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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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REV IT UP
presented by CHEVROLET

Let’s see. The offer was to test drive a bunch of GM’s latest vehicles on a closed track, drive in a drag race with a “Christmas tree” start, ride along in a 505-horsepower Z06 Corvette, race go-karts and, if that wasn’t good enough, cap everything off with an autocross offering prizes that include a one-per-city trip to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance driving and a grand prize of a brand new, 430-horsepower, 2008 Chevrolet Corvette. All this and more was offered for the incredibly low price of only $25.

Naturally I had to check this out. The folks at REV IT UP™ presented by CHEVROLET thought so too, and invited me as part of a group of journalists to experience their brand of automotive fun when it stopped in Orange County at El Toro, California.

You might remember seeing coverage of REV IT UP™ in previous AutoMatters columns. The format was similar but it used to feature another manufacturer’s automobiles. In addition to the price reduction, this year had a couple of other significant twists.

New for this year, each day’s quickest qualifiers would earn an opportunity to compete at the end of the day in Chevrolet Corvettes – and when I say end of the day, I literally mean end of the day. They would autocross under lights at night for their chance to win their city’s prize of training at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. Autocrossing at night in Corvettes would be a very welcome way to beat El Toro’s near oppressive daytime heat.

 

We started to arrive at 3 on Friday afternoon. First up, we sat in on two classroom sessions: an orientation to the various events and attractions, and then an introduction to high performance driving, which was taught by a race driver with many years of experience.

 

With that behind us, we were set loose behind a variety of wheels. At the “Reaction/Traction Course” each of us got two passes at the “Christmas tree.” Once was in a 395-horsepower Chevy TrailBlazer SS. I gratefully welcomed some last-minute instructions, and then practiced holding the brake with my left foot while giving it some gas with my right. When the light turned green I released the brake and punched the throttle. The TrailBlazer hooked up and took off down the track. This seemed pretty easy.

 

I was ready for the next vehicle: a 303-horsepower Impala SS. Once again the white staging lights lit as I rolled into position. I put my left foot on the brake, pressed down hard and revved up the engine with my right foot. The sequence of lights continued: yellow, yellow, yellow – red! What? I started to move before the green light came on and I red-lighted. Aargh! How humiliating. Nevertheless, I took my run just to check out the car. Nice.


The staff were as friendly and helpful as could be

On other courses we got to drive a new Corvette, as well as a variety of other new Chevrolets.


Chevy Corvette Z06

Even though we were not permitted to drive it, we also could get a thrill ride in a 505-horsepower Z06 Corvette.

They even had a go-kart track.

When we got hungry, a variety of hot food and cold beverages were available.

 

Souvenirs could be purchased.

 


2008 Chevrolet Malibu

  
Chevy Cobalt SS concept car

 

Displays included Chevy racecars, the all-new Malibu, as well as old and new Camaros.


Chevy Cobalt SS coupes about to be taken on track

 
Jim Ourand helped make sure the event ran smoothly and safely

 

 

We had an informal, two-lap Media competition in the Cobalts for bragging rights. After our first lap, a journalist from UrbanRacer.com was in the lead. Bursting with energy and confidence, Annie was interviewed by the on-track announcer.

 
Track announcer Caroline Wright awaits her next interviewee

Annie’s second lap was even quicker than her first and I went over to congratulate her. But wait, she had hit a cone, incurring a time penalty.

 

My second run was not quite as quick as her best run but it was quicker than her first and it was cone-free. That meant I had managed to come from behind in a squeaker and capture the lead for AutoMatters.net. Yes!

My reward for winning our Media Challenge was a REV IT UP™ watch and some cool little orange pylon pins.


The sun sets on Corvettes in the parking lot

 

As the sun set, temperatures cooled off but the competition with the Cobalt SS coupes remained hot.

 
Ron Fellows being interviewed as the Corvette challenge drivers listen and wait

Afterwards we gathered to watch the day’s top Cobalt drivers take timed autocross runs in Corvettes, but first, race driver Ron Fellows paid us a surprise visit.

 

Soon it was time for the Corvette challenge. It began with driver introductions. The Cobalts were replaced with Corvettes.

 
Driving on the fine edge in the Corvettes

The competition was dramatic as the headlights quickly appeared, the cars roared in and out of the patches of light, and tail-lights disappeared into the darkness. Trying to capture the action with my camera reminded me of the difficulty of shooting fast-moving objects in low light.

The day’s competition ended just before 11 pm, at which point I drove back to San Diego. It had been a very full day’s work.

 

I wish I had signed up for a chance to compete in a Corvette and win some great prizes.  For just $25 it is a real bargain. If you would like to check out REV IT UP™ for yourself, there is still time as it moves eastward across the country. For locations and dates, as well as for more information, go to www.revitup.com.

Enjoy the full spread of photos from this AutoMatters and others in the column archives at www.AutoMatters.net.  If you would like to share your car, truck, road trip, car art, vacations, racing, car movies, famous people, driving and other automobile-related stories, please send them to AutoMatters@gmail.com. Drive safely and do join me again next time.

Copyright © 2007 Jan R. Wagner – #240r2 AutoMatters

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