By on December 29, 2015

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

I was recently reminded that comparing cars to ladies is beyond cliché and sexist. Yet, once I settled on one particular comparison, I couldn’t shake it from my consciousness.

Every move made by the new Corvette Z06 brought to mind Miranda Lambert. Not the newly single, thinner Miranda. Naw, I mean Kerosene Miranda: more dramatic than you can handle, prettier than you will admit and better than most will ever know.

She’s at the bar after having already downed two shots of bourbon. The right word will get you a dance. The wrong one gets you punched. Do you have the guts to approach? With 650 horsepower on tap, you better be damn sure.

My first run-in with the Corvette came this past summer at New Orleans Motorsports Park. It was an all-too-brief interlude. I was at my “day job” coaching with Xtreme Xperience. In every selectable mode, the power was too much and the stability control was too intrusive.

The next track was Pikes Peak International Raceway in Colorado. Sure, my favorite 911 GT3 was there, as was the Lamborghini Huracán with her runner-up horsepower crown, but I was determined to get to know Miranda. The high banked of PP’s “roval” made for a great time to just floor it and let the supercharged V-8 belt out her high notes.

And, oh dear God can she sing. Sure, in the realm above 600 horsepower, 48 additional horses doesn’t seem like much, especially if you’re carrying another 400 pounds over the Huracán. But Miranda doesn’t show it. Nope, she sticks her hand in the air and gives shouts out a proper “Yee-haw!” while rocketing across the banked straight. Miranda is so damn, well, American. In this context, that’s a complement.

But then the corners. While giving clients a ride, I selected track mode and turned the nannies off. She was a handful. Miranda now had three shots and was out of control. Yes, we had fun, but we weren’t getting anywhere and it was exhausting. Our interaction was all too brief to build on my minor success.

The interior is what you’d expect. Sure, folks climb in the Corvette, poke at the dash and mention how “cheap” it is compared to the Ferrari 458. Of course, the Corvette isn’t as nice as the 458. The Corvette is priced so you can buy it and my suburban Atlanta home for almost the same price as the Ferrari. And for that price, the Corvette’s design is comfortable and solid and the materials are on par, not to mention it has lot more adjustability than many Italian competitors to accommodate, shall we say, ’American’ sized humans.

Courtesy of GM

Last month, Miranda and I met again in at Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Again, she was two drinks in, but I was determined to crack the code. Two of my first five clients were quite skilled, launching the ‘Vette successfully out of turn one and blasting down the back straight over the hill. In Sport mode, the rear end got very light over the hill and stepped out, dramatically.

We said the wrong thing. Miranda was mad and she was throwing punches.

Later that afternoon, a client gave us the code. Put the Z06 in Track Mode. Press traction control, then press it again and hold it. A menu appears on the center gauge cluster, select “Sport 1.” The gauges indicate the traction control is off, but it isn’t. However, the intervention threshold is much bigger and less aggressive while the shocks went to their firmest settings.

That was the secret. Miranda was transformed. Leaning against the bar, she pounded her third shot, smiled and showed her exceptionally American traits. Giving the Huracán a middle finger, she left the Italian in a howl of supercharged glory and could damn near go shot for shot with the GT3 in the corners. When she couldn’t, an additional 175 horsepower made for a great counterpoint as soon as the pavement straightened. Hallett became her personal dance floor. Clients and instructors alike began jockeying for a chance to dance with the voluptuous girl from Kentucky.

But this weekend, she was mine as much as possible. Miranda and I two-stepped around the rolling hills just outside of Tulsa. She leaned into my ear and whispered, “Blake who?”

Maybe it’s my southern roots, but with the right setup, the ‘Vette spoke to me. Not just as a gearhead, but as an American. The criticism of the ‘Vette will always be a lack of refinement when compared to the European stalemates. But the Z06 doesn’t attempt to answer these shortcomings — it embraces them.

What’s that? My dash isn’t as refined? 650 Horsepower. I don’t have all-wheel drive? 650 lbs-ft of torque. My profile isn’t as sexy? Bite my supercharged ass.

Which in the right setting. The backside is the view most will be getting.

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38 Comments on “2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Track Test...”

  • avatar

    How long till it skids off the road and ends up in a ditch?

    Ditches Love corvettes.

    • 0 avatar

      And ditches dont like Hellcats…..right.

    • 0 avatar

      People can’t drive. People think turning traction control “off” is good because of race car. An instructor in our group says the only reason cars go off track is because they run out of talent or pavement.

      My Z has a similar reputation of loving ditches – while it lacks the raw power to get you in trouble its short wheel base means you can get it swap ends very easily, especially in the rain since most people like to put big meaty wide tires out back. However my experience on track says if you leave the traction control ON the darn thing is almost impossible to wreck (notice I said almost). It understeers at the limits and Nissan’s nannies kick in early and hard if you try anything stupid.

      I’ve heard the ‘Vette’s nannies can be adjusted in several levels and as this article explains certain combinations make the car a perfect dance partner once your talent is aligned accordingly.

    • 0 avatar

      They love Vipers too! I’ve known more people who have put a Viper in a ditch than vette owners.

    • 0 avatar

      As someone who’s played Country Music on the radio for 25 years – including a lot of Miranda – this is a well-written review.

      Taking a “this is how AMERICA does high performance” approach continues to be the best course of action for Chevrolet…working in just enough Europe to embarrass detractors who take pot shots at interior quality and finesse.

      BTW that interior looks miles ahead of the C6 which itself was an improvement over the 3’s and 4’s.

      Corvette remains the great American performance value and as long as that remains the goal and GM’s True Believers have their way, all will be well.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I’m sure it’s a fine car, but man, this thing just looks like a caricature of itself. Can it scream “look at me” any louder?

  • avatar

    Christian, were you at Atlanta Motorsports Park with the XX crew this November? If so, how did the Corvette do there?

    I drove the 911 GT3 and the R8. I see the Z06 has been removed from the XX fleet for next year. I would have liked to try it.

    • 0 avatar
      David Walton

      What did you think of the GT3 at AMP?

      • 0 avatar

        Loved it, even after three laps I could tell it’s a brilliant track car. I hadn’t been on the racetrack since 1998, and the GT3 made me feel at home almost immediately. The Audi was a little less welcoming.

        I’ve been a little irritated with some of the decisions that Porsche has made over the last 10 years, but after driving the GT3, all is forgiven. Their motto is right, there really is no substitute.

        • 0 avatar
          David Walton

          As you’ll recall, Bark and I drove mine there in August. It was great, but I’m itching to drive a 12c or 458.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, I remember his post. The XX instructors I spoke with all seemed to prefer the GT3.

            I was also very impressed with the facility there at AMP. It’s a great layout for a speed event like a track day, although it would be a little tight for wheel to wheel racing. All my previous track experience was SCCA club racing, and I could see passing would be tough at AMP. After the XX event, I was itching to get more laps there.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry, I just saw this.

      When we were at AMP, we were still dialing in the Z06. It did well enough, but it never really had the space the flex its muscles. AMP will always be Porsche territory, and that GT3 is friggin king there.

      The removal of the Z06 from the majority of the road crew events is not indicative of the car, or the fa base we have had with it. Its actually a reflection of the current status of strategic planning within Xtreme. Not to sound like a company spokesperson, but there is some cool stuff coming this year, including a permanent location in New Orleans at NOLA Motorsports Park. The feet is being revised and certain cars are being shuffled.

      If you want to drive the Vette, do the trip to the Corvette Museum track in Kentucky in May. It’s a days drive from ATL, takes you through Nashville and is an awesome location.

  • avatar

    So to get the best handling mode, you have to go through a ritual with the traction control button. It’s probably in the manual, just like how to manually release the doors if the battery somehow fails while you’re inside the car.

    Thus the author, who is probably better informed than most would be, has to go to his third track day with a Z06 before meeting someone who knows the “secret” code.

    I just don’t understand why there should be such a palaver about getting to Track Mode in such a car. Track days would seem to a highly likely scenario for this car, so an easier way of accessing the best handling mode would seem to be a prudent thing to do. Especially considering the other modes apparently make it an evil-handling, unpredictable beast according to the author.

    • 0 avatar

      Accessing the various modes is not at all difficult. Which mode/submode to select is more of the question. The car is not at all “evil handling” at all but with so much power on tap it can snap into oversteer. Not unlike any other highly powered machine.

      Comparing a Vette to a HELLCAT is like comparing Sophia Vegara to a present day Valorie Bertinelli.

  • avatar

    You guys NEED to come back to Carolina Motorsports Park! Had a blast last time and I am pretty sure this time I would need to drive most if not all of your fleet

    • 0 avatar

      It looks like XX has moved its Carolina event to the Charlotte Motor Speedway facility. Consider coming down to Atlanta Motorsports Park, it’s a terrific facility for this type of driving. I can guarantee you won’t get bored there.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s a big trip. Gonna be a hard sell to the wife; not much in Atlanta we can’t get here in Charlotte besides more traffic lol. I would really love to do Road Atlanta but for all that I’d rather take my motorcycle.

        • 0 avatar

          If you’re both coming, rent a cabin in the mountains rather than staying in Atlanta, AMP is closer to Blue Ridge than Atlanta. If it’s just you, you could day trip it, it’s less than four hours each way and you’d only need to be at AMP for a couple of hours.

    • 0 avatar

      I LOVE CMP, but the kink at speed in a supercar is a bit hairy for some of our client base.

      As I alluded to in an earlier reply, come to NOLA. I hear the new head instructor there is crazy…like Mental…and has awesome hair. Its a great facility, world class go karting and you can bring along SWMBO because its a vacation.

  • avatar

    Not to be that guy, but “..when compared to the European stalemates…” should read “..stablemates..”

  • avatar

    Was this car an automatic or manual? GM has indicated that the automatic equipped cars are not designed for serious track duty.

    • 0 avatar

      there is a “P” on the display…

      • 0 avatar

        Park indicator?

        Also its probably a publicity shot.

        I have my own prejudices… I accept PDK DCT dual clutch and all them fancy (fragile?) new fangled boxes but ZF conventional or those GM 6L80 whatever things? Nah.

        Conventional boxes and torque converters dont work on the track.

    • 0 avatar

      One of the hazards of our job is all of our cars need to be self shifting. 99% of our folks are great, but one client burns up a clutch and everyone else’s day is ruined.

      We run it with the trans temp sensor as our primary display under the speedo. On tighter tracks in high heat it has warmed a bit, at most we parked it for a few sessions and its ready to go.

  • avatar

    So how many laps did you complete before it overheated?

    • 0 avatar

      Or blew up?

      • 0 avatar

        In New Orleans in July, things got a little heat soaked, but all of the cars were hurting. So it sat for a while, but for the most part the Vette as taken a lot of abuse and done it well.

        Now I read about all the oil filter stuff before we got the car, but the two technicians who work on these cars with the road crew are OCD on a whole new level. They do a great job staying in front of everything. Had there been some particles in the oil, they would have caught it.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    Copy edit: One pays a “compliment.”

    Racetrack reports are nice, and helps reviewers keep their licenses, for sure. But I’d love to hear more about the Z06 on the back roads.

  • avatar

    Glad you had fun at Hallett. It’s one of my all time favorite tracks and I usually end up there about a dozen times a year.

    • 0 avatar

      Hallett is my spiritual home track. Yes I did race school at Road Atlanta and this is my home, but when I started doing track days and club level coaching it started at Hallett. I truly believe it to be one of the best family run tracks in the U.S.

      For those considering a track day there, the owner, Connie does not have an office, she has a desk in the cafe on the bottom floor. In March when the regular cook got sick and couldn’t make it, she put on an apron and started grilling burgers.

      I love going there, I love that Connie will come out and hugs me or any of the track regulars. The head HPDE instructor there is a very close buddy. Its a tight knit family of racers that go there, and at sunset one of the most striking pieces of land in Oklahoma. Its got a great history and every once in a while the man who designed it stops by and will tell stories of club racing in the 70s that will have you laughing into the night.

      If I win the lottery, one of my houses will be built just across the main straight.

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