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Corvette Racing: Ready for Road America

by Keith Cornett on August 6, 2007

Road America has a quiet reputation as one of the great road courses in America. The 4 mile course near Elkhart Lake Wisconsin ranks high on the list of drivers for its fast straightaway’s through the rolling hills as well as its 14 corners with challenging names like the Carousel and the Kink. For the two Ollies, they just recently ran a road course very similar to that of Road America. The #4 C6.R drivers were in Belgium for the 24 Hours of Spa, finishing 6th in the Luc Alphand Adventures Corvette C6.R.

“Road America is a little Spa,” said Beretta. “It has very high-speed corners, it goes up and down the hills, and of course there is the Kink. It is a wonderful place, one of the best tracks in America, and I’m very happy to go there.” Gavin agreed: ” Road America is one of the last old-style, really challenging tracks that we race on,” said the Briton. “It’s quite open, it’s quite flowing, and it’s very fast. You’ve got good elevation changes, and some really demanding corners like the Carousel and the Kink. It’s picturesque, a great track to drive around, and one that I look forward to every year.”
For Jan Magnussen, this will be his first race at Road America in the Corvette C6.R. His last race came as a driver for a Ferrari 550 where he and co-driver David Brabham defeated the C5-R Corvettes in 2003.
“Road America has some really super-fast corners, and not many race tracks have fast corners anymore,” observed the Dane. “I’ve heard many racers say that it’s one of their favorite tracks, and I think that’s because it’s one of the last real race tracks that are left. “The last time I raced at Road America was with a Ferrari 550 in 2003,” Magnussen recalled. “The Corvette C5-Rs were faster than us at that race, but somehow we managed to win. The C6.R is faster than the C5-R was, so I’m looking forward to driving it. Road America is always a good experience.”
This weekend’s Road America will be a little more interesting since the announcement that Doran Racing will be fielding a Maserati MC12 for the race. It was at the 24 Hours of Spa that Maserati came in second to a Corvette C6.R after giving up the lead following a spinout with one hour remaining. The final tally in the GT class at the 24 Hours of Spa had four Maserati MC12′s finishing in the top 7 positions in class whereas the four Corvettes (C6.R and C5-R) finished in the top 10. The four-hour Generac 500 at Road America, the eighth round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 4 p.m. CDT on Saturday, August 11. NBC Sports will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 12.
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Doran Racing's Maserati MC12Rumors had been circulating for weeks about the possibility of a Maserati competing in an ALMS race in the GT1 class. Finally we got the word that it would be happening this weekend at Road America. Doran Racing has entered a Maserati MC12, powered by a six-liter V12 engine. We saw last week how a Maserati MC12 had mastered the competition at the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium, only to lose in the final hour to a Corvette C6.R due to a spinout. Drivers for the Doran Maserati team are Fredy Lienhard and Didier Theys. While both have competed at various times in the ALMS, this will be a new type of race for the duo who are used to racing prototypes. Other than the opening week at Sebring has Corvette Racing faced a challenger for an ALMS race here in the States. At the 12 Hours of Sebring, the #4 C6.R and #3 C6.R were 1st and 2nd against an Aston Martin DBR9 privateer. The Corvettes also battled several marques at the 24 Hours of LeMans and came away with spot on the podium in the GT category, finishing in second place behind the Prodrive Aston team. So far the only race in the ALMS schedule for the Maserati is Road America, although we’re hearing that a run at the Petit LeMans may also be planned. The four-hour Generac 500 at Road America, the eighth round of the 12-race ALMS series, will start at 4 p.m. CDT on Saturday, August 11. NBC Sports will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 12.
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Saturday Night Hangout: Corvettes @ Insty Tune

by Keith Cornett on August 5, 2007

Saturday came and with it the quest to meet other local Corvette drivers. I hit the Corvette Florida forum and the consensus for a Saturday night cruise-in in Tampa is Andreh’s Insty Tune in North Tampa. Held every Saturday, the informal gathering meets from 5-8pm. Perfect. So leaving the house around 6pm I headed up to Insty Tune. When I got there, the parking lot held 15 other Corvettes, almost all of them backed into their parking space with the hoods up.

Corvettes at Insty Tune in Tampa Corvettes at Insty Tune in Tampa Corvettes at Insty Tune in Tampa
At the gathering I met some new people as well as saw some familiar faces from my Corvette club, Tampa Bay Vettes. Corvettes from nearly all generations were represented, with only the C1 missing. One of more interesting Corvettes was a 2004 Z16 Commemorative Edition Z06 which was also one of the loudest cars I have ever heard. The Z06′s license plate frame say’s it all “Loud Pipes Save Lives”. Yea, I think Zora would have approved.
Cars and Coffee (and Corvettes!) at the duPont Registry Technorati Tags:
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July 2007 Corvette Sales

by Keith Cornett on August 2, 2007

We got the July 2007 Corvette sales numbers from GM today which continue to show a month-to-month and year-to-year decline in sales based on last year’s numbers, but with the model change over and a two week hiatus at the factory last month we expect these numbers to rebound. In July 2007, total Corvette sales were 2,377 vs 2,794 in 2006. For the calendar year, sales are at 20,135 vs 21,857 at this time in 2006. With the new 2008 Corvette, we are staying focused on the excitement of the LS3 engine and the newly refreshed interior. According to various sources, constraints are coming to an end for the 3LT and 4LT packages and the new 2008 Corvette exterior colors – Jetstream Blue Metallic and Crystal Red – are slowly making their way to dealer showrooms.

Month Calendar Year-to-Date
Month 2007 2006 % Change Months 2007 2006 % Change
January 2,234 2,579 -16.8% Jan-Jan 2,234 2,579 -16.8%
February 2,784 3,058 -9.0% Jan-Feb 5,018 5,637 -11.0%
March 3,158 3,655 -16.7% Jan-Mar 8,176 9,292 -12.0%
April 3,227 3,516 -0.6% Jan-Apr 11,403 12,808 -11.0%
May 3,300 3,317 -4.3% Jan-May 14,703 16,125 -8.8%
June 3,055 2,938 0.1% Jan-Jun 17,758 19,063 -6.8%
July 2,377 2,794 -11.4 Jan-Jul 20,135 21,857 -7.9%

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June 2007 Corvette Sales Technorati Tags:

2008 Z06 Wheel and Brake CaliperChevrolet has really done an awesome job over the last few years expanding the number of options that allow the customer the ability to customize their ride straight from the factory. A great example of this customer-centric approach is the number of wheel styles that Corvette buyers can choose from. In 2007 no less than nine wheel styles were available, although not every wheel was available for any Corvette. Regardless, the factory has come along was from the days of the C4 sawblades. Rick Conti received some insider news that says the option for color-coded calipers is seriously being considered. The do-it-yourselfers have been painting their own calipers for years, and admirers have the almost universal reaction of “That’s so cool, where can I get mine done”? Nothing can make a set of chrome or polished wheels look even more serious than a nice set of painted calipers with “CORVETTE” engraved on them. Of course the key phrase is “being-considered” with no decision on introduction or costs yet. But stay tuned as this option sounds like a no-brainer to us!
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Most of the major car magazines are now hitting the streets with their 2008 Corvette test drive articles and while exciting at first, once you’ve read a couple of them there are really no surprises left. So it wasn’t with any great enthusiasm that I clicked over to Motor Trend Magazine for their “first test drive” article about the 2008 Corvette. I read the article, which as always is very well written and entertaining but it was the images that are the most memorable part of this story. Check out this beautiful Velocity Yellow Z51 Corvette Coupe and then tell me I am wrong.

2008 Velocity Yellow Corvette Coupe 2008 Velocity Yellow Corvette Coupe 2008 Velocity Yellow Corvette Coupe
Photo Credit: David Freers
Some of the best automotive photographers work for the major magazines like Motor Trend, Car and Driver and Road and Track. I wonder when a photo shoot assignment comes up with Corvette as the subject, are they just as excited about taking the pictures as we are about seeing them? Click here for the Motor Trend 2008 Corvette test drive and then make sure you click here for the photo gallery. You won’t be disappointed with either offering.
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Corvette Poker: Trumping an Automatic Big Block

by Keith Cornett on July 31, 2007

I took a call today from Robert in Wisconsin who had some questions about early 1970′s Corvettes. His question was should he sell his 1972 Corvette Coupe with a 454 ci engine and an automatic transmission for a 1971 Corvette Convertible with a 350 ci engine and a 4-speed. Like many classic Corvette owners, he was torn between the big block power of the 1972 and the convertible/4-speed combo in the 1971. He wanted a convertible, loved the idea of a 4-speed, but thought he’d miss the power of the big block 454 engine. But in his reasoning, it always came back to what was the more valuable car, so Robert’s major concern was holding the right Corvette from an investment standpoint. Let’s look at the 1972 Corvette by the numbers. Robert had a T-Top Coupe with an automatic and the 454 ci 270 hp engine. 20,496 Corvette T-Top Coupes were produced in 1972, which accounted for 75% of Corvette production. The LS5 454 was chosen by 3,913 buyers, and had an option penetration of 14%. The horsepower ratings were lowered in 1972 from gross to net, which makes the horsepower output a more realistic “real-world” rating. A/C was an option chosen by 63% of buyers and the automatic transmission was chosen by 54% of buyers. Our Corvette Price Guide places an average 1972 T-Top Coupe at $18,900. We add $6,000 for the 454 and $3,000 for the factory air conditioning, so our average 1972 is now valued at $27,900.

1971 Corvette Convertible 1972 Corvette Coupe
A labor strike shortened production of the 1971 Corvette. Only 21,801 Corvettes were produced, with 33% being Convertibles. 67% of all Corvettes featured the base engine, a 350 ci 270 hp power plant, and the base 4-speed was installed in 42% of 1972 Corvettes. Our average price on a 1971 Corvette Convertible is $23,500 I confirmed these values with Bob Kroupa, who writes for several of the Corvette magazines and publishes his own monthly newsletter, the Vette-N-Vestment’s Corvette Market Letter and he agreed that the 1972 Corvette Coupe with the 454 and AC would be valued higher than the 1971 roadster with a standard 350 ci and a 4-speed. I initially thought the 1971 Convertible with a 4-Speed coupled to a 350/270 would be worth more than a 1972 automatic Coupe with a 454/270 and AC. But only 14% of ’72 Vettes have the big block option and combined with the C60 Air option, there was no chance in overcoming that hand. So what trumps an automatic big block Corvette Coupe? For Robert, it just may be that feeling of driving down a Wisconsin road with the top down and the summer air blowing around you while shifting through the gears of the 4-speed.
Corvette Black Book
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Spa 24: Corvettes Finish 1st and 3rd

by Keith Cornett on July 29, 2007

Carsport Holland's #5 Corvette C6.R wins the 24 Hours of SpaAfter completing 532 laps around the 4.3 mile Circuit of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, the #5 Carsport Holland Corvette C6.R took the checkered flag to win the 24 Hours of Spa. The win wasn’t without drama. Weather became a major factor with the safety cars making their presence off and on during the times when thunderstorms raked the area. With an hour left in the race, the GT class leader Vitaphone Maserati MC12 missed a turn and landed in the gravel, which gave the lead lap to the #5 Corvette C6.R. The Maserati MC12 was able to get back onto the leap lap but was unable to catch up to the Carsport Holland Team and had to settle for second place. Third place was taken by the Corvette C5-R driven by the hometown team of PK Carsport. The Luc Alphand Adventure Corvette C6.R started off extremely strongly in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, but dropped back due to a sequence of problems, and finished sixth. Oliver Beretta, clarifying what happened during his 2 hour 45 minute stint behind the wheel in the early hours of the morning, said:

“The first incident was when I touched a Maserati which caused a bit of bodywork damage but was not a problem, I could continue. Then, a few laps later, I was overtaking a Porsche into Eau Rouge when I saw a piece of debris on the track. I could not avoid it because of having just overtaken the Porsche; I heard a noise so knew something had happened and then I had a big understeer and knew the tire had gone. That was when I came back into the pits.” Later on, Oliver Gavin had problems with the throttle. “It was about 3.30 in the morning and I came out of La Source and the throttle pedal went straight to the floor like it was broken. I tried lifting it with my toe but it was floppy. I guessed the linkage was broken. We lost about five laps while it was being repaired which is a huge shame as things were going pretty well until then.”
The Maserati MC12′s were very competitive at the 24 Hours of Spa with four finishing in the top seven. All four Corvette teams finished within the top ten. Unlike last month at LeMans where Aston Martin had been very competitive, this endurance race saw all three Aston Martin DBR9′s fall from the race and did not finish.
Photo Credt: © DPPI Related:
Spa 24: Corvette Race Report – Hour 10
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Spa 24: Corvette Race Report – Hour 10

by Keith Cornett on July 28, 2007

At hour 10 of the 24 Hours of Spa, the Corvette C6.R’s are battling it out with the Maserati MC12 teams. It is currently 1am local racing time and the number 5 Carsport Holland C6.R is the lead position having completed 217 laps. The next three places are all held by Maseratis. In fifth place is the PK Carsport Corvette C6.R followed by Luc Alphand Adventures with Corvette Racing’s Beretta and Gavin sharing driving duties.

Corvette in the lead at the 24 Hours of Spa
Lead changes have been constant in the GT class, usually depending on who is pitting. Our Corvette Racing Boys in the Alphand Adventures #3 Corvette C6.R started on row two and have consistently been in the top 5 up to this point. The fastest time of the race has been posted by the #18 Corvette C5-R at 2:20.549.
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Brakes Fail, Split-Window Corvette Lands on Wall

by Keith Cornett on July 27, 2007

1963 Split Window Corvette Lands on WallYesterday morning, Carl Sprague was backing out his Riverside Red 1963 Corvette Coupe out of the garage when suddenly he was taken for a ride he will never forget. The brakes failed, sending the split-window coupe down the sloping driveway and onto a front yard retaining wall. Luckily a friend with McGuyver-like skills suggested jacking up the back of the suspended Corvette and setting the chassis on planks, using a 4-wheel drive with a winch to slide the Corvette off the wall. According to the Fullerton, California resident, the plan worked and the only damage appears to be a minor scratch on the left panel.
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