When I’m coaching new writers through their first press loaner, I usually advise them to take some photos as soon as they get the car, when it’s clean and shiny and freshly delivered; you should be taking photos later, too, but it’s nice to get a bulk of your shots out of the way and off your plate so your later photoshoots can focus on the things you want to talk about in detail. But when I got my hands on a 2022 Corvette Stingray for the Miami Grand Prix, I was so excited to start driving that I totally forgot to take my pictures until I was preparing to return the car, when the ‘Vette had been well-loved during a weekend of full-throttle Formula One speed and standstill South Beach traffic.
(Full Disclosure: My delightful friends at Chevrolet saw I was heading to Miami and asked if I’d be interested in driving a Corvette Stingray for the duration of my visit. The answer was a resounding “hell yes.”)
If you want a full, proper review of the C8 Corvette, I’ve written one before when I had a chance to take the car out on the track at the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School. Not much has changed for this new model year — why mess with perfection? — but instead of pushing the ‘Vette to its absolute limits, I had the pleasure of seeing how it rolled as a daily driver (or, at least, as a race track commuter).
My first stumbling block came with the whole “luggage capacity” situation, for which I should have adequately prepared but did not:
There was also the fact that I realized my seating position was just not conducive to easy ingress or egress thanks to my short stature, which is something that I didn’t really notice until I was trying to quickly jump out of the ‘Vette to nab credentials or rush into the track. But all those concerns barely registered while I had the vehicle.
This may sound like a contradiction: As a daily driver, the Corvette Stingray was perfect. Was it practical? No. Was it a great vehicle for maneuvering the Miami GP media parking lot, which was basically just a glorified dirt path? No. Was it a nondescript vehicle? Absolutely not.
But I’d rather sit in a Corvette while I’m stuck in traffic than anything else; it was time to crank the music and turn some heads as I made my way from Miami Gardens to Fort Lauderdale and then down on to South Beach. In so many ways, practicality takes a back seat to everything else in Miami, which made the Corvette perfect for flaunting excess on a daily commute.
The Miami Grand Prix weekend was a complex one for me. I was simultaneously having the time of my life and also reckoning with the sudden onset of a painful imposter syndrome that was, in part, stemming from the fact that I was showing up to an expensive race track behind the wheel of a very obvious vehicle that stood out from anything else in the media lot.
Today, I want to focus on the opposite side of the coin — the one where I couldn’t believe my luck because I was doing a job that I loved and driving the only brand-new car I’d actually consider splurging on — because god, if the Corvette didn’t epitomize everything delightful about Miami. I didn’t fit in, not even slightly, but at the same time, I had brunch with a racing series’ CEO, shook hands with Jackie Stewart, and achieved so many of my starry-eyed teenage dreams that I felt positively spoiled. It was one of those weekends where the functions of daily life — eating, sleeping — took a back seat to the understanding that this was a once-in-a-lifetime weekend, that I needed to indulge as much as I could.
There’s an inherent contradiction with a vehicle like a Corvette. Despite the fact that I drove it over 300 miles in a single weekend, I just didn’t feel like I’d gotten my fill, since most of that driving was done on Florida’s straight, flat highways where race traffic lowered an already-middling speed limit even lower. I would have loved to spend hours behind the ‘Vette’s wheel, seeking out coastal roads and small towns. I’d have loved to give my good friend a ride, but our schedules never aligned. I’d have loved to just take the damn thing home with me, where it could find its stride on 85-mph Texas toll highways and meandering farm-to-market roads.
As with so many other things that weekend, I was left wanting more. A ride in a Corvette is like the honeymoon period of a new relationship: It’s so damn good that you’ll never quite be able to slake your thirst because that thing you want just isn’t yours yet. In fact, it might never be yours, and that makes every second all the more precious.
I wanted the Corvette, desperately. I was, frankly, infatuated by it, and as the weekend wound to a close, the prospect of going back to a Corvette-less life was like going back to black-and-white TV after watching movies in color. I still miss it, but I’m also so damn glad I got a chance to drive it.
So when it came time to finally take my photos and return the Corvette, I didn’t want to clean it off or make it look totally pristine. I didn’t want to forget the weekend I’d had or the places I’d gone or the messes I’d made. My dusty, bug-splattered photos were a testament to the fact that I’d properly driven this car, that I’d used it the way it was meant to be used — and, probably, for uses the designers never dreamed. And that’s exactly the way it should be.