Racetrack smack-down: a 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan takes on the fire-breathing Caddy CTS-V and…


"Brake, brake, brake you fat gray beast," I screamed flying into the corner at about 95 miles per hour in a all new 2011 Sienna Minivan.

The race track rules were simple: Two wheel off the track and you get to cool your heals for about a half an hour in the penalty pit. Four wheels off the track and you are done for the day.

I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I crushed both rules, and perhaps even smashed the third unwritten rule and rolled the top heavy Sienna.

After all I was chasing the brawny and supercharged "pumped up" Cadillac CTS-V  down the back straight in a car designed to chase little Johnny on his new bike down the block.

Plus, to make matter worse (at least from my point of view) the CTS-V had at least a 200 horsepower advantage on me.

I, on the other hand, had two few extra drop down TV screens, about 20 more cup holders, and I could of course ferry the local soccer team to DQ in comfort and style…not that any of this mattered flying into the tight right hand corner at almost 100 mph.

I had been chasing the Caddy CTS-V for about a lap, and to my great surprise the Sienna was holding on to his tail by it's chinny chin chin.

At this point you may be curious as to why a Sienna minivan was on the same race track as a CTS-V in the first place. I was taking part in the first annual Rocky Mountain Driving Experience which was designed to give local reporters the chance to drive about two dozen cars on the track.

You can check out a brief video from the event HERE.

Toyota had brought the Sienna as a cruel practical joke I figured…to taunt us into going (or is it driving) where no minivan should drive. The FWD 3.5L Sienna with sport tuned power steering and 19 inch alloy wheels just sat in the pits like a sad puppy dog looking at me all afternoon as I drove the Challenger, the GTI, and the Vette.

"Come here and experience the wonders of minvandom racing boy," it seemed to whisper alluringly as I walked by it and jumped into the Camaro.

Finally, I relented and took the wheel of the Sienna for a few hot laps.

Immediately I was amazed. This was not my mother's minivan. Actually, my mom never drove a minivan she had a two-tone Pontiac Grand Prix.

Both Toyota, and to perhaps a greater extent Honda, seemed to have had a recent secret meeting where they decided that their new minivans should be able to take on a F1 race car. OK, that maybe a bit over-the-top, but both companies are trying to bring sexy and fast back to segment best known for practical and slow.

Check out a video of the up-coming new and sexy Honda Odyssey HERE.

Anyway, this new Sienna is…dare I say it…track worthy.

It was cool as a cucumber and level as flat bread around the first few fast corners of the race track. Sure it was a heavy and somewhat a brutish track tool, but for minivan I was amazed at how well it stayed glued to the apex and how easily and precisely I could bring around the back end of the car through the tight S bends. 

Don't get me wrong the Sienna is no GTI on the track. It's just too big and heavy, but you'd be really surprised at how easily and naturally it takes to track duty. Sort of like a retired professional runner who no longer has the speed, but still has plenty of endurance.

By the second lap, when the CTS-V flew by me on the front straightaway, I had the crazy notion that perhaps I might just be able to hold on to his ass when he entered the tight part of the course.

Which, amazingly, I did.

On the back straight I flogged the Sienna to within an inch of life, but crazy power is crazy power and the blown 556 HP CTS-V easily pulled ahead.

That's why I knew I had to brake late (very very late) coming into the right corner.

"Brake, brake, brake you fat gray beast," I screamed flying into the corner. "Brake or I'll make sure you never again exceed the posted speed limit," I added as I slammed on the brake pedal and pondered which wheels would get filthy first.

But the Sienna just scrubbed speed like a seasoned pro as I set it up for the next turn.

At which point something truly unexpected occurred.

It started with the loud and painful screeching of tires skidding sideways down the tarmac, and it ended in a monster cloud of dust.

Yes, you guessed it, the Caddy CTS-V overcooked the corner, tried to correct and did an amazing, actually almost slow motion, pirouette with all four wheels into the dirt as I drove by enjoying a cool beverage from one of the Sienna's many and very useful, I might add, cup holders.

Roman Roman Mica is a
columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for, EverymanTri.com.
Mica is also the Endurance
Sports Examiner

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