Zipping down I-65 at 70 mph (OK, maybe 75) in your minivan seems fairly fast until you realize there’s a way to easily top 100 mph in a $70,000 racing-caliber Corvette just off Exit 28.
On one side of that exit is the very visible National Corvette Museum, but on the other side and not nearly as conspicuous is one of America’s best road courses. The NCM Motorsports Park is 3.15 miles of pure excitement that include 24 corners and a 4,000-foot-long straightaway. You can take laps riding beside a professional driver or get the big thrill of driving the course by yourself in what’s called the Corvette Experience. For some people, the Corvette Experience is a bucket list event. It’s serious business, both in cost ($599) and in instruction. You didn’t think they would give you the keys to a shiny new Corvette Z51 without teaching you how to handle a machine with 430 horses under the hood, did you?
“This is a very challenging course to learn. In fact, it’s one of the toughest courses to learn in the country,” said instructor John Spencer during one of the three Corvette Experience classroom sessions. Those sessions alternate with 20-minute blazes around the track. The method there is lead/follow instruction. A professional driver leads, and you follow – ideally about three or four car lengths behind and closely in the professional’s tire tracks. The professional sets the speed and intensity, both of which increase during the second and third track sessions.
The only Corvette plant in the world is on the same side of I-65 as the museum, and Z51s roll o_ the assembly line “track ready” and able to hit 194 mph – not that you’re going to come anywhere near that. You’ll probably break 100 mph, however.
The Corvette Experience includes a personalized tour of the museum in which guides who seemingly have PhDs in Corvette trivia regale you with stories about development of America’s very own sports car. Examples: Learn how GM leased the building that became the Corvette plant for $1 a year and hear the whole story why there is only one 1983 Corvette in the world.