By Kimatni D. Rawlins,
Images by Garvin St. Villier
Welcome to the world famous WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the third season of “Lexus 0 to 60” featuring some of your favorite celebrities ripping runways with authority in the latest ensemble of high-flying Japanese coupes and sedans. The driving action matched up two teams of three drivers through adrenaline pumping motorsports drills utilizing the GS F, RC F, LC 500 and the RC F Track Edition super coupe for a chance to win a new Lexus for a year.
With bragging rights at stake, the challengers enjoyed exhilaration behind the wheel of the aforementioned immaculate conceptions on the paved road racing track in Central California near Salinas and Monterey. This season the drivers took on the high-speed competitions for entitlements to the fastest times. And if you have never driven on Laguna Seca then maybe you should schedule the bucket list experience since the racing pleasures manifest pure exultation and euphoria from within. The 11-turn circuit features elevation changes, blind curves and a notorious corkscrew at turn 8 and 8a that flows downhill for five stories!
I began my journey to the shoot from San Francisco in a loaded 2019 Ultrasonic Blue Mica GS350 F Sport featuring the 3.5-liter V6 with 311-horsepower and an 8-speed transmission with Drive Mode Select. It’s a new era of automotive engineering where style, safety, infotainment and comfort are just as important as the drive itself. Advanced telematics, opulent craftsmanship, visceral acceleration and desirable attributes were provided in my GS350. Comparing the persona of this luxury touring sedan to that of the exciting F models was pretty fascinating. In fact, most of the contestants were amazed that Lexus engineers rides that are track worthy. But now they understand that the letter “F” marks the highest expression of performance and power inside the family, which is currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of the venerable lineup.
Hosted by Big Tigger (face of Atlanta’s V-103 and the Atlanta Hawks’ resident DJ) the participants of “Lexus 0 to 60” included actor and producer Omar Benson Miller (Ballers, 8 Mile); actor and talk show host John Thomas Salley (retired NBA champion); actor, voice actor, producer and writer Jaleel Ahmad White (Steve Urkel from Family Matters); actor Mekhi Phifer (starred in more than 40 films since debuting in Spike Lee’s Clockers); actor Curtis Hamilton (Surviving Compton); and sprinting coach Carmelita Jeter (Olympic Gold Medalist, holds a sprinting world record of 10.64 seconds). Trust me, Jeter is just as fast with tires on the racetrack as she is with spikes in lane 5, and also exhibited the most energy. But let’s not forget Salley has motorsports DNA in his blood from participation in a plethora of races. Their instructional coaches were Scott Pruett, the most decorated IMSA driver of all time, and Jack Hawksworth who set a track record at Road Atlanta for the Le Mans Prototype Challenge.
“I have to say, I’m impressed and surprised by what I was able to feel on the track with Lexus. Both the sedans and the sports car have outstanding performance,” stated Omar Miller.
The participants were ecstatic over the Lexus models and the head-to-head competition during the 2-day series. Some of the tasks requiring concentration behind the wheel were the slide and slalom, the corkscrew and the relay challenge. We can all agree that everyone praised the stalwart LC 500 featuring a naturally aspirated 5-liter V8 engine, 10-speed Direct-Shift transmission with magnesium paddle shifters and staggered 20” split-10-spoke cast alloy rims. Kicking out 471-horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque for a 0 to 60 sprint time of 4.4 seconds the Japanese coupe galloped valiantly through Laguna Seca.
Not to be outdone, Lexus “F” models are the elevated derivatives of their base models and the formula that turns Carmelita into a jet. For starters, the thrill-seeking RWD RC F powered through turns with agility and sidewinded like snakes on trails. With a Torque Vectoring Differential, F-Adaptive Variable Suspension and Drive Mode Select, the RC F showcased extraordinary handling during the challenges.
The pompous 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition (50-unit limit) is another home run for the brand. The GT3-inspired super coupe incorporates stability and aerodynamic racing technologies along with 19” BBS Wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. It’s enhanced by a 5-liter 472-horsepower V8, titanium exhaust tips, carbon fiber aero components, carbon fiber fixed wing and a carbon fiber roof and hood. Trust me 0 to 60 goes quick, 3.96 seconds to be exact.
Looking to smokescreen the competition? Then fire up the GS F which offers a taste of the raw power emanating from the 467-horsepower 5-liter V8 and allows the high-performance sedan to run 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds while reaching a top track speed of 168 mph. Furthermore, the RWD GS F is enhanced with a Torque Vectoring Differential, Brembo 6-piston front calipers with 14.9” slotted and ventilated discs and 4-piston rear calipers with 13.5” slotted and ventilated discs. Track proven and road ready the GS F is the Lexus brand’s most powerful sedan.
“I’ve loved Lexus since working with them in 1992 out of Miami. I’ve known every variation of each model and the one thing I can say is that the modern Lexus cars almost drive themselves which is helpful on the track because I’m trying to win,” laughed John Salley.
The results and winners will be announced in early April when the digital series is released but enjoy our photo gallery in the interim!