I took my '07 STS-V up to VIR (full course map) last weekend for a one day HPDE event with Car Guys. I had never been to a track event like this before. I think it was really well run, with a big emphasis on safety. We got four 30 minute track sessions (with an awesome instructor) and two classroom sessions.
I went up with two friends ('00 Vette and '06 SRT10 Dodge Ram). I was the only Cadi there. Lots of Vettes, Porsches, and BMW M cars. I was kind of surprised how few people knew what the V was. The couple of people who even knew Cadi made a V thought it was a CTS-V until they came over to see the car. Overall the V impressed me (and quite a few other folks) with how capable it was on the road course. My car is stock (including the original Pirelli Run Flats) and has about 6k miles. The only thing I did to the car before going was to replace the brake fluid with ATE Super Blue and add a CG-Lock to my seat belt since I don't think Cadi designed our front seats to hold a driver in place around a road course!
The car was pretty forgiving when I missed the line, which happened quite a bit. It has so much torque that it made up for a lack of handling (or driver skill) by really digging out of the turns. I ran the car in Sport Mode with the stability control in Competitive Driving Mode. Even in the Competitive Mode, I managed to have the system activate at least once or twice a lap, but it wasn't totally intrusive. I felt like the only times it activated I needed its help. The brakes were awesome and I never once felt even the slightest hint of fade. I was never concerned that the brakes wouldn't be there when I needed them.
I ran in the Novice group which had a wide range of cars from a 1990-something Sentra to an '07 Z06. Even with an inexperienced driver like me behind the wheel the V really held it's own and was probably one of top 4-5 cars in the group around the track.
I've already rambled enough, but if anyone is interested, I have summarized my four track sessions below...
I was the third car onto the track for this session behind a Porsche Cayman and a '07 Shelby GT500 Mustang. We ran the first couple of laps under yellow (full speed, no passing) and I had no problem keeping up with those two cars in front of me. The guy in the Cayman was really taking it easy. Once we were allowed to pass, the Cayman let both the Shlby and me pass on the straight between turns 6 and 7 (under the bridge). I stayed with the Shelby for another lap, and when we got back to that same straight, my instructor expected him to point me by, but he did not. Finally on the back straight he pointed me by and I never saw him again. I eventually caught a new 350Z and was able to get around him without a problem. After that, I never saw another car in my mirror that session, but I htink that had a lot to do with the fact that the 199x Sentra went out on the track behind me, and he ended up holding a lot of cars up. He was really good about pointing people by, but there were only three places to pass and it seemed like it could take some time for the faster cars to work their way out of the big line-ups. Turns out it was a good thing there wasn't anyone right behind me. About 20 minutes into the session I was coming out of the Oak Tree turn (turn 12) and had a little trouble. Oak Tree is the slowest turn on the course, but it leads to the 4000 foot back straight, so it is tempting to get on it too quickly coming out of the turn. I wasn't quite pointed straight down the track coming out of the turn and I started to get on the gas. Unfortunately I got into a little too much and the car shifted down into 1st. This led to the back end stepping out. Being the expert driver that I am, I promptly over-corrected and found myself in the middle of the track point directly back at the turn I had just come out of! Luckily the track is wide there so I never left the pavement. After scaring the sh*t out of my instructor, he suggested we cut the run short. I ended up only missing about 5 minutes of track time because just after my spin a older Mustang that was running in our group broke down on the track and needed to be towed. It was a great first session on the track, I was just bummed that I ended it on such a down note.
This time I was the first car out, with the '07 Z06 behind me and the Sentra behind him. I thought for sure I'd be pointing the Z06 by on the first straight, but I immediately was able to separate myself from him in the first 6 turns and I never saw him again. He was obviously taking it very easy! As I continued to learn the line I feel like I was able to continue to get a little faster around the track. I passed both newer 350Z's and a Jetta TDI without a problem. I also was able to get around an '02 M3. I was never able to get through turn 1 well, but I had a number of people tell me that they also had trouble there. Overall I was really please with the run and got good feedback from my instructor.
I went out mid-pack right behind a Porsche 911 RS of some kind. He had gone of course last session so I think he was taking it pretty easy at first. He pointed me by almost immediately but then proceeded to stick right to my rear bumper. I don't know if it was the fact he was there or that I was just just getting a little tired, but I couldn't seem to find the line. At one point I heard my instructor say "Poor Cadi" as I slid my way around turn 1 with anti-lock brakes pulsing and stability control engaged. I ended up pointing the 911 by me and he quickly disappeared. I also got passed by a supercharged M3 that was only slightly faster than me. Once I let him by I was able to hang with him for a while until I ran into the fuel starvation problem. About 20 minutes into the run my fuel was down to about 1/8th of a tank. As I came through turns 1 and 2 the car sputtered. I had read about the gas tank design and the fuel starvation problem on the forum before I went out so I knew right away what it was. I figured I'd be able to make it through the rest of the run and I'd just take it easy through 1 and 2. Of course by the next time I came into turn 1 I had completely forgotten about taking it easy. This time the car didn't sputter, it completely cut out. I coasted around turn 3 and pulled off the course. Luckily the car restarted and I took it fairly easy around and pulled off the track to get gas. As I pulled into the paddock they were waving the checkered flag, so I only missed a lap. Definitely the worst of the three sessions so far!
I went out determined to be smooth and just try to run the right line. For the most part it worked and I think this was my fastest session. I passed a number of cars, including a Lotus Elise which was being babied around the track. I finally felt like I was coming out of Oak Tree with a reasonable amount of speed, and it showed as I was topping out at about 127-128 on the back stretch, compared to 120 in the earlier runs. I only had one small scare coming out of turn 5a where I almost ran out of track exiting the turn. I just lifted a little and was able to keep it on the track, but that was the only time all day that my instructor told me to take it easy. Other than that I felt like it was a real good run and it was a great way to end the day.
If you ever have a chance to take your V out on the track I'd highly recommend it. I was nervous going out that the car would be too big and couldn't handle a road course, but I was really surprised how capable a car it is, even with a complete novice behind the wheel