Every year Car & Driver does something we can only dream about doing: take the whole gamut of today's hottest cars and run them around the 4.2-mile track at Virginia International Speedway. It's called the Lightning Lap, and it's basic purpose is to discover which cars give you the most bang for your buck. The invite list reads like a who's who of sportscars, and this year ranges from the 2008 Chevy Cobalt SS to the 2008 Mosler MT900S. Twenty-two cars in all were tested, and other notable participants include the '09 Cadillac CTS-V, '09 Nissan GT-R, '08 Dodge Viper ACR and '08 Ferrari F430 Scuderia (sorry, apparently the Corvette ZR1 wasn't available, which would have made this the most epic event ever).
Think of the Lightning Lap as the biggest comparison test you've ever seen, and a great way to figure out how much performance you're getting for your dollar since the cars are judged strictly on lap times only. The cars are divided up into five classes according to price with vehicles like the Cobalt SS and Dodge Cailber SRT4 taking up residence way down in the LL1 class and the Ferrari and Mosler holding court in the most expensive LL5 class. This year there was no LL4 class, but LL3 contains the bulk of participants. We've got a gallery of shots from the event below provided courtesy of Car and Driver and a list of all the entrants after the jump, but you'll want to click through and read the whole thing for yourself. We're already angling with our friends over there to see if we can sit trackside and watch next year when the next Lightning Lap goes down.