Click Here for Part 1 of Maximum Acceleration
Click Here for Part 3 of Maximum Acceleration
I've never met a Corvette owner that didn't want stronger acceleration. That visceral yearning for improved performance isn't limited to hardcore racers, far from it. Acceleration has always been central to the Corvette mystique and ownership experience. The customary approach to better acceleration involves modifying the engine to get more power.
The approach I've taken is different. I've spent six years pursuing maximum acceleration in Corvettes by improving my skill as a driver. In this pursuit, I've shown that a stock Corvette with a manual transmission and skilled driver can easily out accelerate one with fifty more horsepower piloted by an average driver. In light of this, I offer a simple, direct approach: modify the driver before you modify the car.
Preparing to mount the drag radials.
Heating new drag radials, Maryland International Raceway, March 2006.
The quest for maximum acceleration led me to an extended series of semi-controlled experiments with these specific objectives:
* Identify the key variables a driver must control.
* Optimize those variables through specific, discrete techniques that produce the fastest acceleration.
* Work relentlessly to refine and document those techniques.
Techniques for maximum acceleration can be learned; they work for drivers of any shape, size, or age, and the results are highly repeatable with practice.
So if you want stronger acceleration, you can have it simply by improving your driving skills. With that objective in mind, I suggest you study the techniques described here, and then practice, practice, practice to embed them in your routines and muscle memory. And, of course, you can apply your improved skills not only at the track, but also on the street in driving situations where bursts of strong acceleration are appropriate.
With that as a background, here are the lessons I've learned making 570 passes at the dragstrip in three stock Corvettes.
Eight things to do before arriving at the dragstrip
* Learn the Chevy quarter-mile specification for your car. It's a reference point you need.
* Buy or borrow an approved helmet; the rules at the dragstrip require one.
* Buy a pair of sport or driving shoes with thin soles and good grip. Thin soles transmit clearer feedback from the pedals, key to sensing what the engine, clutch, and rear wheels are doing. Good grip prevents the feet from slipping off the pedals during aggressive movements.
* Buy a glove for your shifter hand. One made for football receivers or baseball batters is ideal. A glove gives confident, positive control of the shifter even when your hand gets sweaty.
* Adjust the driver's seat and steering wheel for proper access to the clutch and shifter. Store these race positions in a memory pre-set.
* Using the race positions, practice shifting drills to improve shift speed and accuracy.
* Clean up your clutch fluid to inoculate your car against clutch pedal issues that bedevil C5 and C6 Corvettes driven aggressively.
* Manage your fuel load to arrive at the track with about one-half tank.