2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: First Track Session
April 30, 2014
With brake rotor cooling rings installed, track pads on, front license plate removed and tires set to 26 psi cold (per Chevy's instructions), it was finally time to take our 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray out onto Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for its first track session at this combo car/motorcycle event.
First impression: The Vette sounds absolutely glorious barreling full-throttle down (or actually up) Laguna's front straight. Correction, it sounds glorious on any straight. And fast. Man is this thing fast.
But questions remained. Like would the car's optional dual-mode exhaust pop Laguna's 92-decibel sound meter? And while we swapped on track pads, special brake fluid and the rotor cooling rings, would this be enough to ward off brake fade? After all, when Josh Jacquot first tested the C7 Vette at Chevy's proving grounds, he was getting pedal fade after one hard lap...
The obvious first: This car is a blast to drive around a track, even with our nearly-worn-out Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. It was so fun to finally have a truly fast car at a track day. The shifter works great, nice and precise, and the steering is decent although there was considerably more understeer through most corners than I was expecting, I'm guessing largely due to the worn tires.
Things were going well, passing lots of cars. The Advanced car run group allows unlimited passing (still no racing, of course), so as long as you make it safe and don't put another car in jeopardy, have at it as far they're concerned.
But about three-quarters of the way through the 20-minute session, I started to get brake pedal fade. Argh! Bothersome, especially after the precautions we had taken to make sure this didn't happen.
On the bright side, apparently the Vette's exhaust was quiet enough, which surprised me because I had a sneaking suspicion that, even though it's from-the-factory, it would prove too loud.
I should've kept my mouth shut. With maybe one lap to go in the session, I got the black and orange meatball flag (appropriate if you know me), which means "pit immediately and go see the starter."
So I did. He informed me the Vette had just registered 96 decibels at the sound booth located between Turn 5 and Turn 6. His response: "Why don't you go see if you can make that thing quieter next session." Luckily it's a three-strike policy at Laguna.
On the one hand, a bit surprising that a production car with a street-legal exhaust can't pass Laguna's sound. On the other hand, some 600cc sportbikes with stock exhausts pop the sound meter, too.
How would I "make it quieter?" My thought was to upshift early from third gear to fourth exiting Turn 5, while staying out of full throttle until Turn 6. Not the end of the world, going into this track day I was pretty sure this was going to be an issue. Plus, short-shifting and half-throttle in the Vette should still be faster than some cars that were out there.
The other problem with getting black-flagged for sound was that I had to head into the pits early, without a proper cool-down lap for the brakes. So when I got back to the garage after talking to the starter-dude, the brakes were smoking badly and there was even some fluid coming out of the bleed screw. That's never good. So I immediately headed out onto an access road to cool things off.
So, the first session could have gone better.
On the other hand, my old sportbike worked perfectly when I took it out for its session.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 17,300 miles