This is a blog post that has nearly been written three times since the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship began last year, and after Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, I’ve decided not to hold back my feelings for how I believe Corvette Racing/Team Chevy PR is undermining its core fan base in support of the Corvette Daytona Prototypes.
As Dennis Miller says, “I don’t want to go on a rant, but…”
First and foremost, Corvette Racing as a brand was built with GT cars. Fans connect to the C7.Rs cars because they represent our street cars. There’s the technological transfer from C7.Rs to C7s that we have all bought into and the cascade engineering principles Doug Fehan and Co preach every race weekend to the Corvette corral choir. Win on Sunday, buy on Monday? Not with a Corvette DP. I don’t understand Corvette Racing’s emphasis on the Corvette DPs from a fans point of view. Most of us have years invested in following the GT cars and now we are we are being forced to find our race coverage outside the team because of the focus on the DP cars.
During a race week, fans count on the insider knowledge that the Corvette Racing twitter account shares. And on race day, it’s especially important if you want to follow the race and you are away from the TV. Even worse, you are watching the race on Fox Sports 1 and then the race coverage shifts to Fox Sports 2 and you don’t have access to that channel to watch the race live, then Corvette Racing’s twitter account is even more important.
Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen was going pretty good until early in the final hour when Oliver Gavin in the No.4 Corvette C7.R got tied up with a Porsche and ended up breaking the steering on his C7.R. Here was the tweet from Corvette Racing:
And that was it for the C7.R coverage from Watkins Glen for the rest of the day. No word that the No.4 Corvette was officially retired or even more egregious was that Corvette Racing’s own twitter account didn’t acknowledge that the No.3 Corvette C7.R finished GTLM in fourth place.
But we did have several updates on the race for the P1 finish including this final congratulatory tweet celebrating the win by Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante in the No.90 Corvette DP:
This is just the latest example of what happens when Corvette Racing isn’t in contention for the race win.
We saw this happen at last three times last year as the races ended at COTA, Road America and Petit Le Mans, Corvette Racing’s twitter account fails to update fans on how the C7.R finished in its class. (Last year at Petit Le Mans, the C7.Rs didn’t even get a tweet about their qualifying results).
Like last year, the C7.Rs have started strong and so coverage has mostly been consistent until you take away the podium finish. The moment they falter, it’s out of sight, out of mind for the C7.Rs.
When you couple that with the fact that TV coverage almost always focuses on the Prototype class and then who’s winning the other classes, unless the C7.Rs are in contention, you can have an almost complete blackout of C7.R news.
After each race, Corvette Racing will send out a press release updating fans and media with the results and quotes from the drivers. Corvette Racing has combined their wrap up press releases of the C7.R results with the Corvette DP as well. If the C7.R doesn’t win, but a Corvette DP does, the headlines go to the Corvette DP. And when Corvette Racing sends out that press release, sometimes we’re lucky to get a photo the C7.R in action. Other times, we only get the Corvette DP photo.
Another issue I have is how Corvette Racing’s website is woefully out of date when it comes to multi-media. The photo galleries have only been updated twice since the beginning of last year’s season!! Most fans have no idea about the photos on the Chevrolet media site and despite popular opinion, not everyone is on Facebook. But even it you are on Facebook, you will still be out of luck. This weekend on Facebook.com/TeamChevy, the TUDOR series-leading No.3 C7.R as well as the Le Mans winning No.4 C7.R didn’t even make the site. Not one photo. What a joke.
Fyi, of the 17 photos from Watkins Glen that went up this weekend on the Chevy’s Racing website, only four were C7.R related.
I say all this as both a media professional but most importantly as a fan who loves the team and all they represent. The change of emphasis to the DPs may only be happening because they are doing better in their class than the C7.Rs are doing in GTLM. Perhaps is corporate driven by Chevy (Team Chevy) to go with the winner. But considering that Corvette Racing was built on the success of the GT cars, is supported by Corvette owning customers and has the ability to directly impact sales of new Corvettes (like the 2016 Corvette C7.R Edition), its PR department should prioritize its commitment to the C7.Rs over the Corvette DPs no matter what the outcome.
Fans that we talk with who passionately follow Corvette Racing have noticed a decline in C7.R coverage during the race weekends in favor of the prototypes and frankly we don’t think that’s right.
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, reached out to us this afternoon about today’s blog post and I appreciated the call. Jim listened to my concerns and I hope he understands the passion we have for the C7.R as well as the staff at Corvette Racing. Jim does take some exception to the fact that I called the Corvette DP ‘not a Corvette’, and I can understand his reasoning behind his support as he’s been such an integral part of Chevrolet racing since 1999 and the Corvette DP Program falls under his leadership. He did also state that communication can be better through Corvette Racing’s twitter account and pledged to make that happen.
He also tweeted the following to Corvette Racing fans:
Appreciate feedback on @CorvetteRacing stream. Always looking for ways to improve coverage during races. Thanks for your passion!— Jim Campbell (@CampbellJim) June 29, 2015
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