Helmets on, safety restraints in place, clutch in, in gear, green light, go go go! The excitement and exhilaration of driving a Corvette Z06 on the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Grand Prix track makes for one sweet afternoon.
The assignment couldn’t be more enjoyable with perfect weather and some fast rides cutesy of Chevrolet Canada and driving instructions from The Ron Fellows Driving Experience. The day started off with Ron Fellows (an accomplished NASCAR, Canadian SCCA Trans-Am, IMSA, American Le Mans Series driver), personally giving us classroom instructions and an introduction to the cars we would be driving that day – the Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe and the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
Here are some specs of the cars:
- 0-100 km/h in 4 seconds
- 6.2L V8 engine
- 455 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft torque
- 6 speed manual with active rev matching or 8 speed paddle-shift automatic
- 20 inch wheels
- driver mode and track modes
- starting at $43,500
- 0-100 km/h in 2.95 seconds
- superchared 6.2L LT4 V8 engine
- 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft torque
- 7 speed manual with rev matching or 8 speed paddle-shift automatic
- starting at $93,145
With the knowledge and insight from Ron, we get into our own cars, and take to the track in a lead and follow exercise with on-track tips and training over the radio. The great part of the experience is that you get instant feedback on your driving skills – how’d they know I braked too long on turn 3? And boy they really took off on the straight away prompting reminders to stay closer to the pack. After a few laps with the instructor on the radio, the thrill of driving your own race car is also a safe and comfortable one and this is when you can really push the car harder to see what it can do.
First up – the Camaro SS. This mean machine from the exterior to the engine is a brawler with great engine sounds. However, despite the intensity, the Camaro is more of a smooth-riding everyday performance car with shorter shifter throws for those who like to drive manual. Taking it out on the track feel comfortable. Corning is sure-footed and acceleration easy with a V8 under the hood.
Next, it’s the top dog in Chevrolet’s line up – the Corvette Z06. This purpose built brute makes for a great day for any race enthusiast. With 650 horsepower and a 0-100 in sub 3 seconds, I thought this might be a little overwhelming for my driving skill set; it’s been years since I’ve driven a proper manual. However, like the Camaro, it was both exciting and reassuring because this car has incredible grip and handling aided by its StabiliTrak electronic stability control, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, front splitter, and rear spoiler. I’ve tried my best to keep up with the lead car but alas I couldn’t really put the car to task so we go for some hot laps with Sam Fellows – Ron Fellow’s son who like his father is a professional driver.
Here is a video of the hot laps with Sam Fellows. We hit 153 mph (246 km/h) and I’m pretty sure we pulled more 1g around the corners which was thrilling and yes, Sam was right, I almost lost my camera.
As you can see in the video, one brilliant feature of these Chevrolet cars is the Performance Data Recorder. A front facing video with instrument and control overlays like speed, gear, brake, throttle, and steering angle which you can save on a SD card for review and future reference.Thanks again Chevrolet Canada and the team at The Ron Fellows Driving Experience for a thrilling and memorable track experience.
For more information on this driving experience and the track:
Photos by James Shay
More photos by Ben Marans Photography