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 Corvette racing hounds wanted to see all-out serious Corvette race cars – Duntov style!
Since the debut of the C5-R Corvettes on this day in 1999, the Corvette Racing Team has been a raging success with 98 class wins in the United States and Canada, plus 8 Le Mans victories for a grand total of 106 wins in 19 seasons! And, lets not forget 12 Manufacturer and Team championships.
In 1999 the C5-R finished in 4th place overall and 2nd in the GT2 Class, mighty impressive for an all-new car and team.
In 2000 at the 24 Hours at Daytona, the C5-R took 2nd in the GTO Class and finished the season with two 1st place wins.
Then in 2001 the C5-R took it’s first 24 Hours at Daytona victory with a 1st and 2nd in the GTS Class! The rest is an amazing story.
Arguably, the most visually spectacular victory for the Corvette Racing Team was the 2016 24 Hours at Daytona when the C7.R Corvettes finished 1 st and 2nd with the No. 3 C7.R’s nose at the midpoint of the No. 4 C7.R. Now that’s something you don’t see every day!
The entire Corvette Racing Team enterprise started 19 years ago today! – Scott