Holden’s Lang Lang proving ground has been the company’s home of testing and development since it opened nearly 60 years ago in 1957. There is 23km of sealed road for testing, and more than 19km of unsealed and dirt roads where the carmaker tests its SUVs and utes.
But one of its most interesting features lies within the 4.69km circular track, the only one of its kind in Australia, where Holden tests how well its cars can handle speed and changing lanes.
Holden’s latest Commodore going around the track. Image: Supplied
Think of the ring in the same way as a NASCAR track in the sense that there are different levels of gradients, starting from essentially flat, then angle gets steeper the higher and closer you climb to the outside edge.
In the ring, Holden created three lanes based on the angles. The bottom two are fairly standard, but the top one has a special feature.
No matter what car you’re driving in that top lane, if you’re hitting exactly 160km/h, you can take your hands off the steering wheel and the car will drive itself in a continuous loop, without veering away, until it runs out of fuel.
Business Insider was taken for a lap on it by one of Holden’s engineers in a prototype car. He explained that it works by using opposing forces gravity and elements. From the outside, gravity is pushing the car towards the middle and around the track, while the wind resistance from the bottom keeps the car up.
But it only works when you hit exactly 160km/h (100mph). No more, no less.