There is no doubt that the 2015 Corvette Z06 is the most capable performance Corvette that Chevrolet has ever made. But to really experience the full bandwidth of performance available, owners are encouraged to take their car to the track. And there lies the conundrum… While the Corvette Z06 may be ready for the track, sometimes the driver isn’t which is why we have the photos of a Corvette Z06 that went off the track and into the weeds at a recent SCCA event.
The event was the July 7th SCCA Track Night in America at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, IL. The event runs three heats of three different classes (Novice, Intermediate and Advanced) but there are no instructors, so it’s up to the driver to really know which class they belong in. The Shark Gray Corvette Z06’s driver started in the Novice group but for the last heat of the day, he joined the Advanced group.
Here’s the account of what happened next from Brendan Appel, a Corvette Stingray driver known on the Corvette Forum as “Jedi Jurist” who was running a Black M7 Z51 in the Advanced group:
At the end of the warm-up lap (at the front straight), there was a Miata in front of me and the Z06 behind. I passed the Miata and was going to let the Z06 by but we ran out of road. I’ve been at Blackhawk before and later in the session ran a 1:19, so I’m very much at home there. I decided to drive my normal run and let him pass at the next passing point (short straight between 6 and 6a), but when I approached that area and checked my mirrors, no Z06 (and no one period). I thought that was weird, and as I continued to the start line and saw a waving black flag, I thought “oh, no.”
When I came around slowly to enter the pits, I saw the Z06 had spun out into the grass coming off of turn 4. I hadn’t seen it in the mirror, and this was the one and only time I didn’t have a camera pointing rearward (of course!). After talking with the driver later, I learned he was trying to keep up with me, came in on turn 4 high and he said it just “broke loose.” Of course, he had it in Sport 2 or Race, so no stability control to save his bacon (I keep it in Sport 1 until the tires (and me) are nice and warm). Sounds like he may have come in too fast and high, and applied a little early throttle off-balance, causing the spin. I didn’t see a passenger, but the passenger side airbag apparently deployed on impact (?). What was really strange is that this apparently totally disables the car, as in no-starter.
At the end of the day, I saw him finally driving away under his own power, but the hazards were still blinking. All things considered, it looked like most of the damage was minor body work – could have been worse.
As the pictures show, the Corvette took a hit on the right front which pushed in the corner of the front bumper cover. Not sure if the impact resulted in any damage under the skin but as Brendan said, the Corvette’s passenger airbag deployed as well:
The good news is that the driver is okay and his car looks like it will okay as well. The incident provides a great lesson in knowing your limits as well as those of your car.
Brendan offers some tips for any driver, novice to advanced, who is thinking of tracking their Corvettes:
- Keep your PTM in Sport 1 unless you really know what you’re doing, and even if you do, don’t take it past 1 until the tires are good and toasty (3 laps for me).
- Don’t drive past your comfort level following someone in front of you, even if you can out-drag them – just because your car is fast in a straight line, it doesn’t mean you can keep up with the car in front. And if you really belong in a lower group, don’t move up until you’re truly ready – I drive in intermediate groups whenever I’m at a new track, even though I otherwise drive in advanced groups. There’s no shame or judgment about what group you’re in, we’re all just trying to have fun, safely. I know guys who’ve been doing this 20 years who take a lower group because they don’t want to push it too hard, but they like being on track.
- Always buy the track insurance! While this damage was probably not to the deductible level, it could have been (but for the soft wall).
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