Anniversary Party

Also from Issue 71

  • 1975 Bright Green Coupe
  • 1984 Z51 Coupe
  • Best $12K Buys
  • Tale of Two C5 Z06s
  • Corvette Chassis History
  • 1965 Restomod
  • Racing: ALMS Wrap-up
  • History: Witton Special
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Anniversary Party 1
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Photo by Rick Soto
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The Z06’s lack of body roll and brake dive serve it well given the constant direction changes a gymkhana course demands. The incredible front-end bite generated by the sticky Michelins allowed us to turn into corners with astonishing speed. We were surprised at how well the Z06 put down its 470 lbs-ft of torque. The PTM system was clearly playing a big role in this, though it was far from overbearing. Still, we thought a touch more wheelspin would probably make us faster. Before coming up to the starting line, we switched PTM to its #3 setting. (The #2 setting disables the yaw control and allows for even more wheelspin, while the #1 mode provides only mild traction control.) We also decided to leave our braking even later at the end of the straightaway.

The flag waved and it was time to get busy. With the tires still warm from our previous run, the Corvette clawed at the tarmac with even more conviction, allowing us to ramp up the pace. Through a long 180-degree corner, we could really feel the g forces build and were glad for the new seats’ extra support, however minimal it may be. We were also happy to have some electronic assistance at the exit of this turn as we launched onto the straight and started to drift sideways. PTM corrected the slide with an uncannily deft touch, allowing us to maintain our exit speed. (This bit of electronic wizardry would really have boggled Louis Chevrolet’s mind.) We kept our foot in third a bit longer and got on the brakes as late as we dared. Now that the tires were fully up to temperature, the grip they offered under braking was simply phenomenal. Again, we wished we had waited longer to get on the binders. A few corners later, the run was over.

We’d cut our time by two seconds. Though we were satisfied by this accomplishment, we have to admit it was mighty hard not to go for another run. With our minds literally racing with ideas about how to lower our time—more speed through the slalom, switching PTM to its #2 setting, use Launch Control at the start—we drove straight into the paddock area and parked the Corvette, consoling ourselves in the knowledge that we’d accomplished what we set out to do. Plus, our last day with the Z06 was far from over. We still needed to drive to LAX and drop it off, and a fellow autocrosser had given us the killer coastal route to get there.

AFTER ABOUT HALF AN HOUR ON THE 101 FREEWAY, we arrived at the Kanan Road exit. Rising and falling like a giant roller-coaster, this serpentine ribbon of asphalt would deliver us to the Pacific Coast Highway. The Z06 seemed much happier with this habitat than the autocross course, a tiger freed from its cage. We were able to wind out the gloriously free-revving LS7 in third gear and much of fourth before braking for some of Kanan Road’s sweeping bends. The sticky tires and heroic brakes gave us loads of confidence, and we were comforted in knowing that PTM had our backs. Though we weren’t getting anywhere near the car’s limits, we were having huge fun. The Z07-equipped Corvette’s added performance can be enjoyed on the road, and doing so took our breath away.

Just like with our autocross runs, our canyon charge was over all too quickly. We soon found ourselves on PCH, stuck behind a long line of cars creeping along at 45 mph. But the Pacific Ocean, dazzling in the bright sunlight, soon came into view—as did an assortment of cool cars, including a vintage Camaro SS convertible. Suddenly, it seemed as if we had driven into a picture postcard, so surrealistically perfect was the scene. We wouldn’t have been surprised if Louis Chevrolet had magically appeared in the passenger seat—though he would have preferred to be behind the wheel.