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Forward Thinking - Idle Chatter

"A ship at port is safe, but that's not what ships were built for." — Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Sep 17, 2014
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Over the last few months I'm sure you caught on to my consistent theme of “drive your Corvette.” But, let's be realistic, the more you pilot your car, the greater the chances are that things will go sideways. But, is the track any more dangerous than the street? My two cents worth is that they're about the same in terms of risk. On the track you're haulin' gluteus, but it's in a controlled environment. There are safety and EMS crews standing by “just in case” and typically you're decked out in, at the very least, a helmet and fire resistant gloves. Also, at the track, the other drivers around you are paying attention, somewhat skilled, and most assuredly not busy texting, eating a taco, or singing along to '80's metal. There's also no oncoming traffic and, unlike the highway, there's unlikely to be a ladder or other road hazard straddling the lanes. This brings us to the street; an environment I find far more nerve-racking. As you cruise down the highway at 70 mph you're surrounded by people who have your very life in their hands. There's no tire barrier if someone decides to carelessly change lanes and run you off the road. Any sort of medical or rescue crew is farther away and, unless you're a bit odd, you're most likely not wearing any safety gear. A good friend of mine, Nick Licata, has tons of track time and while he's spun out a few times has never hurt himself, or his car. But, on the street some moron made a series of bad decisions and nearly killed him. Moral of the story? Well, there really isn't one. Except to say accidents can happen on the street or the track, but at least at the track you're better prepared to deal with it and the ratio of good to bad drivers is far more in your favor. Our Corvettes were designed to be driven, so if you've thought it would be fun to hit a local track event, we encourage you to find one that matches your skill level and have at it. A good way to work up to something like a road course is to try out an autocross event. The speeds are lower and the only thing you're likely to bump into is a soft orange cone. Every person I've dragged (sometimes literally) to a driving event has become hooked on getting to run their car hard.

Our new C5 FRC project car will hit the street and the track. On the track I'll endeavor to not overdrive and (knock on wood) I should be able to maintain my “haven't crashed yet” status. More importantly I'll have a blast. On the street I will try to steer clear of the 18-year-old girl furiously texting, the guy who's “had a few,” the person that failed Driver's Ed but still managed to get a license, and all those teetering on the verge of road rage. Now that I think about it, maybe wearing my helmet while driving on the street isn't such a crazy idea.

Chevy Corvette Crash 2/2

While I would argue that the track is safer than driving around with “Joe Public,” that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. Still, in most cases track mishaps happen because the driver tried too hard and ran out of car or skill (usually the latter). This poor guy got a bit too caught up in the moment and wadded up his Z06 on the track entrance road. The car was a mess, but thanks to the safety gear and track response crew he walked away without a scratch. Even given this, a track, whether road course or autocross, is still a safer environment than your typical traffic filled highway.

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