Fast Kids Club as a subsidiary of ESR, which helps create a future generation of racers from an early age.

There are lots of words that people use to describe the Dodge Viper—bold, audacious, fast, American. We rarely associate one of the most iconic domestic names with creativity. Brian Mabutas from Eat Sleep Race (ESR) changed that instantly. His approach to a stock ZBII chassis leveraged years of inspiration from hip-hop, graffiti, JDM car culture, and ESR to create something supremely unique. As someone who grew up in New York, I saw all of those influences clearly in the Viper. Seeing the car up close in Turn 14 Distributions lobby gave me an even higher appreciation for what the car, and Mabutass company, have become.


Before I get ahead of myself, I think its worth addressing why theres a car inside Turn 14 Distributions lobby. The industry-leading wholesale distribution company rotates this showcase on a monthly basis, allowing its staff to admire exotic, modified, and halo cars in excruciating detail. The Eat Sleep Race Viper was one of those spotlights and, as one of the first American cars here, it attracted a lot of attention (especially from me).

I was enamored with the ESR Viper from every angle. The car was repainted a Ferrari hue—Grigio Medio to be specific—and it works perfectly on the Vipers supercar-like proportions. The color change was also a refreshing departure from the colors we commonly associated with the car (i.e. red or blue with white stripes). That choice influenced the rest of the mods that followed; a rare set of BBS E28 magnesium wheels were sourced and subsequently refinished in bronze. A carbon fiber aero kit helped reinforce that motorsport spirit. American Racing headed and a Corsa Performance exhaust system helped bring out that big displacement noise to match the cars aesthetic. The combo is unconventional for the Viper, but Mabutas leaned heavily on his decades-worth of experience in the industry to make confident, but creatively different choices.


Mabutass confidence comes from plenty of places. Although he was always interested in cars, he spent his time outside of the garage studying graphic design and streetwear. The more time he spent between these two camps, the more he realized that there wasnt a company that catered to both at the same time. Eat Sleep Race was his living, breathing result of merging those worlds. His first mission was creating an eye-catching design for a grassroots race team. Today, ESR is a global lifestyle movement for diehard racers and race fans alike, offering a full range of apparel, accessories, books, podcasts, and more.

Recently, Eat Sleep Race made a significant leap forward; it started Fast Kids Club as a subsidiary of its main brand. Via its separate product line—ABC books, toy cars, and apparel—Fast Kids Club encourages kids to take an interest in cars at an early age. Mabutas is constantly looking for opportunities to create, and the Viper you see here is a natural extension of Mabutass innate desire to express himself outwardly.


The ESR Viper is a well-executed machine, but its actually the first domestic car that Mabutas has modified to this scale. He cut his teeth in the JDM world, modifying Hondas in his parentsgarage with his brother. But inside his room, he had a Dodge Viper poster on his wall. After ESR grew, Mabutas jumped at the opportunity to purchase this fourth generation (ZBII) Viper. Like he did back in his Honda days, Mabutas took his Viper to test and tune nights at Englishtown Raceway and the rest is history.

Mabutass transition was an important reminder that where you start doesnt dictate where you finish. Although I grew into a JDM fanboy, one of the first toy cars my dad—who was an avid domestic enthusiast—bought me was a blue Dodge Viper with white racing stripes. I still cherish it to this day and, just maybe, Ill end up making the same transition as Mabutas someday.

To be honest, Mabutass entire life journey is a big inspiration for me, and ESR is a culmination of the car culture I grew up around. Like myself, an entire generation of enthusiasts with the same passion looks at Eat Sleep Race as a reflection of ourselves. When I saw the Eat Sleep Race Viper up close in the middle of the T14 lobby I saw more than just the build, I saw what it represented: the voice of a generation.