When is more horsepower too much?

I ran across this article yesterday on Yahoo finance about the problem of people who buy super expensive sports cars, and then wrecking them.  On one hand, I’m glad to see people actually DRIVING these cars (what’s the point if you DON’T drive them?), but I’m beginning to question the point.

WHAT!?!  A Corvette driver questioning the point of driving a sports car?  Am I insane?  (well, that’s probably true)

One of the things that many people like to do when driving a sports car is to ‘push the limits’ of the car.  That is actually where the fun is.  What has happened, though, is that the cars’ limits have been increased by orders of magnitude.  It still amazes me that the current BASE Corvette has more horsepower than the 90’s ZR-1 and the C5 Z06!  And Chevrolet is going to be bringing out a ‘super-vette’ that is rumored to have around 700 horsepower.  Speed IS what kills.  What is truly scary is that in the newer sports cars, doing 150 mph is nothing.  The cars are stable, quiet, and well-mannered.  Ok, where’s the fun in that?  It’s like driving a Rolls.  No matter what you are doing, it is comfortable.  All they do is go really fast, and it doesn’t take much knowledge of driving to keep it going really fast.

Sorry, but I want a car that is FUN!  Think 80’s and 90’s MR2s.  The original Miata.  The new Lotus Elise captures part of that spirit.  What people are wanting is a sports car that feels like a sports car.  That’s what is getting these guys into trouble.  If you are pushing the limits of a current sports car, you are WAY outside the bounds of even remotely decent driving.  I’ve turned the traction control off ONCE! on the ‘vette, just to see how much it helped/hurt.  Let me just say, I’m not doing THAT ever again!

Guys, we really do drive race cars.  Heck, last year at the Daytona 500, the STOCK Z06 pace car had more horsepower than the cars it was leading around the track (it is restrictor plate race).  Still, those are cars that are doing 200 mph with trained drivers.  What chance does an amateur have keeping these supercars under control?

Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety… smile_regular