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So I get up this Sunday morning.. all apprehensive and nervous.. todays the day. Thanks to Punchy (I can't say this enough) 16 camaro fans got taken on a tour of the desert proving grounds in mesa Arizona.
On arrival (10 minutes early) punchy met us outside the gate and started handing around our id tags (required for entrance). After some introductions and a search for camera's we all loaded into a passenger van to start our tour.
With Punchy driving and narrating we wound through the streets and testing centers of the grounds and got some history, as well as looking for pre-production vehicles. The grounds have been sold and GM is leasing it back until the army installation is ready for them in Yuma. By selling the grounds GM not only gained liquidity in the form of cash but also saved a good 2 million in property taxes. During the tour we drove by the 2.5 mile strait away and someone (I think firstgen4ever) mentioned what are those swamp coolers for? We all looked over and there are about 4-5 swamp coolers beside the track.. Punchy informed us that those hook to vents in the track that they park over to cool the engines and brakes and car in general. We also saw the tow able dyno's (the reason for the hitch and attachments on the back). After passing and gazing at different road surfaces, speed bumps, washboard, grooved roads we ended up in the middle of the circle track (you can see it on the Google maps).
The Ride -
While we waited for the corvettes to show up and give us our anticipated ride, punchy delivered the news that he believed there was NO Camaro's on the property. Sad we were but also unbelieving and we kept our eyes peeled! Also we got the benefit of watching a Nascar run the circle track as we waited (Number 78 if any Nascar fans are out there). finally after some info pumping questions tossed out at punchy who admittedly didn't know A LOT the corvettes showed up. 2 c6's and 1 c5 zo6. The drivers were introduced and my horrible memory can't remember more than Jason(Punchy if you could give names that would be great i left my pen and pad at home). We all gazed and even after all the excitement were a little nervous about going first. They loaded us up and took off. Let me say, these guys can drive! Drifting S curves at over 100MPH and then doing spins at 60+MPH is amazing with a professional driver! My driver Jason and I carried a wonderful conversation all throughout the ride.
The Grande' Finally -
So we all loaded back up into the van and started to head back towards the gate. Then the most beautiful words I have ever heard sounded.. Is that the Camaro!?!?! Sure enough, there being unloaded out of a enclosed semi, were 3 black pre-production Camaro's (2 already unloaded and third on its way out, one covered with a car cover). Punchy pulled around and stopped in front of them as we all gazed in rapture. Punchy opened his door and the first thing heard was... Can we get out and look at them?!?!?! He looked at us and said yes. Instantly the door flew open and you had 16 camaro freaks all over the uncovered car. I wont go into all the details because most of whats been reported was just confirmed (tire size, still sporting the pre-prod headlights, ect) so I will just go into the stuff that hasn't been confirmed.
The drivers window was down I noticed as I walked down the passenger side. My first thought, This car is SMALL. To me its SMALLER than a 4th gen. Its roof height comes up to just over my nipple (roughly 55-56 inches). It was an automatic with 2 tone seats (red inserts and black body), everyone was gazing at the body and interior (which still isn't finished) and from my view through the passenger window I spied.. PADDLE SHIFTERS on the steering wheel. Also there was a center speaker in the top of the dash (No sign of HUD). All the while this is happening the semi driver that was unloading started yelling at punchy and he started rounding us up. Back in the van you could hear a collective sigh, this car has soul and passion without even moving.
Back in the van we headed back out the gate, unloaded and walked back to the gift shop, where we all loaded up on shirts hats and free postcards! All of this was punctuated by talk about the Camaro's. After all the purchasing and winding down we all walked back to the parking lot and went our own ways, another 16 disciples for the new 5th gen.
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