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Frenchie’s sales consultant’s job forces her to drive 2014 Corvette ... fast

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MASSENA - A Massena vehicle sales consultant recently completed two days training on a new product that has launched this year.

But Sue E. Halstead, a sales and leasing consultant at Frenchie’s Chevrolet, didn’t spent those two days locked in a conference room reading and re-reading manuals and watching videos of the 2014 Chevrolet Stingray Corvette.

Her classroom time was equaled hour for hour by time on a track driving the 2014 Corvette as fast as possible under the tutelage of professional drivers from the Ron Fellows Corvette Performance Driving School in a program offered for Chevrolet dealership owners and employees at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump, Nev.

Ms. Halstead said the 2014 Corvette Stingray Sales Academy is part of a program Chevrolet provides for its dealerships when a new model hits the street with drastic changes from the previous model.

“There is so much new technology on the new Corvette that they did a sales academy,” she said.

The veteran vehicle salesperson is still raving about the opportunity weeks after returning from the two-day event earlier this month.

“This was just an awesome experience, a once in a lifetime thing. It was pretty much one on one. It was fun but scary,” she admitted.

Ms. Halstead there were 40 people in the class during the two days she was at the academy, 60 miles west of Las Vegas. She said the 40 people in the class were broken into four groups.

“I was the only woman in the group of 40. The most exciting thing was having the professional drivers right there telling you what and exactly when to do it. They put us on a wet figure 8 track and had us take off any controls that would keep us from skidding and then they kept pushing us to go faster and faster and, of course, eventually you ended up losing control and doing a 360,” she recalled.

“Then they put the controls on and you felt how the vehicle holds you from skidding. That was the most fun and the most scary part of the school,” Ms. Halstead added.

She said the track training was different than anything she has experienced in the past.

“I have always been taught to drive safely, so when they are telling you to drive faster and faster it goes against a nature. They had a few people that skidded off the track but I didn’t. It was close a couple of times,” she acknowledged.

She said sitting in the car and working with the professional drivers gave her a far better understanding of some of the new technology on the 2014 Corvette from a launch control and an active rev match to a performance package with driving modes for nearly all road conditions.

“Those modes activated by one little push of a button give the ordinary driver capabilities it takes professional race drivers hundreds of hours to master,” according to Ms. Halstead.

The speedometer on the 2014 reaches 160 mph, but Ms. Halstead admitted she didn’t know how fast she was traveling when she was racing around the track, and she said she wasn’t alone.

“After the first day, we had a meeting and they asked how fast did everybody go. They had us doing so many different things with the vehicle that nobody knew. I just knew I was going fast,” she noted.

Ms. Halstead said the 2014 Corvette sales academy was the best training program she has been involved in for new vehicle models during her career in vehicle sales and leasing.

“To be able to feel what they put on these vehicles and why ... You can’t learn any other way and understand,” she suggested.

Real “Frenchie” Coupal, president of Frenchie’s Chevrolet, said the dealership typically sells two to three Corvettes a year. He said he is hoping they will get an allocation of the 2014 Stingrays.

“If we get some of the new ones, we can sell them,” he said.

The 2014 Stingray starts at $51,000 and a model with all the options sells for $75,000, Ms. Halstead said.

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