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Alex MacDonald, C8 Vehicle Performance Manager

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  • Alex MacDonald, C8 Vehicle Performance Manager

    Alex MacDonald is a special GM professional. We are **** lucky to have him as a lead Senior Engineer and one of the top drivers involved in testing and developing the C8 mid engine Corvette.

    I personally meet and learn how special Alex was/is, when I had an opportunity to talk with him at the 2014 BASH. We were set to fairly soon order our Z06; I wanted to know whether, given our usage patterns, we should order the Z07 package. Harlan to whom I had asked that question, sent me over to meet, 1-to-1 with Alex; 15 minutes later, with amazing of interesting other information and anecdotes he also shared, I knew my answer to that and to so many other questions.

    While Alex has quickly risen up the ranks at GM, from starting as a Chassis Engineer, then a Senior Chassis Engineer, and now as to the Vehicle Performance Manager for Chevrolet Performance Cars/Head of Vehicle Performance, there are several things that have become abundantly clear to his GM colleagues and his supervisors. He is an incredibly talented engineer, and during the last few years, has become one of GM’s top testing “hot shoes.” To us outside, mere mortals, the below picture typifies the Alex that I and others know, that he is friendly, humble, caring, nice, passionate about Corvettes, and very smart. As important to me, he is a “blue jeans” kind of person, and when not behind the wheel, his lap top is one of his best friends.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	454C4AC3-6FFC-46E7-8127-A88153409937.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	56.9 KB ID:	13764


    Here are some brief automedia articles with some info about Alex:

    Corvette-Mag:

    One early morning in May 2016, the serenity of the undulating hills and vast expanses of picturesque woodland at GM’s Milford Proving Ground was fractured by the rhythmic thunder of an ultra-powerful Chevrolet V-8. Alex MacDonald, who was then Lead Development Engineer for Corvette and is now Vehicle Performance Manager for Chevrolet Performance Cars, strapped on a C7 ZR1 and eased it onto the Milford Road Course (MRC) for its initial shakedown. MRC is a 2.9-mile, 18-turn circuit that includes some of the most demanding features found on racetracks around the world.

    As is always the case, the primary purpose of that initial test drive was to ensure that the car, an early integration vehicle hand-built at GM’s prototype shop in southeast Michigan, had no glaring problems. “The first test,” explains MacDonald, “is to make sure the fluids all stay in the car, and the wheels stay bolted on, and everything is basically functional and safe for the rest of the testing to begin. So you drive the car quite conservatively.”

    Even when driven conservatively, however, the savage performance capability inherent in the still-nascent ZR1 made itself known. “The funny thing about that test,” recounts MacDonald, “is that I got onto the MRC’s front straight, taking a fairly conservative line because it was our very first lap with the car, and when I got to the start-finish line the speedometer said 168 mph. I radioed in and said, ‘I think we’ve got an issue with the speedometer.’ It seemed to be off by a pretty good margin, because that’s about 10 mph faster than we’d see with a Z06. After I finished the session, we pulled up the GPS data, and sure enough, lap one…was 168 mph. So we knew right at that moment that it was a special car.”
    “We do make an effort to tune everything at the Nürburgring,” explains MacDonald, “because it’s such a unique environment. The track surface is not something you would see anywhere in the U.S., for good and bad. If we tuned the car entirely on the Nürburgring and never looked at VIRor Road Atlanta, we’d have a mess. It wouldn’t be a good-handling car at all. But vice versa, if we only focused on the smooth, spec-width, proper racetracks here and didn’t look at the crazy, undulating pavement at the ‘Ring, we would also miss a lot. So it’s a vital component [allowing] us to fill in a lot of gaps.”

    https://www.corvette-mag.com/issues/...x#.W9TN4BplCfA

    Auto week: How would you spec your personal ZR1?

    Juechter: Admiral blue with black wheels. Manual transmission with the Competition seats and low wing.

    MacDonald: Ceramic white with the ZTK and 3ZR Packages, Comp seats.

    Read more: https://autoweek.com/article/superca...#ixzz5VAOZEwIl

    As to how good a test driver is Alex, no one disputes within GM that he is one of the very top of the top current GM test drivers. And here is one post by Skank which specifically addresses the level of Alex’s driving skills.

    Originally posted by Skank
    Alex McDonald. I heard over two years ago that he was lapping faster than Mero at the Nordshliefe.

    Thats exactly what I was told at the Laguna Seca IMSA race that Alex McDonald was attending two years ago. Alex didn't tell me that but one of his guests that was with him did. I talked to Alex and he was very cordial and extremely informative. He was not tooting his own horn. His guest did. I'm sure he would have denied that comment if it wasn't accurate.
    And,

    [Quote=Vette Friend]MacDonald is very fast. He got Mero by a few tenths on the VIR full course (but was not even close to on the Nordshlief).

    We are very fortunate to have Alex be such a positive force on our C7’s development, including most recently the ZR1. Now, we extremely fortunate he is currently working on the mid engine’s testing and development program.

    Note: I intend, roughly about once weekly, to feature some of the top members of the C8 development team. This is the first of those summary presentations.



    Excited owners of a 2015 Z06. Lifetime, annual contributors, and 20 year members of NCM. A ME C8 Corvette is coming next.

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