As automotive journalists, we sometimes get to be places that others don’t get to go: the press box at a motorsports event, behind the scenes at a race track, meeting famous people and interviewing car guys we’ve admired and known of for decades. We enjoy these little perks of the automotive industry, and many of our non-journalist friends spite us for it. While that may make others a little envious, there are still moments that we are envious of ourselves, and the video above depicts such a moment. To say we wish we were there is the understatement of the decade.
Many moons ago in 1989, yours truly was at the Chevrolet new model introduction show at the Los Angeles Convention center. We got to listen to the spiel, take pictures of famous people, and then we spent about a half-hour behind the wheel of a ZR-1 Corvette.
Driving the yet-to-be-released Corvette through the streets of LA was a blast; we wrapped out the tach as far as the limited-mode would allow us, and took turns at seeing who could break the rear tires loose. The whole time we were in the car we knew that only the die hards and true gearheads would pick up on the square-ish tail lights and realize that someone was lucky enough to drive the ZR-1 before the rest of the world got to.
Those times were great, and watching the video above brought back memories of those times. Who wouldn’t want to be one of the few who were picked to take a test drive of a very much hyped supercar, like the 2013 SRT Viper, and run it through the twisties at Gingerman Speedway in South Haven, MI?
Earlier this month, a handful of automotive reporters were selected to do just that, and to get a first-hand feel of what the $100k supercar drove like when pushed just a little harder than a test drive at the dealership. Chrysler Group President and CEO of SRT Brand Ralph Gilles was also on hand to give a few words, not that we wanted or needed the distraction from the star of the event. The Viper is the kind of car that can be seen at a race, a car show and a trip to the mall all in the same day and not even break a sweat.
Over the years, the Viper did get a bit of a reputation of being a hard car to drive, and the new SRT Viper addresses that reputation with an “oh no you di-in’t” attitude. With 640 horsepower and 600 ft/lbs of torque, the 8.4 liter V-10 makes this car every bit a super car, and it has the looks to back it up. The journalists loved the feel of it, and unless it was edited out we didn’t notice anyone kicking up a little dirt from an off-road excursion.
With dealers expecting to see this venomous snake slither onto the showroom about mid-November, it’s always great to see this car in action. This time, however, it wasn’t a professional driver on a closed race course with the obligatory “don’t try this at home” theme. It was at a race track, albeit a closed course, but a select handful of automotive journalist got the experience of the year and were able to go home and brag about it.
That ZR-1 jaunt back in 1989 just isn’t so special anymore.