Trucks and supercars: a track day with a big difference
Usually when a car dealer organizes an event on the track, you know the drill: it’s either a high performance car with lots of fast laps, or a bunch of drills showing the various features safety of a more ordinary car in a controlled environment.
And recently I was invited to attend a track day at Pukekohe Park Raceway hosted by General Motors that seemed to fit that description – it would be the first time GM had taken the Corvette C8 RHD to a circuit in New Zealand, so a lot of Action V8 roars then?
Well, yes, but there was a twist – GM also distributes Isuzu trucks in New Zealand, so the event would also include the new Isuzu Giga heavy-duty truck. On the track. In Pukekohe.
Yes, it was a real thing, and yes, they were serious – after all, putting the Giga on a race track was the best way to get motoring journalists who don’t have the proper HT license to drive your truck. heavy. And, from an automotive journalist’s point of view, the trucks are just awesome!
* Road test results: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ
* GMSV will sell you a resolutely shameless truck
* Chevrolet announces an all-electric Silverado
*GMSV to officially release this year, Corvette coming in 2021
I’ll be brutally honest here – I was definitely more excited about the truck. Sure, beating the Corvette around a track was fun, but I had done it before on a recent trip to the States. But a real full-size heavy truck! It was definitely something I had never driven before…
But there was also another wrinkle on this occasion – this may be the last time I drive around Pukekohe after the racetrack departure announcement. So, of course, I was all in.
The idea for the day was to show some of GM’s business units in New Zealand – General Motors is not just GMSV (General Motors Specialty Vehicles) selling the RHD Corvette and RHD converted Silverados in this part of the world, its other business units are Isuzu Trucks (in New Zealand), Chevrolet Racing and Holden Aftersales – which includes AC Delco, Holden Service, GM Trade Parts and Holden Heritage (in Australia).
General Motors Australia and New Zealand chief executive Marc Ebolo said the company had spent the last 18 months “building the foundations for future growth” by focusing on specific business units.
“Our customer service and after-sales operations continue to service our Holden car park at over 200 Holden Certified Service Centers across Australia and New Zealand as well as our growing GMSV customer base, and we are delighted with the growth of our service offer for all brands. through AC Delco and GM Trade Parts.
While this day was mostly about GMSV and Isuzu Trucks, Ebolo slipped in a few little nuggets of info on Chevrolet Racing, adding that the Camaro’s rise to prominence as GM’s local touring car representative in the Supercars series would only be not his only motorsport. foray, with a new AC Delco Camaro Pro Slammer race car slated for competition in Australia, while the Silverado would join the racing action in an as yet undisclosed setting.
Speaking of the Silverado, my first stop was not the Corvette or the truck, but rather a massive Silverado HD in a black wrap, towing a four-ton boat. Yes really.
The HD is the biggest and baddest version of the Silverado GMSV sold in New Zealand, and ditches the 313kW/624Nm 6.2-litre petrol V8 in favor of a 6.6-litre turbo diesel V8 332 kW/1234 Nm for extra pulling power. Both versions of the Silverado can pull up to 4.5 tons, but the HD’s big diesel V8 and colossal torque make it particularly easy.
In fact, one of the most startling revelations of the day was how easily the HD handled the four-ton boat – of course you knew it was there, but it may as well be that it it was a garden trailer full of grass clippings until the Silverado was worried. The muscular diesel engine was not even called upon, even when accelerating through Ford Mountain at the start of the Pukekohe fronts directly to pass the Isuzu Giga.
It’s a rare occasion indeed that a Corvette on a track isn’t the highlight of the day, but it was the case here. Bad weather played a big part in this however, as although it cleared up a bit later in the morning, the sadly bumpy surface of Pukekohe meant that standing water was a problem, and the mighty ‘Vette couldn’t be stretched. to its full potential…
Still, there’s a lot to be said for hammering Pukukohe’s straight back with that glorious screaming V8 and rear end flailing in the wet…
But of course, the highlight of the day was truly the Giga – Isuzu’s biggest entry into the local trucking market, and one that offers an impressive array of safety features and driver aids.
New Giga safety features include an electronic braking system with electronic stability control, hill start assist (on AMT models only), AEB braking and lane departure warning, while cruise control adaptive speed control and adaptive LED headlights are also available.
Now, this probably shouldn’t have surprised me so much, but I was blown away by the advanced level of driver assistance and safety technology jammed into the Giga – I really had no idea that heavy trucks were so advanced.
But, of course, that makes sense, because they really benefit from things like adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control and lane assists. Regardless, the Giga was remarkably easy to drive, superbly comfortable and an absolute delight to drive around the track with my inner toddler finally living out all of his trucker fantasies.
With Pukekohe Racecourse staring down the barrel of extinction, the laps on the Giga might just be the last I’ll ever do around it. And I’m pretty ok with that, to be honest, because it was a really fun way to say goodbye.
Plus I do it safe in the knowledge that I wrote my own chapter in Pukekohe history by almost certainly being the only person to pass an Isuzu Giga outside at Ford Mountain in a Chevy Silverado towing a four ton boat.
Alright, so it’s less of a chapter and more of a scribble in the margins in pencil, but I’ll take it.