Our pro racer puts the latest, craziest Corvette to the test and comes away impressed
The first time Teddy Roosevelt’s words—you know, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”—came into my head as I reviewed a car was after driving a 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Jump ahead 10 years and I stand perusing a shiny new 2019 Corvette ZR1. I had just ripped this particular example around the awesome Road Atlanta racetrack in Braselton, Georgia. I smirked as I thought to myself, “Speak rudely and wield a really fat club” might be more appropriate for this new force of engineering passion.
Engineering passion? Yes, for real. I noticed the faces of the numerous Chevy engineers on pit lane as each journalist exited a ZR1 after taking their first blasts around the track. The engineers hung on every syllable uttered, noting every gesticulation and throwing a satisfied smile at every “holy $&#*!!” They looked a bit like a group of dads pushing their noses up to a delivery room observation window: proud fathers, every one.
Not content with the kidney-flattening supercharged LT4 engine that kicks out 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque in the Corvette Z06, the new ZR1 has a super-supercharged LT5 V-8 spitting 755 hp @ 6,300 rpm and 715 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm. You don’t need your kidneys, anyway. Certified top speed is 212.49 mph, which came from a two-way average (215 mph/210 mph). Chevy informed us the ZR1 is “restricted” to a top speed of 215 mph to be within tire-safety standards. So, let’s recap: “Restricted to 215 mph,” base price of $119,995.00 for the coupe (actually $122,095 when you add the $2,100 gas guzzler tax) and $126,095 for the convertible, and it’s a “street” car. I’m now thinking: “Big fat club, with bells on.”