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Learning How to Drive the 755hp ZR1 Corvette

Taming The Beast: Observing Original ZR1 Owners Utilizing Their Included 12-Month Spring Mountain Driving School Coupon

Walt Thurn Sep 4, 2018
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The 2019 Corvette ZR1 packs 755 hp, the most that has ever been installed in a General Motors production car. It is available in two trim levels: 1ZR and 3ZR. The General also offers an optional track package for owners who want to test their skills on a road-racing course. It’s called the ZTK and costs $2,995. The ZTK package includes an adjustable High Wing that is mounted to stanchions directly to the chassis and a track-only front splitter with removable carbon-fiber end caps for increased downforce, aggressive chassis tuning that includes a performance suspension with specific shocks and springs and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. This package is not designed for top speed, but offers the owner more precise handling on a road course. This Corvette is fast, 0-60 in 2.85 seconds, quarter-mile in 10.6 seconds and a top speed of 214 mph with the standard low rear wing.

This is a thoughtfully engineered multi-purpose Corvette. It is comfortable and useful on the street as well as being a very capable road course performer. Unfortunately, if an owner’s driving skill set is not on par with its potential, trouble could be right around the next corner. To mitigate that possibility, Chevrolet provides each original owner with a certificate (which expires after 1 year) to the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School. The two-day ZR1 Owners School takes place in Pahrump, Nevada, at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club. The school’s tuition is included with the purchase of the ZR1 and includes one-night’s lodging in a luxury condo and breakfast and lunch for you and your guest.

The resort is 55 miles west of McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas) and is situated on 332 acres in the Mojave Desert. It includes 6.1 miles of paved racing surfaces that can be used in multiple configurations. The complex includes luxury guest condos, 23-foot and 40-foot viewing towers, an on-site executive chef, 4-acre fresh water lake and other amenities. Many casual and formal restaurants are located a short drive to the west of the resort.

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Multi-time driving champion Ron Fellows established his Spring Mountain driving school in October 2008. He designed this ZR1 curriculum to enable new owners to tame and enjoy the awesome performance of their special Corvette. We spent two days observing this program and strongly recommend securing your class date as soon as possible. One year passes in the blink of an eye. We guarantee that you will feel more confident in your abilities to enjoy your Corvette’s potential. Each class has a capacity of 12 students; the one we attended had 7. The students attending owned ZR1 coupes and convertibles equipped with manual or automatic transmissions.

There are 16 ZTK-optioned Corvette ZR1s in the school’s fleet. They were quickly brought to Spring Mountain because it’s the Official High Performance Driving School of Corvette. The school needed the cars to begin the ZR1 schools for new owners.

The ZR1 Owners School used 7 of their 32 driving instructors, including Driving School Director Rick Malone overseeing this class. This allows plenty of one-on-one instruction for each student. Each day was divided into two main segments: classroom and on-the-track practice.


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The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School is located at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada. It is the only ZR1 Owners School in the United States and is authorized by GM.

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There are 16 ZR1 supercars available for student use during their two-day experience. The school cars are lined up on the right and the three Z06s against the wall are used by the instructors for lead and follow exercises.

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Rick Malone, Chief Driving Instructor and Driving School Director, starts the program off with a safety briefing. Safety is emphasized throughout the two-day program.

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Spring Mountain has four classrooms and different track layouts on the property. This enables multiple training schools to take place at the same time. The ZR1 Owners School utilizes this 2.2-mile North/South track. It is tight and twisty that showcases the Corvette’s brakes and suspension. The power can be unleashed on the back straight.

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Driving instructor Josh McKillips briefs students on vehicle introduction and ergonomics in this ZR1 school car. This was done with every student prior to their first on-track exercise. Close, personal instruction is a major strength of this program.


Day 1

Safety briefing and instructor introductions
Vehicle introduction and ergonomics
This included correct seating position
Properly holding the steering wheel
Performance Data Recorder (PDR) review
Instrument panel review
Car-to-car communication
On-track threshold braking exercises
Lightly applying the brakes in a corner to increase front-wheel traction
Applying the brakes firmly enough without engaging the ABS
On-track shifting exercises
On-track dry handling (cornering balance and approach techniques)
Lunch
Classroom cornering techniques and how to properly use the PDR
On-track lead/follow sessions
Demonstration laps with a Ron Fellows Performance Driving Instructor and student riding together
Reviewing the PDR laps in the classroom with the instructor

Day 2

Lead/follow
Competitive timed autocross
Classroom review (of oversteer, understeer and throttle-steer)
Lunch
Classroom safety briefing (prepare for instructor ride-along sessions)
On-track ride-along with instructors in the passenger seat
PDR review of the students’ performance
On-track lapping sessions
Graduation

Each student was very positive about their Spring Mountain experience and looked forward to utilizing their ZR1’s amazing performance. We observed that every instructor provided clear and friendly communication throughout the two-day program. Team Vette was treated to two “hot” laps with instructor Aaron Pike. The track was enveloped in a light, misty rain and we marveled at his car control techniques. The Corvette was shod on the almost slick Michelin Cup tires. This is the perfect staff to help you tame the beast. Speaking of the beast, we must mention that in spite of two days of hard driving none of the ZR1s overheated. The 10 coolers imbedded into this design really work. Well done, Corvette Team.

Visit www.ZR1ownersschool.com to secure your reservation. Simply contact them with your name and vehicle identification number (VIN) to schedule your school date. You can also call toll free at (800) 391-6891. Sign up soon; your clock is ticking.

Photography by Walt Thurn

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