Today began Team Wilbur’s first stint in the car. We knew before we departed that Team Orville had done lots of fun things with the Smartcar the two days prior, so we felt a challenge when we turned onto I-95 South. Our only hard point was St. Augustine at 4:00 p.m. Other than that, it was up to us.
Luckily I’m driving with the car guy and Motorweek does filming and testing up and down the coast. What did that mean for us? A proper chance to see what the Smartcar was made of.
The folks at Roebling Road outside Savannah were nice enough to give us the track during the lunch hour while the Ducatis that otherwise had it cooled off. We turned the Smartcar onto the track and let her have it.
The course is a hair more than two miles with nine turns. The first is a beautiful full turn that almost feels like a parabola, except that it’s not perfectly symmetrical, so it almost ends up being like a double apex. Which means it catches you by surprise the first time. It’s also incredible long, making it a candidate for early turn in.
The car handled remarkably well on the track. The steering is appropriately heavy and the brakes are substantial. There is body roll, as one would expect from the little guy, but I found the handling to be very nice, in general. The only thing that didn’t quite feel at home was the automatic manual transmission. Since we didn’t have control of the gears, the turn exits were sometimes slow. It has paddle shifting, but I’m a novice so I chose to remain in full auto, video game style.
Steve and I didn’t have a chance to compare lap times, but I’m in a competitive mood, so I’ll say I bested him. But he’ll dispute that. Either way we had a great time. It was fun to be able to really stretch the legs on the Smartcar.