Lightning Lap 2022 1668009098

Here Are All the Results from Our Second Lightning Lap Track Day

On Friday, October 21, we ran our second Lightning Lap track day, in collaboration with Kaizen Autosport and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). We use any excuse we can to return to Virginia International Raceway, and this track day was run with the same Grand Course configuration we’ve used since 2006 for our annual run of the year’s hottest performance cars. About 25 entries arrived spanning a wide spectrum of performance and price, filling our price-based LL1 to LL4 categories for street cars (the only one with no entries was the mega-expensive, $250,000 plus LL5) and all but the most expensive race car class . Each class winner received a trophy, a year-long membership to our Track Club, and the satisfaction of beating out everyone competing for that top spot.

It was great to see quite a few familiar faces from the previous event and, just like last time, it was great to hear from attendees – even some VIR regulars – that this was their first time on the 4.1 mile Grand Course was. That was one of the reasons we wanted to do it: to give people a chance to experience it the way we do, which is a configuration rarely used for track days. It was also an excuse to give our long-term Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, which we drove down from our headquarters in Michigan, a dose of VIR.

We already have plans to do another event on May 10, 2023, so get those pesky projects done during the coming winter months.

LL1 (less than $35,000)

ford mustang

Urban Market|Car and Driver

car 68 ford mustang

F&S Enterprise Photography

LL1 winner Duane Black deserves a special shout-out, as he took his 2013 Ford Mustang—a V-6 automatic, no less, that started life as a Hertz rental car—to a staggering 3: 00.8 lap time launched. Back in 2010, when we ran a V-6 Mustang, it spent more than 15 seconds of its 3:12.5 lap knocking off the 114 mph speed limiter, so no surprise that Black’s car uses a single-piece driveshaft- upgrade and removed that pesky governor so he can see 129 mph on the front straight. His car also has upgraded bushings, springs and anti-roll bars. What makes us smile even more is that this Mustang is Black’s daily driver that he uses to commute to his high school teaching job, and it’s been his companion during dozens of lap days at various tracks. Black reports that in the rush of a sub-three-minute lap, he cracked a wheel in Spiral and blew an exhaust head gasket. Also back in the LL1 group was previous winner Michael Congelosi in his Dodge SRT4 ACR, and he went a few seconds faster this time. No one peddling excuses will get much sympathy from Scott Campbell, who made the four-and-a-half-hour drive down and back to VIR from the Washington, DC, area on the same day in his Hyundai Veloster N. hours of commuting, he managed a decent 3:13.5, which was good enough for third place.

LL2 ($35,000 to $64,999)

camaro ss 1le

Urban Market|Car and Driver

camaro ss 1le

Urban Market|Car and Driver

There were only three entries in the LL2 class, and John Willcox contested a Porsche Cayman and a BMW M4 in a rental Chevy Camaro SS 1LE from our friends at Kaizen Autosport who operate on site at VIR, dusted off While his 3:04.5 is a solid effort for a first outing in the Camaro, it underscores our point about how impressive the V-6 Mustang time is from LL1. We coaxed an SS 1LE manual like this to a 2:54.8 in 2016.

LL3 ($65,000 to $124,999)

nissan gt r

Michael Simari|Car and Driver

car 72 nissan gt r

F&S Enterprise Photography

Stephen Anderson is another repeat Lightning Shot track day participant, and this time he beat a C8 Corvette and a hot Porsche Cayman S with a suspension overhaul and a big wing to take the LL3 win in his Nissan GT -R to achieve. His time of 2:53.9 puts him right in the vicinity of the 2:53.2 we ran in two different GT-Rs in 2011 and 2017. When we saw Anderson refueling from cans in the bed of his truck, we joked about him wanting to save a few bucks by avoiding the expensive on-site fuel. But, no, he hauled in his own E85 to take full advantage of his modified engine tune, since the closest place to find it near the track isn’t that close.

LL4 ($125,000 to $249,999)

car 33 porsche 992 gt3

F&S Enterprise Photography

porsche 992 gt3

Michael Simari|Car and Driver

With LL4 all to himself, Matt Einstein piloted his new 992 Porsche 911 GT3 to a 2:46.8. We ran one of these just last year, where it was seventh fastest of all time at 2:40.6. But Einstein’s time is no slouch, as it’s tied for the fourth-fastest time of the day in any class and puts it in the top 25 of all 300-plus cars we’ve driven. Plus, it’s a manual, which is worth some lap time penalty versus our PDK automatic. Like that green color? We sure do. It’s Irish Green, a $12,830 option as part of Porsche’s paint-to-sample program. Kudos to Einstein for risking stone chips and throwing them around FOR as Porsche intended.

LLR1 (less than $65,000)

bmw m3

Urban Market|Car and Driver

bmw m3

Urban Market|Car and Driver

Again this class had the most entries, with a trio of 3-Series BMWs – a spec E30, an E36 and an E90 – plus a Nissan 350Z, a Mazda Miata and a new Toyota GR86. The trophy came down to just two tenths of a second, with the GR86’s impressive 2:55.9 lap not quite enough to take the win. That’s 15.9 seconds faster than a stock GR86 we ran at last year’s event, and also 0.6 seconds faster than the race-prepped Subaru BRZ that won this class on our last track day, but Joey Hutchinson in the mean E90 with a massive swan neck wing achieved a 2:55.7.

LLR2 ($65,000 to $124,999)

ginetta g56 gta

F&S Enterprise Photography

ginetta g56 gta

F&S Enterprise Photography

A couple of Ginetta G56 GTAs duked it out in LLR2. Both are maintained by Kaizen Autosport, which is an authorized retailer for the roughly 2,400-pound British tube-frame special powered by a Ford V-6 from the Mustang. If we learned anything from this event, it’s that you shouldn’t discount the Mustang V-6. Christian Shield, in the faster of the two Ginettas, did a 2:46.8, beating a Camaro.

LLR3 ($125,000 to $249,999)

car 899 dodge viper

F&S Enterprise Photography

car 899 dodge viper

F&S Enterprise Photography

Michael Merritt was close behind in his race-prepped Dodge Viper, running a 2:42.3, which was the second-fastest time of the day. That’s nearly two seconds faster than we ran in a stock Viper ACR in 2016.

LLRP1 (prototype)

tattoo py012 cn prototype p1

Urban Market|Car and Driver

tattoo py012 cn prototype p1

Urban Market|Car and Driver

An early wreck in the Radical SR8 – we’re told driver Garry Gray was treated at the site but was okay – left Denver Liabenow in his neon green Tatuus, from the Italian racing car company that is a designer and manufacturer of all kinds . of formula cars. Over a few sessions, Liabenow shaved about seven seconds off his time, to a best of 2:46.4.

LLRP2 (prototype)

radical sr 10

Michael Simari|Car and Driver

car 611 radical sr 10

F&S Enterprise Photography

Chasing the Grand Course record set during our last track day—a wild 2:27.2, by Jonathan Finstrom in a Staudacher S08 P1—Robert Rossi ran laps in his Radical SR10 nearly 15 seconds faster than anything was different. He didn’t quite get there, clocking a best of 2:28.2, but for a reminder of how insane this time is, the fastest street car we’ve driven is a McLaren Senna, which went almost seven seconds slower has.

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