2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 First Drive: More Is Never Enough

– Atlanta, Georgia

I feel bad for a man named Jay.

Jay is a man in a Z06. More specifically, he’s a professional race car driver driving a Corvette Z06 around Road Atlanta, tasked with leading journalists around the circuit. The journalists are piloting another type of Corvette, the fresh-off-the-factory ZR1.

Jay Leno inspects the ZR1:

I’ve never before felt anything but jealousy for a Z06 driver. It is a fast and wily machine, even among fast machines. With 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, this Corvette is 2.95-seconds-to-60-mile-per-hour kind of fast.

And yet here I am in the ZR1, chomping hungrily at the Z06’s quad tail pipes.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Jay gets away from me in a series of flowing curves… at first. But I dip into the accelerator and in a double heartbeat I’m right back on his bumper. I soon learn the track a bit better, and allow the world’s stickiest tires and my car’s downforce to carry mad momentum through the corners. At that point I’m on him all the time, unshakeable.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Jay – a very nice man from the Carolinas who has surely spent decades perfecting his craft – is toast. He and his Z06 are thoroughly outmatched by the new King Corvette, the ZR1.

The ZR1 comes pretty late to the Corvette’s seventh-generation party. It’s hard to know if customers were clamoring for it or if Chevy engineers simply got antsy. According to executives, though, demand is high enough now that there’s ...