- Written by webmin
Technically, since I’m too much of a loser to be a member, I can talk freely about Race Club, a.k.a. the Monticello Motor Club, a country club north of New York City with a four-mile road course for guys who like to race.
But not underachieving guys like me (you were right, 10th grade English teacher Ms. Vosberg!) who regularly drive a crappy old Benz or a Honda Insight, and like to race. We’re talking about celebrities and captains of industry who regularly drive Ferraris and can afford the club’s $125,000 “Gold Member” one-time initiation fee. And oh yeah, there’s a $9,600 annual dues fee too.
Anyway, there are those among the General’s ranks who take pity on me and occasionally invite me to participate in new-car driving events, like one conducted to introduce the Cadillac CTS-V coupe to the third or fourth-string motor press held at Monticello last week.
It was a grueling assignment: You get to the club, they pump you full of a pricey catered meal, subject you to about 15 minutes of propaganda delivered at a third-grade comprehension level, then ask: “Okay, anybody want to take one of the new CTS V coupes around the race course?” (Is the Pope Catholic? Am I an underachiever?)
Trackside, there is a stunning young lady named Mary who treats you like you’re actually a first- or second-string motor press member, ushering you to one of the automobiles and asking you questions suited to your moron-level IQ. “Having fun?” “How about the pretty gray car?”
So with Mary’s guidance, off I go around the track in the pretty gray car, trying not to get lost or somehow wind up driving into oncoming traffic. Safely back in the pits, I climb out and Mary greets me with more IQ-appropriate questions: “Was that fun?”
I manage a nod and a witty “uh,huh,” then notice that right there, sitting on the pit wall, sans ID tag, wearing driving shoes and holding a helmet is GM North America President Mark Reuss.
“What do you think of the car?” he asks, as if he cares.
“To tell you the truth, I was so focused on not making a complete fool of myself on the track, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it.”
He laughs, then makes a move to get in one of the other cars.
Mary to me: “Do you want to go with him?”
Me to GM North America President Mark Reuss: “Mark…do you mind?”
Reuss proceeded to get the coupe sideways through the hairpin, hit 140 MPH down the back straight and returned us safely to the pits with smoke pouring off the Brembos. It was an impressive lap, at least the parts that my eyes were open for.
And what about the CTS-V coupe? The supercharged 556hp LSA engine is awesome. The automatic transmission works pretty good on the street in competition mode, but hurries to get into the next higher gear in Drive. I like automatics, but this one is not much fun on the race course. (I don’t know how many manuals were on hand, but every car I climbed in was an automatic.) The front seats in the CTS-V, standard or optional Recaro, are awful. They look really great and they’re properly bolstered to keep you from sliding around, but they’re hard, strangely shaped and lumpy.
The rest of the interior is nice enough, more Lexus than BMW M5 though, which might be a hard sell in a high-end performance coupe. The 15-inch, six-piston Brembo brakes are unbelievable, and in the right hands (not mine), the V will go around a race course like a slot car – albeit one that can hang the tail end out at will. GM says the secret is its magnetic ride control with touring and sport settings. Sport was perfect for the track, too stiff for bumps bigger than a cigarette butt on the road.
Finally, while I never found myself saying, “I sure like this CTS-V but it looks so frumpy as a four-door sedan,” apparently there are people who did. So the $70,000 CTS-V coupe was born to do battle with the likes of the S5 and the $145,000 518hp CL63 AMG and the $80,000 Audi RS5. Personally, I’ll take the sedan. Yes, the coupe is slightly wider for better handling, but the thought of my friend and his wife trying to climb into the back seat makes me wish for the auxiliary doors.
But then, like Race Club, at these prices it’s unlikely I’ll be a member anytime soon, escorting my friends out to pricey catered meals. So long. Mary. Thanks for the ride Mar…er, Mr. Reuss. Time for me to get back to underachieving.