While automotive enthusiasts obsess about things like horsepower specs, redlines and 0-60 mph times, the truth is that most never actually get the chance to fully exploit the true potential of their cars. Well there’s hope, there are tracks scattered throughout the country where you can fling your car around and try not to die at the same time. If you want to have fun, but also do it a bit safer, there are also driving schools, like Cadillac’s V-Performance Academy, a two-day high performance driving school.
The Cadillac V-Performance Academy is open to anyone that wants to fully experience the ATS-V and CTS-V
The 2017 Cadillac ATS-V and CTS-V models pack some serious power, which you’ll never really get to tap into on your daily commute to the office. Luckily there’s hope, since Cadillac throws in a free two day driving school when you buy or lease either of its high-performance models. The V-Performance Academy is located an hour outside Las Vegas at Spring Mountain Motorsports in little known Pahrump, Nevada.
Enrollment in the academy includes two nights’ lodging at Spring Mountain’s onsite condos, transportation to and from the airport, meals and even a Cadillac courtesy vehicle. The only thing that isn’t included is airfare to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Cadillac invited me out to the driving school to see how great it is and to get a chance to spend some time with both the ATS-V and CTS-V on the track. Sadly I haven’t spent that much time on a track, so the chance to get behind the wheel of the 640 horsepower CTS-V without having to watch my rearview mirror, was enticing. Plus I wanted to see how good the 2017 ATS-V with its 464 horsepower actually is compared to heavyweights like the BMW M3.
On your drive to Spring Mountain you’ll feel like your driving to the middle of no where, which you basically are. But once you get there you’ll find over six miles of track to wring out the ATS-V and CTS-V on. Spring Mountain actually has the longest road course in North America with over 50 configurations and the area is going to get even bigger in the coming years as there’s already an expansion in the works.
The instructors at the Cadillac V-Performance Racing Academy are incredibly passionate and knowledgable. They’re also incredibly patient as I witnessed there patience tested with a few other too eager drivers. After a quick safety instruction in a classroom, we jumped behind the wheel of a CTS-V to experience it in a dry oval and work on our abilities to turn on an apex. The CTS-V is a true animal. It basically attacks the pavement and you can’t help but feel like an excited teenager again when you hear that thing take off. During the oval exercise, we had an instructor rode with us to give us immediate tips on how to get around the oval faster without losing control. Of course at the end of the exercise, I became a little too confident in my young abilities and managed to spin the CTS-V.
Next up, we were shuttled over to a fleet of ATS-V sedans and coupes that were lined up and ready to show us how skilled they are on the track. There were plenty of sedans and coupes, with both automatic and manual transmissions to choose from. This time we jumped into each car by ourselves, but we were lead by an instructor who communicated with us via the ATS-V’s speakers.
While the CTS-V is an over the top animal, it’s almost a bit too much to handle. On the other hand, the ATS-V is nearly perfect with its better combination of power and lighter weight, all wrapped in a smaller package. We learned techniques like trail-braking and how much power to apply when exiting a corner. The ATS-V also features a performance data recorder that lets you record how you’re driving by recording from a windshield-mounted camera that then saves everything on a removable memory card. The system will also play back your results on the touchscreen so you can see everything before you even leave the track.
The V-Performance Academy might be a bit out of the way for most drivers, but it’s a great performance driving school for people that want to actually experience what the ATS-V and CTS-V are capable of. It’s worth it considering that you’ll never get to have as much fun behind the wheel of a CTS-V going down the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.
The V-Performance Academy is free if you buy or lease a 2017 ATS-V or CTS-V, but non-owners can also attend the school for $2,470. All the information is here: Cadillac V-Performance Academy at Spring Mountain.