The Results of Our 16th Lightning Lap Are Almost Here

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  • The 16th run of our annual Lightning Lap is coming to the internet near you on February 7th.
  • This year we are running 17 different vehicles, including one convertible, one minivan, plus even one of our fleet’s foot editors.
  • Want to manage your own time? Join us as we host a Lightning Lap-inspired track event on May 10 at Virginia International Raceway.

For 16 years, we’ve used Virginia International Raceway’s demanding 4.1-mile Grand Course loop as a rubric for measuring the car’s overall performance. In that time we have tested more than 300 vehicles; some of the highlights include the third Lexus LFA ever built, the chart-topping Mosler MT900S, and even a handful of police cars.

This year’s group answered several important questions. Curious what will happen to the Chevy Corvette Z06 or the new 670-hp Honda Civic Type R? We have an answer. For those wondering how fast a “regular” vehicle can go, we’re running our long haul Kia Carnival minivans. We even sent one of our former track-star editors to see how long it took to play VIR on foot. Many more questions answered—and video footage—when we posted the complete Lightning Lap pack on February 7th. the video is up, but the link will be restored when it’s all published on the 7th.

Your patience will be rewarded with onboard videos of the fastest lap times of each of this year’s 17 entrants. The videos will also be available on Car and Driver Youtube channel and will include commentary from editors grappling behind the wheel to achieve the fastest lap. If you think you can do better, we suggest joining us on May 10 at VIR to compete for your own Lightning Lap glory.

Without giving away too much, we’d say there were a few surprises. The compact performance SUV beat some of our favorite hot hatches in the past. The new EV competitor beats Tesla’s last time by a hand. Plus, the Z06 ends up being the fastest McLarens and Porsches we’ve ever run. And, uh, did you notice earlier when we mentioned we manage time in the minivan?

virginia international raceway and 2023 honda civic type r and 2022 mercedes amg sl63

Michael Simari and Marc Urbano|Car and Driver

For the sake of drama, we’ve included a list of every car running this year. If you follow us on InstagramYou may have spied what we strapped to the Racelogic timing gear back in October.

Meanwhile, last year’s Lightning Lap was worth checking out. The five classes (sorted by vehicle price with options) have become some damn good banter among weekend warriors and professional armchair analysts.

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