September 15, 2007 , Chelsea, Mich -

More than 200 police and public safety department representatives converged on the Chrysler Chelsea Proving Grounds today to take part as observers in the 2008 Michigan State Police Vehicle Evaluation.

Conducted by the Michigan State Vehicle Test Team, this annual event is widely considered to be the national benchmark evaluation of police and special-service vehicles. Many jurisdictions base their fleet purchasing decisions of the performance data generated by this multi-day, multi-venue test.

Michigan State Police tested a number of vehicles from Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford and motorcycles from Harley-Davidson and BMW. In last year's test, the Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum were the top performers in all automotive categories. Results and methodology can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/VehicleEvaluation2007_MSP-PoliceVehicleComp_182663_7.pdf.

The event officially christened the newly resurfaced Chelsea Proving Grounds High-Speed Oval. The 4.71-mile high-banked track underwent a comprehensive $12 million reconstruction over the spring and summer, the first since it was originally laid in 1953.

Seen from the air, the oval is a six-lane asphalt road, and is in nearly continuous use. The banking in the turns is designed to accommodate vehicle speeds from 30 to 140 mph without producing any lateral loading.

When not hosting the Michigan State Police, the Chelsea Proving Grounds are utilized by Chrysler for new vehicle design development and validation. Several types of tests are performed at CPG, including vehicle durability, emissions certification, crash worthiness, brake development and certification, performance testing, wind and pass-by noise testing, steering-suspension tests, exposure to hot and cold temperatures -- prior to the vehicles being brought to the marketplace.

The Chelsea Proving Grounds evaluate 29,300 emissions test miles, 11 million durability test miles and 750 crash tests each year.

In addition to validating vehicles to prepare them for on-the-road driving, the Chelsea Proving Grounds have also hosted their share of historical moments including two world speed records.

The first was set July 20, 1969, by Buddy Baker in a high-winged Dodge Charger Daytona NASCAR stock car. Running high-speed tests prior to its competitive debut, the car went 203 mph, marking the first time anyone had ever gone over 200 mph on a closed course. Because the location was the Chelsea Proving Grounds, the record was never officially published.

On Feb. 2, 2004, the Chelsea Proving Grounds and the Dodge Ram SRT-10 made history, entering the Guinness Book of World Records as the "World's Fastest Production Pickup Truck." The Dodge Ram SRT-10 -- driven by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series star Brendan Gaughan -- posted a two-lap, both-directions average speed of 154.587 mph over a "flying kilometer" on the oval.

The 3,850-acre Chelsea Proving Grounds site in Sylvan Township is just south of the Village of Chelsea, covering an area approximately two by three miles wide, and contains approximately 95 miles of test roads, including: the high-speed oval; two straightaways, 1-1/2 and 2-1/4 miles long; a skid-traction facility; a 14-acre paved vehicle dynamics area with a three-mile oval; a handling and evaluation road; a replica of the Rubicon Trail off-road test;and several accelerated durability. In addition to the network of roads, there are a number of buildings on the site totaling approximately 750,000 square feet. The facility, which opened in 1952, employs 675.