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The sanctioning body for GT1 class has had it in for Corvette Racing this year, and finally at Lime Rock on Saturday it pays off for Aston Martin. With a string of 12 consecutive wins, Corvette Racing is the dominant team. Over the last few years champions and challengers alike (Viper and Ferrari) have fallen to Corvette Racing. This year, in a bid to make the GT1 class more competitive, the sanctioning body of the ALMS is attempting to level the playing field by making changes to Corvette Racing’s car setup, most notably weight. In March at Sebring, the first race this year, the weight for the #3 and #4 Corvettes were required to be an additional 122 pounds heavier. Following the stunning win at LeMans, the longest track on the ALMS Tour, Corvette Racing’s Corvettes were required to be an additional 199 pounds heavier, have smaller intake restrictors and a smaller fuel tank capacity than its rivals when racing at Lime Rock on Saturday, the shortest and one of the most congested, technical tracks on the circuit. And despite these sanctions, the #3 Corvette finished in second place with only 0.33 separating them from the GT1 Class Winning 009 Aston Martin DBR. I don’t wish to take anything away from Aston Martin’s win at Lime Rock, but image the #3 Corvette being nearly 200 pounds lighter and maybe one less pit stop due to a smaller fuel tank and you get the picture. This should have been a win. Carbon Fiber body panels and a hydroformed steel chassis drops the weight of the Corvette C6.R to an astonishing 2,425 pounds (500 pounds less than the 2006 Corvette Z06). Millions of dollars have been spent by General Motors and Corvette Racing in developing the kind of advanced racing machine that wins 12 straight races. And then when it dominates, it is punished in the “spirit of competition”. Competition breeds success. Competition makes not only the champions better, but the challengers as well. Imagine the NFL telling a team that their wide receivers were too fast and then required them to wear five pound ankle weights during the game. Changes the game. Maybe not a lot, but 0.33 seconds is enough.
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Holiday traffic was heavy today at Lime Rock Park in the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series, with hard contact and close calls the order of the day in the New England Grand Prix. Corvette Racing’s bid for a record 13th consecutive victory in the GT1 class came up just short in a photo finish between the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R and the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9. Aston Martin driver Pedro Lamy edged Corvette star Johnny O’Connell by .033-second at the stripe. It was the first race since March 2005 that Corvette Racing had to settle for the second spot on the podium. “He had me by two feet, but with another lap or two we might have got him,” said O’Connell. “The guys on the No. 3 Corvette crew have been working so hard and I really wanted to get them a win. This is a very busy race track, but it was a fun battle and we raced each other clean.” “It was crazy out there – as crazy as I’ve ever seen it,” said O’Connell’s teammate Ron Fellows, who drove the first one-hour, 41-minute stint. “That’s typical of Lime Rock. I was a tick quicker than the Aston in a couple of areas, but not quick enough to take a shot at him.” The two-hour, 45-minute race on the roller coaster 1.54-mile circuit was punctuated by frequent contact and three full-course caution periods. The first incident was the result of Dyson Racing’s LMP1 prototype making an optimistic passing attempt in Turn 3 on Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. The prototype pushed the Corvette off the track, and both cars ended up in the guardrail, mired in mud.”The car was flying and I was pushing hard to catch the leaders,” Beretta reported. “I was trying to do my job and an accident happened. I turned into the corner and straight away I felt a car there. He touched me and I went off on the grass. My main concern was the steering. The crew did a terrific job as usual to get the car back on the track.” It took eight minutes for the track workers to extricate the wounded Corvette from the muck, and 17 minutes later the C6.R was back on the track with a new front end and Oliver Gavin behind the wheel. “The crew had to change the nose, change the engine undertray, and replace a broken tie rod end,” reported team manager Gary Pratt. “We cleaned off the mud, changed the tires, and the car was back going again.” That accident ended the bid of Beretta and Gavin to extend their record-setting winning streak to nine consecutive victories. “We’ve had some luck for the last eight races, and it ran out today,” said Gavin. “It was just not our day. I was impressed with how the boys got the car back out there. We completed the required 70 percent of the laps, earned some points, and now it’s on to the next race.” The race for the GT1 title was another pitched battle between the Aston Martin and Corvette camps, with the three frontrunners locked in combat on the same lap for the entire race. Fellows took the lead on the start, passing pole sitter Darren Turner’s Aston Martin. At the 10-minute mark, Beretta and Aston Martin driver Stephane Sarrazin made contact in Turn 1 and both spun. After one hour and 19 minutes of flat-out racing, Fellows and Sarrazin swept past Turner on the inside of Turn 1. Following the final round of pit stops and driver changes, O’Connell took second place from Tomas Enge with eight minutes remaining, and then narrowed Lamy’s margin from 3.7 seconds to a fender length at the finish. The Corvettes were carrying 199 more pounds than the Aston Martins, running smaller intake restrictors, and using smaller fuel tanks as a result of “balance of performance” adjustments mandated by the sanctioning body. “At some point in time we knew that the 200 pounds and the restrictor would be too much to overcome, and today turned out to be that day,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “It was certainly one hell of a battle, and it’s a good thing for Aston Martin that the race wasn’t about four feet longer. I think the fans got their money’s worth today.” Corvette Racing’s next event is the inaugural Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City on July 13-15. The fifth round of the 10-race ALMS will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, July 15, starting at 2 p.m. EDT.
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Corvettes Qualify Second and Third at Lime Rock

by Keith Cornett on July 1, 2006

Crew chief Dan Binks’ final instructions to driver Ron Fellows before the start of qualifying were succinct: “Have fun out there.” When Fellows returned to the Corvette Racing pits after taking the second spot on the GT1 grid for Saturday’s New England Grand Prix, his report was equally brief. “Guys, that was fun!” he radioed to the crew of the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R. “The car was great.” Fellows’ lap of the 1.54-mile Lime Rock Park road course in 50.491 seconds fell just .219 seconds short of Darren Turner’s pole-winning time in the No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9. Olivier Beretta ran the third quickest qualifying lap at 50.873 seconds in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Pedro Lamy was fourth fastest at 50.905 in the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9, joining the qualifying session late after an off-course excursion into a bog left by the torrential rain that has inundated New England. “I had a good, fun lap,” Fellows reported. “The car has been working very well since we rolled it onto the track for the first lap of practice. I don’t know if I could have gone quicker, but I sure would have liked another lap and taken a crack at it. “It’s amazing how fast this Corvette is here,” he added. “I still hold the track record in Trans Am from back in 1995, and it’s a 50.2 . . . and that’s without a chicane. Here we are going almost that fast with the chicane!”As a result of performance adjustments imposed by the sanctioning body last week, the Corvettes are now 199 pounds heavier than their Aston Martin rivals and have a 10-liter smaller fuel capacity. “I was quite pleased that Corvettes’ qualifying times pretty well matched the times from last year because the cars are in a significantly different configuration,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “That’s a testament to the hard work that the Corvette Racing team has done. If anything surprised me, it was that the Astons weren’t a bit quicker with the advantage that they now have. “Lime Rock is a great circuit on which to race – it’s bumpy, it’s fast, and there are some very challenging corners,” Fehan noted. “You can’t make a pit stop in the time it takes to complete a lap, so anything can happen on race day.” Fresh from a GT1 class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Olivier Beretta was still making the adjustment from the longest track on the schedule to the shortest. Beretta and his teammate Oliver Gavin will be racing for their ninth straight ALMS victory on Saturday. “This feels like a go-kart track after driving on a super track like Le Mans,” said Beretta. “Ron did a very good lap time, so congratulations to him. The important thing was not to damage the car, and that is the target for the race. Now we have to see what happens in the race, and I’m feeling confident.” The New England Grand Prix, the fourth round of the 10-race 2006 American Le Mans Series, will start at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 1. The race will be televised tape-delayed by CBS Sports on Sunday, July 2, at 4 p.m. EDT.
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NCM Delivers 1,000th Corvette This Year

by Keith Cornett on June 30, 2006

One of the most exciting options for new Corvette owners is R8C – Taking delivery of their new Corvette at the National Corvette Museum. As part of the Delivery, customers are given a tour of the Corvette Assembly Plant located across the street from the NCM. Then the customers tour the Museum and will see their new Corvette on display. The NCM Delivery Team provides a quality orientation followed by a delivery presentation. Each Corvette that is delivered through the Museum received a unique gold decal which is placed on the inside drivers door jam. The R8C option has become so popular that recently it has become a constrained option. On June 28th, Brad and Dianna Best from Edmond, Oklahoma picked up a beautiful Monterey Red Corvette Convertibleas part of the R8C Museum Delivery program. The Best’s also received another surprise – their Corvette was the 1,000th delivery of the 2006 model year!

“We are so surprised that we are the 1,000th delivery for the model year,” stated the excited delivery participants. “We came to take delivery of our Corvette and this just adds to the experience.”
You can find out more about the Museum Corvette Delivery Program by visiting the NCM’s website or check with your dealer for more details.
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Is This The New LS9 Blue Devil Engine?

by Keith Cornett on June 29, 2006

So I called it the Blue Devil instead of the Sting Ray. Point is most of us referring to the supercharged Corvette will probably call it the Blue Devil until we actually see photos and confirmation that the car will be called the Sting Ray. But that’s another story. The big story regarding the Blue Devil is the publishing of photos on DigitalCorvettes.com reportedly showing the supercharged LS9. Comments by members and others who have joined in the conversation, not only on DC, but other sites including Left Lane News and AutoBlog are saying that it is the supercharged LSA which is going into the Cadillac Escalade. To deepen the mystery, the original poster of the photos(Norm) has removed them from his post at what he claims are at the request of GM’s censors. We’ve decided to repost one of the photos here, but have placed a black bar to “protect” the identity of the mystery engine (ala AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds album). I am still trying to get a link from GM’s FastLane Blog and would hate to do something that might put it into jeopardy. Source: DigitalCorvettes.com, Left Lane News, AutoBlog.com
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Corvette Values: 1969 Corvette Convertible

by Keith Cornett on June 28, 2006

FM of Tampa, FL submitted the following 1969 Corvette Convertible to Corvette Values

1969 Corvette Convertible. VIN 1974679S7284XX. 350 ci 300 hp original motor with 4 speed transmission. Power Brakes, Steering Windows and Factory Air. Speed Warning, Posi, Radio Delete. Can-Am White with Saddle vinyl interior. Engine and rear suspension have been restored and mechanicals are in excellent condition. Paint is poor and fiberglass is in good condition. 10,944 original miles. No documentation, but owner history is known.
The VIN number 1974679S7284XX indicates this Corvette was built late in the 1969 production year, September 1969, assuring the owner that engineering modifications and changes made during the production year were included in this Corvette. The odometer reads 10,944 miles and the owner states this is the original mileage confirmed by documented original owner history. Original owner history is instrumental in determining the value of a Corvette. It has the original Can-Am White paint that is in “below average” condition. The chrome bumpers are in average street driven condition. The interior is Saddle vinyl and is in good condition as is the interior carpeting. The White Convertible Top is in good condition, also. This 1969 Corvette is powered by the original base 350-300 motor that is matched with the original 4-speed manual transmission. The mechanicals of this Corvette have been rebuilt, a necessary procedure since the Corvette was not driven for prolonged periods of time as substantiated by the low mileage. In its current condition, it can be an award winner in the Bloomington Gold Survivor classification, thus adding to the value of the Corvette. A number of desirable options are included in this 1969 Corvette, specifically, power steering, brakes, windows and air conditioning. Less than one-third of the 1969 model year Corvettes had the air conditioning option. This Vette also has the speed warning option, a very rare option with less than 10% of the buyers ordering it. The appraised value of this Corvette is $28,000. Of interest is the appreciation factor that indicates during the past year the average resale price of a 1969 Corvette increased by 8%. The popularity of this model will continue to reflect an appreciation factor of 10% per year. Submissions:
Send your submissions to info@CorvetteBlogger.com with “Corvette Values” in the subject line. We can’t answer them all, but if we find your Corvette interesting to both us and our visitors, we may use it. Feel free to submit a photo as well.
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Racing Across the US in a Classic ’54 Corvette

by Keith Cornett on June 27, 2006

Arthur Alvis and 15 year old son Elliot are cruising across America in a 1954 Red Corvette. But the drive isn’t for pleasure. It’s a race, but one based on precision, not speed. They are competing in the Great Race, a road race featuring antique cars 45 years old or more. Drivers are awarded points on the accuracy of a driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a predetermined course. Each day the drivers are given a new set of written directions which have instructions like “Take the first road to the right”. GPS is not allowed. Team Alvis, who hail from Wichita and call themselves the Kansas Flying Monkeys, a reference from Wizard of Oz, departed Philadelphia, the starting point of the Great Race on June 24 and as of Monday were in 27th place. There are 90 or so contestants driving originally equipped antique cars as well. Driving a classic Corvette 4,000 miles across the US does have its pitfalls. Passing through a thunderstorm in Pennsylvania, Arthur had to drive with one hand out the window, running a squeegee across the windshield. the wiper assembly came loose leaving him with only one wiper. While some of the interior got soaked, Arthur doesn’t sweat it. He says the ’54 is not a show car. “It’s plastic…it won’t rust.” Follow the Kansas Flying Monkeys in their quest to win the Great Race and take home $250,000 in prize money by visiting the Great Race website. Good luck guys…we’re all counting on you! Source: Kansas.com
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Gus Grissom’s 427 Corvette a No-Sale

by Keith Cornett on June 26, 2006

The 1967 Corvette Convertible owned by Astronaut Gus Grissom was a no sale on e-Bay today as the high bid of $310,100 failed to reach the seller’s reserve price. While we do not know what the reserve price was, we did speak with Dr. Marv Friedman to find out what his plans are for selling Grissom’s 427/435 land rocket. Marv said he has listed it twice now on eBay and that this was the second and final listing. The first was in May 2006 where the Corvette reached a high bid of $375,000 but still failed to reach reserve. If the car didn’t sell via eBay then it would tailored out to the Barrett-Jackson auction in January 2007. “I have already spoken with Craig Jackson to make plans to bring the Corvette out to Scottsdale in January for the 36th Barrett-Jackson Auction”, said Marv and continued, “We’re making plans for Jim Rathmann, the former Florida car dealer who sold the Corvette to Gus and who was good friends with him and his wife Betty, to be on the podium to introduce the Corvette.” Marv said that while he did have some offers on the Corvette, one substantial offer would have resulted in the Corvette being taken out of the United States. Marv declined the offer but acknowledged that the winner of the bidding for the Corvette at Barrett-Jackson could end up doing the same thing. Marv mentioned that he is also working on establishing a Gus Grissom Scholarship at Purdue University, where Gus attended college. 2007 will mark the 40th Anniversary of the fire that took the lives of Gus Grissom and fellow astronauts Roger Chaffee and Edward White during a launch pad test at the Kennedy Space Center. View the eBay listing which has some great stories about Gus and his Corvette as well as lots of photos and documentation.
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A One-Of-A-Kind 1967 Corvette. Really!

by Keith Cornett on June 24, 2006

A One-Of-A-Kind 1967 Corvette. Really!

The great thing about being involved in the Corvette hobby is that there is always something new to learn. For example, you may have heard of a COPO Corvette – which stands for Central Office Production Order, an ordering mechanism designed to allow certain customers (usually dealers) the ability to order non-standard components together. Usually with Corvettes, COPO orders had non-standard colors or interiors, or was ordered with some special options, or no options like radio/heater delete for racing. Another type of order was called the SO – Shop Order – which usually originated from the Chevrolet Engineering Center or the GM Styling Studio. The third and less common was a variation called the F&SO – Fleet and Special Order.

Well, that last one was news to me. Just last week at the Bloomington Gold show, there were a few examples of COPO Corvettes and styling cars that went through the auction. Today though I got a preview of the next Corvette Magazine issue and writer/photographer Richard Prince has a great article detailing a F&SO 1967 Corvette that was built for one of the great Corvette salespeople of 1950′s and ’60′s – Bob Wingate.

When you’re the top Corvette salesman in the country for 5 years running, opportunities from the manufacturer come your way. And in 1967, that opportunity came in the form of a 1967 Coupe outfitted with a 427/435 engine, 3.55:1 Positraction and a Wide-Ratio M20 Four Speed, along with American Racing’s Torq-Thrust Alloy Wheels with Blue Streak tires. The Corvette was painted in Goodwood Green with a white racing stripe and had the six taillight modification that was popular back then.

Bob drove the Corvette all over the western United States promoting Chevrolet products. He did some drag racing and autocrossing in the Corvette, and when the 1967 model year was coming to a close, Bob sold the Corvette and was allowed to keep the proceeds as his bonus.

The kid that bought Bob’s Corvette blew the original engine within a few months, and a few months later was involved in a wreck on the I-10 that totaled the car. Or so Bob thought.

Fast forward twenty-five years later. A Southern Californian named Bob Radke buys a project car and although he didn’t know it at the time, it still had the tank sticker. And unlike all other tank stickers Radke had seen, in the upper right hand site in the box marked COPO/F&SO there was a number in it.

Through diligence and hard work, Radke was able to track down Wingate (he was listed in the phone book!) and from there a bond was formed as Radke set out to restore the Corvette. After 7 years, the Corvette has been restored to its former glory. I love these kinds of stories and the article is very written with awesome photos to boot!

The full article can be found at: Corvette-Mag.com

Photo Credit: Richard Prince

 

Final LeMans Wrap-up

by Keith Cornett on June 23, 2006

We promise this will be the last post about Corvette winning the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of LeMans. It is it hard to ignore the contributions of a winning race program and the pride and prestige it brings to the enthusiast. Similar I guess to those that follow a favorite NASCAR driver, but different because the knowledge that the technology that is tested on the track and in the pits will filter down to the production cars you and I drive every day. Our final LeMans wrap-up includes comments and links to three different elements of the Corvette racing program.
Oliver Gavin – Driver of the #64 Corvette Oliver talks about how the outcome could have changed for Corvette Racing had they given up after circumstances that could have taken a lesser team out of the race. He mentions how he had a brush with an LMP car that sent the Corvette into the gravel and punctured a tire. That collision also caused body work damage to the right rear quarter panel that seemed to take some of the speed from Corvette on the straight-aways. That dropped the #64 Corvette 2-3 minutes behind the #009 Aston Martin. But Team Corvette kept pushing and pushing and started making up that deficit when mechanicals forced the Aston into the pits for an extended stop giving the #64 Corvette the class lead. Click here to read Oliver’s account of Winning at LeMans.
Tom Wallace – Corvette Chief Engineer In a Podcast from LeMans, Tom Wallace talks about his impressions from his first visit to the historic track. “With the competition of the Astons, and the back and forth battle that went down to the wire, Corvette overcame the problems that happened during the race better than the Aston team. All Corvette owners and future owners should be darn proud of Corvette and this team and what they have shown during the world’s biggest race.” Visit the GM Fast Lane Blog or Download the MP3.
Peter M. DeLorenzo – AutoExtremist.com Sweet Pete D. as he is affectionately called by the Jalopnik.com boys again focuses his weekly rant on how GM needs to leverage this historic win by Corvette Racing as a symbol of how GM is doing things right. “It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of GM challenging the world with a factory-supported racing effort would have been scoffed at and dismissed as folly internally. Fortunately, those bad old days are long gone. The powers that be at General Motors have finally – finally – come to understand that racing can be much more than just a source of company pride or another excuse to fill the France family’s over-stuffed NASCAR coffers. They’ve learned that going up against the world’s best in the most intensely competitive environment possible is an ideal way to train and develop engineers – and the engineers involved with the Corvette Racing program are indeed some of the company’s best and brightest. They’ve come to understand that technical lessons learned on the racetrack can be directly transferred into improvements on their production cars – which is why the Corvette Z06 is arguably the best all-around sports car in the world at this very moment. GM has also learned that a winning, world-class racing program is an invaluable image and marketing tool that can transform an organization and translate into a winning image both on and off the track.” Read Peter’s entire rant at AutoExtremist.com Photo Credit: Richard Prince
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