If you follow this blog you’ve no doubt seen my posts on this past January’s Barrett Jackson event in Scottsdale, Az, you might even had caught my Facebook Live videos.
Of course I have to say it’s well worth the price of admission for all that there is to see and do.
One event is the Ride and Drive where you are allowed to drive some of the new cars. They also have a few of the more powerful cars that they only allow you to ride along with a driver, cars like the Hell Cat and Viper and some of the Mustangs. This year I chose to drive the SS and RS Camaro.
The key is to get there early because the line get long and the track gets crowded. We arrived at the right time and got a more personal touch. New for this year was the Breathalyzer test conducted by the Sheriff’s department, a smart idea, considering all the adult beverages available. But it was a bit early for that.
Here’s quick little slide show of my trip in one of the Camaro’s.
The auto cross course they had set up was pretty tight and for the novice this would a challenge and I think it was meant to keep the speeds down. When you attend these you are accompanied by a local drive either supplied by the dealership or by the car company for this event.
I drove the SS V8 LT Camaro first. I found the seat comfortable and driving position was really good. The car had quick response and the V8 really pulled great with hitting the gas. Not as good as my 2007 C6 Corvette but I was impressed. As an SCCA auto cross driver I found this course to be a bit tighter the standard down here at the regional I’ve driven often. The SS proved to be a bit sloppy in the corners at speed and it felt like a bigger car – of course it’s it a bit larger than my Vette. Although I made it round the course with out killing any cones, it would be understandable given how it handled.
Immediately after parking the SS, they had an V6 RS ready and I jumped in. I really appreciated that, having the SS drive still fresh in the never endign, it would make the comparison, a bit more visceral rather than homogenized by the thought process.
These days you know they can get a lot of power out of V6 engine and even 4 cylinders so I was curious to see how the RS’s V6 felt with my foot pressed to the floor. I didn’t have any specific expectations, but I was hoping to feel “WOW – this is a only a V6?!?!”, but I have to say it felt like V6. It was clear the power wasn’t there at the start line. However, it did get up to speed fairly quickly and by the first real corner you could feel it. The corner? Well, let’s say it was impressive. While driving SS the ride-a-long driver bet that I’d find the RS a much better handling car in the tight corners, due to the fact that the engine was set back a bit that changed up how the car made it though the corners. I have to say it was correct.
It’s true that in auto cross that horse power isn’t all you need, in fact, too much can make for rough runs. The key for any auto cross car is being able to handle the corner as the fastest speed possible. The RS made it through the course with much sharper corners and it felt really good coming out of them with not a lot of body roll, it was surprising.
So the V8 SS felt powerful (relatively speaking) – more what I’m use to with my Corvette. The RS felt like a V6 when getting off the line, but had the better cornering than the RS, basically verifying what the ride-a-long driver told me I would find.
It’s not often the average blogger, SCCA racer and car restorer, gets to take ride in or drive the newest cars which I think is a huge gap in what you see in the big time blogs and car magaiznes, so it’s always fun to poke them with the Average Guy’s thoughts when a chance for that experience can be documented.
Thanks for reading.