2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: Day 2
February 7, 2014
The town of Lincoln, Nebraska isn't terribly interesting. But it has an airport which means it has cheap, clean hotel rooms. My room was well insulated from the sound of private jets getting out of Nebraska but was woefully porous to the 900 mph winds that were whipping across the Midwest that day.
The wind nearly blew me over as I filled the tank with :::gasp::: 87 octane — it was all they had and my range indicator was in a panic. I had to lean into it to stay vertical. I had to stay outside the car to hold the fuel nozzle as the wind kept tripping the sensor. It was something like 18 degrees before wind-chill calculations. I've never wanted a flat tire less.
By the time I got on the highway, the winds had somehow picked up. I lost count of the number of tractor-trailers overturned. None of them had cabs, however, signaling that this wind had been going all night at least. Trucks still on the road were tilting towards the roadway. I passed them as fast as humanly possible and stayed FAR away from them near overpasses. About three hours into the drive I encountered the world's largest migration of tumbleweeds. I dodged the ones I could and obliterated the others. One the size of a Volkswagen was impossible to miss. It exploded on impact in the most satisfying way.
The Corvette didn't care about any of this. If not for the trucks waving like flags I'd have had no idea there was any wind at all. If I turned my head at just the right angle, there was some wind noise from the door seal. If I looked forward that noise went away.
Even when passing through the windbreak of a giant truck the 'Vette stayed stable, slipping through the disturbed air like a harpoon.
Night falls fast in winter. Faster than I'd like. Faster than I expected.
The sun started to dip behind the mountains as I approached the Eisenhower Tunnel. For anyone who hasn't spent a lot of time in a cold climate, this means the temperature is going to drop and the puddles formed from hours of sunlight and road traffic will quickly become sheets of ice. Not fun.
I wanted to get up and over as quickly as possible, but then stopped to watch an ice driving school held on a frozen lake. They told me they race there on the weekends with studded tires. They told me the Corvette was too low to make it onto the ice. Still, I love that this exists and want to move to Colorado to play here.
Getting up the hill was a breeze until I hit a thick patch of snow that had blown across the roadway. It was the gross, sticky kind of snow laden with salt and sand that likes to gum up the treads of tires and it did just that. I tried slowing down to knock some out. I tried doing a rolling burnout. Nothing worked, though, so I just went as slow as necessary (welcome to winter driving, Southern Californians) until the tires cleared it themselves. That turned out to be just after the tunnel which was perfect; I did not want to go down that hill on ice skates.
It got darker. It got colder. There were more ice patches and more dead deer on the side of the road and I decided to call it in Moab. The 'Vette performed exceptionally well in the wind and handled ice and snow even better, but I didn't think it would do so well against a deer.
800+ miles this day. Not great, again, but I think I'm starting to figure out why.
Mike Magrath (@Mike_Magrath), Features Editor @ 11,174 miles.