Corvette Timeline Tales: March 24, 1956 – Chevrolet Scores First Major Road Racing Win with a Team of Heavily-modified Corvettes – VIDEOS
Image: GM Archives
Unlike today’s out in the open Corvette Racing Team, in 1956 John Fitch’s factory-supported racing team was strictly a covert-op!
Dateline: 3.24.18 – Photos: GM Archives & Mecum Auctions – In the early days and well into the early 1980s GM and Chevrolet had an odd attitude about Corvette racing. There never was a lack of enthusiasm from Corvette engineers and designers, but the company just wouldn’t make “racing” official, in the same way Ford and Chrysler did for their racing programs, that got them tons of publicity and street cred.
But make no doubt about it, in 1956 there was indeed a factory Corvette racing effort, and it paid off! Four Corvettes were specially prepared for the 12 Hours of Sebring race on March 24, 1956, under the official banner of Dick Doane’s Raceway Enterprises. These were no ordinary production Corvettes. WW-II fighter pilot and racing champion, John Fitch was the team manager and had the full support and assistance of Ed Cole and Zora Arkus-Duntov.
After a successful performance at Daytona Beach in February 1956 where three of Duntov’s specially-prepared Corvettes set speed records on the Daytona beach sand, the three cars were sent back to Michigan to be prepared for the Sebring assault and one more car was added to the team. Continue reading
Corvette Timeline Tales: January 10, 1999 – Two C5-R Corvette race cars start testing for the 1999 24 Hours of Daytona – 2 VIDEOS
The Chevrolet-backed Corvette Racing Team starts its 20th racing season this month and has consistently raced longer than any other team in IMSA history. But it all started today in 1999!
Dateline: 1.10.18, Images: AutoWeek & illustration by K. Scott Teeters – Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s time to get focused on important stuff – such as the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racing season! Yes, The 2018 24 Hours of Daytona event is coming up January 26-29, just 2-1/2 weeks from today.
But 19 years ago today, when the new Corvette Racing Team, with their two new Pratt & Miller-built C5-R Corvettes made their debut, no one knew the new enterprise would be so successful. Corvette racing fans were thrilled and let out a collective, “IT’S ABOUT TIME!”
GM’s standoffish attitude towards Corvette racing had been perplexing since the bad old days of the 1957 AMA Racing Ban that stopped the 1957 Corvette SS Racer and the Duntov’s 1963 Grand Sports dead in their tracks. Or as Zora used to say, “Came to a screeching halt!” Yes, the 1980s Showroom Stock and Corvette Challenge cars were cool, but Continue reading
Corvette “Timeline Tales” Nov. 16, 1956: One magnesium-bodied XP-64 (Corvette SS) would be built for the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring race
The 1957 Corvette SS Racer’s exotic body turned out to be the hot ticket to failure!
Dateline: 11.16.17 (VIDEO BELOW!) – This was such a heady time! Corvettes were starting to do well in racing and the Fuelie was about to go into production. Chevy general manager Ed Cole gave Duntov the green light to move forward with the XP-64/Corvette SS racer. The XP-64 was a purpose-built, tube-frame racer that was to be the template for Duntov’s 1957 Le Mans assault team of Corvette SS racecars.
“Lightweight” was sports car exotica in those days and the only thing lighter than fiberglass or aluminum was magnesium, so the XP-64 was to have an exotic magnesium body. Continue reading
Dateline: 8.12.17 / Photos: WikiCommons, Illustrations by K. Scott Teeters – When I was a wee lad and would see the term, “For Off Road Use Only” I used to think, “Well who drives these cars in the dirt and grass?” What I didn’t understand was that the term is code for “RACING”! Beginning in 1957, Chevrolet’s new general manager, Ed Cole, made the command decision that he would let “customers” carry the Corvette racing mantle by offering Chevrolet-engineered parts, specifically designed for racing, available through the Chevrolet Parts Department.
For decades, Zora Arkus-Duntov has been credited for the implementation of the Corvette “Racer Kits” through the RPO (Regular Production Option) system. Zora was the face of the unofficial Corvette racing effort, but while researching C1 Corvette chassis design, I came across some interesting information in Karl Ludvigsen’s 2014 book, “CORVETTE: America’s Star Spangled Sports Car”. While Duntov was definitely the front man, Ed Cole also charged three-time Indy 500 winner and engineer, Mauri Rose with the development of the Corvette’s RPO parts program. So, the Corvette “Off Road” RPO effort guided by Le Mans racer and class winner, Duntov, AND Mauri Rose, the second man to win the Indy 500 three times (1941, 1947, and 1948)! Pretty cool, huh?
The Racer Kits weren’t a “secret” but unless customers were tuned into racing, most weren’t aware of this special program. In truth, since improvements in suspension and brakes were for racing, customers rarely used them for their street Corvettes. And typically racers used the expensive dual quad or Fuel Injection performance engines. The Racer Kit RPO option program enabled Corvette racers to be seriously competitive in SCCA racing such that by the end of the 1950s, Corvettes were a force to be reckoned with.
Engineer Maurice Olley designed the chassis and suspension of the first Corvette in 1952 and was considered to be the best suspension and chassis engineer in Detroit. It is essential to remember that the Corvette was NOT designed to be a racecar. Continue reading
Mr. Duntov took care of “his customers” that wanted to go racing!
Dateline: 5-27-17 (Download link is at the bottom of this story) – Before the ax fell in 1957 thanks to the AMA Factory Racing Ban, Zora Arkus-Duntov was planning to take a team of his 1957 Corvette SS Racers to Le Mans. The completed SS Racer was an embarrassment at it’s 1957 Sebring debut and in fact, the Corvette SS mule car showed more promise. The car was rushed in its construction and was actually being finished inside the transported on route from Detroit to Sebring, Florida. Management seemed to be more interested in having the car look good than a developed racecar. In retrospect, the car was terribly underdeveloped. Then, right after the race, GM signed on with the AMA Racing Ban and as Duntov liked to say, the program came to, “… a screeching halt!”
But two major elements from the Corvette SS project survived and eventually made a significant impact on Corvette racing. The finished Corvette SS Racer with its magnesium body was converted into a show car and went on tour with a jet age bubble top. The rough mule car was stripped of it’s cobbled together fiberglass body and the chassis went into storage, only later in 1958/59, to be bought for a nominal fee by then-new GM VP of Styling, Bill Mitchell so that Wild Bill could go racing. His racing effort could in no way look like it was a GM-sponsored enterprise. Mitchell’s racing indulgence became the Stingray Racer, which was the public face of what would eventually become the 1963 Sting Ray. Continue reading
Corvette Racing Team scores ANOTHER win at the 12 Hours of Sebring IMSA Race
Dateline: 3-20-16: The overall winner of the 2016 12 Hours of Sebring was Pipo Derani driving his Ligier JS P2 Honda. The Action Express Corvette Daytona Prototype driven by Dane Cameron took 2nd and Christian Fittipaldi took 3rd in his Action Express Corvette Daytona Prototype.
But for Corvette fans, Tommy Milner brought home the gold and took 1st in GTLM Class in his C7.R Corvette.
Here are some interesting stats that show the success of the Corvette Racing Team:
* This was the 10th class victory at Sebring for Corvette Racing
* The Corvette Racing Team claimed its fifth straight Triple Crown victory!
* This was the second straight victory at Sebring for Corvette Racing and the third in four years. Continue reading
by Patrick Rall as republished from Torque News
Corvette endurance racers rack up race wins and series championships around the world
Dateline 2.14.16: Corvette Racing has announced that both of their team cars have received an invitation to compete in the 2016 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race – giving the Corvette crew a chance to back up last year’s LeMans win while continuing the momentum gathered in finishing 1-2 earlier this month in Daytona. Continue reading
by K.Scott Teeters as written for Vette Magazine and republished from SuperChevy.com
Illustrated Corvette Series No 226: The First Factory-Built Corvette Racer
Dateline 2.5.16: There isn’t another car in Detroit history that has been so consistently involved in racing as the Corvette. Today, the base model C7 is more racecar than ever. But it all had to start somewhere and the generally accepted break-out racing event for the Corvette was Sebring 1956 when a factory-prepared 265 4-speed Corvette won 1st place in the Sports 8000 Class at the 12-hour race event. Chevrolet marketing ran print ads declaring the Corvette as “The Real McCoy.” But, we have to roll the clock back to 1955 to get to the very first factory-built Corvette racecar, and it wasn’t a road racer, it was a NASCAR racer. A “NASCAR”, Corvette? Yes! Continue reading
by Chris Perkins as republished from RoadandTrack.com
The last 15 minutes of this 24-hour race was some of the tightest racing we’ve ever seen
Dateline February 2, 2016: After the two Corvette GTLM cars got around the class leading #912 Porsche 911 towards the end of this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan gave his drivers permission to race each other. What followed was the most spectacular 15 minutes of racing many have ever witnessed. Continue reading
by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
Corvette Milestones: January 10, 1999 – At the Daytona International Speedway, in Daytona, Florida, the Corvette Racing group tests its two Corvette C5-R racecars
Dateline January 2016: All we can say is that it was about time GM and Chevrolet got behind a factory-supported Corvette racing effort! While Pratt & Miller built the cars, Corvette engineers were right there assisting and observing what worked and what didn’t, then applying their finding to what would become the Z06, the ZR1, the C7, and the C7 Z06. Continue reading
by Sam McEachern as republished from GM Authority
Corvette Team wins three of the most prestigious races in sportscar racing:
the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans
Dateline 12.9.15: Corvette Racing may have missed out on the IMSA GTLM championship in 2015, however the team still has lots to be proud of after winning three of the most prestigious races in sportscar racing: the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans. While the official ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport is rightfully the Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix, Corvette Racing captured their own make-do Triple Crown with their three endurance wins. Continue reading
by Sam McEachern as republished from GM Authority
Corvette Racing hires Mike Rockenfeller and Marcel Fassler to drive their two Corvette C7.Rs
Dateline 12.9 15: Corvette Racing has hired on Mike Rockenfeller and Marcel Fassler to drive their two Corvette C7.Rs alongside existing drivers Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner at the 2016 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. Rockenfeller is an Audi factory driver, but his relationship with the rival automaker hasn’t hindered his excitement about racing with the team. Continue reading
as republished from Showroom.WindingRoad.com
Offered for the first time at public sale the purposed built first GM licensed Grand Sport convertible
Dateline 12.9.15: Location: Jupiter, FL…Offered for the first time at public sale the purposed built first GM licensed Grand Sport convertible. This multiple race winning car was by Alan and Edward and Edward Sevadjian and the team at Duntov motors. It was built as his personal car, and has gone thru rigorous testing. And set up. No expense or short cuts were made. Top notch materials were used throughout the build. Continue reading
by Sam McEachern as republished from GM Authority
One of the biggest announcements from Chevrolet at this year’s SEMA Show
in Las Vegas was the launch of the Michelin Corvette Challenge racing series
Dateline 12.5.15: One of the biggest announcements from Chevrolet at this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas was the launch of the Michelin Corvette Challenge racing series. The spec racing series will be held at Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort and County Club and will see amateur racers go head-to-head with each other in identical Corvette Stingray racecars throughout the year. Continue reading
by Chris Demorro as republished from Corvette Online
SCCA B/Production vintage racers offer a balance between price, power and that raw racing sound
Dateline 11.28.15: Racing is a rich man’s sport for sure, though some forms of it are much more affordable than others. Essentially, the faster you want to go, the more you have to spend. SCCA B/Production vintage racers offer a balance between price, power and that raw racing sound. You can get behind the wheel of a period-correct SCCA race car for about the same price as a new Mustang GT or Camaro SS. Continue reading