Went to MB "On-Track" Driving Event Yesterday - AWESOME!!! - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-12-2004, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Went to MB "On-Track" Driving Event Yesterday - AWESOME!!!

I went to the MB “On Track� driving event yesterday at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR). It was a killer experience! The “C-Spot� driving party has nothing on this event. To start with we were on an incredible concourse style road track – one of the best in the nation. Check out this link for more track info:

http://www.virclub.com/

We were able to drive one of every model in MB's current lineup (not necessarily every trim/engine package available, but a good selection overall – including an E55 AMG and an SL55 AMG. They had different courses set up on the track as well as an off-road event for the ML. Overall it was a great day and tons of fun. If you ever get the opportunity to attend the “On-Track� I would highly recommend going. Ask your dealer about it since this is a national program.

Event 1 was the off road course for the ML. We took 2 ML 350s and one ML 500 on a moderate off road course. All three trucks were factory stock with no mods. The course was not overly difficult (like for a Hummer), but given that less than 2% of ML owners will ever take their trucks off-road – it was challenging enough. It was also very narrow and originally designed for 4-Wheelers. Thee were lots of uphill climbs and some deep ruts and streams. A few logs and smaller boulders were in there as well. There was a heavy section of deep south, thick, red clay mud. The trucks performed very well considering that they had street tires and were not really designed as off-road vehicles. I always had thought of the ML as a woman's SUV, but I have newfound respect for the ML after driving it across that terrain.

The hill descent is a cool feature too. On a steep decline I was able to put it in 1st gear and take my foot off of the brake and accellerator and the truck did all of the work. Someone in our group had a close call w/ a boulder that put a nice gouge down the entire passenger side of one of the ML350s. Looks like a little body work will be necessary before that one goes on the lot.

Event 2 was a C230K coupe road/slalom "street-cross" course designed to show the performance of the smaller hatchback. We had to drive a tight course through some cones while staying in 1st gear the entire time (the course was too tight to get over 35 MPH anyway). The object was to drive the course in the fastest time w/o knocking over any cones and bringing the car to a complete stop within a set “box�. +2 sec was added to your time for each cone and +5 sec for stopping out of the box. The 230K was fun to drive under those conditions and the brakes were smoking after a couple of runs. Each driver had two intro runs and one timed run. I managed to break the back end loose a couple of times on the 1st run (just testing the limits). This was a well designed skills course and great fun in this small car. I came in 6th overall out of about 60 people with no cones down.

We followed this event with a nice catered lunch and then on to a quick sales pitch (you didn’t think you’d get the free TV w/o listening to a timeshare sales pitch did you?). They showed us the new 320 CDI and went over some of the new diesel technology as well as other E Class upgrades.

Event 3 was by far the best of the day. They had us set up on the VIR south course with two C240K sedans, one SLK 230K, an E55 AMG, and the SL55 AMG. The first time around the track we had to ride in the car with a professional driver at the wheel and run the course at a moderate pace with them to get a feel for the track. After that we were free to choose any car and drive it to our heart's content with the pro drivers riding shotgun. I drove all of the cars, but I drove both AMG models twice.

I cannot even begin to tell you how nice it was to be able to take a car like the SL55 and put it through the paces on an open track. I have driven some fast european performance cars (Porsche, M3, etc) as well as some hot-rodded American muscle cars on the street and pushed them somewhat, but nothing compares to this track experience. Plus I didn't have to worry about "Johnny Law" either.

It was also nice to have the pros riding shotgun to give a few pointers along the way (“more throttle, more throttle, more throttle, break, more throttle…�). I pushed all of the cars as hard as I could and I was never able to get the back end to break loose on any of them thanks to ECT. Although I never was able to get over 125 MPH (distance limitations on the straightaways), the overall performance of all of the cars (even the C240 and SLK) was amazing.

Event 4 was a wind-down from the previous event. They had the following models set up on the north course for a “follow the leader� drive: E320 CDI, E320, E500, S500, E320 4MATIC Wagon, CLK 320 Convertible. This was a lot of fun since this section of the track had a lot of nice curves where you could really get the wheels squealing. I was able to drive all of the cars except the 4MATIC. I was never able to get over 95 mph on this event, but it didn’t matter. Overall the E 320 CDI and the E500 were the most fun to drive. The CDI performed great on this section partly due to the 340+/- ft/lbs of torque that the diesel puts out to really pull you out of the curves.

I could really feel the chassis flex on the CLK convertible as it twisted around some of the curves. It really didn’t perform quite as well as I had expected and the 3.2 gas liter engine could barely keep up with the 500's.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. If you ever get the chance – take it. You will not regret it.

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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-13-2004, 01:44 AM
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That sounds like fun, now...

Wow, sounds like you had a great time. I'd like to take an ML out like that, and a G. Now that you did that, you have to go out and do the AMG Challenge and the AMG Graduate. Two events, nothing but AMG vehicles, nothing but total fun. [8D][:D][}:)]
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-13-2004, 09:14 PM
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RE: Went to MB "On-Track" Driving Event Yesterday - AWESOME!!!

I was fortunate enough to be at the same event and can only concur with everything that branshew has said.
However I still think of the ML as a woman's SUV - I have to, my wife drives one !
Driving the E55 and SL55 was a blast as was being in the passenger seat for a hot lap with a pro driver.

The pic below is the E55 getting ready to be launched from pit row.
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File Type: jpg 44_1229686_5132004111516PM.jpg (37.9 KB, 69 views)

Geordie
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-15-2004, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
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RE: Went to MB "On-Track" Driving Event Yesterday - AWESOME!!!

I agree. The hot lap was intense. The brakes on the E55 were smoking (literally) like a chimney after the 3rd hot lap on Tuesday. The brake system eventually overheated and cauesd an error light so they had to retire the car for the afternoon.

Nice pic by the way. I was in such a fog getting up so early to make it to Tysinger in time to get on the bus at 6:00 AM that I forgot my digital camera.
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