By on October 6, 2011

With ‘ring times back in the news thanks to a new feud between Dodge’s Viper ACR and Lexus’s LFA, GM took its forthcoming Camaro ZL1 to the Eifel Forest to record its own time. The best lap time of 7:41:27, according to Motor Trend, was set by lead development engineer Aaron Link (some outlets are reporting the time was actually set by GM NA President Mark Reuss himself), although Reuss does have some his own impressions to add, telling MT

“It’s power all the time, capability all the time, and the steering and tractability of the car is just phenomenal,” he told us. Reuss also told us that this Camaro easily (and often) hit speeds of 170 mph on the ‘Ring’s back straight, and that even from those speeds the ZL1 exhibited, “Some serious braking power.” Reuss added, “We never faded the brakes on it… It’s one of the easiest cars I’ve ever driven to drive fast and hard. Everybody’s going to have a good time with it.”

But is the ZL1′s time, as Reuss apparently told TrueCar, “the fastest lap time recorded by ANY production vehicle costing less than $75,000″?

As Bertel has pointed out, there are not yet any agreed-upon rules as to what makes a true “production car,” and the only real authority on ‘ring lap times, Wikipedia (which still doesn’t list the ZL1′s time), counts anything that’s “road legal” in the same category. But in Germany, anyway, “road-legal” and “production” are not the same thing, as demonstrated by the top time being set by a Radical SR8 LM that requires a not-wildly-production-like

45 minute start up procedure involving a laptop plugged into the ECU, 108 octane fuel, engine rebuilds every 30 hours, transmission inspections/rebuilds after every race, etc

And because the ZL1 that set this lap time was a pre-production validation model, there’s clearly some question as to how close to production-spec it was at the time the lap was set. All the more reason the Viper ACR’s hot-off-the-showroom-floor 7:12:13 is so impressive. But, with sales of production ZL1s set for sometime next year, there’s little doubt that GM couldn’t go back and make their ‘ring time statement with a dealer-ready version. After all, as Jack Baruth put it,

‘Ring times are like any other laptimes in the world: subject to weather, chance, and the constant grinding effort of development work. Doesn’t matter if you start with a “stock” car. You can adjust camber, you can crank the toe in back until you either set a record or kill your driver, you can mess around with tire temps, you can use your datalogger to stitch together an “ideal lap” and then go run that lap. Period. No magic. No special significance. It’s a racetrack. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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39 Comments on “Camaro ZL1 Records 7:41:27 Nuburgring Lap, GM Claims “Fastest Production Time Under $75k”...”


  • avatar
    Contrarian

    The poor car was probably trying to outrun it’s horrid interior.

  • avatar
    The Doctor

    Why over-complicate the record so much? Just point out that it’s “The fastest vehicle to have ever lapped the Nurburgring with the numberplate 029 581″

  • avatar
    srogers

    Maybe it qualifies as “heaviest car to go under 7:42 at the ‘ring.”

  • avatar
    threeer

    Next we’ll have the “fastest car around the ‘Ring with black paint,” and “fastest car around the ‘Ring with a sunroof,” or maybe “fastest car with fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror!” Seriously…I’m not sure how much stock I hold in all of the attention given the ‘Ring…it isn’t like I can do much with that on my 5 mile commute to work each day and my 1000 mile round trip commute back home every other week anyway…

  • avatar
    NotFast

    “Fastest ring time” has jumped the shark. Too many variables.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Good. More competition for Ford – which benefits all of us; however, I will say that I in no way find the new Camaro attractive or acceptable for my purposes. It’s so bad a fit that I really believe that GM should have called it Chevelle rather than Camaro. That I could accept.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    One wonders why the ZL1 is so much faster than the similarly powered, similarly suspended, and similarly porky CTS-V.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      quite a lot more tire. and better dampers, tho perhaps the newer iteration of the mag-rheo dampers just have more range of adjustment on the soft side, track-spec hard is track-spec hard. and a bit more power. and probably more agressive brake pads. but mostly more tire. at least that’s what the lap time simulations tell us.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The Camaro ZL1 has 24 more HP, 5 ft-lb more torque, and weighs less. I couldn’t find ZL1 weight spec, but the Camaro SS is 362 lbs lighter than the CTS-V. ZL1 with aluminum hood to offset some of the supercharger weight is probably still close to 300 lbs lighter.
        It is not surprising that ZL1 performs better than a CTS-V.

        BTW, they have completely different chassis architecture as well.
        Camaro is Zeta and CTS-V is Sigma.

      • 0 avatar
        faygo

        @doctor olds :

        though no weight specs have been been provided officially, the power:weight quoted when they did the last press release/briefing worked out to 4200 lbs. Automobile seemed to be the only one who initially picked up on it :
        http://rumors.automobilemag.com/2012-chevrolet-camaro-zl1-rated-at-580-hp-weighs-4200-pounds-74133.html

        CTS-V is between 4200-4300 lbs based on number of doors/options. the Camaro is a big. heavy car.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The SS with similar engine except for the supercharger weighs 3,862#. Any idea where the additional weight comes from?

      • 0 avatar
        faygo

        based on the specs, the following are heavier :

        wider wheels & tires
        blower (don’t forget the coolant and lines and whatnot for it)
        6-piston calipers + bigger rotors (even tho the rotors are 2-piece, they are sure to be heavier) don’t recall if rear rotors are larger or not.
        added coolers for engine & trans (and the lines and additional oil in them)
        heavier differential casing
        probably heavier driveshaft & halfshafts

        it all adds up.

        they also didn’t spend much (any ?) to buy weight – I don’t recall anything being made lighter except the carbon insert into the hood.

  • avatar
    ajla

    http://www.camaro5.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=294128&d=1317854378

    The interior on this ZL1 Ring tester seems to be heavily modified. What effect would that have on overall lap time?

    And, a Pontiac version would have done it in 7:39 flat.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      one can gain a lot of improvement in overall rigidity to a car with a cage, especially in older cars, but it’s probably not as noticable in something designed these days with all the CAE and optimization that goes into a new car. that’s not going to have that much impact on lap times either.

      I’d be surprised if they didn’t manage weight elsewhere in the car (the race seat has to be way lighter than the stock seats for isntance) to make sure the car was at it’s normal net street curb weight. were they concerned about it being an “official” time, which I guess they might be. or not.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ajla……the cage would more than make up for the differential weight of one seat, but your point is very valid……in the early days of Trans-Am racing, when the rules mandated stock chassis being used, winning rule-benders used every trick in the book to stiffen up the cars’ basic structure, with obvious factory support. The cheat was so effective that, to overcome the added weight of these “safety” devices, they began to lose the pounds anywhere they could get away with it. The most famous example was the Cougar driven by (I think) Parnelli Jones. Nobody had ever had seen a vinyl roof on a racecar before…….it turned out the team had acid-bathed the body so long , the roof developed holes, and, with no time to repair it properly, glued the fabric on. The winning advantage, in all forms of motorsport, more often than not involves “creative” interpreting of the rules……only a few would call it cheating.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        …….a roll over the scales would be a nice add-on to these ‘ring videos, but we best not hold our breath for that improvement. However, given the direct involvement of GM management engineer/executives, I doubt that any serious fudging took place………the career risks dictate against this.
        On the other hand, without slighting the obvious driving skills of Messrs. Reuss and Link, a true production version, on shaved but legal tires, in the hands of a Johnson/Gordon/Stewart, or, better yet for publicity purposes, an unknown local ‘ring ringer, should handily demolish this, still unofficial, record.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      @dvp cars

      I don’t think we can make any judgement about Reuss’ driving skills. being certified to drive on the ‘ring during industry days just means you’ve passed some general level of industry racetrack sign-off worthiness. you needn’t be a Baruthian talent to do that, just consistent and safe. one would think the bar is higher to get a Grand Am license, in reality it is probably lower, I’m sure Jack has thoughts on that.

      if the car really is as easy to drive as is mentioned in the stories by Reuss, there might not be that much more in it were they to put someone into it for a qualifying lap to get a faster time. or an good to exceptional driver might be able to extract 99.5% out of it. having said that, 1% of a 7:40 lap is almost 5 seconds.

      as Jack is quoted in the original post above, once you know where you need to be faster, you do that, especially when you have lots of laps and tires to burn. local knowledge of the track and a level of commitment beyond what most development engineers are going to put into it is likely the route to the absolute fastest time, but recently GM has not used non-GM people to set fast laps. I recall early times set by the C6 ZO6 being Jan Magnussen, but that was a number of years ago.

      in the absolute extreme, a given car may even be tuned to the particular driving style of the lead test driver. I recall being told that the STi was progressively re-tuned away from the “chuck it into the corner, WOT at the apex, hang on and know the computers and power will get you through” calibration which was baked into the DCCD system at launch.

      based on some of the (potentially less than completely talented journalist drivers grant) reviews, the initial C6 ZO6 was very twitchy on the limit, which might ultimately be the quickest way around the track, but not the most confidence inspiring (or safest) for less than exceptionally gifted folks.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ……. winning race drivers I know have told me “if it doesn’t feel ‘twitchy’, you’ve left something on the table”. And that, as you point out, is why you want “gifted” pros in the record-busting business. Level of commitment is a commendable measure of bravery, but no substitute for talent. Combine the two and you get the Vettels of this world.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Aaron Link is a decent shoe. He was 2.5 seconds faster than I was around Monticello, although the track was completely dry and rubbered-in for his attempt, which was two hours after mine.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    ……I hope what Mr. Reuss “apparently told TrueCar” turns out to be either a misquote or an attempt at some off-the-record humor. I doubt that a factory rep of his status would want the deadly serious game of ‘ring times trivialized by claiming supremacy in an imaginary class of competition…….at least I hope he wouldn’t!.

    • 0 avatar

      Reuss didn’t only make that claim to staffers at TrueCar, he announced it to a room full of journalists in attendance at a Motor Press Guild breakfast on Wednesday, October 5. I’m certain there were others there who heard him say it. His PR staff have also vetted the story and had no concern with the quote, so it is not a misquote.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        grrl……..well, that was, after all, the grabber quote for this whole story, but having it turn out to be true doesn’t stop me from being disappointed. I really do appreciate the achievement, but the punch line sounds out of place to me. Having said that,I guess I could be losing track of the reason for this whole exercise, that being… SELL CAMAROS!, and, in particular, $74,999 Camaros. If getting press buzz aids that enterprise, the PR staff will have made the right call.

  • avatar
    Bryce

    Less than 75k not here its not the Camaro rings the till at $100k + even though its only a Holden in disguise.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    ………made-up class or not, GM has lucked into a story that may have some “legs”. Enthusiast sites, including the official unofficial (like everything else about the track) ‘ring website, have challenged the General to fork over the in-car video……….which they undoubtedly have, and will undoubtedly release……but slowly and surely, milking this run for everything it’s (unofficially) worth.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    I noticed that the ZL1 beat the Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SV, the Pagani Zonda and was but .03sec behind the Porsche 911 Turbo S despite running a slightly longer version of the track. It is hard to knock such performance, porky, or not!

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …..as I’ve said before, the so-called supercars of this world have gone curiously absent from the ‘ring lately. Chump change musclecars are eating their lunch!

    • 0 avatar
      RRocket

      The times you are quoting are times that a magazine has run with the cars. Hardly the same as a factory official time. I guess if you want to use the magazine times, that makes the Camaro quicker than the ZR-1. (rolls eyes)

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Or we could talk about how Porsche’s test drivers could only beat Chris Harris’s wet lap time in a production GT-R by 2 seconds… in the dry, yet found no problem in matching their own previous “records”. Both Porsche and Chris’s times were way off that other magazine’s time, which was in the dry, which was also way off Nissan’s 1,000,000th lap “record” time…

      Manufacturer runs with telemetry and pro hands are far different from an independent tester going to the ring doing a one-day attack… which is what makes the Viper laps so compelling…

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    ……..the suspense is over, they’ve released the in-car video…….it’s a ragged run, whoever the driver was never saw a curb that didn’t need bashing, but he gets the job done, hits (literally) all his marks, and rarely gets out of the 4300>5800 rpm window…….it’s a torquemonster, an overweight torquemonster for sure, but no trifler. Can’t wait for a GT500 response……this is fun.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    @dvp cars- The fastest way around a track often requires you to hit those curbs. Watch an F1 race.

    Don’t hold you breath for a GT500 run. A quick review disclosed that the Ford GT is only Ford toward the top of the list, and it is only 2/3 of a second faster than the Camaro.

    The next fastest Ford on the list is Focus ST. A race prepped Focus is capable of great lap times. I had to let one pass my Corvette at a tight road course hot lap day recently! The embarassment was lessened only slightly when I spotted the emergency shut off switch, the fuel cell, the full cage, and stripped interior.

    Of course, driver skill may have come into play, too!

    Wikipedia list lots of Nordschleife lap times. Driver ability is key, but the vehicle defines the envelope. It can not be argued that cars approaching the top of the list are not exceedingly capable.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Two 2013 GT500s were being tested there since last June with unofficial lap times as low as 7:35 but they also had a bit more power and better power to weight than the ZL1. Still test mules should be exactly what will roll down assembly lines or what’s the point? I mean other than feeding the fanboi frenzy!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7_Ge2gWXmM

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      ……..hard to imagine a “production” Focus running with the big dogs (and the Camaro is the biggest pooch in the kennel) at a hi-speed track like the ‘ring, but I’m sure it’s very competitive with it’s peers. Getting zapped by a dedicated, race prepped, lightweight of any description is no disgrace at a track day……it’s a foregone conclusion.


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