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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I took my C7 to Thunderhill Raceway yesterday. The track conditions were incredible with temps hovering around 75-80 degrees with a slight breeze.
About me: Raced multiple sports cars in the SCCA in the early 2000s. Road raced motorcycles in the 2006-2013 time frame. Most recent track car: 2010 Porsche Boxster S
I sold the Porsche in order to get the C7. I have hundreds of laps around Thunderhill in various Porsches and other vehicles, so this track was going to provide a very nice comparison of the C7 vs. other cars.
About the car: C7 Z51 1LT 7 sp manual, performance exhaust, MRC, red calipers, competition seats, LM harness bar, Schroth racing harness
Car prep: Carbotech 12 upfront, 10 in rear. Cooling rings installed. Brake bleeder malfunction did not allow the changing of fluid to a high-temp DOT4(more on this later). Changed oil to 15-50 Mobil 1. Set starting tire pressure to 26 and ran them around 32 hot.

My first impressions were simply this: WOW! I was immediately pleased with my purchase and the capabilities of this car. The torque is absolutely intoxicating! Love it! The sound is also incredible. I couldn't wait to feel the torque coming off each corner because it was so linear. Pulls from down low and keeps pulling.
The car would illicit a bit of understeer upon turn-in, but with some trail braking an a bit more of a flick at turn-in, the rear would rotate predictably and consistently. The ability to steer this car with the throttle was very easy and predictable. I had perma-grin lap after lap allowing the car to move around a bit at turn in and upon leaving the apex. If trying to put down a fast lap, I'd be a bit more patient with the throttle. But if I wanted to feel the car slide a bit to understand how it would react- I'd simply and purposely get a bit greedy with the throttle a bit early. I literally laughed out loud every time.

Balance. I was worried about this especially coming from a mid-engine car that is well known for incredible balance. The C7 with such a large motor up front seems as though it should drive front end heavy. It doesn't. To me, the car exhibited very good balance at turn it, apex and driving towards the exit. It does require a bit more subtle turn in at very high speeds so that the rear doesn't get too snappy. The Porsche allowed a more aggressive turn in given the weight balance. The Vette requires one to simply slow down the turn-in initiation to maintain the balance. The suspension is great. Very stiff when needed, but also compliant over the bumps and jumps(there is one spot on the track that allows the car to get airborne for those brave enough to hit it with speed). I was impressed with the relative lack of body roll for a stock suspension.

Brakes. They were very good. The carbotech pads had lots of bite and feel. The car broke with good stability and didn't allow the rear to wander when coming into very hard braking zones. The only issue I had was early brake fade. I was unable to swap the DOT3 fluid with some quality DOT4 high temp fluid because my motive bleed adaptor wasn't creating a good seal. I was concerned that even with the better pads and cooling rings installed, the heat may be an issue for the fluid. It was. I ended every session at least 2 laps early in order to not completely lose the brake pedal. Had I been able to run better fluid, I don't think this would have been an issue. Next up on the to do list is steel braided lines and better fluid.

Power. As mentioned, the torque is awesome. After the first session, I felt as thought there was no way I'd want more power. By the end of the day, I was thinking "yeah, I could take another 100hp". But for a stock rig for $60K, I am very, very happy with the power.

PTM. I began the first session of the day in Sport 1 mode. I wanted to see when/how the electronics would engage and how that would affect driving at pace. I'd watch the electronic lights flicker from time to time, but it didn't really keep the experience from being fun. Rather, it would keep someone unfamiliar with the car or the track(or both) from getting overzealous and ending up off the racing surface.
The next 2 sessions I ran the car in Race mode. My understanding of race mode is that it allows full power and ALL of the electronics aids (Traction control/Stabilitrak) are turned off. While the mode definitely allowed for more driver input than that of sport mode, I swear that some electronics would come on when trying to drive off the corner aggressively. I felt like there was a bit of power cut when I'd really try and break traction coming off the corner.
The final 2 sessions I figured I'd ensure that all aids were off. I ran the car in Track mode and held the TC button down until both Stabilitrak and TC off lights showed. In this configuration, I was able to slide the car and break traction at will. Again, not necessarily the fastest line, but it sure was fun. With all nannies off, I felt I could rotate the car better at turn-in and also steer more with the throttle in order to get the proper drive. Maybe it's me, but I swear in PTM race mode, the car behaved differently. I'd love to hear others' experience in that regard.

REV MATCHING: I had read some comments about rev-matching and most were along the lines of "I can heel/toe better then the rev-match system can". With many of the comments in mind, I was a bit predjudice towards my superior ability to heel/toe better then the system could. I have always heel/toed and believe myself to be very adept at the skill. The truth of the matter (I believe) is that getting EXACTLY the proper rev-match is very difficult. The best heel/toe may get pretty close and feel smooth, but I believe it is still in-exact. I believe we typically get pretty close to perfect, but typically land just a bit above or below the exact RPM needed. BUT, I still love to heel/toe and intended to utilize this skill in the car on the track.
With that in mind, I set out for the first session with Rev Match OFF. I heel/toed and felt smooth and comfortable. For the second session, I turned Rev Match ON. I was immediately impressed with the system. It seemed incredibly smooth and spot on for the RPMs needed. The blip was instantaneous and natural. I honestly liked it more than I wanted to. It was better than I wanted it to be. I was hoping my superior skillset would prevail, but honestly; I think the Rev Match system was better and more accurate. I found myself running Rev Match on for the entire rest of the day and was able to focus on other things while enjoying the automatic "blip". Everyone that spent time in the car thought it was the coolest feature and commented on its smoothness. I hate to say it, but the electronics win over human ability on this one. I would not, however; feel the same way on the street. The speeds need to be relatively high with heavy brake pressure to allow the full benefits of Rev Match(in my opinion).

Onlookers. If I wasn't in the car driving, I was outside the car talking about it. This car is iconic Americana AND is a great underdog story (in my mind). I found 2-10 people waiting for me to pull into the paddock after every session. They simply wanted to admire the car and talk. There were essentially 3 camps. 1) The car enthusiast who appreciates what Chevy has done with the marvel. 2)Corvette enthusiasts who are proud of the latest iteration 3)People whe no little about cars, but simply wanted to know "What is that?"
It was fun to see so much enthusiasm and interest in this American automobile. I never tired of talking about it and took a couple of individuals out for hot sessions. No joke- One guy offered me $5K over what I had paid for the car!

In summary, the car is amazing on the track. Very capable out of the box with gobs of power and razor sharp handling. I'm still amazed at what Chevrolet had been able to build for the money. I couldn't come up with a better value when shopping for my next high-performance car. Add some R-compound rubber and a more aggressive alignment and I really can't think of anything else I'll do to this car for the track.
I have tons of Go-Pro footage of the day. Unfortunately, the interior is so dark(black) and the front windshield relatively far away from the harness bar mount; the camera over-exposes everything outside the windshield and has great focus inside the cockpit. With a mount closer to the windshield, this should be eliminated. I'll post up a link once complete.

I hope that each of you enjoys your car as much as I'm enjoying mine. See you on the road or on the track.

Mike
 

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Cool story. I hope to get out and try some track time some day. Never done it but looking forward to it..

Anyhow, if you do a quick double tap on the TC button when in race mode, you'll get 5 settings that go from having nannies down to none ( least that's what I recall).
 
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Thanks for the details speedracer1- sounds outstanding and just in part confirms what many of us who don't have your experience and/or track our Stingrays feel about such a great car!:cool:
 
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Mike, we can see the smile on your face!!! What a great and thorough review. Gave me a big smile reading it.

Thank you, and here's to your having lots more fun every time you get into it, especially at the track!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dasyatis- Yep, I played around with the 5 settings, just felt as though "All off" wasn't really all off. The Porsche allows you to turn everything off, BUT if you exceed the yaw angle that is preset, the electronics do kick back in. To me, it felt as though this may be happening in Mode 5. I could be wrong, but the car felt more free by manually turning everything off without entering PTM mode.
 

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Great write up, Mike, thanks! What did you think about the tire pressures? What did the tire wear look like with them (and the stock alignment, I assume)?

Also, what GoPro do you have? Depending on the version, they may be a work around without having to relocate the mount.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
FormulaRedline- The pressure was arguably a bit low in the rear as there was a touch of rollover. Yes, stock alignment. I plan to do the track alignment before the next day.
I was actually pretty impressed with the level of grip the stock tires produced. Not R-compound grip, but pretty close. Very predictable.
I have the GoPro 2, not the latest 3. I'm open to suggestions regarding quality if there are any for this version. I've never had an issue with other cars, but I think the black interior coupled with the tight cockpit magnified the issue.
 

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I have driven TH. Very nice track. Not only is there a spot to catch air, it is intimidating, if it is the first hill that you are talking about.
 

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Great write up.
 

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FormulaRedline- The pressure was arguably a bit low in the rear as there was a touch of rollover. Yes, stock alignment. I plan to do the track alignment before the next day.
I was actually pretty impressed with the level of grip the stock tires produced. Not R-compound grip, but pretty close. Very predictable.
I have the GoPro 2, not the latest 3. I'm open to suggestions regarding quality if there are any for this version. I've never had an issue with other cars, but I think the black interior coupled with the tight cockpit magnified the issue.
I have a 3, but after a quick glance to the manual for the 2, I think you can do the same tricks.

Here is the manual for the 2:
http://cbcdn1.gp-static.com/uploads/product_manual/file/41/HD2_UserManual_ENG1.pdf

First would be to turn the field of view down (page 20 in the manual). The default "wide" angle is 170 degrees but you can narrow it to "medium" at 127 degrees. This will effectively zoom the picture, showing less of the interior and more out the windshield. However, this only works at 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second. If you prefer the 720p resolution, either for saving memory or for the 60 fps mode, then you are stuck with 170 degrees.

Even so, the next trick would be to turn the metering mode to spot (page 21). This will tell the camera to base the exposure on a spot in the center of the frame instead of evaluating the whole frame (including your dark interior). Just make sure the center of the camera is pointing out the windshield instead of at the dash. The exposure will probably fluctuate a bit more than ideal as the spot moves from tarmac to grass to other cars etc, but better than constantly overexposed due to the interior.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have any trouble working out the settings!
 

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You did not mention Rev Matching in your review. Is this because you did not turn it on and just used the old Heal/Toe out of habit, or just something you did not include in the write up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Damn! I meant to discuss Rev Match. Just edited the post.
FormulaRedline- thanks for the GoPro advice. I'll give it a shot in 2 weeks!
 

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Thanks for the Rev Match comments. I was wondering whether people who have become accomplished with the heal/toe technique would give it a fair chance at the track.
 

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Thanks for the well written review. I am not tracking mine till after get back from Ron fellows level 2 class in May. Meanwhile first track day with my 911 gt3 in April 18 at the ridge. Been wet out here. Tragic mudslides.


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Mike, outstanding road track write-up! I can only imagine driving my Vette like that, you put the "beast" to the test.

SF
Rick
 
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Very well written review, you inspire me to get out on a track to enjoy the full potential of this car.


MrG 69
Enjoying every mile in my CGM/Kalahari 7sp Z51 2LT Coupe w NPP, Nav, CF Mirrors/Spoiler and BC Roof
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks all. I'll have the car on Buttonwillow Raceway in a couple of weeks and will post up my thoughts. I've only driven this track once, so the report will come from a different angle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
MrG69- You are close to one of my all time favorite tracks- Road Atlanta. I'd highly suggest getting your Vette out there with some solid instruction. It will make you not only appreciate what your car is capable of, but will make you a better, safer driver on the road as well.
 

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Now that's what I call a well-written track report. Well done! Did you notice any difference in pad wear, front vs rear? Some of the newer cars seem to wear the rears faster than fronts because of computer inputs. Look forward to your Buttonwillow report. I've heard that track is very technical, short straights and not easy on heavier cars.
 
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