Porsche's famed test driver Walter Rohrl was scared of it. A former manager at Porsche has called the CGT "the most dangerous car on the road." And IndyCar driver and Carrera GT owner Graham Rahal says it "needs respect." This is not a car to mess with, and two people paid the ultimate price this weekend.
The red Carrera GT that was involved in the accident that killed Paul Walker was being driven by his business partner Roger Rodas, himself no slouch behind the wheel. Rodas has raced in the Pirelli World Challenge series and is, by all accounts, a capable driver. But none of us are saints, capable or not. If we're in a high performance car, there are times when we'll put the foot to the floor.
But Porsche's ultimate supercar isn't always ready to go flat out. It takes planning. People who have driven the car say the conditions need to be right. And even if conditions are perfect, it can still scare the shit out of you.
During the development of the Carrera GT, famed Porsche tester and man with gigantic brass attachments Walter Rohrl told Australian website Drive that he was actually scared of the car and wanted them to fit traction control because of the unpredictable behavior at the limit:
Former world rally champion and Porsche test driver Walter Rohrl told Drive the new Porsche supercar is "the first car in my life that I drive and I feel scared".
Earlier this year, Rohrl said, the engineering team was about to cancel a day's testing at the famous Nurburgring circuit because of wet weather. But, Rohrl said, when he insisted the car had to be tested in slippery conditions, he discovered the car's daunting performance.
"I came back into the pits and I was white," Rohrl said. "I immediately said to the engineers that we need one button for the wet and one button for the dry", referring to the need for a traction control switch.
In the last few years, the Carrera GT has been in a few high profile incidents, including a spin while Jay Leno was at the wheel at high speed at Talladega. The highest profile incident until this weekend was a fatal Carrera GT crash at California Speedway when a swerve at high speed resulted in a loss of control and a crash into the wall. That case was settled for $4.5 million.
When Top Gear drove the car, Jeremy Clarkson loved and praised the car for its purity, but famously said "you need to be awake to drive this car fast." And he's right, as evidenced by the CGT stepping out on him a number of times during his test drive.
Doug DeMuro, a former manager at Porsche Cars North America and friend of Jalopnik loves the Carrera GT, but still believes it's incredibly dangerous:
The car is crazy. We know of the incident Leno had (where he spun it at Talladega) and of course the one at Fontana, where those two guys died in 2005 — that one was REALLY sad because it was very similar circumstances to this — a guy went for a ride, then crash, both died, at least one left behind a young family. There was also the German prince who smashed up a Gemballa version, and (at least) one serious accident in Europe.
I think conservative estimates say something like 70 of these are off the road, and they keep severely injuring and killing people. My favorite car ever, in the whole world, but man are they dangerous. A close friend of mine has one here and I refuse to let him take me for a ride — even the pros at the driving school in Birmingham were really cautious with it.
If you're ever offered a ride, definitely think twice about it... and if you ever get the chance to drive, for God's sake be careful!
We spoke to IndyCar star Graham Rahal, who multiple sources believe previously owned the Carrera GT involved in Walker's crash, and he says that the CGT is a car that demands respect:
It's a race car for the street. Simple as that. It asks for and needs respect at all time. It's not a car for people who don't have experience driving high end vehicles or race cars really for that matter. However I believe Roger was an experienced road racer. To me the CGT is in the top 3 vehicles ever made, possibly the greatest road car ever made.
This isn't a car for inexperienced drivers. It's an old school supercar, which means that given the chance, it will bite you. While it still isn't clear if the crash was caused by racing, mechanical failure, or driver error, what is clear is that the CGT isn't a car to be toyed with. If you don't respect it, there is a solid chance that it won't respect you.