The spectacular trees of New York State’s Catskill Mountains had to settle for backdrop status early last week. The New York City-based International Motor Press Association assembled a magnificent collection of cars, trucks, and motorcycles as well as a bunch of car and motorcycle writers at the Monticello Motor Club‘s (MMC) racetrack and extensive off-road course for IMPA Test Days 2016, 48 hours of intense on- and off-road testing.
Testing a car on a race track is a patently different experience than testing on back roads. It’s true—there are some details you simply can’t derive from a track test. It’s difficult to gauge how the car’s suspension will handle rough pavement (poorly paved race tracks are, thankfully, few and far between) or how the car’s mirrors will mitigate blind spots (if you’re checking your mirrors on a track, you’re doing something wrong). But for each closed circuit’s shortcomings, it offers one major benefit: With today’s powertrains, the only place you can legally find the limit of a car’s power, its grip, or its brakes is on a track.
While many auto journalists will tell you they’re just trying to scratch a living out of whatever they can, it’s an undisputed fact that the job has some definite perks. Although we can’t live the life of the rich and famous every day, we do occasionally get invited to drive the cars we cover. For a couple of beautiful days in October, Monticello Motor Club—one of the most exclusive and impressive automotive country clubs in America—opens its doors for the International Motor Press Association‘s (IMPA) Test Days, where schlubs like us get asked to drive some of the best new cars in the world on both a technical race track and the back roads of the Catskill Mountains.