This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will mark the 50th Anniversary of Corvette’s first participation and class win at the world’s most prestigious sports car race. Chevrolet is celebrating this milestone with a salute to the Corvette legends of Le Mans at the American Le Mans Series race at Monterey this weekend.
Chevrolet is bringing in a special display of historic Corvettes that raced at Le Mans and one of the best known drivers of Corvettes at the time, Dr. Dick Thompson aka “The Flying Dentist” will be on hand to describe his experiences racing Corvettes at Le Mans.
Four Corvettes competed in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans – three entered by sportsman Briggs Cunningham and one by Camoradi USA. Cunningham’s No. 2 Corvette driven by Dr. Dick Thompson and Fred Windridge will be on display at the Laguna Seca event, and Thompson will be on hand to describe his Le Mans experiences. The No. 2 Corvette retired at 20 hours, but the sister No. 3 Cunningham Corvette driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman won its class and finished eighth overall.
Chevy’s second-generation Corvette made its Le Mans debut in 1967 with Corvette legends Dick Guldstrand and Bob Bondurant sharing the driving duties. Entered by Dana Chevrolet, the red, white and blue coupe blitzed the Mulsanne Straight with big-block horsepower. Guldstrand will be reunited with the restored Corvette and share his memories of Le Mans at the historic Corvette display in the ALMS paddock.
The 1969 Greenwood Corvette competed in the Triple Crown of sports car racing – the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Constructed and campaigned by John Greenwood, this star-spangled Corvette was driven by top road course drivers of the period including comedian Dick Smothers and Chevrolet performance specialist Don Yenko. Greenwood, Bob Johnson and Jim Greendyke raced this remarkable machine at Le Mans in 1973.
Chevrolet will close the circle of Le Mans Corvettes with a 2011 Corvette Z06 painted in the traditional white and blue American racing colors carried by the Cunningham Corvettes 50 years ago. This one-of-a-kind Corvette Z06 (VIN 0001) will be sold at auction later this year to benefit the National Corvette Museum.
“It is an honor for Chevrolet to salute the men and machines that have contributed to Corvette’s racing heritage at Le Mans since 1960,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President, Chevrolet Marketing. “They are part of Chevy’s longstanding tradition of developing technology on the track to improve the design, performance and efficiency of Corvettes on the street. The hardware has changed dramatically over five decades, but the challenge and excitement of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has endured through the years.”
No team has enjoyed more success with Corvettes at Le Mans than Corvette Racing, winner of six GTS/GT1 class titles since 2001. The twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars will compete in the six-hour Laguna Seca endurance race against GT class rivals Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, and Jaguar. Corvette Racing’s quartet of drivers – Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R – have a total of 17 Le Mans class victories. They’ll be joined in Laguna Seca by Corvette Racing ambassador Ron Fellows, a two-time winner at Le Mans.
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving