I’m particularly fond of this stretch of Indiana State Road 45, a long, smooth downhill straight with a sudden hump toward the end. I shift the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray into third gear, get it up to 70 mph, and lift off the accelerator just before the hump. All four tires leave the pavement, and I have the same gut-busting feeling I get on rollercoasters. Ginger Lee, the 3,300-pound ballerina she is, sticks the landing. I can’t stop laughing. Why didn’t my Corvette Christmas start out this way?
Meet Ms. Ginger Lee
My profanity wakes my cat. She has been sound asleep in her carrier, which is belted into the passenger seat of our Four Seasons 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. It’s a few days before Christmas, and I’m heading home to Chicago for the holiday. “Damn you, Ginger Lee!” Ginger Lee is my name for the Corvette, not the cat, who I call Luci. Ginger Lee’s LCD screens have inexplicably gone dark for the third time. Luci is now meowing and moaning, and I still have three hours to go. My Corvette Christmas isn’t off to a great start.
A time for friends and family
I pull into my parents’ driveway in Riverside, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, unload my bags and crowing cat from the car, give my parents a hug, turn around, get back into Ginger Lee, and head toward a local watering hole, where I’ll serve as a 460-hp Uber for the inebriated degenerates I call friends. Three of my pals are outside smoking cigarettes when I pull up to the curb. “We were wondering what asshat would be driving a Corvette in the dead of winter,” one says. I go into the bar but find myself back outside within minutes, giving another friend a walk-around of Ginger Lee. Others want pictures taken with the car.
An over-served blonde needs a ride home. She stumbles out of the bar and gets into the passenger seat, remarking on how comfortable the snug competition seats are. During each stoplight-to-stoplight acceleration run, she snickers and reaches for the Stingray’s center-mounted “uh oh” handle. I drop her off and head back to the bar, where my partner in all things garage wrenching, Gene, is waiting for his ride. “It’s really cool,” Gene says, “but why are the screens and displays so dark?”
A not-so-white Christmas
It’s Christmas Eve. I look out the window, hoping to see a complete whiteout. Sadly, everything is dead, brown, and rain-soaked. I need coffee, so I go outside and get into Ginger Lee. All of her LCDs light right up. I pull into the Starbucks drive-through. “Hello, welcome to Star … whoa, that’s a nice car,” says the voice coming through the speaker box. “What is that?” I say it’s the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. “Man, that’s gorgeous. Do you work for a dealership or what?” After telling the speaker box about my life ambitions, I order a dark roast with a shot of espresso.
Back home, I park Ginger Lee on the street instead of the driveway, using her as people-watching bait. I sip my coffee and watch passersby who stop and peer through the passenger-side window at the blood-red interior. Then, without fail, that person takes a few steps back, pulls out his or her smartphone, and takes a selfie. While just about nothing is better than driving a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, seeing people giddily react when they come face to face with the Bowling Green–built beauty is a close second.
A very happy new year
Ginger Lee has been parked since Christmas. I’ve been preoccupied, stuffing my face with Chicago-style hot dogs and watching the last season of “The Newsroom.” New Year’s Eve is here, though, and it’s time to meet two of my friends and their ladies at a cabin we rented in Brown County, Indiana, just 20 minutes from my alma mater, Indiana University in Bloomington. The temperamental LCDs light up as I take off and drive toward I-65 South, heading toward Indianapolis. Aside from a very lovely windmill farm, this is perhaps the least exciting stretch of highway in the Midwest, so I get into the right lane, set cruise control to 77 mph, put the Corvette into Eco mode, and let cylinder deactivation turn the V-8 engine into a V-4. Every car in the left lane slows to let passengers take iPhone photos, which is unfortunate for me since I’m wearing “manpri” sweatpants and a grungy slouch beanie.
The fuel light comes on, but I wait until the needle touches empty before stopping in West Lafayette to fill up. Ginger Lee takes more than 17 gallons of premium gasoline, her heartiest fill-up to date. I slingshot around downtown Indianapolis and take Indiana State Road 37 South, the second least-exciting stretch of road in the Midwest, not to mention a stretch swarming with cops. One enforcer of the law falls behind me and follows for, oh, 15 miles before I decide to pull into a Wal-Mart parking lot. My party supplies -- a bag of charcoal, several bags of chips, a big bag of Fruity Pebbles, milk, a case of water, and a few bottles of sparkling grape juice -- all fit easily into the Corvette’s hatch, right alongside my overnight bag. A scraggly bearded man and his surprisingly attractive wife stop to say how much they like the new Corvette.
Back roads in Brown County’s backwoods
I ditch the boredom and the police for State Road 45, one of the best driving roads I’ve found in the Midwest. It cuts through Bloomington and snakes through two neighboring state forests. I dial the Corvette into Track mode and flick a steering wheel paddle, which calls up auto rev-matching on downshifts.
Ginger Lee’s wide hips barely squeeze between the middle of the road and the crumbling shoulder, yet she feels like she’s been waiting for this. She squirms around on the cold pavement as I brake into corners, but the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tires hold firmly onto the ground. I dive into a downhill right and hit a patch of black ice. A four-wheel slide sends us into the opposite lane, but Ginger Lee, with help from the tires, maintains its composure, and keeps me out of the ditch.
I get to a long, smooth downhill stretch with a sudden hump toward the end. I get air. I get a gut-busting feeling. I laugh.
Returning to reality
For a couple days, Ginger Lee sits neglected while I watch bad movies, go for trail runs, and kick back in a hot tub. When it’s unfortunately time to return to reality, I fire her back up and track back to Illinois, where I left Luci. About a block from my house, the automatic headlights turn on, and the LCD screens and displays go black once again. I must solve this.
It’s not much of a mystery. The dimmer dial has simply been turned way down, and I simply couldn’t find the dimmer dial (which any non-goon could find in a heartbeat). I load Luci into the passenger seat for the dark, three-hour drive back to Ann Arbor. It’s gloomy, with thick clouds, heavy rain, and fog filling the sky. I can see light coming from faraway headlights, bouncing around and refracting in the dense fog.
Strangely, it’s a calming drive. Luci sleeps while I listen to deep cuts by the Doors and Pink Floyd. The driver’s seat hugs me gently, and the Midwest’s cratered highways don’t punish the supple suspension. I’ve done this drive in a handful of luxury sedans, but the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is by far the most satisfying car I’ve taken home. I wish it could be a Corvette Christmas every year.
2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray — Our Baby Goes Back to Bowling Green
BODY STYLE2-door coupe
CONSTRUCTIONAluminum spaceframe w/composite and carbon-fiber body panels
BASE PRICE (WITH DEST.)$54,795
Article Source: this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that can be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.