Crashing a car is never fun experience, but it’s even less fun when it’s not yours. Chevrolet invited a bunch of journalists to Belle Isle State Park in Detroit to have a go behind the wheel of a few 2016 Camaro test mules on the temporary street circuit for the Detroit Grand Prix weekend. One of them was our friend Patrick George from Jalopnik, who had an unfortunate run-in with a concrete barrier after taking what he described as the wrong line and out-breaking himself into a tricky right-hander.
Luckily, both Patrick and his videographer Mark Arnold were both fine, but the Camaro was done. The front left bodywork was damaged, along with the wheel and driver-side door, which barely opened. Patrick was relaying his thoughts on the car into a camera when the accident happened, which he says probably contributed to his lapse in concentration. Driving a car quickly while uploading your thoughts to an audience in a coherent way isn’t nearly as easy as it looks.
Accidents happen. In fact, they happen more often than you might think at press drives, and are often expected. So why was Patrick not-so-politely asked to leave after the accident? It turns out, Chevrolet wasn’t too happy with Jalopnik in the few days prior. Jalopnik published leaked specs of the 2016 Camaro one day before they were officially revealed at the press event. As journalists that’s their job, and I can’t fault them for it, but from Chevy’s point of view, it essentially ruined the Camaro unveiling that the marketing folks has been planning for months, which they were less than thrilled about.
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Why it matters
Patrick’s write-up on the incident is refreshing because it’s honest, and I encourage you to read it for yourself. It’s a candid look at the politics between car companies and car journalists and how things go wrong behind the scenes. The vast majority of outlets won’t share stuff like this with readers. I’ve been fortunate enough to never ding a press car (knocking on every piece of wood in my apartment right now), but if I ever do I hope that I’ll be able to handle it half as well as Patrick. It’s a terribly embarrassing ordeal, and when combined with the leaked Camaro specs, it means Jalopnik has a lot of bridge building to do with Chevrolet.
One last thought. When press drives include track time, they’re usually done on wide-open road circuits with plenty of run-off room, vast gravel traps and no concrete barriers in sight. Maybe Chevy should look into one of those next time.
Read our full review here.