The Corvette has long been the bad boy of the racetrack, the Bart Simpson of supercars. Rude, loud, cheap, unpredictable, and hard to handle; but fast and fun in its own brash way. Now, the Corvette has finally grown up. The C8 Corvette is more sophisticated, capable, and mature. And recently, we were honored with an exclusive 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 track test at VIRginia International Raceway, driving the 911-beater in street and track alignment settings.
To our pleasant surprise, Chevy also supplied a 2019 C7 Grand Sport, which I consider to be the best-handling of all the C7 variations. At this test, Chevy required that a passenger ride along, and that victim was in fact Corvette lead development engineer Mike Petrucci.
My first laps in the new mid-engine C8 Corvette were on the street alignment. Thrilled, we strap into the upgraded interior, and though the squircle steering wheel is a bit odd, I almost never noticed it. I just let Mike push the buttons for his recommended choice of the many possible modes, asking only that he turn off all autonomy (stability controls); I want to do the driving, thank you. Basically what this meant was Race mode.
Next, we switched to the track alignment. Chevy showed us the specs, and it simply comes down to much more negative camber, front and rear. The engineers are proud of the increased range of adjustment. And eight degrees of caster, street or track, which is a lot. The advantages of caster are that it creates camber gain when the wheels are turned, which is especially good for tight turns, and a strong self-centering force, for stability and good on-center feel.