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Corvette Racing

Corvette Racing’s Johnny O’Connell writes on his website about LeMans and the competition that the two C6.R teams will face. For the first half of the ALMS season, Team Corvette faced only one challenger – an Aston Martin at Sebring. That will change when the teams head to LeMans later this month where there will potentially be 15 or more cars in the GT1 class. Here’s some of what Johnny O has to say:

This year could perhaps be our most difficult ever. Not only will the factory Astons be there with a stronger package than what they had last year, but there will also be a few Saleens run by a very strong team that knows how to do well at Le Mans. The Saleen on paper should be the fastest, followed by the Aston….then us. Just kind of the way the ACO has written the rules. I think there are something like 15 or 17 GT1 cars. Most of them strong, so it will be a battle indeed. Our strength though, will be in the back of every teams mind. Our cars are the strongest. Bar none. We’ve proven it year after year. Both cars have always finished, and always at least one on the podium. In my mind it will take an extreme effort to qualify in the top 5. Again, just how things will play out speed wise. But Around the 20 hour mark, as others are struggling and getting fatigued as well as there cars, know that we’ll be pushing even harder.
The 24 Hours of Lemans will be held June 16-17th in France. SpeedTV will once again be providing coverage. For more Lemans Pre-Race notes from Johnny O’Connell, check out his website at
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2007 Indianapolis 500 Corvette Pace CarRace fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday will be in for a treat as 300 Corvettes and Camaros will lap one of auto racing’s most revered tracks. The lap around the historic 2.5 mile oval by Corvette and Camaro owners is sponsored by Chevrolet to celebrate the Corvette being selected as the official Pace Car for the 91st Indianapolis 500 race. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Corvette and Camaro owners will drive the lap around the track and then gather for a group photo at the Speedway’s Yard of Bricks. The drivers will then be treated to an evening at the Chevy display with food, live entertainment and a display of all nine Indianapolis 500 Corvette Pace cars.

“The premise for this program was to create an opportunity for our Corvette enthusiasts in the Indianapolis area to help us celebrate Chevrolet’s heritage pacing the Indianapolis 500,” said Terry Dolan, manager of Chevrolet Racing. “When our dealers approached five car clubs in the Indianapolis area about the idea there was unanimous support. Our 300 spaces to participate filled up very quickly.”
Corvette’s Chief Engineer Tom Wallace will be on hand to participate in the discussions and this year’s Corvette Pace Car driver Patrick Dempsey will stop by to meet and greet Chevrolet’s Corvette enthusiasts.
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Indianapolis 500: Corvette Pace Car Photoshoot

by Keith Cornett on May 22, 2007

Patrick Dempsey, star of TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and driver of this year’s Corvette Pace Car at the Indianapolis 500, spent some quality time with the Pace Car in preparation for the annual Memorial Day race.

Patrick Dempsey with the Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car Patrick Dempsey with the Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car Patrick Dempsey with the Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car
Patrick Dempsey with the Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car Patrick Dempsey with the Indy 500 Corvette Pace Car
Update: Click here for video of an interview with Patrick Dempsey about the Corvette Pace Car.
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#64 C6.R Corvette at the 2006 24 Hours of LeMansMost coaches would tell their teams not to look ahead on the schedule and to concentrate on this week’s opponent. But if you’re Corvette Racing, you can’t help thinking about what comes after this Saturday’s Utah Grand Prix in Salt Lake City, especially when the next race on the calendar is road racing’s equivalent to the Super Bowl. Following the outcome on at Salt Lake, where the only drama in the GT1 class is which Corvette race car will be in the winners circle, the C6.R’s and their teams will be on the way to France for the 24 Hours of LeMans. But don’t think the boys in the yellow C6.R Corvettes aren’t going to have fun this weekend. Following three consecutive street circuits, the drivers get to enjoy the wide open spaces of the 4.5-mile Miller Motorsports Park, the longest road course in America and the track most similar to the 8.5 mile road course of LeMans.

“Parts of the track are very similar to Le Mans,” observed GT1 co-champion Oliver Gavin, driver of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “Miller Motorsports Park doesn’t have the same straight-line speed and heavy braking that we experience at Le Mans, but its racing surface is just as smooth and the circuit has elements that remind me of the Dunlop chicane and the Esses in Le Mans. We will also be evaluating Michelin tires and the new GM air conditioning system that we’ll use in France, so this race will be a good test before we go off to the challenge of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.” “I love to race on the streets, but after three street races in a row, it will be good to go back to a dedicated road racing track,” added Olivier Beretta, Gavin’s teammate in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R. “My impression of the track in Salt Lake City is it’s like a European track, but even better because it’s longer. I never raced on a course with so many corners before we went there last year, and I’m happy to be going back.” “We were really shackled at that track last year, so it will be good to go back there and see what the Corvettes can really do,” Gavin noted. “I truly enjoyed driving the track in spite of the handicaps. It has a good combination of bends – in fact, there are so many turns and so few reference points that at first you wonder which way the track goes. It’s one circuit where you really need a map on the steering wheel to remember which way to turn!”
As this is last race before LeMans, Corvette Racing is very concerned about keeping the cars and equipment in good health. The C6.R Corvettes and their supplies will be air freighted to France just days after Saturday’s race. The two-hour, 45-minute race will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, May 20, at 1 p.m. EDT.
Photo Credit: Richard Prince Related:
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Patrick DempseyActor Patrick Dempsey, who plays Dr. Derek Sheperd on the hit TV show “Grey’s Anatomy”, was named the driver of the 2007 Corvette convertible Pace Car at the 91st Indianapolis 500. The worlds largest single-day spectator event is scheduled for Sunday, May 27th. While Dempsey is know for his acting work, he is no stranger to auto racing. Dempsey is a co-owner of IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 team Vision Racing. He also drives in selected sports car races for Hyper Sport Racing and off-road events.

“Most people recognize Patrick Dempsey from his on-screen endeavors,” said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. “But among the racing community, where Chevy plays a role globally, he is known as a dedicated car and racing enthusiast. Being accustomed to high performance cars and racetracks, he’s a great candidate to drive the Pace Car, and he’ll no doubt appreciate the Corvette’s power and handling abilities.”

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The Ron Fellows Special Edition C6.RThere was some exciting news about Corvette Racing that came from the Bash at the Corvette Museum. Corvette Racing’s Ron Fellows will be fielding a third C6.R at his hometown event, The Grand Prix of Mosport. Joining Ron as co-driver will be none other than C5-R Veteran Andy Pilgrim. Fellows and Pilgrim will be co-driving the special edition White C6.R that was unveiled earlier this year at Sebring. The last time Fellows and Pilgrim shared driving duties together was in 2000. The Grand Prix of Mosport is scheduled for August 26 in Ontario. SPEED will provide the racing coverage. More on this as it develops.
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#3 C6.R Drivers Johnny O'Connell and Jan MagnussenCorvette Racing’s #3 C6.R piloted by Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen ended the three-race win streak of teammates Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta at the Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston, Texas. Racing on the rough and rugged 1.7-mile JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park temporary street circuit was like riding a mechanical bull, but Magnussen and O’Connell held on throughout the two-hour and 45-minute race to stake their claim to the GT1 winner’s circle.

“You have to tip your hat to our engineer,” O’Connell said. “We went the wrong way before qualifying and then changed it significantly and I was able to turn laps faster than in qualifying. I had amazingly good in laps and a great out lap. It was enough to get us out front. We’ve had so much rotten luck with the 3 car and I’m glad to get this win.”
Magnussen took the checkered flag 50 seconds ahead of the other Corvette. It marked a breakthrough for a No. 3 crew that has been right on the heels of the sister car for much of the early season. Magnussen never felt secure as darkness fell in the closing moments.
“When we had the safety car, we had almost a lap lead on the other car and it was a matter of just staying out of trouble,” Magnussen said. “When it’s dark, all you see is headlights and you don’t know how far behind the other cars are.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Utah Grand Prix on Saturday, May 19. The 2-hour, 45-minute race on the 4.5-mile road course will begin at 5 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT). It will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, May 20, from 1-3 p.m. EDT.
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Corvette Racing’s Gavin and Berretta Win 3rd GT1 Race

by Keith Cornett on April 16, 2007

#4 C6.R Corvette in the Pits at Long BeachCorvette Racing’s # 4 C6.R driven by the two “Ollies”, Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta, won their third straight GT1 class Saturday in the ALMS Grand Prix of Long Beach. The 100 minute race was the shortest in ALMS history, and to give you an example of how short the race is, each of the Corvettes pitted only once for the driver change, tires and fuel. While racing unopposed in the GT1 class, Corvette Racing still brought its “A” game as the two C6.R teams went for the win. In the end, the #4 Corvette finished just 0.349 seconds ahead of the #3 C6.R driven by Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell.

“It’s very satisfying to get three in a row and have a decent points lead,” said Oliver Gavin. “This race has been quite tough because the track changed considerably from qualifying to the race. It’s a lot cooler today, and I think we had the car slightly too stiff for the cool temperatures. The track got very slippery, and it was difficult for Olivier because he had to push hard after the pit stop even though he’d had only six or seven laps in practice.” “I knew the only chance for us to get a win here was to push really hard on the out lap and beat the No. 4 car out of the pits,” said Johnny O’Connell. “We did everything we could, and I even brushed the wall on the out lap. It would have been nice to get a win here, but congratulations to the guys on the No. 4. Nobody on that team is making any mistakes.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Grand Prix of Houston, the third of three consecutive street races, on Saturday, April 21. The 2-hour, 45-minute race on the 1.7-mile JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park temporary street circuit will begin at 5:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. EDT). It will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, April 29, from 1-3 p.m. EDT.
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Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell are eager to put prior experience of tricky street circuits to good use when the American Le Mans Series makes its trip to the streets of California and the Long Beach circuit. The shortest track the field will race at, the tight and twisty circuit will make its debut on the ALMS calendar this year, but while many drivers will go there to embark on a weekend of learning, both Magnussen and O’Connell will merely have to dust the cobwebs off their memories to get by. Indeed, Magnussen raced at Long Beach recently thanks to his Grand-Am commitments and he admits it is a circuit he enjoys greatly.

“All in all, Long Beach is a great setting for a race and it’s good for the ALMS to race there,” the Dane said. “I’ve raced a Daytona Prototype there previously, and the track is much like the street circuit in St. Petersburg in terms of how the track is crowned. One corner that’s unique to Long Beach is the very tight hairpin at Turn 11. It’s a place where you just don’t try to pass, and you hope that nobody else tries to pass you.”
O’Connell meanwhile will have to delve further into the recesses of his memory to remember the last time he raced at Long Beach, that being when he was an up and coming driver through the open-wheel ranks.
“I’ve driven a little bit of everything at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, but the course has changed quite a lot since I last raced there so it will take some time to get familiar with the layout,” said O’Connell. “We’ll have to get up to speed quickly because practice time is very limited, but we have such an amazing engineering staff at Corvette Racing that all I have to do is focus on my driving. “The most important part of Corvette Racing’s program is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so while we approach these street races as good preparation for Le Mans, we don’t want to bang up our race cars. It forces us to be very precise and drive with good technique. Racing in Long Beach is a great opportunity for all of the Corvette owners in Southern California to see the Corvette C6.Rs in action.”
The Grand Prix of Long Beach will be held Saturday, April 14. The 100 minute race on a 1.968-mile temporary street circuit will begin at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. local time), and will be televised in a same-day broadcast on the SPEED Channel from 8 to 10:30 p.m. ET.
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Gavin/Beretta Win GT1 at St. Petersburg

by Keith Cornett on April 1, 2007

The #4 C6.R Corvette at St. PeteOliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won their second consecutive race in the GT1 class on the waterfront street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida. The #4 C6.R with the two Ollies had a smooth run while a driveline problem sidelined the #3 C6.R driven by Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. Gavin and Beretta completed 111 laps to finish 8th overall. Johnny O’Connell was driving the #3 Corvette when it suddenly lost power to the rear wheels after completing only 37 laps. Because the Corvette failed to complete 70% of the overall winner’s total laps, the Corvette and drivers were not eligible for championship points.

“This is a very unusual situation for us, but that’s the reason we’re out here racing,” commented Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We’ll look at the parts, see what the issues are, address any problems, and make the cars more bulletproof. There’s something to be learned from this, and that’s what we’ll do.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the second of three consecutive street races, the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday, April 14. The 1-hour, 40-minute race on a 1.968-mile temporary street circuit will begin at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. local time), and will be televised in a same-day broadcast on the SPEED Channel from 8 to 10:30 p.m. ET.
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