Last time we ever mention Corvette seats: The new-for-'12 chairs offer more side bolstering up top than before, but the seat bottoms remain woefully flat. After five minutes of the road course, my left knee was black and blue from banging into the speaker and door. The hardest part of driving this car fast is staying situated. At least they are comfortable for long distances.
On the other hand, with the new tires, the ZR1 pulls so much lateral g that my internal organs tried to escape through my sides in every corner. On the 300-foot skidpad at Gainesville Raceway in Florida, we pulled an average of 1.15g (1.21 counter-clockwise, 1.09 clockwse).
Putting this car on the 1.27-mile road course there was an exercise in overkill. We ran the entire course in Second gear. Thanks to the gearing, we could run the ZR1 to 92 mph down all the long straights, but it would hit the rev-limiter just before we had to brake. Had we been at a place like Watkins Glen or Virginia International Raceway, there's no telling how fast we could have gone. As it is, we turned laps at almost a minute flat (1.00.23), which is by a long shot the quickest we've ever turned a tire at the place. For perspective, that's 1.74 seconds a lap quicker than a ZO6/ZO7 last year.
At the strip, the ZR1 was a confounding beast. After a good burnout, we'd dump the clutch at 4,300 rpm and the engine would bog. Same procedure at 4,400 and it would spin wildly. The key was carefully swapping feet--clutch slowly out, throttle slowly in. But there was more to it than that. The short-throw shifter, while wonderful on the road course and street, was a huge disappointment at the strip. Multiple gears were missed, even when the shifter appeared to be in gear. Can only imagine what that looked like inside the trans.
We drove home from Gainesville with a best run of 11.526 at 128.66, but a 60-foot of only 2.146. Determined to do better, we hot-footed it down to Bradenton Motorsports Park the following evening for their Thursday night test and tune. While the density altitude was 800-feet worse than the night before, having about 50 cars put rubber down helped a bunch. With a 2.031 60-ft, the ZR1 went 11.419 at 126.63 (best). We feel with drag radials and a computer tune, this will be a 10-second ride. As it is, it’s still the top Chevy stocker of all time.
Yes, $129,000 is a lot of money, but not more than is sunk into many of the Tri-Fives we see at Super Chevy Shows. Our advice? If you can afford one, get it. If not, buy the crate engine and stick it in your Bow Tie classic. You won't be disappointed. In fact, we think it'd be even more fun in an old Chevy than this Vette.