Life is Great with a 6.0-liter V8
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Three Years Old

    Posted on February 15th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    It’s hard to believe, but the G8 just turned 3 years old! Mileage climbed to 33,302 miles, a difference of 12,802 miles, mostly due to my Cross Country Road Trip.

    I’ve not yet been able to get the G8 out on the track, but I’ve been getting ready. It’s starting to look like in the next few weeks I’ll be returning home for a while… hopefully it will allow me to spend some more time with the G8 (and my car club friends). I’m also planning another road trip through the Pacific North West… on route to the ’12 G8 Nationals.

  • Bondurant vs Spring Mountain

    Posted on February 11th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    I have been asked several times, “which school should I go to… Bondurant or Spring Mountain?” While it is difficult to directly compare the two schools, mostly because I took different courses at each, I will give it a shot.

    First I must say that you can’t go wrong with either school.  Both schools offer incredible instruction on-track and in the classroom and will make you a better driver.  The skills taught at the schools  are very similar, and will provide the proper foundation for the future.


    The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving is located in Chandler, Arizona (~18 miles South of Phoenix).  Courses are offered in various Corvettes (Grand Sport , Z06, or ZR1) as well as Camaros.  There are also courses that include driving a Formula Mazda.

    The track at Bondurant is 1.6 miles long and has 15-Turns.  During the 3-Day course the track is broken-down into parts (Maricopa Oval, Lake Loop and Carousel, Full) making it a little less daunting.  Also, with the shorter laps, I was able to work on a section of corners lap-after-lap… making learning the track a bit easier.  The corners are fairly tight/technical with lower overall speeds (the whole track can be taken in 3rd gear).

    One of the really great things about the Corvettes at Bondurant are the racing seats and harnesses.  I’m a large guy, but never felt uncomfortable in the seats.  The harnesses were very effective at keeping me secure while pushing the car through the corners… based on this experience I will likely be adding racing seats/harnesses to my car for track days.

    The instructors at Bondurant were great, and really challenged me to push beyond my initial comfort level.  They were also very accommodating of various driver skill levels (like my ineptitude with a manual transmission).  The instructor-to-student ratio (one instructor for every 3 students) allowed for lots of one-on-one time.  Because we were the only people using the course at the time it seemed like the on-track sessions lasted forever, which was nice when you were working on learning a specific corner.

    The 3-Day Grand Prix Road Racing course at Bondurant was a bit more expensive, but included a couple extras (graduation plaque, T-shirt, sticker, etc.).  They also have a staff photographer who can provide photos of your course on a Bondurant branded USB thumb drive.  One thing not included was lunch, but it also allowed for some time off-site to clear your mind.


    • Racing seats and harnesses
    • 1 Instructor per 3 students
    • Hotel included with multi-day courses (Corvette Forum discount)



    The Ron Fellows Performance Driving School is located at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort, in Pahrump, Nevada (~50 miles outside of Las Vegas).  Courses are offered in various Corvettes (Grand Sport , Z06, or ZR1) or Radical race cars.

    Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch is a true oasis in the desert.  With a luxurious clubhouse, condos, pool/hot tub, fitness center, etc. it is almost everything you could want in a resort… with a race track thrown in!  Catered lunches are included with your course (and breakfast as well if you’re staying in a condo).  While Pahrump is a few minutes up the road, I only wish there was a restaurant on-site for dinners.

    The track at Spring Mountain has multiple configurations, but for the Level 2 course was 2.4 miles long with 12-Turns (the Level 1 course runs the 2.2 mile configuration).  The circuit is quite a bit larger with lots of long flowing corners (the whole track can be taken in 4th gear).  The back straight is long enough for the horsepower difference between the Corvettes to really become evident.

    The best learning aid available to the instructors is the 2-way radio system.  While the instructor is leading/following they are constantly in contact via the radio, providing real-time tips… it’s practically one-on-one instruction.  Especially with the longer laps, it makes learning the track much easier.

    The track time was broken-down into 15-20 minute sessions, which allowed us to recover/debrief often.  With the larger/faster track and no race seats/harnesses I felt myself getting fatigued… so having a little time to regroup between sessions really maximized the time being spent on-track.  The last session of each day was a “cool down” where we focused on driving the perfect line.  While it was a great way to practice driving the racing line, I’d have liked to had another “full speed” session (especially only being in a 2-day course).

    I’d have to say that the instructors at the Ron Fellows school really make the experience incredible.  I worked with several different instructors throughout the course, and found it helped, as each instructor had a slightly different view of things.  All of the instructors are extremely friendly and really go out of their way to make sure you’re learning, but most of all… always having fun.


    • In-car 2-way radio system
    • Lower price (with 10%-off Corvette Forum discount)
    • Level 2 and level 3 courses


    • Stock seats and belts
    • 40 Miles from “civilization”


    Now time for a shameless plug… If this post was beneficial in your decision making process, please let the schools know when you book your course.  While I wrote this, and all of my posts, for my personal satisfaction… the schools have incentives for referrals.  Just think… the more courses I attend, the more posts I can make!


  • Spring Mountain Level 2: Day 2

    Posted on February 10th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    After a good night’s sleep I found myself refreshed and ready for another day on track. Last night I spent quite some time going-over the track in my head, with the hopes that I’d be more familiar with the mechanics of each turn on the course.

    Like yesterday we started with a heel-toe downshifting exercise to warm-up. While I’ve been spending my time on track in an automatic transmission vehicle, I wasn’t going to pass-up the opportunity to get some more practice with a manual transmission. At first I had some difficulty with the mechanics, but it didn’t take too long to start to get a feel for it. I found that taking a moment to properly position my foot on the brake peddle (without applying the brakes) made it much easier to blip the throttle when it came time to heel-toe. While I was able to get several smooth downshifts, I still think that driving an automatic on track will be more beneficial at this stage.

    The first track session of the day was a lead-follow exercise, and I felt I did a fairly good job. When I wasn’t directly behind the instructor I was doing a better job hitting my marks… but when the little voice inside my head said, “catch-up to them”, I found myself making mistakes. Fortunately I was able to collect myself and run at my own pace, focusing on the driving line.

    The second session started as a lead-follow, but after a lap or two a student pulled into the lead and the instructor followed. With an open track in front of you, it is an entirely different experience… you can’t rely on just watching another car to determine what to do.

    I started-out leading surprisingly well, hitting my marks going into the Bus Stop (Turn 8 ) and apexing well through the Loop (Turns 10, 11, and 12). While I was being followed, the instructor also noticed that I was apexing really (really, really, really) early at Turn 2… and that it was keeping me from getting a good exit/drive onto the straight leading towards Turn 3. I also learned that I was getting too close to the “near apex” cone in the Chicane, resulting in a poor entry into Turn 4. Getting instruction over the radio really helped me figure out the proper line!

    After lunch we moved beyond lead-follow and began open lapping, which included the use of a transponder for recording lap times. I started out the first session with an instructor in my passenger’s seat and was really focusing on driving the proper line… hitting my marks in every corner on the first lap. With my confidence building I started to go quicker and quicker…

    Unfortunately my confidence got the better of me when I tried to drive into Turn 4 without using the brakes (no brakes = faster right?), only to find my car didn’t want to turn. Running wide I tried to dive towards the apex and added too much steering input… breaking the rear-end loose. Fortunately I still had stability control turned-on and was able to keep the car on track, but it was definitely humbling.

    Yesterday I got a feel for the importance of balancing the car while approaching the apex of a corner, and today I was really able to start to apply it on track. Using the throttle/brake the driver can adjust how much weight is on the front wheels; changing how easy the car wants to turn. Without changing the angle of the steering wheel you can make the car take a tighter line (less throttle or more brake) or a wider line (less brake or more throttle) towards the apex.

    A great example for this is entering Turn 10… you are fairly wide exiting Turn 9, but want to be all the way to the right for the entry to Turn 11. If I tried to turn the car only using the steering wheel it just wanted to push wide (like what happened at Turn 4). By briefly applying the brakes and shifting weight to the front wheels, the car hooks and turns-in like it’s on rails!

    The best thing about having an instructor ride along was the immediate feedback I received going through Turn 2. I was able to feel the proper line through the corner, and boy did it allow me to get on the throttle sooner… so much so that I was completely unprepared for how much more break pressure was required to slow down going into Turn 3. For then on kept working on keeping in the middle of the track well into the turn, such that the path into the apex and through the exit was as straight as possible.

    For the remainder of the day I was driving solo. During the second session after lunch I was really in the grove, and once I got up to speed I ran my quickest lap of the day (2:18.466) followed by two more laps less than 0.1 seconds-off! In the final “cool down” session (~70% of max, focusing on running the perfect line) I found myself running consistent lap times (~2:21)… when I wasn’t looking in my mirrors getting worried about holding someone up. I honestly think if I had run hard down the back straight that one (or more) of my laps would have been faster than my PB… it showed me just how important being smooth and on the proper line is to being fast.

    While I was 10-15 seconds a lap slower a lap than the other guys on track (the instructors can run sub-2:00 laps staying in 4th gear the whole way), I’m feeling good about how I progressed over the two days (especially considering it’s my first time on this track, and most of the others have been there two or three times).

    Unfortunately this time I’m only taking a 2-Day course, but I really feel that I’ve not only learned about a new track… I’ve also started to get a better feel for how vehicle dynamics and weight balance effects a car. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to come to Spring Mountain to refine my skills, but I’m sure that what I’ve learned over the past two days has made me a better driver.

  • Spring Mountain Level 2: Day 1

    Posted on February 9th, 2012 tcorzett No comments

    Today I started my 2-Day Level 2 Course at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School at the Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort.

    While there are a couple courses going-on at the same time, I really lucked-out… there are only two people (including myself) in the Level 2 course. This has resulted in quite a bit of one-on-one instruction. So far all of the instructors have been very good at working with me on my goals. Much like the previous course, I’ve been surprised just how much I’ve learned in only one day.

    Because Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort is located ~45 minutes from Las Vegas, I decided to stay in one of the on-site Condos.

    Being able to get a good night sleep and not have to deal with the drive in the morning was been great. Being able to look out your bedroom window to see Corvettes driving by on the track is definitely unique!

    The course started-out in the classroom for introductions and some review of the fundamentals. We then headed out in the Corvettes for a heel-toe downshifting exercise. I’ve not been able to practice with a manual transmission vehicle since I took the last school in December, so I was a little nervous. Fortunately I was doing much better shifting through the gears… and didn’t even burn-up the clutch!

    At first I was quite flustered about the heel-toe process, but after some one-on-one instruction I started to understand it. Like last time the whole process was overwhelming, but breaking it down into individual steps… and practicing them one at a time… really make a big difference. Rather than trying to jump-in and do it all at once, I took a few passes where I only practiced blipping the throttle… then added-in the downshift. By the end of the drill I actually did a couple smooth heel-toe downshifts!

    During the heel-toe exercise one of the instructors mentioned that the school has a couple Corvettes with automatic transmissions. This was the best news I’ve head in a while! While I will eventually want to practice driving a manual transmission, not having my mind occupied with the mechanics of shifting allows me to focus on learning vehicle control.

    After another short classroom lesson we headed-out onto the track for an initial lead-follow session. At Spring Mountain the cars are equipped with two-way radios, so there is instant feedback on track… almost like the instructor was sitting in your passenger’s seat. Because there were only two of us in the course, and two instructors, the first couple sessions were very educational.

    For the Level 2 course we were on the 2.4 mile (Bus Stop & Loop) configuration. The course is quite a bit larger than the one I drove previously, and while you can just leave the car in 4th gear the whole time, there is quite a bit more shifting involved. While I started-out only shifting into 4th on the back straight, it didn’t take long for me to need 4th gear in several sections. Also, having an automatic transmission, I wasn’t afraid to up/down shift to get more performance out of the car (not that a Corvette Grand Sport is a slouch).

    We spent the entire day driving on the track, mostly in 10-15 lap sessions. Breaking the day into several shorter segments allowed for plenty of time to debrief and ask questions. So far my focus has been on learning the track… which has been humbling. Even just trying to recall what corner I was in has been a challenge… let alone remembering all the breaking/turn-in/exit points while speeding around the circuit. This is where having a the radio has been really helpful… if I’m doing something wrong in a corner there is nearly instant feedback; that way I’m able to make adjustments for the next lap.

    All of the sessions today were lead-follows, and I feel that I’m getting a good hang of things when there is someone showing me where to go. Unfortunately there were a couple times when I wasn’t the first car in line behind the instructor… and I found myself having a difficult time consistently hitting my marks…

    My biggest issue so far has been judging when I should start applying the brakes. Unlike the previous track I was on, there are no break markers/cones at Spring Mountain… and I have a tendency to miss-judge my closing speeds. When this happens I enter the corner too quickly, sending me wide at the apex… killing my corner exit. While I’m getting better, there are still times when I’ll completely blow a corner.

    Overall I’ve been very happy with my progress so far. While it would be nice to be gaining more experience in a manual transmission vehicle, I think I’m getting much more out of the course because of the automatic. I’m starting to get a better feel for the racing line, and will continue to work on consistently hitting my marks… I can hardly wait for tomorrow!