Here are all the results from our second Lightning Lap Track Day – Car and Driver | CarTailz

On Friday, October 21st, we hosted our second Lightning Lap Track Day in partnership with Kaizen Autosport and the National Auto Sport Association (NASA). We’re using every possible excuse to return to Virginia International Raceway, and this track day was run on the same Grand Course configuration we’ve used since 2006 for our annual Hottest Performance Cars of the Year race. Approximately 25 entries emerged across a huge range of performance and price points, filling our price-based LL1 through LL4 road car categories (the only one with no entries was the mega-expensive, $250,000+ LL5) and all but the most expensive race car class. Each class winner received a trophy, a year’s membership in our track club, and the satisfaction of beating everyone else vying for that top spot.

It was great to see some familiar faces from the last event and like last time it was great to hear from the participants – even some VIR regulars – that it was their first time on the 4.1 mile Grand Course were. That was one of the reasons we wanted to do this: to give people a chance to experience it the way we do, a configuration that’s rarely used at trackdays. It was also an excuse to give our long-time Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing a dose of VIR, which we’d powered down from our Michigan HQ.

We already have plans for another event on May 10, 2023, so get these exciting projects done over the coming winter months.

LL1 (under $35,000)

Markus Urbano|car and driver

Car 68 Ford Mustang

F&S Enterprises Photography

LL1 winner Duane Black deserves a special mention, as he piloted his 2013 Ford Mustang – no less than a V-6 automatic that started out as a Hertz rental – to a stunning lap time of 3:00.8. When we drove a 2010 V-6 Mustang, it spent more than 15 seconds of its 3:12.5 lap beating the 184-mph speed limiter, so no surprise Black’s car has a one-piece driveshaft upgrade and the annoying governor was removed so he could see 129 mph on the front straight. His car also has upgraded bushings, springs and anti-roll bars. To make us smile even more, this Mustang is Black’s daily driver, which he uses to commute to his high school teaching job and has been his partner through dozens of lap days at various tracks. Black reports that while chasing a sub-three-minute lap at Spiral, he broke a wheel and blew an exhaust manifold gasket. Also back in the LL1 group was previous winner Michael Congelosi in his Dodge SRT4 ACR and this time he was a few seconds faster. No one who peddles 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 that same day in his Hyundai Veloster N. Between all those hours of commuting, he clocked a respectable 3:13.5, which was good enough for third place.

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

camaro ss 1le

Markus Urbano|car and driver

camaro ss 1le

Markus Urbano|car and driver

There were only three entries in the LL2 class and John Willcox beat a Porsche Cayman and a BMW M4 Competition in a hired Chevy Camaro SS 1LE from our friends at Kaizen Autosport, who operate locally at VIR. While his 3:04.5 is a solid performance for a first outing in the Camaro, it reinforces our view of how impressive LL1’s V-6 Mustang time is. We brought an SS 1LE manual like this to 2:54.8 in 2016.

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

nissan

Michael Simari|car and driver

car 72 nissan gtr

F&S Enterprises Photography

Stephen Anderson is another repeat Lightning Lap Track Day competitor, and this time he beat a C8 Corvette and a racy looking Porsche Cayman S with a suspension overhaul and a big wing to claim LL3 victory in his Nissan GT-R . His time of 2:53.9 puts him close to the 2:53.2 we set in two different GT-Rs in 2011 and 2017. When we spotted Anderson filling up jerry cans in the back of his truck, we joked about him wanting to save a few bucks by avoiding expensive local fuel. But no, he lugged his own E85 to take full advantage of his modified engine set-up, as the closest place to find him near the circuit isn’t that close.

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

car 33 porsche 992 gt3

F&S Enterprises Photography

porsche 992 gt3

Michael Simari|car and driver

Matt Einstein had LL4 all to himself, piloting his new 992 Porsche 911 GT3 to a 2:46.8. We rode one of these just last year where it was the seventh fastest of all time at 2:40.6. But Einstein’s time is no slouch, as that’s the fourth fastest time of the day in any class and puts him in the top 25 of all the 300+ cars we’ve driven. Also, it’s a manual worthy of some lap time penalty against our PDK automatic. Like that green color? We definitely do. It’s Irish Green, a $12,830 option under Porsche’s paint-to-sample program. Kudos to Einstein for risking rockfalls and hurling them around VIR as Porsche intended.

LLR1 (under $65,000)

bmw m3

Markus Urbano|car and driver

bmw m3

Markus Urbano|car and driver

Once again, this class had the most entries, with a trio of 3 Series BMWs – an E30, an E36 and an E90 of spec – 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 being quite enough to take the win. That’s 15.9 seconds quicker than a stock GR86 we drove at last year’s event, and also 0.6 seconds quicker than the race-prepared Subaru BRZ, which won that class on our last track day, but Joey Hutchinson in the mean looking E90 with a massive swan neck wing managed a 2:55.7.

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

ginetta g56 gta

F&S Enterprises Photography

ginetta g56 gta

F&S Enterprises Photography

In LLR2, two Ginetta G56 GTAs competed against each other. Both are serviced by Kaizen Autosport, an authorized dealer for the roughly 2400-pound British tube-frame special, powered by a Mustang-derived Ford V-6. 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, clocked a 2:46.8 that – what else – beat a Camaro.

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

Car 899 Dodge Viper

F&S Enterprises Photography

Car 899 Dodge Viper

F&S Enterprises Photography

Michael Merritt was behind him in his race-ready Dodge Viper and clocked a 2:42.3, the second fastest time of the day. That’s nearly two seconds faster than we rode in a stock Viper ACR in 2016.

LLRP1 (prototype)

tatuus py012 cn prototype p1

Markus Urbano|car and driver

tatuus py012 cn prototype p1

Markus Urbano|car and driver

An early Radical SR8 wreck – we’re told driver Garry Gray was treated locally but was fine – left Denver Liabenow in his neon green tatuus by the Italian race car company, which is a designer and manufacturer of all kinds of formula cars. In a couple of sessions, Liabenow cut his time by about seven seconds to a personal best of 2:46.4.

LLRP2 (prototype)

radical sr 10

Michael Simari|car and driver

car 611 radical sr 10

F&S Enterprises Photography

Chasing the grand course record set on our final day of track – a wild 2:27.2 by Jonathan Finstrom in a Staudacher S08 P1 – Robert Rossi set laps almost 15 seconds faster than the everything else. He didn’t quite get there with a best of 2:28.2, but as a reminder of how crazy that time is, the fastest road car we’ve driven is a McLaren Senna, which was almost seven seconds slower.

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