Sep 10, 2020
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A few nights ago, I mentioned I was overlooking the Las Vegas strip waiting to check in at Ron Fellows and I heard back from a few of you wanting to know what it was like.
When I booked to go 5 months ago, I wasn't counting on the Stanley Cup to be paraded by my hotel the night before my return still in disbelief that Vegas actually did win the cup this year after only being around for 6 seasons.
It's hard to know were to start this topic as the past two days have been a quick reminder that it's been too long since I was there the last time when all that was there was the big track and we ran the C5's on it 23 years ago before Ron got involved in 2004.
When you go to this class, you will try things out that you would mostly never try on your car unless you happen to have a wet skid pad on your property.
On day one after the classroom sessions they introduce you to the 1.5 mile track, get you testing the ABS system and perfecting accident avoidance, understanding
car control and fully understanding and trusting performance traction management, stabilitrak and all the driving safety features that are in the car.
You will be taken out onto the skid pad to test both steering the car over wet surfaces with full ABS applied and later get acquainted with what the systems in the car do to save you where you will test them both on and off on a skid pad putting the car into a full spin on purpose then recovering with the systems engaged. Again, not something your likely to do with your car!
After your three exercise warm up your back to class to learn about the importance of visual scanning and the 8 steps to cornering. Braking, turn in, balance and the proper unwind for example helped me shave 8 seconds a lap off my lap time on day two. It took one lap with the instructor to understand how hard they wanted me braking from 112 mph near the end of the straight and how to do a better job trail braking while resisting the temptation to get back on the gas before clipping the apex. They want you to really push hard between corners hitting all the right spots on the track to carry way more speed and set yourself up properly for the next braking zone. The majority of people will never even try what they want you to do here on the first day. You won't be in "D", you'll be using the paddle shifters here, where there's a full review of the PDR and your given an SD card that's installed in your car with the track
overlay installed. You will be given a laptop later sit with one of the instructors who looks at your line, how hard you braked, when, where and how you let off, when you were on the throttle and how much you applied when coming out of each corner to ensure your balance and unwinding was proper to approach the next tricky corner which was downhill, uphill or beyond the dip in the road where you need to let of the throttle for a split second to stay smooth before you shift into 5th.
After each track session your laps times are recorded by the instructors who use them to determine which group you will be put with on day two. There's 18 in each class and they want to keep you in a grouping with drivers of similar performance. The blue group is the fastest, green group is the middle and the red group is for those that had the slowest times. They want everyone to feel comfortable and each group does all of the same six exercises on day two including launch control, a timed autocross where you also get three timed practice runs, and three timed track sessions. There is three classroom sessions where all the car modes are reviewed, early vs late apex is discussed garage talk and a video of how to drive the track to get the best lap times.
The instructors are looking for improvement. How much better are you on day two, compared to when you arrived.? There's a timed autocross competition where you find out how you did during graduation and after your final track session they ask you how you did and want to see everyone's lap time to compare progress.
There is a lot packed into two days over just 16 hours and all your time in the car is recorded for review while there and for you to review later as well.
It's intense but it gives you a sense of what these cars are capable of and no matter how hard your think your driving your car, they will show you how to get way more out of it.
One driver from the red group dropped out of the afternoon lapping session on the final day who was uncomfortable and couldn't keep up. I didn't hear what he said over the radio as I was in another group as each group has a different channel for your instructor to speak to you. Only 3 cars per instructor on the race track.
Registration for the Z06 school is now open as well with two having been completed so far. The Z06's run about 3 seconds a lap faster than we were able to run in the Z51 stingrays.
If you go to the stingray school, you can return for the Z06 school as well which I plan on doing next year. Perhaps we can get a group of us going if we can get our damn cars?
There is approximately 200 Corvettes at the school, 17 are Z06's. All fully loaded 3LT coupes with Z51, magnetic ride control and front lift. The tires last about six days. Oil is changed every 1,000 miles, DCT filters are changed every 2000 miles and transmission fluid every 4000 miles. The cars are kept now until 10,000 miles and are all cycled out each year.
This is the car I drove while there with my class mates all around me. If any of you have any questions feel free to ask.
Class Photo (small).jpg
 
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Sounds like you had a blast.
I will get the bail money put together for when you try things out back home.
I will show you the PDR video when I see you next! I think that's why it's a good reason for people to go, to try out all of the capabilities of the car there so they don't get into trouble back home.
 
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Sounds like you had a blast.
I will get the bail money put together for when you try things out back home.
Great summary Scott. Sounds like they have changes some things since I was last there in November of 2022 all for the better. November was my second trip there and they clearly are improving the program each year.
 
Great summary Scott. Sounds like they have changes some things since I was last there in November of 2022 all for the better. November was my second trip there and they clearly are improving the program each year.
David, I didn't mention everything like the importance of visual scanning and looking at where you want to go and the pilon course when your windshield is covered etc. I want to leave that for the people that decide to go, but the response to what I wrote for this thread on the flight home has been terrible so I guess most are not interested in going. Our class demographic was interesting from one in late 20's to another in mid 70's that used to work in the Tonawanda engine plant.
 
David, I didn't mention everything like the importance of visual scanning and looking at where you want to go and the pilon course when your windshield is covered etc. I want to leave that for the people that decide to go, but the response to what I wrote for this thread on the flight home has been terrible so I guess most are not interested in going. Our class demographic was interesting from one in late 20's to another in mid 70's that used to work in the Tonawanda engine plant.
I appreciated your breakdown as I am planning to go in 2024.

Thanks for sharing!
 
David, I didn't mention everything like the importance of visual scanning and looking at where you want to go and the pilon course when your windshield is covered etc. I want to leave that for the people that decide to go, but the response to what I wrote for this thread on the flight home has been terrible so I guess most are not interested in going. Our class demographic was interesting from one in late 20's to another in mid 70's that used to work in the Tonawanda engine plant.
It is amazing how much they cover in two days. Although you spend much of the time on the track, the skid pad and the auto cross track you are learning skills that are very applicable in everyday driving. As an example in 2018 I was driving my 2017 Grand Sport on the infamous "Tail of the Dragon" mountain road in Tennessee (318 turns in 11 miles). Have done it many times over the years, mostly on motorcycles. On one of the turns we met another C7 coming in the opposite direction. He was going too fast and the car was understeering a fair bit as C7s do when at the edge of their limits. He panicked and froze holding the steering wheel in the same position. He came across the center line and struck us in the middle of my driver's door and destroyed the Grand Sport's drivers side and tore off the rear suspension. Air bags went off but fortunately no one was hurt. I asked him why he didn't just give more steering input to get his car around the turn and he admitted he panicked and froze. Had he taken the Spring Mountain course he would have recognized the condition and had the confidence to realize that the C7 does understeer when pushed but that with a bit of steering input it can be corrected. The auto cross, the skid pad and the high speed track exercises at Spring Mountain teach you so much about what the car is capable of as well as the actions you can take if you do get yourself in trouble some time. My real learning this second time at Spring Mountain this past November was just how aggressive you need to be on the brakes to set yourself set up for a high speed turns. Even though I'll never track my C8 and even though 99% of my driving is touring I will do Spring Mountain for the third time when I get my next Corvette. By then I may be in my 80s as I'm 77 now.
 
It is amazing how much they cover in two days. Although you spend much of the time on the track, the skid pad and the auto cross track you are learning skills that are very applicable in everyday driving. As an example in 2018 I was driving my 2017 Grand Sport on the infamous "Tail of the Dragon" mountain road in Tennessee (318 turns in 11 miles). Have done it many times over the years, mostly on motorcycles. On one of the turns we met another C7 coming in the opposite direction. He was going too fast and the car was understeering a fair bit as C7s do when at the edge of their limits. He panicked and froze holding the steering wheel in the same position. He came across the center line and struck us in the middle of my driver's door and destroyed the Grand Sport's drivers side and tore off the rear suspension. Air bags went off but fortunately no one was hurt. I asked him why he didn't just give more steering input to get his car around the turn and he admitted he panicked and froze. Had he taken the Spring Mountain course he would have recognized the condition and had the confidence to realize that the C7 does understeer when pushed but that with a bit of steering input it can be corrected. The auto cross, the skid pad and the high speed track exercises at Spring Mountain teach you so much about what the car is capable of as well as the actions you can take if you do get yourself in trouble some time. My real learning this second time at Spring Mountain this past November was just how aggressive you need to be on the brakes to set yourself set up for a high speed turns. Even though I'll never track my C8 and even though 99% of my driving is touring I will do Spring Mountain for the third time when I get my next Corvette. By then I may be in my 80s as I'm 77 now.
Firstly, glad to hear your ok and congrats on completing the course at your young age! That matches Mark in my class and although he didn't make it into the fastest group he still had a great time. Your right, the guy that hit you had he learned visual scanning and how to steer the car when in an understeer situation, would have made the corner instead of just looking straight ahead. I was shocked at how hard the instructor was on the brakes when we went for a couple of laps together. I said to the guy, you really want me braking that hard at this point which was at 2.5 not at the 4 marker, and they prefer you to rapidly diminish your speed initially and then trail brake (which I also asked them in class about doing) as you get closer to the corner and stay off the gas until you are at the turn exit.
If I had a couple of more days there to practice this, I think the 1.17 lap time the instructors ran would be possible. Our group was just over 1.20 and the instructors were very pleased with our progress after 24 hours. I guess you know what group I was in now!
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I have been there twice now and would go again. The last time I went I had a C6 and we got to try the new C7 so I had to get one. It would be great to try the Z06 but I think they only let Z06 owners use them. I see you are close by in London. Do you get your Corvettes from Finch?
 
"I asked him why he didn't just give more steering input to get his car around the turn and he admitted he panicked and froze. Had he taken the Spring Mountain course he would have recognized the condition and had the confidence to realize that the C7 does understeer when pushed but that with a bit of steering input it can be corrected. The auto cross, the skid pad and the high speed track exercises at Spring Mountain teach you so much about what the car is capable of as well as the actions you can take if you do get yourself in trouble some time."


Sorry, but a couple of attempts at a exercise in a controlled environment is not going to save your ass in real life.

Good story though. Except for the part where you were picked off...
 
I have been there twice now and would go again. The last time I went I had a C6 and we got to try the new C7 so I had to get one. It would be great to try the Z06 but I think they only let Z06 owners use them. I see you are close by in London. Do you get your Corvettes from Finch?
MUSL, I went into see Morgan 4 years ago at Brian Finch and his list was about 2 years long at the time. I got my current Corvette from Brian Cullen and the one I just ordered a couple of weeks ago is from Barry Cullen's in Guelph. It's the first one I've actually been able to order what I wanted without constraints and I loaded it up big time!
 
For guys that have been there, how long after you get delivery can you go to Spring Mountain?
Once you have your VIN #, you can call them and book your spot. You must be the original owner, and they need GM's approval to confirm this and that you are within your first year of ownership. I had to wait 5 months, so if your car is getting close to the 1 year anniversary since you got it, call and book asap.
 
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"I asked him why he didn't just give more steering input to get his car around the turn and he admitted he panicked and froze. Had he taken the Spring Mountain course he would have recognized the condition and had the confidence to realize that the C7 does understeer when pushed but that with a bit of steering input it can be corrected. The auto cross, the skid pad and the high speed track exercises at Spring Mountain teach you so much about what the car is capable of as well as the actions you can take if you do get yourself in trouble some time."


Sorry, but a couple of attempts at a exercise in a controlled environment is not going to save your ass in real life.

Good story though. Except for the part where you were picked off...
Jack, the race track is where you learn the skills to prevent this from happening. They teach you visual scanning to look ahead where you want the car to go next. You learn the turn in point, how to use the apex and how to exit a corner with the proper unwind before you get on the gas. Had he been trained he would have known to use his side windows and look where he wanted to go, not just hanging on and destroying David's Grand Sport. We entered corners at over 70 mph and had this guy learned the proper turn in point to the corner and how to smoothly turn the wheel, and how to balance the car with light brake pressure during the initial turn-in as this keeps the weight on the front of the car for balance and grip, it never would have happened. The guy who hit David's car panicked because he didn't know what to do.
More than 99% of the people that buy Corvettes can't drive them anywhere near there capability, and about the same percentage don't go to any type of owner's or racing school to actually learn about the capabilities of the car. I just got invited today to return to do the level 2 advanced school. I can tell from the response to this thread there is little interest here and that's unfortunate as people don't know what they are missing by not going to this school!
 
Jack, the race track is where you learn the skills to prevent this from happening. They teach you visual scanning to look ahead where you want the car to go next. You learn the turn in point, how to use the apex and how to exit a corner with the proper unwind before you get on the gas. Had he been trained he would have known to use his side windows and look where he wanted to go, not just hanging on and destroying David's Grand Sport. We entered corners at over 70 mph and had this guy learned the proper turn in point to the corner and how to smoothly turn the wheel, and how to balance the car with light brake pressure during the initial turn-in as this keeps the weight on the front of the car for balance and grip, it never would have happened. The guy who hit David's car panicked because he didn't know what to do.
More than 99% of the people that buy Corvettes can't drive them anywhere near there capability, and about the same percentage don't go to any type of owner's or racing school to actually learn about the capabilities of the car. I just got invited today to return to do the level 2 advanced school. I can tell from the response to this thread there is little interest here and that's unfortunate as people don't know what they are missing by not going to this school!
Exactly correct!! At Ron Fellows you spend lap after lap learning to correct things like understeer. After a few laps you get comfortable with pushing the limits a bit and making the appropriate corrections. It eventually becomes so automatic you don't even think about it and you go on to learn and practice the next skill. Most of us driving on public roads will never experience our Corvette near the edge of its limits so we don't really know instinctively what to do if we exceed those limits or even when we have exceeded those limits. At Ron Fellows you learn how the car feels at the edge and you know how to correct behaviours as it goes a bit over the limits because you are doing it lap after lap. The C7 and especially the C8 give you lots of warning that you are at the edge and once you have felt that at Ron Fellows you know instinctively what to do to bring it back in line.
 
One other thing to keep in mind is "target fixation". The C7 driver might have focused on you when he realized he was over the line and thus drove into you. Perhaps if he looked towards where he needed to go, he might have been able to avoid hitting you. Look where you have/need to go, not what you are going to hit. This has helped me avoid objects on the road on my while driving my motorcycles or cars. Some Utube videos show a car pulling out in front of another with the other car following the one that pulled out in front, thus colliding with it. If he had looked for a way around the car car pulling out he might not have hit the offender.
 
For guys that have been there, how long after you get delivery can you go to Spring Mountain?
You can apply right away but it depends on how busy they are at the school. I had to wait a few months before I was given a date. It’s a great experience. Food and accommodations are first class too.
 
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