Click above to view high-res gallery of C&D's 2008 Lightning Lap

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.

[Source: Car and Driver, Photos by Rich Chenet]

2008 Lightning Lap - Car and Driver

LL1: 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt SS
LL1: 2008 Dodge Caliber SRT4
LL1: 2008 Volvo C30 T5 Version 2.0
LL2: 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z51
LL2: 2009 Cadillac CTS-V
LL2: 2008 BMW M3
LL2: 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
LL2: 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR
LL2: 2008 BMW 135i
LL2: 2008 Lexus IS F
LL2: 2008 Audi S5
LL2: 2008 Honda S2000 CR
LL2: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
LL2: 2008 Lotus Elise SC
LL2: 2008 Infiniti G37 Sport
LL2: 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
LL2: 2008 Volkswagen R32
LL2: 2008 Honda Civic Mugen Si
LL3: 2009 Nissan GT-R
LL3: 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR
LL5: 2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia
LL5: 2008 Mosler MT900S

LL1 (under $30,000)
LL2 ($30,000–$60,000)
LL3 ($60,000–$120,000)
LL4 ($120,000–$240,000)
LL5 (above $240,000)

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