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Corvette Racing: Petit Le Mans News Roundup

by Keith Cornett on October 2, 2008

The Corvette C6.Rs at Petit Le Mans
We got a ton of news and quotes coming for the Corvette Racing team as they prepare for Saturday’s 1,000-Mile/10-Hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Stay with CorvetteBlogger as we follow the factory-backed Corvette C6.Rs in what will be their last appearance in the GT1 class at the American Le Mans series premier event before transitioning to GT2 next year.


Wednesday Practice

Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis went quickest in GT1 at 1:16.867 (118.959 mph). The trio was 0.095 seconds quicker than the sister Corvette of Jan Magnussen, Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell.

Magnussen and O’Connell lead the class championship by 23 points over Beretta and Gavin. There are 55 points remaining over the final two events with 30 points going to Petit Le Mans winners.



Corvette Racing’s #3 Jan Magnussen on Petit Le Mans

“Petit Le Mans is a fantastic race. There are so many fans there. It’s a long event – 1,000 miles – so people tend to come there and camp out. It’s very similar to Sebring in terms of atmosphere. And the race is a little bit different than the other long races that we do. The track kind of lends itself to harder racing because you have to take bigger chances to get through traffic. But it’s, for me, a fantastic event, and I’m looking to go back there and do more than 14 laps or whatever I did last year before I got pushed off.”



A Ford for Andy Pilgrim?

Yes, that was a GM man in the pits of a Ford GT-R team Wednesday. Andy Pilgrim will co-drive Black Swan Racing’s GT2 entry with Anthony Lazzaro and team owner Tim Pappas. Pilgrim is part of Chevrolet’s factory road-racing program but received permission from GM to drive Pappas’ car.

Looking ahead, it’s not a bad idea. Corvette Racing announced in September that it will move to GT2 following next year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pilgrim said not to read too much into his drive this weekend as he doesn’t know how Corvette Racing will utilize him next season.

“Tim had wanted me to drive the car for awhile and it worked out this race where I could,” Pilgrim said. “It’s good to get the experience in GT2 because of the future of GM’s Corvette program and testing the GT2 car.”



Johnny O’Connell’s Charity Auction

Corvette Racing driver Johnny O’Connell will host his annual charity auction at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, October 3, at Road Atlanta’s infield winner’s circle. O’Connell organized the auction in 2001 in memory of his father to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association and The Guest House, a senior citizen day care center in Gainesville, Ga.

Drivers, teams, and manufacturers have donated memorabilia and merchandise, and O’Connell will play the role of auctioneer. The event has raised more than $200,000 for charity to date.



Bad Boy Vettes PitCam

BBV will be down in Atlanta for Petit Le Mans this weekend and their ever popular PitCam will be bringing you a live feed from the pits while the Corvette C6.Rs are on the track as well as behind the scenes view of the paddock. A chat room will be running in conjunction with the PitCam operation. Expect to see video starting on Friday.



Mad Max’s Birthday

Max Papis returns to Corvette Racing as the third driver of the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R at Petit Le Mans. The popular Italian will celebrate his 39th birthday on Friday, October 3, on the eve of the endurance race. Happy Birthday, Max!



Have You Voted?

There is still time to vote for this year’s American Le Mans Series “From The Fans” awards. The Corvette Racing team’s fearless leader Doug Fehan has been nominated so drop what you’re doing and vote for Godoug now! As fans, we can also vote for the Most Popular Driver Award and I have thrown my support behind Corvette Racing driver Johnny O’Connell. His charity auction this weekend is just another reason why he is one of the good guys in this league. Go Johnny!



The 1,000 mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans will take place this Saturday, October 4th. SPEED will televise the race live starting at 11am.



Sources:
Paddock Talk | Newshaus | Bad Boy Vettes | American Le Mans

Related:
[VIDEO] Corvette Racing’s Doug Fehan on the Green Challenge
LG Motorsports GT2 Corvette Returning to ALMS for Petit Le Mans

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LG Motorsports/Riley Technologies GT2 #28 Corvette

Lou Gigliotti and his flame-painted #28 GT2 Corvette are returning to the ALMS to compete in the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans this weekend in Atlanta. Lou will be teaming up with Tomy Drissi while the third driver may be Marc Goossens, who filled the third seat at Sebring.

The LG Motorsports/Riley Technologies Corvette was last seen at Miller Motorsports Park in May where the team posted a season-best 6th place finish. The Corvette has been updated slightly and should be quicker than the Utah race where the team ran as high as 3rd. Lou said “Riley and our LG Team have completed some updates that we are very pleased with.”

The car will be on Dunlop Tires for this race and the team is very optimistic about the improved performance. The #28 Corvette will also have a new sponsor for Petit LeMans, the 20th Century Fox Movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. The movie will be in theaters December 12th and you can view the movie trailer here.



Source:
LG Motorsports

Related:
[VIDEO] ALMS GT2: LG Motorsports #28 Corvette at Utah

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[VIDEO] Corvette Racing’s Doug Fehan on the Green Challenge

by Keith Cornett on September 29, 2008

The E85 Powered 590 hp Corvette C6.R

Corvette Racing’s Program Manager Doug Fehan was on SPEED TV’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain last night to discuss the upcoming Green Challenge that will take place during this weekend’s 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans. The Green Challenge will pit all classes of cars in this race-within-a-race with the winner’s selected based on performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact. Corvette Racing has thrown down the gauntlet to all contestants and is striving for the overall win.

The 1,000 mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans will take place this Saturday, October 4th. SPEED will televise the race live starting at 11am.


Source:
SPEED

Related:
Corvette Racing Moves to E85 for 2008 ALMS Seasonn

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Actor and Corvette Racer Paul Newman Dies at 83

by Keith Cornett on September 28, 2008

Paul Newman and his GT1 Corvette

The country lost one of the greats this weekend with the passing of Paul Newman. Newman was diagnosed with lung cancer 18 months ago and passed away this weekend at the age of 83 years old. Paul’s love of auto racing is well documented since he starred in the 1969 movie Winning. Once hooked, he raced for the rest of his life. Just last year he had two SCCA regional class wins and a second place finish. Newman won four amateur national championships, a second place finish at Le Mans and in 1995 won the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Paul’s car of choice was his GT1 Corvette. Every year it was renumbered to coincide with his age. Last July, Paul and his #82 Corvette finished 4th at the Glen Nationals at Watkins Glenn.

Perhaps one of the most stirring stories in racing took place in August when Lime Rock shut down for a couple of hours so that Newman could take his final laps in the Corvette.

God Bless you Paul and thank you for your support of Corvette Racing over the years. Click here for Paul Newman’s official obituary.


Source:
Autoblog Related:
Paul Newman Is Still Racing Corvettes at 82 Technorati Tags:
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Corvette Racing: Vote for Fehan, O’Connell in 2008!

by Keith Cornett on September 24, 2008

Corvette Racing's Johnny O'Connell following the St. Petersburg Grand Prix

It’s time to vote for this year’s American Le Mans Series “From The Fans” awards. The Corvette Racing team’s fearless leader Doug Fehan has been nominated so drop what you’re doing and vote for GoDoug now! Doug has been with team since 1999 and has helped lead Corvette Racing to eight consecutive GT1 championships in the American Le Mans Series and five class wins at Le Mans. Nobody deserves this award more than Doug.

As fans, we can also vote for the Most Popular Driver Award and I will make no bones about throwing my support behind Corvette Racing driver Johnny O’Connell. O’Connell has been doing some of his best driving this year and has led the #3 Corvette C6.R team to the top of the GT1 Drivers Championship. Johnny is a Two-time ALMS GT1 champion, 35 career ALMS wins, seven Sebring 12-hour class victories, holds ALMS records for most starts (93) and most podium finishes (70).

Fan voting is open until Sunday, October 5th, the end of Petit Le Mans weekend. Voting by the fans will determine this year’s winner. The award will be presented at the season-ending banquet in Monterey, California on the day after the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Show your support to Corvette Racing! Vote for Doug Fehan and Johnny O’Connell!


Source:
AmericanLemans.com

Related:
Corvette Racing: Fellows Named Most Popular ALMS Driver

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[VIDEO] Cindy McCain – Corvette Drifter?

by Keith Cornett on September 17, 2008

Cindy McCain Drifting a Corvette

There are many things we don’t know about the personal lives of the Presidential candidates and that extends to their spouses as well. ESPN’s E:60 took some time with Cindy McCain and I was surprised to learn that she has a serious passion for all kinds of motor sports and has even pursued drifting.

According to her son Jack, after seeing a drifting race, Cindy was taken immediately with the sport and the two of them flew to Japan to learn from one of the Country’s highly regarded instructors.

Unfortunately, due to a wrist injury suffered on the campaign trail, we don’t get to ride along with the wife of the Republican Presidential candidate behind the wheel and sliding sideways around the corners of a track, but we do see video we’re assuming to be Cindy drifting one of the yellow Corvettes at Bondurant’s School of High Performance Driving in Phoenix.

Cindy apparently has a soft spot for NASCAR as well. The video shows her behind the wheel of Corvette Z06 Pace Car, which she drove at a NASCAR race at Pocono in August.

Cindy and her son Jack are finishing building a Nissan 240 SX with a “tricked out engine” as she calls it and promises to continue her passion for motor sports if her husband is elected.



Source:
ESPN

Related:
Bondurant Driving School Adding 2009 Corvette ZR1 to Fleet

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Corvette Racing: GT2 Will Never Be The Same

by Keith Cornett on September 10, 2008

The #4 Corvette at the Detroit Sports Car Challenge

An exciting announcement came yesterday from GM Road Racing Manager Steve Wesoloski: Corvette Racing will be back in the ALMS for 2009 and 2010. The team is planning on running their GT1 Corvettes in limited races during the first half the season and will compete in the 2009 24 Hours of LeMans. Following that race, Corvette Racing will return to the ALMS and will run 2 new cars in the GT2 class for the remainder of the 2009 schedule. In 2010, the team will then run a full season in the restructured GT class.

According to GM’s press release, the team will only run twice in the GT1 class (Sebring,Long Beach) before June’s 24 Hours of LeMans. Over the last couple of years, four ALMS races preceeded LeMans. Following their return from France, the team will switch to the GT2 class in the attempt to unseat both Porsche and Ferrari from the podiums in “selected” ALMS races. This is essentially saying that 2009 will be the swan song for the GT1 C6.R as well as a “rebuilding” year for the GT2 C6.R.

But it’s in 2010 that things really get interesting. A major reshuffling of the classes will essentially merge GT1 and GT2 into one class called GT. Under ACO/FIA rules, the GT class is much closer to production cars with the race cars limited to a maximum engine displacement of 5.5 liters. The move to GT2 in 2009 will see Corvette transition from a displacement of 7.0 liters down to 6.0 liters.

First the quotes and then we’ll tell you why this is great news:

“Corvette Racing will be well positioned for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide with the plans we are announcing today,” said Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manager. “The international regulations are converging around a single, global GT class, and we intend to continue Corvette’s motorsports heritage by racing against manufacturers and marques that Corvette competes with in the marketplace.

“The GT1 class has been a platform for GM Racing and our partners to develop the most technically sophisticated race cars in our history,” Wesoloski said. “We intend to apply the tremendous success we have had in the GT1 category to make the next-generation Corvette C6.R a strong contender in the new GT class.”

“Competing in GT2 will be a true test of our team’s determination, talent and technology,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. “The level of competition in the category is already fierce, and that promises to become more intense with more manufacturers and top-tier teams. We’ve explored alternative paths, and we believe that competing in GT is the right road for Corvette Racing to take in the future.

“We will continue our commitment to cellulosic E85R ethanol racing fuel in the current GT1 Corvette C6.R and the next-generation Corvette C6.R that will compete in the new GT class ” Fehan said. “Corvette Racing’s green racing initiative is proof of our commitment to using alternative fuels at the highest levels of motorsports.”

The obvious reason why this is a great move is that Corvette will be racing against the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, Dodge, and Panoz. Way better than the once a year battle at LeMans against the Aston Martin DBR9s and Saleen’s S7 and way, way better than the two Corvette C6.Rs knocking the doors off each other.

The GT2 and then GT race cars will feature much more of the production Corvette DNA that you and I love. The old adage of “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” will become more of a reality for Corvette than (dare I say) GM’s NASCAR program.

But most importantly is what this move will do for the next generation C7 Corvette. Corvette Racing is the on-track testing platform for the newest technologies. The LS7 505 hp V8, carbon fiber body panels and ceramic brakes were all tested on the C6.Rs before being incorporated on production C6 Corvettes. Racing a production based C6 Corvette with a smaller engine displacement will ensure that the two major C7 development goals of weight reduction and fuel efficiency will be tried and tested in time for 2012 when the new Corvette is expected.

In the last 10 years, the partnership of GM and Pratt & Miller has established the Corvette Racing brand as one of most dominant teams in road racing history. Corvette Racing is the most successful team in ALMS history, winning seven consecutive ALMS GT1 manufacturers and team championships and six straight drivers championships. Corvette Racing has also dominated globally with five GT1 victories since 2001 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While 2009 will be a time of transition for the team, the real payoff will come in 2010 and beyond. For Corvette Racing enthusiasts, the news couldn’t be any sweeter! The GT2 class (and then GT) won’t be the same.

For more on the subject, we recommend reading the following: Our friends at BadBoyVettes provide an excellent bullet-by-bullet analysis
Marshall Pruett writes about Corvette’s New Direction at SPEED TV
American LeMans Press Release: Corvette Racing Back For 2009
And finally, the release from GM: Corvette Racing Announces Future Plans



Source:
GM.com
AmericanLeMans.com

Related:
GM Red Flags Corvette’s Le Mans Evo C7R Racer
Corvettes to Compete in ALMS GT2 Class in 2008

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Bondurant Driving School Adding 2009 Corvette ZR1 to Fleet

by Keith Cornett on September 5, 2008

The Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

Want to drive the 638-hp 2009 Corvette ZR1 but are have trouble coming up with the $105,000 entry fee? The Bondurant School of High Performance Driving is adding at least one of the new supercharged Corvettes to its fleet of Corvettes as part of its 2-day ZR1 Driving Course. The new top of the line Corvette is expected to be at the school’s Phoenix facility in late September.

The ZR1 Control Course is one of the benefits buyers receive when they purchase the new Corvette. The 2-Day Corvette ZR1 Driving Course is offered for free to new Corvette ZR1 owners. Non-ZR1 owners can also take the course, which is expected to run $3395.

Drivers will first start out in seat of the regular Corvette C6 Coupe before moving up to the high performance Z06 and then the ZR1. Bondurant’s students spend 80% of their time at the school on the track and the student to instructor ratio of 3:1 will ensure that participants will come away from the track with a positive experience.

Visit the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving for more information and don’t forget to make your plans for the Bondurant Corvette Performance Experience on December 6th.


Source:
Bondurant via Motor Trend

Related:
[VIDEO] Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

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[VIDEO] NHRA Pro Modified Corvette Crashes, Driver Critical

by Keith Cornett on September 4, 2008

1963 Corvette Pro Modified Drag Car

NHRA Pro Modified driver Steve Engle was critically injured when his 1963 Corvette drag racer went out of control following a run at Saturday’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Witnesses said the run looked good at the beginning, but towards the end and traveling an estimated 230 mph, the car hooked hard and veered nearly head on into the left cement barrier, cracking a large portion of the wall.

Steve went into surgery on Sunday and according to his family, he sustained fractures in six cervical vertebrae and damage to his spinal cord.

Engel was participating in qualifying for the JEGS ProMod Challenge, an exhibition Series that holds rounds at select NHRA POWERade Series events.

Update:
We got sad news on Monday that Steve passed away. The following is a news release from the NHRA:

After showing significant signs of improvement in the past week, Pro Modified racer Steve Engel died suddenly at 5 p.m. Sunday in Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Engel was involved in a serious one-car racing accident during the recent 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

Engel’s Diamond Heavy Haul Corvette went out of control near the top end of the track, and he impacted the retaining wall head-on. He was airlifted to Methodist Hospital where doctors discovered six broken vertebrae in his back. Two were fixed immediately, but then excess fluid developed in his lung; doctors had to wait to fix the other four. That procedure was done Friday, and physicians were diagnosing a long but full recovery.

The 49-year-old Engel is survived by his wife, Tonya, and his sons, Stevie and Michael.

“The entire Pro Mod community is in a state of shock right now,” fellow racer and Jegs ProMod Challenge organizer Troy Coughlin said. “We were all so optimistic after Friday’s report, and then we get this terrible news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tonya and the boys.

“Steve was a great racer — he won his first event with us earlier this year in Bristol — but he was an even better person. He was a big man with a big heart, always anxious to share a few laughs and toast with a cold beer. He loved to race, and he dearly loved his friends at the track. He will be missed.”

A resident of Shandon, Ohio, Engel competed in 31 Jegs ProMod Challenge events in the past few years. He had one win and two runner-up finishes on his resume. Overall, Engel had been drag racing for 21 years, and he listed John Force as the racer he admired most.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Our prayers are with Steve and his family.


Sources:
Yellowbullet.com
NHRA.com

Related:
Corvette Wheelie

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Corvette Racing: Gavin and Beretta Win in Detroit

by Keith Cornett on September 2, 2008

The #4 Corvette C6.R Wins the Detroit Sports Car Challenge

Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta used a pit stop to jump ahead of their teammates in the #3 Corvette C6.R and the duo never looked back as they won Saturday’s Detroit Sports Car Challenge. The #4 Corvette C6.R completed 100 laps and finished one minute and 7.3 seconds ahead of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. The #008 Bell Motorsports Aston Martin DBR9 finished third in class, seven laps behind the Corvettes.

The win was done in classic form as Gavin started the race four spots behind Magnussen. Gavin cleared the three GT2 cars that were in front him and by lap 10 he was off to catch Magnussen. The two Corvettes pitted during a caution at the 40 minute mark for tires, fuel and driver changes. Beretta and the number 4 Corvette C6.R emerged from the pits first in class with O’Connell in hot pursuit.

“It’s been a rough season for us, but if you’re going to win anywhere, Detroit is the one you want to win,” said Gavin. “Everybody on the team was very focused on this event, and it was a hard, close race for many laps. I have to thank all of the guys on the No. 4 Corvette C6.R – they’ve worked brilliantly over the last few events. I haven’t been so kind to this car, I’ve had some incidents and accidents, but they’ve fixed it fantastically. (Crew chief) Mike West and (engineer) Steve Cole have worked magic, setting up the car and getting it good for the races. We’ve been fast in every event, and finally it’s all fallen into place for the No. 4 Corvette.”

“I need to thank my crew because they work hard on the pit stops, and they work hard at the shop even when we are having bad luck,” said Beretta. “We have been quick all year, but even when we didn’t achieve what we wanted to do, they never gave up. That is the spirit of Corvette Racing.”

The two Corvettes again pitted together at 1:43 with Gavin and Magnussen taking over for Beretta and O’Connell. Magnussen mounted a late-race charge on Gavin but this time luck turned on the #3 C6.R as the safety car came between the two Corvettes during a full course race caution. The #4 Corvette gained nearly a lap on their teammates and were able to seal the victory.

“We were looking good up until the first stop when the other car beat us out of the pits,” said Magnussen. “I think in traffic and over a long run we had a really good car. At the end when I was trying to attack, we got caught out with the safety car between us and lost a lap. That’s just how it is. The No. 4 Corvette has been so unlucky all year, it’s about time some luck went their way.”

Gavin agreed: “The race did hinge on the first pit stop,” the Briton explained. “It was a short fuel fill and the other car did have a small problem. Olivier withstood the pressure from Johnny, and Jan was pushing me hard but I managed to resist that. Our car was much improved from qualifying. We were aiming to run this differential and this setup just to see if we could improve our performance on street circuits. Today it all went according to plan.”

The Corvette Racing team will be heading to Road Atlanta for the 1,000 mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans on Saturday, October 4th. SPEED will televise the race live starting at 11am.


Source:
CorvetteRacing.com
Photo Credit: Richard Prince

Related:
Corvette Racing: Magnussen Motors to GT1 Pole in Motown
Corvette Racing: Celebrating The 100th Race At The Detroit Grand Prix
[VIDEO] Corvette Racing: A Day at the Races

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