Got back yesterday from the Mountain Run 4 in the Smokeys and the C4 Corvette event at the “Mothership” including a half day on the NCM’s Motorsports Track, a 2.8 mile road course with countless turns, 40′ elevation changes and two fairly long straights where we were able to get up to 95.
The MR4 was based in Gatlinburg, TN this year and the first day we ran the “Smokey Mountain Loop” and went on some really curvy roads comparable to the Dragon. All 23 Corvettes were in this run and it took most of the day, it was a fun relaxing drive through the mountains without too much white knuckle don’t dare blink runs.
The second day was a more “spirited” drive on the Dragon, Cherohala Skyway and the Foothills Parkway with the run splitting into three different groups and making three different runs after lunch. I’m sure we went through some of the most beautiful scenery in the eastern US but I didn’t see a speck of it.
Only one Corvette was damaged on MR4 and it happened while the black ZR-1 was parked IN THE HOTEL PARKING LOT !!! An inattentive (see texting) young female driver plowed her huge Crown Vic into the ZR-1 so hard it knocked half way out of it’s parking spot. There was so much rear suspension damage it couldn’t be driven an inch, RR wheel canted out about 20 degrees and significant body damage. The irony !
Thursday at the Mothership was classes on how to drive on a track and most of it was pretty much common sense. They did stress the importance of changing and flushing your brake fluid regularly as the older it is the more moisture it absorbs which lowers it’s boiling point, and boiling brake fluid can ruin your whole day. Also DOT 4 is required on a lot of their events, higher boiling point than DOT 3.
Friday on the NCM’s Motorsports Track, all I can say is WOW! “Touring laps” are the understatement of the year. We did 25 to 30 laps, 5 lap runs behind a pace car in 4-6 car groups and once the slow folks got weeded out into their own group we were blazing around the place. Several times I had to catch the rear end at speed and had a trip into the rumple strips at least once.
Somewhere early in the event I got directed into a group of experienced drivers in track prepared Z0-6s. After less than a lap they were out of sight and I had no car to follow. Since most of the turns are blind I was all over the place, doing a lot of driving out the side window, took out at least two orange cones, (no kill flag decals for cones, I asked) and managed to slide off one corner into the over run. I quickly discovered you really need to know the track before you try to run it at speed solo. After that fiasco I got back into the regular fast group for the rest of the day and left the insane Z06ers to themselves. I’m sure it would take hundreds of laps of experience to be able to run the track any faster than the laps the fast group leaders were running toward the ends of each session not to mention what the Z06ers were running, they left me like I had the parking brake on.
The whole trip was great fun, great people, great cars and experiences I’ll cherish forever. If you love spirited driving your Corvette touring laps at the Mothership’s track are a must. The more I drive this lowly old C4 in these situations the more impressed I am with the 30 year old engineering, I can’t imagine what the newer ones would be like on the curves.
As a side note I had dinner Saturday night with NCM’s 2007 Hall of Fame inductee Gordon Killebrew and his wife Chris at our table. I’ll admit I didn’t know who he was at first but knew well his contributions to the Corvette world by the end of the banquet.