May 2009 - With 638 horsepower and 604 pound-feet of torque ready to respond to the driver's right foot, Chevrolet isn't about to turn newly minted Corvette ZR1 owners loose on the highway without a thorough understanding of just what their new cars can do. That's why the company is packing them off to driver's ed, high-performance style. Included in the price of the vehicle is tuition for two days of training at either the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Phoenix or the Spring Mountain Advanced Driving School in Pahrump, Nev. To date about 50 owners have completed the course.
The Bondurant School, located at Firebird International Raceway, has a six-acre skid pad and a dedicated 1.6-mile, 15-turn road course. Students learn the theory and practice of vehicle dynamics, both in the classroom and on the track. They practice car control on the skid pad, starting with a standard coupe with the Z51 performance option, and working up to the Z06 and finally the ZR1. Advanced skid control and threshold braking are covered in the curriculum.
The final exam, says Eric Tunell, school sales coordinator, is open lapping on the road course in one of the school's two ZR1s. But it's hardly no-holds-barred action on the track. "The student has an instructor in the car, and the vehicle stability control must remain on," he emphasizes. "The ZR1s are on loan from Chevrolet, and we want to return them in the same condition we received them."