Back in the pits, I'm approached by a man wearing a leather racing suit. "Are you the guy running 11.9s?" he asks. I reply in the affirmative, and he identifies himself as Mark Fekany, the owner of the green '68 440 Coronet that's beaten me twice on the way to 11.5s in the left lane. Fekany bought his car new in '68, and over the years, it has received a trick head and a few other goodies that make his car faster than anything originally sold by the Mopar boys. Fekany, along with several other seasoned racers, looks at my time slips and divines what's been obvious to me since the first mile behind the wheel: I need more grip. On each slip, my 60-foot time corresponds directly to my quarter-mile time. Odysseus Vergos, the owner of a '67 Camaro, looks at the 2.2-second 60-foot time on one slip and observes, "You weren't hooking for shit on that one." Fekany advises me to drive around the burnout box, since getting water on street tires only hurts your cause. I'm glad for the advice. Actually, I'm glad anyone is even talking to me. This car seems to inspire preconceptions among certain members of the Orlando Speed World crowd that aren't entirely conducive to friendly banter. One example of a comment overheard near the SL: "F---ing rich kid." And if I'd figured out who said that, you can believe they'd be hearing from my daddy.
On my final run, I've got the tires aired down to 20 psi and the suspension set to comfort. I avoid the water box, and the launch feels good. When I pull in to pick up my time slip, I find that I'm back in the 11s and have my highest trap speed of the night, just missing 120 mph. This despite a hot engine and a track that, since my first run, got bathed in both antifreeze and a motorcycle's fluids (also possibly those of its rider, who was flung off backward but escaped serious injury). The consensus among the crowd is that the SL65 has an 11.5-second run in it with the right setup. And, um, the right driver.
So Mercedes has built a luxury car that can haul its suede headliner down the road about as fast as a straight-piped Camaro on nitrous. Of course, enough is never enough, and you know someone's going to take one to RENNtech to get the boost cranked up even higher. But to the NBA star reading this who might be considering that, I suggest leaving the engine alone and focusing your dollars elsewhere. Because the Fuel Slut would have a hard time sticking even with an SL65 AMG 4Matic.