Woodward, Camaros and Corvettes

Detroiters of a certain age know that back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, depending on which side of town you lived on, Friday and Saturday nights meant racing on either Woodward Avenue to the east or Telegraph to the west.

Detroiters of a certain age know that back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, depending on which side of town you lived on, Friday and Saturday nights meant racing on either Woodward Avenue to the east or Telegraph to the west. There were probably more automotive engineers who came up through those ad hoc events than any other singular acts.

Woodward now is widely known for the annual “Dream Cruise,” which will be held August 20.

What is not widely known is that those vintage driving styles have contributed to a test regimen that General Motors uses for manual transmission durability testing.

Back as early as ’67 GM sent engineers out to Woodward to observe (yeah, as if that’s all they did) what transmissions were being put through. Think revving the engine hard then popping the clutch about every mile or so. Or doing high-rev shifts to beat the guy in the Ford or Dodge.

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GM manual transmissions—like the TR6060 six-speed used in the Corvette—are tested at facilities in both Milford and Pontiac, Michigan. The Woodward Schedule is part of the testing. Woodward Ave., incidentally, ends in Pontiac.

According to Brad Bur, GM assistant chief engineer for manual transmissions, “We’ve been evolving the Woodward test to make sure our transmissions live through repeated performance-style shifting.

“Of course, we encourage safe driving, but we know burnouts and quick shifting are the reality. We have to design and engineer our transmissions to succeed in every possible scenario, including the street.”

The Woodward Schedule has been used to develop the manuals used in both the Corvette and the Camaro.

After all, why have a Corvette or a Camaro unless you’re willing to do your fair share of burnouts and hard shifts?

That said, we, too, encourage safe driving.