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Jim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His Story

In 2023, the Corvette nameplate will be celebrating its 70th anniversary. And that's a big milestone to reach indeed. In our recent string of stories we've talked about Jim Mero, the American driver who has set several Nurburgring records while driving Corvettes. And this is, at least for now, the final part of our interview with him. And we hope his epic adventures have inspired you at least half as much as they have inspired us.
Jim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His Story 9 photos
Photo: Jim Mero/Chevrolet
Jim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His StoryJim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His Story
Corvettes have come a long way since the '50s, but instead of just looking at the spec sheets, we thought it would be much more interesting to give you Jim Mero's perspective on the whole thing. He has spent a few decades working for GM, driving some of the most exciting cars Chevrolet has ever built.

Each generation was significantly more refined than the previous

And so it was quite insightful to hear about his first-hand experience with these vehicles. "The evolution was crazy awesome. The team working on the Corvette implementing the engineering improvements from learnings of the prior generation are what made the power, handling, speed, and fun factor so much better."

"If you think about it, looking at the Z06, we went from 405 hp in the C5 Z06 to 505 hp in C6 Z06 and then to 650 hp in C7 Z06. The ZR1 went from 638 HP in the C6 to 755 HP in the C7. Each generation had a significantly better structure. The C7 had a 500% increase in steering stiffness. The torsional stiffness was so much better."

"Almost every variant of the C7 had Magnetic Ride. The evolution of electronic power steering gave us the ability to fine-tune the steering very similar to the way we could fine-tune the shocks. The C7 got incredible aerodynamics. Each generation was significantly more refined than the previous. Each generation was better on the public roads than the previous. Everything was better."

Jim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His Story
Photo: Jim Mero/Chevrolet
Asking 10 different people about their favorite Corvette model will likely result in 10 different answers. Not all of them are going to pick the 2019 ZR1 if they had the chance. Some might only like convertible models. It's all a matter of personal preference, and we could almost anticipate what Jim's answers would be.

The C7 ZR1 is my favorite

"Without a doubt, to this day, the C7 ZR1 is my favorite. Besides the way it handles the track, it handles the road, any road, including rough roads incredibly well. And the car to me just looks pissed off. Probably the second is the C6 Z06/Z07. That might have been the last take no prisoners, hard-core, lightweight, looking to eat a racetrack alive car we did."

"It only weighed 3,150 lbs (1,428 kg). and practically drove itself around the racetrack. The third would be the C7 C06. That car acted like a lightweight car around the racetrack and had incredible downforce. I believe the 7:10 we did at that time would’ve also been a track record if we had published it (another long story)."

"Fourth, I would think the C6 ZR1. It has a special place in my heart because we owned several track records in it. And fifth, perhaps the C7 Grand Sport. With all the tire and downforce on that car, it will make anyone feel like a rock star. After that, throw a blanket on them. Each one was a complete pleasure to drive."

Jim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His Story
Photo: Jim Mero/Chevrolet
We mentioned in one of our previous stories that Jim now runs his own business: Jim Mero Vehicle Dynamics LLC. As you can see on his website, this is where any Corvette owner can take their car to the next level thanks to years and years of accumulated knowledge in the industry. "While developing the C7 ZR1, I decided to strip down the MRC calibration and build it back up using a completely different philosophy. This philosophy was something I had been pondering for several years but time constraints prohibited me from implementing it."

I decided to start my own company

"As I re-developed the MRC calibration for the C7 ZR1, I quickly realized I had created a revolutionary change that significantly improved the ride quality and the handling in the Tour and Sport modes, as well as track performance. These changes were so significant I felt obligated to develop a path for re-tuning every 7th-generation Corvette model with MRC, with 24 calibrations in total for 2019. My new philosophy improved the C7 model so much, we decided to make these calibrations available to every C7 owner as an upgrade. Thousands of C7 owners have upgraded their cars and the positive feedback exceeded our expectations."

"Retirement and the great results from the C7 upgrades prompted me to implement the same tuning philosophy and create new calibrations for 2009 to 2013 C6 Corvettes. So, I decided to start my own company, Jim Mero Vehicle Dynamics LLC. The improvements for the C6s are as good or better than the enhancements in the C7s. I truly believe any C6 owner will feel like they got a new car."

Looking at the list of Nürburgring lap times, there aren't that many American drivers on it. There's Bill Wise, who set a fast lap in the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE back in 2017, at 7:16.04. But Jim has been faster than that on a few occasions. So the next and last question that comes to mind: Is he still the fastest American driver to ever take on the Nordschleife in a production car? Even more so, we wanted to know if he would return to the track soon perhaps to do a lap in the new Z06.

Jim Mero Has Driven Over 40,000 Laps in Corvettes in Almost 20 Years, This Is His Story
Photo: Autoevolution
"I was hesitant to put that down because I felt it is a bit conceited. But some of my well-respected advisors encourage me to include it. I believe it’s still valid. Cars that have since gone faster were all done with European, Nürburgring specialists. One of the engineers on the C8 Z06 might likely have gone faster."

I have been lucky to have driven somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 laps in Corvettes

"It is quite conceivable as there are some super fast drivers on the C8 Z06 and I feel the car should be capable of going sub-seven. But nothing has been posted. As far as any other track projects for me driving, well, I have had the honor to work with some of the best engineers and engineering leaders on the Corvette platform."

"I have been lucky to have driven somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 laps on racetracks in Corvettes including 4,000 to 5,000 on the Nürburgring and participated in over 25 24-hour internal endurance racetrack tests."

"Add to that over 20 years of racing cars, including the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, and being at the ripe old age of 62, I think that my time is better dedicated to my wife as well as golf, boating, and RVing. I do own a C6 Grand Sport and a snowmobile to keep the adrenaline flowing."

Thank you for following our Jim Mero/Corvette story! It has been a real eye-opener for us to talk to the man himself, and we might just do this again sometime soon. We're sure he's got plenty of exciting stories left to tell, and it will be fun learning all about them.

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About the author: Dragos Chitulescu
Dragos Chitulescu profile photo

The things Dragos enjoys the most in life are, in no particular order: cars, motorcycles, diecast cars, and drifting. He's seen (and driven) many vehicles since he started his writing career back in 2009, but his garage currently houses a 1991 Mazda RX-7 FC3S Turbo II and a 1999 Suzuki SV650-S.
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