What’s the deal with “Ring” times?
A few weeks ago Chevrolet got quite excited about how quickly the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE lapped Germany’s famed Nürburgring.
It’s a feat that gets gearheads all-a-flutter, but does have it any relevance to us regular drivers and the cars we might buy at Budds’?
You might be surprised to learn the answer is an emphatic “yes.”
Motor racing is about competition, and competition creates improvements that find their way into the vehicles the rest of us drive.
While the Camaro ZL1 was only racing against the clock, it was still competing, and it took a huge engineering effort to make it as fast as it was.
Here’s a little exposé about how building fast cars benefits all of us.
What is this “’Ring”?
The Nürburgring is a racetrack in western Germany, some 100 Km south of Cologne.
Built in the 1920’s, at almost 21 Km it’s much longer than modern circuits.
It’s also known for being an extremely challenging mix of tight corners, fast straights, and elevation changes.
Lapping it quickly demands excellent brakes and suspension, as well as a powerful engine and a skilled driver.
Understanding the Camaro’s achievement
Any car that can lap the ‘Ring in under eight minutes is fast. (Bear in mind that feat needs an average speed of 156 Km/h.)
The Camaro went around in seven minutes 16 seconds. That’s about 170 Km/h, and faster than any previous Camaro.
What’s really interesting, for gearheads at least, is that this Camaro is one you can buy in a Chevrolet dealership. Now the one racing in Germany did come with the special 1LE option pack, but you can buy that here too.
Three reasons for Chevy to do this
Building a fast car, then taking it to Germany, is obviously very expensive. It seems fair to ask why they would do this. There are three main reasons:
- Advertising and bragging rights
- Technology development
Let’s go through these.
Advertising and bragging
Track success brings customers to showrooms. As car industry guys like to say, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Of course, this only motivates those who want the fastest car on the street.
Remember when car manufacturers boasted about 0 – 60mph times?
More recently, car companies, automotive journalists and performance car fans have come to realize what a poor benchmark that is. All a car needed for a good time was a powerful engine and grippy tires.
Most people don’t indulge in drag racing like this on public roads (fortunately!) They just want a car that can merge into freeway traffic, go around corners safely and stop quickly, should the need arise. The time taken to go around a race circuit is a better indicator of how a car measures up in these regards.
Another benefit of measuring lap times is that car manufacturers can see what effect their engineering improvements are having. That leads to Reason #3.
It’s a massive engineering challenge to make a car lap faster than ever before. It must be lighter and more powerful. Upgraded brakes should slow it faster, while suspension and tires must work together for higher levels of grip.
Working on these technologies leads to more efficient engines, sleeker aerodynamics, faster-acting suspensions and stronger, lighter materials. And on top of that, every component must be extremely durable.
These advances find their ways into the cars you see in the showroom. More efficient engines and improved aerodynamics achieve better fuel economy. Suspension advances like GM’s Magnetic Ride Control shock absorbers improve a car’s ability to cope with sudden changes of direction. Improved tires, especially if combined with ceramic brakes, reduce stopping distances, and materials once considered exotic, like carbon-fiber, cut weight.
Staying comfortably within limits
How fast a car can go many not seem very important where you’re sitting in traffic on the QEW. You might wonder what the point is of a 250 Km/h top speed when you can’t do more than 100, even when conditions are good. (Or 120 if nobody’s looking.)
The point is not that you would—but that you could. Unless you take your car to a racetrack, (something Camaro ZL1 owners might want to do,) you’ll almost certainly never find its performance limits. That’s a very good thing, because it makes it safe, efficient and reliable. Yet should you need to take action in an emergency, your car will have the capabilities you need.
Ready to see a Camaro for yourself?
Stop into Budds’ to check the Camaros we’ve got on the lot.
Or maybe a Corvette is more your style?
Either way, come on in and see us today.