Corvette Forum Members React to ZR1 Pace Car Fail

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Corvette ZR1 Pace Car crash Mark Ruess

Our members’ reactions range from sympathetic to funny. 

We reported yesterday that a General Motors executive crashed a Corvette ZR1 Pace Car at the 2018 IndyCar Race in Detroit. Mark Ruess, V.P. of Product Development, was behind the wheel of the $120,000, 755-horsepower ZR1 when the rear spun out and he slammed the Corvette into the wall. There were no injuries, except for the Pace Car…and of course Ruess’s reputation and ego.

Ruess has since issued the following apology on Facebook: “I want to thank you all for your well wishes today,” Ruess wrote. “I am OK. I have driven this course many many many times. I have paced this race in the wet, cold, hot, and calm. On Z06’s, Grand Sports, and other things. It is never a casual thing for me, but an honor to be asked. I let down my friends, my family, IndyCar, our city and my company. Sorry does not describe it. I want to thank our engineers for providing me the safety I know is the best in the world.”

Belle Isle GP crash ZR1

Still, we can’t help but get a good laugh from the entire “the lunatics are running the asylum” situation of this fail. And our forum members certainly have a lot to say on the topic. The forum lit up with comments that ran the gamut from the hilarious, to the sympathetic, to the downright savage.

We expected someone to comment on the ZR1 controversial tail light design, and ViperFan1 went in hard.

“And was the driver the tail light designer? I’m sure everyone is going to want one of those Vette’s that just got involved in a single car collision on an open track attempting a pace lap. From the sheer carnage of the impact, and the stoppage of the said race–I can’t imagine anyone watching that…say ‘I want one of those cars he was driving.'”

Call us crazy, but we’ll happily take one.

Of course, a lot of shade went towards General Motors. The brilliantly named SharkVader questioned the big wigs at GM.

“Wonder if any GM execs are required to attend driving schools before handed the keys to their sports cars.”

While K.I.T.T. agreed that this wasn’t exactly a good look for General Motors, he joked that you can’t buy this kind of coverage.

“No such thing as bad publicity. If you don’t lay down Nurburgring times to promote your product, then just crash the pace car–done. Worldwide news, here it comes. Corvette will be on the news in places people barely ever heard of it now. Thanks Mark…LOL.”

16/C7Z made a good point about the power of the Corvette, especially one packing so much horsepower.

“For the life of me I can’t get how, after all that C7 specific experience, cool tires and an obviously unfamiliar corner snuck up on him? That’s the mind-boggling part, but again, we’re only human. Heck, maybe this will save a few other drivers wanting to get a little loose with their own high hp cars (especially the Mustang owners… we all know what they can do–lol). For me, my lightly modded LS3 C6 taught me early on that when on the street nothing beyond Comp mode was OK after a simple 20 mile, 180 degree spin from a stop on an off ramp. That was all I needed to be convinced I was out of my comfort zone with the Corvette…Corvettes are different animals all together…change direction like nothing short of a 911 when it’s starts to go. Especially on these run flats when cold!”

Forum member Poor-sha shared some sympathy, and an interesting tale of a similar situation.

“While this is a bit embarrassing for GM I’m sure this is really humiliating for Mark and personally I feel for the guy. I own a C7 ZR1 and also had a similar experience with my C7 Z06. It was my first event with the Z06 in March 2015 and it was a cool day. I was late getting out, so the track was already hot. I had decided to turn everything off to see if that affected an odd braking behavior I had been experiencing. We also had a long lunch break so the tires were super cold. It retrospect I should have done a couple laps in Sport 1 and then turned everything off once the tires were warm.

I came down pit lane, got waved on track and went a little too aggressively to throttle since the track was hot and I wanted to get up to speed. Just past the end of pit lane you go from a slight uphill to downhill along an angle relative to your direction of travel. Before I knew it the car steps way out, I was full opposite lock but the car went around nearly 180 degrees and slid sideways in to the tire wall just past the exit to pit lane facing the direction I started from. It was surreal feeling the car slide sideways, yet it hardly slowed. Worst yet, most of the event staff, many instructors, and the head of motorsports operations for the track were right there. In fact, he had to push my car out of the mud to get it off the tire wall. He were the people I instruct for seeing me rotate my new car right in to the wall just past pit out. I still get grief about it.

Without a good alignment and in particular proper rear caster these cars are really unpredictable under acceleration. The Cup 2 tires have almost no grip when cold and you might as well be driving around on round rocks. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the C7 ZR1 feels much torquier than the Z06 under 5000 RPM and over 5000 RPMs the power is in another league all together. I also know that my ZR1 did not come from the factory with a good rear caster setting just like my Z06.”

Of course, our forum delivered on laughs. CP said, “I wonder if OnStar called.” Big Lebowski said, “This would make a great Southwest Airlines, ‘Wanna Get Away?’ ad.”

And [email protected] X Motorsports did a little re-edit of the footage.

Let’s keep the comments coming! Hop on to the forums to join in this lively discussion.

Longtime automotive journalist S.J. Bryan has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is an editor with Ford Truck Enthusiasts and regular contributor to F-150 Online, Harley-Davidson Forums, and The Mustang Source, among other popular auto sites.

Bryan first discovered her passion for all things automotive riding in her parent's 1968 Ford Mustang. The automotive expert cut her teeth growing up riding on Harleys, and her first car was a Chevy Nova. Despite her lead foot, Bryan has yet to receive a speeding ticket.

The award-winning former playwright was first published at age 18. She has worked extensively as a writer and editor for a number of lifestyle and pop culture publications.

The diehard gearhead is a big fan of American muscle cars, sixth-gen Ford trucks, and Oxford commas.

S.J. can be reached at [email protected]

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