Corvette ZR1 rage is spreading with viral intensity. Montana collector Dave Ressler bid a million bucks at a charity auction to own the first production ZR1. A Chevrolet dealer in Texas allegedly charged $400,000 apiece for two such Corvettes. After British journalists blitzed the Bonneville Salt Flats in one ZR1, German writers raced another press car around a 7.8-mile circular track near Nardo, Italy.
My neighbor Barry Grussner never dreamed his luck and liquidity would add up to owning a ZR1. But last summer, his Metra Tool business in Wayne, Michigan, prospered beyond expectation. Then the schmoozing that he had invested in Kevin Will, a Corvette salesman at Stanford Chevrolet in Dearborn, Michigan, paid off. Will called to say that the ZR1 Grussner had ordered - only the second production car to leave the assembly line - was ready to be picked up.
Our negotiations began in earnest shortly after Grussner's BEAST license plate was transferred from his previous Z06 to his jet-stream blue ZR1. In exchange for mere moments of Beast seat time, we offered Grussner the chance to drive at velocities usually reserved for car testers. He became putty in our hands.
The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport we selected for Grussner's grand adventure is located near the index finger of lower Michigan's geographical mitten. After the cold war ended and the Strategic Air Command's nuclear-armed B-52s vacated the premises, this facility began hosting airfreight operations.
The sound of a ZR1 charging down an 11,800-foot runway is an intoxicating mix of supercharger whine, exhaust wail, and hurricane-like wind whoosh. At about 100 mph, the shrill whistle begins. Michelin radials biting into cross-grooved asphalt sing like a Stuka dive-bomber on final approach. But no ruckus registers inside the cockpit when the throttle is mashed and the tach needle crowds 6000 rpm in sixth gear. The only things that matter are the four red digits silently counting up from 190.0 mph.
All the king's horsepower couldn't hump Grussner's ZR1 over 200 mph in the space at our disposal. Using two miles for acceleration and a quarter of a mile for braking, we coaxed our Vbox digital speedometer to 195 mph, but no higher. Extrapolating the ZR1's acceleration curve reveals that it needs at least 2.5 miles of level road to reach 200 mph from a standing start and 3.3 miles to reach its 205-mph terminal speed.