Z06 Corvette Story, Pt 4 – The C7 Z06 and Z06/Z07

Dateline: 5.2.22 Graphics & Illustrations by K. Scott Teeters, Photos GM Archives, this story was first published in the April 2017 issue of Vette Vues MagazineUpdateThe C8 Z06 has been all over the Corvette community, as it should be. Clearly, the car is a vast improvement over the C7 Z06. At the April 29, 2022 Corvette Bash event at the National Corvette Museum, Corvette Product Planner, Harlan Charles made it perfectly clear when he said, “The C8 Z06 is a race car that you can drive on the street.” Continue reading “Z06 Corvette Story, Pt 4 – The C7 Z06 and Z06/Z07”

Bill Tower’s Sebring 2019 Corvette Racing Seminar, Pt 2

With Special Guests, Gary and Robin Pratt (former co-owners of Pratt & Miller Engineering), and Ron Fellows, owner of the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School

Dateline 1-2-2021 – The story was first published in the July 2019 issue of Vette Vues Magazine – Since last month when Part 1 of this story was written, the big news in the Corvette world was the announcement that on July 18, 2019, Chevrolet will release the long-awaited 2020 mid-engine C8 Corvette. We already knew that 2019 would be the C7.R’s last season of racing and that in 2020 the Corvette Racing Team would be running the mid-engine C8.R. We can well imagine how excited the team drivers are about the prospect of finally getting to race a mid-engine Corvette.

As of this writing (March 2019), Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 C7.R Corvette are in second place in the IMSA Weathertech GTLM points standings with 119 points, just six less than the No. 912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Lauren Vanthoor. That’s very impressive considering that the mid-engine Ford GT cars are in 5th and 6th place so far. Yet many continue to say that the front-mid-engine C7 Corvette is outdated. Yet the Corvette’s alleged “outdated” layout won the IMSA GTLM championship the last three years in a row!

In the summer of 2018, a camouflaged C8.R was seen after the IMSA race at Wisconsin’s Road America. There was some speculation that this was an indication that the C8 would be debuted soon as a 2019 model and that we would see the C8.R for the 2019 racing season.

Tantalizing indeed, but it never happened. Instead, we are seeing the allegedly aging C7.R holding 2nd place, despite IMSA’s onerous Balance of Power (BoP) restrictions. Is IMSA trying to make sure the Corvette Racing Team doesn’t win another championship? Of course, they would deny that, but it sure looks that way.

This is what Gary and Robin Pratt, and the rest of the Corvette Racing Team are up against. Let’s continue our conversation from Bill Tower’s 2019 Corvette Racing Seminar at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 15, 2019. To read and enjoy Pt. 1 of this story, CLICK HERE.

Bill Tower: Gary, what’s your favorite racecar?

Gary Pratt: My favorite car is the last one that won. (audience laughs) When we started the C7.R Corvette we were worried about the C7’s aluminum chassis. We also didn’t like the adjustable seats; they weren’t good for racing and we developed the crash-box. The transition from the C6.R to the C7.R was more engineering. We used a 50-percent model testing. Our test modeling can measure every part that hits the air. Our program is really staying on top. We have very, very good guys working together between the engineering teams and the track crews that are out there working the races.

Ron Fellows: Gary and Robin are true racers and sometimes they have to override the engineers.

Gary Pratt: Well, we don’t race dynos, wind tunnels, or simulators. But engineering certainly has its place. Chevrolet helped us a lot when we went to the air conditioning systems for the drivers. Their engineers developed the system.

Steve Hurley: Let’s talk about IMSA’s Balance of Performance (BoP) policy.

Ron Fellows: It was three years before we had our first win at Le Mans. Gary would argue with the officials and officials would tell Gary, “You have to work harder.” So, that became our motto, and that’s what we did.

Gary Pratt: At our first 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2000, we came in 3rd and 4th. 2001 was our first Le Mans win, but the weather was a challenge, it was cloudy with a good chance of rain, which is always a challenge. Ron wanted to use the intermediate tires, but I wasn’t so sure. After a few laps, Ron was falling back. Then, it started raining and everyone was on slicks. Ron was making up 15 seconds per lap! So much of what happens is strategy, pit crew performance, and luck. Out pit crews are the best!

Robin Pratt: At Le Mans, the Steve McQueen movie was playing everywhere. Ron’s wife Linda played the McQueen’s part.

Ron Fellows: When I think of Corvette Racing, I think of Gary and Robin, and my wife Linda; and how they supported my total focus on driving. Linda learned to love racing because of the people. When we think of racing, we tend to think about the cars and drivers, but the people supporting the effort are just as important.

Steve Hurley: Gary, Robin, and Ron; we have some time left, how about some questions from our audience?

Gary, Robin & Robin: Sure!

Question 1: How was the transition from Goodyear tires to Michelin tires?

Gary Pratt: Switching to Michelin was a WOW! Michelin is a great company and they make great tires. Ron was racing Le Mans with 15 laps to go and the crew suggested putting “softs” on the car. Instantly, the car started picking up time. Michelin is a company that has it figured out. They do a lot of tire testing. Was it hard to switch? No; not at all.

Question 2: How will electric cars square with Corvette Racing?

Gary Pratt: We wonder that too. There will probably be some form of hybrid racing cars in the future, but I prefer gasoline.

Question 3: What about the mid-engine Corvette we’ve been hearing about for years now? (remember, this seminar was held in March 2019, months before Chevrolet announced the debut date of the mid-engine C8)

Gary Pratt: I’m not allowed to talk about that. But I’ll race whatever they have.

Question 4: Will the Corvette Racing Team look into racing in GT3, like the Callaway Corvettes?

Gary Pratt: That’s a tough question; we’ll see.

Question 5: I recently bought a C7 Z06 and went to the Ron Fellows Driving School, (looking at the audience) if you don’t go; it’s a big mistake!

Ron Fellows: That speaks to the quality of people that I have been able to transition from driver to teacher. Ten years in and it is awesome! Chevrolet subsidizes every Z06 owner. It is a great opportunity for owners to understand what the car is capable of. I’m 25 years into my relationship with Chevrolet and it has been great!

You know, it is amazing; the team recently put one of the cars back on the track in 20-minutes. We won the championship last year by one point! When Chevrolet comes out with a new performance version, we do a lot of work with them. It helps us too! We get more and more involved in the production Corvettes. It has been fantastic!

Steve Hurley: Is there an area where the Corvette Racing Team has impacted the production Corvette?

Gary Pratt: We helped the Corvette engineering team prove that the LS7 427 engine could be reliable. We also helped out a lot with the production of carbon fiber body panels. Yea, Corvette engineers talk to us a lot.

Bill Tower: We worked with Cadillac a lot with the carbon fiber body parts.

Ron Fellows: That’s true, Bill. We helped a lot with the evolution of the 6th generation Corvette. Former Corvette chief engineer Dave Hill asked Corvette Racing, “What do you guys need?” It turned out that the C5 Corvette body had more drag and the C6 shape was better on the long Mulsanne Straight. That really helped us deal with the V10 Vipers. When we went with the C6 Z06 configuration with the LS7 427, we picked up 50-lb/ft of torque! And we needed more torque to keep up with those V10 Vipers!

Question 6: Is there a limit on torque?

Gary Pratt: No, but BoP (Balance of Performance) limitations are tough!

Bill Tower: Folks, we are all out of time. Thank you all, very much for being here and we hope to see you again next year. Big thanks to our guests, Gary and Robin Pratt, and Ron Fellows. And to Steve Hurley MCing the event and Kyle Willoughby who put together the video images we have been showing. Thanks, everyone, see you next year!

Epilog 1

2018 was the Corvette Racing Team’s 20th straight year in competition and the team has won the Championship an astonishing 13 times! BRAVO to everyone on the team; the drivers, the crew team, the engineers, fabricators, and Chevrolet for believing that “racing” is essential to the design and development of the Corvette. The Corvette Racing Team is the winningest team in IMSA history. Thanks to this enterprise, the Corvette has become General Motors halo car and represents their best example of engineering and design excellence.

In the early days, the European sports racing car companies treated Corvettes like a joke. Today they are not laughing, they’re trying to keep up!

Epilog 2

Obviously, since this story was first published, much has happened. The Corvette Racing Team is looking very much like the Corvettes that dominated the mid-’80s SCCA Showroom Stock Series, only instead of the Corvettes being kicked out, most of the other teams have dropped out. 

Why? Because racing at the level of complexity of IMSA-level teams because so expensive that several of the European teams decided the expense wasn’t worth it and the Corvettes were too hard to beat. So, they folded up their tent and went home. If you’re not winning or close to winning, work harder. That’s race’n! – Scott

To read and enjoy Pt. 1 of this story, CLICK HERE.


Bill Tower’s Sebring 2019 Corvette Racing Seminar, Pt 1

With Special Guests; Gary and Robin Pratt, and Ron Fellows

Dateline: 12-24-20 – This story was first published in the June 2019 issue of Vette Vues Magazine 

Note: There was a major earthquake in the Corvette Community on December 16, 2020 when CorvetteBlogger.com and several other Corvette and road racing sites reported that Pratt & Miller was purchased by the Oshkosh Corporation for $115 Million. Along with the buyout there was a major shakeup of key players in the Corvette Racing Team. In March 2019 Bill Tower presented his third Corvette Racing Seminar on the Friday of the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend.

Gary Pratt is a man of few words, so it was an honor to have him there. His wife, Robin Pratt was on hand, and Ron Fellows was his usual engaging, live-wire self. As Gary and Robin are now out of the Corvette race car building and managing business, the 2019 event offers some perspective on life inside the Corvette Racing Team. Here is Pt. 1 or 2.

An extraordinary thing happened last year for the Corvette Racing Team. Road Atlanta was the final race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship season and it was a real nail-biter. Antonio Garcia is an outstanding team driver, very methodical, technical, and rarely makes mistakes. But mistakes happen. The team and spectators were shocked when Garcia’s No. 3 C7.R smacked the wall. It wasn’t a bad crash and Garcia was able to drive into the pits.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

The Corvette Racing pit team is arguably the best. In five-minutes and 36-seconds the pit crew replaced the front fender, nose, and engine floor; and sent Garcia back out on the track in hunt for another championship. When the checker flag came down, the Corvette Racing Team won its 13th IMSA Team Championship and 12th Driver Championship in 20 years of racing! And here’s the kicker; for the 2018 racing season, the Corvette Racing Team did not come in 1st place in a single race.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

How could that happen? Modern factory-backed racing is a team sport; it’s all about teamwork; as tight, efficient, and professional as any other team professional sports team. In October 2018 in the days after the Road Atlanta success, Bill Tower and I were talking about a theme for his 2019 Corvette Racing History Seminar on the Friday of the 2019 12 Hours of Sebring event. I said, “Bill, the Corvette Racing Team just won its 13 Championship in 20 years without winning a single race. Do you know anyone at Pratt & Miller that would be willing to talk about the team’s amazing 20 years of racing?” Bill responded, “Sure, I know Gary Pratt, I’ll call him to see if he’d like to be our guest.” And that’s how the event got started. But it got even better. Not only was Gary Pratt willing to be a guest speaker, Bill got Gary’s wife Robin Pratt (the Mama Bear of the team) and Ron Fellows. What’a score!

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Tower is good friends with Steve Hurley, owner of Stingray Chevrolet, in Plant City, Florida. Stingray Chevrolet has become one of the regional Corvette centers. Other Chevrolet dealers send their tough warranty work to Stingray. The dealership is beautiful and in addition to displaying the new Chevy vehicles, Hurley has numerous classic Corvettes, Camaros, and even a late model COPO drag racing Camaro.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Ron Fellows needs no introduction to the Corvette world. Fellows was part of the development team for the first Pratt & Miller C5-R in 1998-1999. He scored the first C5-R win at Texas Motor Speedway in 2000. Fellows then took the ALMS GTS Championship in 2002, 2003, and 2004. He was also part of the Corvette Racing Team’s six consecutive ALMS GT1 manufacturers championship for Chevrolet. To celebrate Ron’s accomplishments, in 2007 Chevrolet offered the Ron Fellows: Z06 Special Edition. This is a true collectible Corvette, as only 399 cars were built and each one was signed by Fellows on the leather-covered armrest. In 2008 Fellows opened the Ron Fellows: Performance Driving School in Pahrump, Nevada.

Gary Pratt is the Senior Vice President of Pratt & Miller Engineering. The company is involved in Motorsports, Defense, Mobility, and Innovation Industries. They are the driving force behind the Corvette Racing Team. In addition to the team’s 13 Championships, they have eight Le Mans class wins to their credit. Robin Pratt is the company’s official Ambassador, aka “Mama Bear”. Robin looks after the drivers and crew and handles the promotion of the team.

After Steve Hurley introduced everyone, Bill Tower got the seminar going.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Bill Tower: Twenty years of Corvette Racing. Let’s peal the onion back to see how we got here. But first I want to honor Gary and Robyn. After I started working for Chevrolet I was working on the big-block program that we were having problems with. The basic engine could make lots of power, but it was breaking everything. One of my first racing assignments was to work with Smokey Yunick. Not many got along with Smokey, and I certainly didn’t. We were working on a project using ceramic cylinder walls, but we had trouble honing the things. Finally, I got a set done and Smokey had my engine on the dyno and I asked, “What did you do?” Smokey said, “It’s my shop and I’ll do what I want, or get out!” We got the ceramic walls to work, but they were too expensive.

I was drag racing a Top Fueler on my own time and after I got out of that, I was assigned to work on some NASCAR projects with Papa Joe Hendricks in the early ‘70s. Because of the gas crunch, we were working on aero for the racecars. That was a lot of fun for me. Smokey used to tell us that the underside tells the topside what to do. He knew that the air that flowed under the car was more important than the air that flows over the car.

Steve Hurley Gary, with over 100 wins with the three Corvette Racing generation car (the C5-R, C6.R, and C7.R), plus eight Le Mans class wins, that’s very impressive.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Gary Pratt: Well it seems like just yesterday, 22 years ago, that we started with the silver and black car and a very small team. Sportsman racing was in an upheaval and we didn’t know where we fit in. Ron and GM were great. We were hoping for at least a three-year deal, but Jim Miller was a long-term thinker. We made a lot of mistakes but learned from them.

We started picking up some engineers and now we have over 175. I’m basically surrounded by people that are much smarter than I am; we have a great team. At Sebring, the talk was that Corvettes are fast, but they’re not reliable. Well, we changed all that. We also built a lot of friendships. Ron, how did you get started driving for us?

Ron Fellows: The first test was in the fall of ’97 and we couldn’t get out of our way! In the beginning, the rules were all over the place. We prepared all of ’98 and were ready for Daytona in ’99 and came in 2nd. Sebring was tough to win and we didn’t get that 1st place win until ’02. By then Corvette’s strength was durability and reliability.

Illustration by DrawingDatebase.com

Gary Pratt: We had all kinds of problems. You know, it’s all about not making mistakes and having great personnel. There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a racecar driver, but instead, I got into building racecars. To bring things up to the latest car, the addition of Chevrolet engineers is what has kept up in our 5th year with the C7.R. It has all worked out great.

Steve Hurley Tell us about the transition from the C5 to the C6 platform.

Gary Pratt: We didn’t do as much wind tunnel testing with the C5 as we did with the C6. We started to have a continuity of the crew. So today we have some crew members that have worked on our cars for over 20 years. That really helps, but we have to keep the guys up to date.

Steve Hurley Robin, please share with us when you knew the team was something really special.

Illustration by K. Scott Teeters

Robin Pratt: Steve, it was at our first Sebring race. I told GM that we needed a poster, but they weren’t getting it done. Ron’s uncle was a printer, so we got him to print the poster and I paid for the poster myself. We were the only team at the race that year with a poster and we gave them all out; the fans loved it, and it showed us we were on to something. So, Sebring is my favorites race. But it hasn’t always been easy, lots of times we got out butts kicked, but we were always gentlemen about it.

When we had our first win at Texas Motor Speedway in September 2000, it was SO hot. It was 118-degrees at the track and even hotter on the track and in the car. Plus we didn’t have air conditioning in the cars yet. Ron came in for a driver change and when he got out he was wobbling! I thought he needed to go to the hospital, but he wouldn’t go. So we took off his uniform and poured cold water over him. (Ron is nodding his head and the crowd is chuckling; Ron said, “I was sitting there in my underwear!”). We just put the hose over his head and gave him Gatorade and bananas. Ron got back in the car and won the race. Very heroic! The Vipers didn’t like that very much.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Ron Fellows: At our 100th win event we all worked very hard. What I miss the most about not driving is the people. Gary and Robin have a natural charisma that draws people to them. It took us two years to get that first win at Texas, but the team was dedicated. One of the engineers told me, “Ron, the ambient air temperature at the track is 118-degrees and out on the track it is 168!” This was long before we had driver cooling. It was so hot it hurt to breathe. At one point I got a good lead because one of the Viper drivers passed out. At first, we weren’t going to do the race in Texas, but we talked the team into it.

Gary Pratt: We were running two cars in long endurance races. Andy Pilgrim was also driving in that hot race. Andy is a hot weather guy and when we did the same cooling thing to him he said, “What are you doing?”

Then in 2001, we had Dale Earnhardt and his son, Dale Jr. drive for us at the Daytona Rolex 24 race. It was fantastic. Jr. was just 19 or 20-years old, just another kid with his hat on backward and not much road racing experience. Dale “The Intimidator” pushed really hard in practice. One time the car skidded out and all four tires blew out.

Photo by Richard Prince

But Dale and Dale Jr. were part of the team and got up to speed with turning right and left a lot. Dale flew in his own guys to work in the shop and be part of the team. Everyone knows what he was like on the track, but he was also a great jokester.

Bill Tower: When Dale signed on, because of his celebrity status, he drew a big crowd. Gary and Robin, you were very patient with all that, and were there any fun times with Dale?

Gary Pratt: Well, one time we were giving out tee shirts. Dale and Dale Jr. were just hanging out with the guys; they were really part of the team; no pressure; no attitude. Their attitude was you’re only as good as your last race. Well, twenty years later, we’re still here.

We have a photo of Dale on the high bank with a BIG smile on his face. You can imagine him thinking, “I’m having a lot of fun!” We’ll all remember him forever. Dale Sr. and Andy Pilgrim got along great; both very low-key guys. No one took credit; it was all the team. Dale was the kind of guy you felt like you knew for twenty years after five minutes.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Bill Tower: Andy is such a talent. He could “get” what the car was doing and relate it back to the mechanics.

Gary Pratt: Ron was faster in qualifying. Andy was a very patient driver, not quite as fast. He liked to save the tires and finish.

Ron Fellows: Looking back, Andy and I were the senior members. Gary wanted to hire drivers in their mid-30s who would be team players.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Gary Pratt: When we hired Ron, he was testing for GTP Cadillac and for Corvette. Ron felt the Corvettes were more fun.

Bill Tower: I loved the Cadillac racing. Did you feel you had more business stability with the Cadillac?

Gary Pratt: We had no contract with Cadillac; it was race-to-race. The Cadillac people wanted to win the very first race. The Corvette people saw Corvette Racing as more long-term.

Bill Tower: I thought the Corvette program put a lot into the Cadillac.

Photo by K. Scott Teeters

Gary Pratt: We didn’t have much to do with the Cadillac program. Our small shop only had 6,500 square-feet and we had one track driver that would set up the tent. Everyone just wanted to help. – Scott

To read and enjoy Pt. 2 of this story, CLICK HERE.


The C7 Corvette Chassis, Pt 6: The Chassis Tadge Juechter Built

Tagdge Juechter’s Genesis Program C7 Chassis


Dateline: 1-20-20, Illustrations & graphics by K. Scott Teeters – The C6 Corvette was a much-improved C5 and was well-received upon release. Fans liked the crisp new look, the new interior (for a while), and the extra grunt. Since the successful arrival of the performance Z06 model in 2001, every new generation Corvette is expected to have a Z06. Within minutes of the C6’s debut, the next question was, “Where’s the Z06?” The following year when the C6 Z06 was unleashed, there was an unanticipated surprise; an aluminum chassis.

This wasn’t on anyone’s wish list and was a total surprise. It wasn’t even on Zora Arkus-Duntov’s Christmas list! Weighing in at just 3,132-pounds, you have to go back to 1964 to find a lighter Corvette (3,125-pounds). Powered by the mighty 427 LS7 engine with 505 net-horsepower, with C5-R suspension technology, the C6 Z06 was better suited for the track, although many learned how to drive the new beast successfully on the street. The C6 Z06’s aluminum chassis had no trouble handling 638-horsepower in the ZR1 configuration. Bravo Corvette chassis engineers!

When Tadge Juechter’s C7 Corvette debuted, fans were stunned to learn that the base model C7 was built an even better version of the Z06’s aluminum chassis. But wait, there’s more! The same new aluminum chassis would be used for the coupe AND convertible Corvette. This was a major breakthrough and bespeaks of advanced engineering. Here’s how Juechter’s team did it.

Juechter’s objective was to build a modern performance car that delivered enhanced driving experience, more efficiency that yielded more performance. Every element had to contribute to the overall performance and there would be nothing fake. That explains everything that we see on the C7 Corvette, but what’s unseen is even more amazing.

As we learned from the C5 with its hydroformed side rails, stiffness matters. Juechter is on record stating that while hydroforming was an engineering game-changer, the downside is that parts have a uniform thickness; even in areas where it isn’t needed. Hydroformed parts cannot be tailored for areas that need greater or less strength. Enter the Genesis Software Program.

This is almost computer magic. Engineers first determine the overall block space they want; length, width, and height. Then they determine where they want to place the major components; engine, transmission, suspension assemblies, cabin parts, etc. This creates negative spaces where the structure needs to be to hold everything together. The Genesis Program then synthesizes an optimum structure so that engineers can then take the load design and break it down into parts that can be fabricated and joined together. Afterward, dynamic stress and crash testing is performed and parts modified to meet predetermined objectives.

The C7’s hydroformed aluminum frame rails were optimized for the best the aluminum industry could offer, in terms of tensile strength, lightweight, and materials-joining technology. New aluminum metallurgy and aluminum fastening technologies allow engineers to augment the hydroformed frame with 7000-Series aluminum extrusions designed for specific areas; such as engine/front suspension assembly, transaxle/rear suspension assembly mounting points and frontal collision areas.

Careful consideration to the placement of major components was also critical. Juechter’s team felt that the C6 was slightly nose-heavy. Components were adjusted so that the C7 is now rear-biased, allowing more load on the rear wheels for better traction at launch; like a racecar. The front wheels were moved forward 1-inch making the wheelbase 106.7-inches. This is the longest wheelbase Corvette ever made. The shortest was the C4, measuring 96.2-inches. Moving the wheels forward also allowed for more space under the hood for the new LT1 engine and various auxiliary systems. This also preserved “crash space” in the front.

Offering an aluminum frame for the coupe and convertible was a big challenge for the team. But because the basic frame structure is so strong, it didn’t need additional roof structure via a fixed roof. The net result is that not only can the Z06 and ZR1 have lift-off rood panels, but both can also be offered as a convertible. This was unimaginable for the C5 Z06, C6 Z06, and the C6 ZR1. According to Ed Moss, the C7 structural engineer group manager, his engineering team tailored sixteen different thicknesses of various grades of aluminum from 11-mm to 2-mm. The completed C7 aluminum frame is 100-pounds lighter than the C6’s steel frame and is 60-percent stiffer. Juechter said that engineers consider the C7’s aluminum chassis to be the most beautiful part of the C7. Perhaps someday Chevrolet will offer a transparent carbon fiber body option.

The C7 frame was also designed for aerodynamic efficiency. In the past, engineers tended to only consider how air passed over and under a performance car. The C7 literally breathes. Spaces under the car’s skin and in between the chassis structure were designed for the internal ducting for engine cooling, brakes, transmission, and differential cooling, and venting. Other spaces allowed for electrical and plumbing fixtures for coolant, fuel, and air conditioning ducting.

The C7 design team worked closely with the Corvette Racing Team on airflow management because even racecars are concerned about fuel consumption, as well as top speed dynamics and stability. Two of the most obvious ducting and venting features is the air extractor on the hood, and the NACA ducts on the top of the rear fenders.

Image: GM Archives

Taking a lesson from the C6.R Corvette racecars, the C7’s radiator is tilted forward. One-third of the air that passes through the radiator is vented out of the hood. The hood louvers are angled so that the exiting air flows tightly over the car creating additional downforce to the nose of the car; thus eliminating the dreaded nose lift.

Heat exchangers (radiators) for the transmission were placed in the back, close to the transaxle with air ducted through the NACA duct feeding into the heat exchangers and then vented out through vents next to the taillights. This is just another example of how every element on the C7 has a defined purpose.

All of the foundational work that went into the C7’s chassis laid down a structure what was easily adaptable to the $2,780 Z51 suspension option that included; performance brakes with slotted rotors; dry-sump oil system; suspension upgrades; special wheels and tires; electronic limited-slip differential with a cooler, performance gearing, and an aero package. The Z51 was for drivers that wanted to use more of the C7 460-horsepower and explore the pleasures of the C7’s superior structure.

The 2015 Z06 with its supercharged 650-horsepower LT4 engine, wide-body, suspension, and tire enhancements work wonderfully with the C7’s basic structure. The same can be said for the 755-horsepower ZR1; the basic structure is up to the task. Arguably, the most interesting use of available C7 components is the Grand Sport. It has the aggressive-looking Z06 body and suspension parts that take using the base model’s 460-horsepower to a whole new level.

I will now go out on a limb. At the C7 ZR1 debut in 2018, Juechter said that his engineers had taken the C7 as far as they could with the ZR1. Are they working on a C9 Corvette to sell alongside the mid-engine C8? If so, will it be built on a carbon fiber chassis? When it comes to Corvettes, things always evolve upward. – Scott

Corvette Chassis History, Pt 1 – C1 Chassis – HERE

Corvette Chassis History, Pt 2 – C2/C3 Chassis – HERE

Corvette Chassis History, Pt 3 – C4 Chassis – HERE

Corvette Chassis History, Pt 4 – C5 Chassis – HERE

Corvette Chassis History, Pt 5 – C6 Chassis – HERE



Chris Draper’s “My Corvette Life”

A young man’s life-long obsession with Corvettes is fulfilled with a bargain-priced C5 Corvette, plus a LOT of work!

Dateline: 11.13.18 Except where noted, all photos by Chris Draper – Note: This story originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Vette Vues. Since the story was written Chris has rebuilt the top end of his LS1 engine. Chris added the following; a LS6 Z06 intake; Z06 fuel injectors; throttle body; heads; and a Vararam Power Duct. His engine also received new valves and valve springs. When Chris bought the car, it had a performance cam; Kooks Long Tube headers; an X-pipe; and a Cat-Back exhaust. After a dyno tune, Chris’ bolt-on-modified LS1 pulled 508-horsepower at the crank! That is C6 427 LS7 Z06 territory, ladies and gentlemen! GOOD JOB, Chris!

There’s been a meme floating about in auto enthusiasts circles about Corvettes that I have always found to be kind of irritating. It had to have been sometime in the mid-1990s that I started hearing and reading the notion that, “Corvettes are for old guys.” Well I’ve been into Corvettes since I was 10-years old and I wasn’t an “old guy” in the mid-1990s. But there were a few things happening back then that probably added to that silly idea.First, while Corvettes have always been a premium, Cadillac-priced car, in the 1990s, a $30,000 Corvette seemed like a lot of money. The 1990 ZR1 Corvette cost nearly $60,000! There were still a lot of Corvette fans who remember the days when you could get a loaded for bear 1967 L71 427/435 big-block for less than $6,000. Today many of those old classic Vettes from the 1950s and 1960s are selling for almost as much as a new Corvette. In the 1990s mid-to late 1970s Corvettes were shunned as performance dogs. It just seemed like the desirable Corvettes were out of reach for younger buyers and more and more we saw men with silver hair (or no hair) driving Corvettes.

Photo Credit: Logan Miller, Car Capture Photography

When the C5 came out in 1997, it was a total game-changer. Everything about the car was new and very much improved. Thanks to the all-new LS1 engine, Corvettes had grunt again and were actually quicker and faster than the big-blocks of the loud golden days of performance. As the 2000s rolled on, Corvettes just kept getting better and better, always moving forward, never going backwards. But the prices kept going up. Then an interesting thing began to happen, especially after the arrival of the C7. Prices for early C5 Corvettes were going down, big time! By 2016 and 2017, genuine bargains could be found. And there is nothing inherently wrong with the C5 platform. In many ways, the C6 and C7 aren’t that much different, just more modern and more refined. And there is more “racecar” built into the C6 and C7 Corvettes, thanks to the amazing success of the Corvette Racing Team, which has served as the field-testing and development wing for future Corvettes. Meanwhile, the aftermarket has totally sorted out the LS series of Corvette engines, such that with just some improvement in the intake and exhaust side, any basic C5 Corvette can be turned into a street beast. And you can’t beat the price! Suddenly, it’s 1970 again!Thirty-year old Chris Draper from Arizona has been a car guy since he was a little fellow when his grandmother would take him out shopping every Saturday in her 1978 Z28 Camaro with a 4-speed transmission. (VERY COOL grandma!) Then when Chris was just six-years old, his grandparents got a 1989 Corvette Coupe. Chris recalled how his great grandfather scolded his grandfather for buying such a ridiculous car, that young Chris thought was to-die for! To young Chris, the 1989 Corvette’s flat digital dash just looked like “The Future”. When Chris’ grandma would pick him up at school, all the kids thought he had the coolest grandma in the world! (most of us would agree!) We all have a “Corvette moment” when a Corvette grabbed us and never let go. This was Chris Draper’s Corvette moment when he was just six-years old. By the time Chris was around 8-years-of-age, personal computers were becoming more and more common and Chris’ grandparents had a new-fangled thing called a “dial-up modem” connected to their computer. Chris quickly got up to speed with using the new computer technology and spent hours and hours searching the new World Wide Web, now called, “The Internet” to learn everything he could about Corvettes. Chris wrote letters and emails to General Motors with questions about Corvettes. He hunted down brochures from Chevrolet dealers as soon as they were available and studied them cover-to-cover. Chris wasn’t even a teenager yet when he started to scour the new Corvette forums that were popping up. While in the 6th grade, at the young age of 11, Chris wrote a research paper on the history of the Corvette. Not long after, Chris started his own Corvette website, www.corvette-info-center.com. The site is still up and Chris apologizes for not having updated it for a few years, but he’s been a busy guy the last few years, as you will see. When Facebook came online, Chris Draper was there with his ”Corvette Info Center” FB page. This has recently been changed to “My Corvette Life” to match Chris’ YouTube Channel. In 2005 Chris’ grandparents traded in what was by that time, their “old” 1989 Corvette on a new 2005 Mustang, but fortunately, they got over that “Mustang thing” in less than a year. In 2006 Chris’ grandparents let him (now 17 years old) fill out the order form for their new 2006 Corvette Coupe. Soon after, his grandfather joined a local Corvette club and Chris would attend the club meetings on Sundays. Sometimes, his grandfather would let Chris drive the new Corvette. By this time, Chris had a 1995 Camaro (a very nice first ride for a 17-year-old young man) that earned him his first speeding ticket. (Are we surprised? Been there, done that!) From hanging with the Corvette club folks (I’m sure that Chris was the only person they knew that had his own website!) Chris befriended a couple that let him take their 2006 Corvette Convertible to his Junior Prom. The following year, Chris’ grandfather let him take his 2006 Corvette Coupe to the senior prom with his high school sweetheart and future bride! You can clearly see how all of this is cementing “Corvette” into Chris’ heart and soul. It should be no surprise that Chris is a big Corvette Racing Team fan. Corvettes and Racing, as Forest Gump would say, “go together like peas and carrots!” It was around the year 2000 that Chris first saw the C5-R Corvette Racing Team’s all-out racecar. Finally, Chevrolet was solidly behind racing Corvettes and the car looked like the genuine bad-ass that it was. Now Chris had another facet of the world of Corvettes to assiduously follow. In 2009 when GM was going through bankruptcy, funding for Eddie Jaboure’s BadBoyVettes.com was cut off. (Jaboure was also the creator of the famed “Jake” Corvette Racing mascot). Chris reached out to Jaboure to help keep the website afloat. Since the beginning of the 2012 racing season at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Chris Draper has written every article at www.BadBoyVettes.com. The site is totally dedicated to reporting all news concerning the Corvette Racing Team. There’s also a large collection of Corvette Racing videos, photos, Jake images, and photo albums of really cool street Vettes. Chris has done a super job with the site. Kudos to you, Chris.

Chris graduated from college in 2011 with a degree in CAD Design and Construction Management. The economy was not in good shape, but Chris was able to get a job with a construction company in the Phoenix area, close to where he lives. Then in 2013 Chris married his high school sweetheart, yes, the same gal he took to two proms in Corvettes! With the age of 30 closing in, Chris’ goal was to get a Corvette before he turned the big “THREE-OH!” After all, he had only been into Corvettes for nearly 25 years at that point! When it comes to Corvettes, one could not be more studied on “what to buy on a budget” than Chris Draper. He’d been doing his homework for a long time and knew from his studies that in today’s market, C5 Corvettes offer the best “bang for the buck”. There are stacks of C5s that owners don’t want any more because they want the newer Corvettes. All Corvettes seem to suffer this fate. The best example of this is the 1984-1985 Corvettes. In their day they were heralded as “The Best Vette Yet!” Today, you can get a 1984 Corvette for less than $5,000!

Chris’ hunt did not take long. In October 2017 he located a white 1998 Coupe with 110,000 miles for sale in Twentynine Palms, California, which was for Chris and his wife, about a four-hour drive. The car is mechanically sound, was really grubby, but had a nice array of performance parts that Chris would have added anyway. The 1998 Corvette had a Vararam Ram Air Intake, a performance camshaft, Kooks Long Tube Headers, an X-Pipe, and Cat-Backs. The suspension had been upgraded to C6 Z06 shocks, C6 Z51 sway bars, was lowered 1-1/2-inches, and had black Z06 wheels and Z06 size tires. That’s one heck of a good start!

Photo Credit: Logan Miller, Car Capture Photography

The owner was asking $9,000 for the car and Chris countered with an offer of $8,000, based on the Kelly Blue Book estimated value. The seller agreed. But while test driving the car the Check Engine light came on, so they took the car to an Auto Zone store to get a diagnosis. The issue was a clutch sensor. The seller had the receipt showing that that issue had been fixed two weeks before, so the seller took the $250 out of the price and the car was Chris’ first Corvette for just $7,750!

We should back up and mention that in 2008 Chris launched his YouTube Channel, “My Corvette Life” that mostly covered Corvette history and Corvette racing. In October 2017 when Chris started his Corvette hunt, he started a new Playlist on his YouTube Channel called, “C5 Corvette Videos” that chronicle his C5 Corvette adventure. That’s how I discovered Chris’ “My Corvette Life” YouTube Channel when I started my C5 hunt. Chris’ videos are totally engaging and brutally honest. He shares his hunt, when he looked at the car, when he drove the car home and how he called his grandfather on the road during a pit stop, and after he got the car home. The car was a grubby mess, but Chris was able to look past the dirt and grime and start the process of bringing his 1998 Corvette Coupe back to life. The car was a good candidate to become a racecar and would have been stripped, cut up, and modified for racing. That’s not a “bad” thing, but it’s nice to see street Corvette survivors. As of this writing (early July 2018) Chris has 50 YouTube videos that walk his viewers, step-by-step through his build experience. It is a delightful journey! His YouTube Channel also has nearly 200 other videos, including; Ride-Alongs, Vlog videos, Racing videos, and Road Trip videos.

In one of Chris’ videos posted in late June 2018 he said that his 1998 Corvette was pretty much complete. Veterans of performance project cars know that rarely are cars such as this ever 100% done; maybe 99.5% because there’s always some little thing that needs attention. With the mods that came with the car when Chris bought it, plus a lot of enhancing on his part, his 1998 LS1 has plenty of grunt and makes sweet thunder. And for Chris, he doesn’t need an 800-horsepower beast. His 1998 Corvette Coupe is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

Photo Credit: Logan Miller, Car Capture Photography

The teachable moment with Chris Draper’s “My Corvette Life” journey is this. Attention Millennials! You don’t have to spend $60,000 or more for a Corvette, you can have one for a fraction of the price of a new Corvette. And then, you too will have a Vette! – Scott


Speed Society Delivers Stunning Z06 C7.R-Inspired Street-Beast! – VIDEO

Speed Society’s Salute to the awesome success of the Corvette Racing Team

Dateline 11.10.18 – What sets the Corvette apart from every other car in America is that since 1955 the Corvette has always been about racing. From the glory days of Duntov to today, every Corvette chief engineer has made sure that lessons learned from racing are poured into production Corvettes.

With the 2018 racing season completed and the Corvette Racing Team racking up another championship, the timing of the Speed Society Z06 couldn’t be better. The Z06’s LT4 engine has been goosed up to 850-horsepower and the deco on the car is a salute to the C7.R. The rear wing and ADV.1 two-piece forged alloy wheels pulls the whole look together.

Photo Credit: Kenrem Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

Check out the rest of the details and gallery of photos HERE. – Scott



Corvette Racing Team Wins 3rd Championship in a Row, Plus the Driver’s Championship – Videos

How do you win a championship without winning a single race? Outstanding teamwork!

Dateline: 10.17.18 – The Corvette Racing Team beautifully finished their 20th season with a spectacular Team Championship and Driver’s Championship. And 2018 is the third year in a row that the Corvette Racing team has won the Championship. Chris Draper from the YouTube Channel, “My Corvette Life” delivered the below overview of the 2018 Petit le Mans race at Road Atlanta on October 13, 2018. Chris is also the editor and chief of www.BadBoyVettes.com the exclusively covers the Corvette Racing Team.

Since we like nice, round numbers, here’s a review of the Corvette Racing Team’s 20 years of success.

* 1999 was the official debut of the Corvette Racing Team with the launch of the partnership of Chevrolet with Pratt & Miller.

* Since the Corvette team was launched, the team has racked up 107 total wins, more than any other IMSA entrant.

* The Corvette Racing Team has won its class at at Le Mans eight times.

* The Corvette Racing Team has won its class at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona three times.

* The Corvette Racing Team has won its class at at the 12 Hours of Sebring 11 times.

* From 1999 to 2013 the Corvette Racing Team lead the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in all-time wins and 1-2 finishes.

* To date the Corvette Racing Team has won 11 ALMS Team Championships.

* To date the Corvette Racing Team has won 10 ALMS Manufacturer Championships.

* To date the Corvette Racing Team has won 10 Driver’s Championships.

Photo: CorvetteRacing.com

The last 20 years of extraordinary racing success has more than made of for previous years of spotty and sometimes embarrassing performance. Corvettes were long looked down upon as cars that were loud, brash, set track records, had pole starts, but rarely finished races.

Yes, there were exceptions, but overall Corvettes were the Rodney Dangerfield of sports race cars, “I’ll tell’m ya, I get no respect!”

Photo: Retroland.com

With the launch of the C5-R Corvette Racing Team, Corvettes have become the Charles Atlas of the sports racing car world. No one kicks sand in our faces anymore. All it took was training and teamwork.

In November 2012 I had the opportunity to see Doug Fehan and the Corvette Racing Team at the Simeone Museum for Simeone’s first “Corvette Racing” seminar. The C6.R “show car” was there along with Simeone’s 1963 Wintersteen Grand Sport #002. As part of the program, they presented a film explaining how the Corvette Racing Team prepared for one of their Le Mans assaults. They are consummate professionals and their level of professionalism is truly world-class. Everyone came away with a whole new level of respect and admiration for the Corvette Racing Team.

Here’s the view from inside Tommy Milner’s #4 office!

Yet, despite IMSA’s efforts with their Balance of Power (BoP) rules, the Corvette Racing Team out-flanked all competitors by being a better and more efficient team. “Racing” is supposed to be about the best car and team winning races, but IMSA is practically giving everyone a participation trophy by attempting to have an even race. Leave that to the spec racers.

While I am seriously at odds with IMSA and their absurd BoP rules, this year’s third team Championship is sweet revenge from a team that has obviously been held back by IMSA. Consequently, the team did not win any races in 2018, but took the championship just the same. The Corvette Racing Team also vanquished that tired old claptrap about how the Corvette’s front-mid-engine design is outdated. Really? The Ford GT and Porsche didn’t just score their third team Championship in a row, did they?

Photo: Motor1.com The C8.R Corvette race car was seen in testing in summer 2018.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing the mid-engine C8.R competing in the 2019 season. I have no “inside connections” but I do believe we will see the C8.R debut at Daytona in February 2019. Why? Because we have already seen the C8.R being tested last July. They wouldn’t have let out those images if the C8.R was going to compete in 2020. At least, that’s my speculative guess.

Till then, CONGRADULATIONS to the entire Corvette Racing Team, and drivers; Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Marcel Fassler! – Scott

Enjoy the eye candy!

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: January 10, 1999 – Two C5-R Corvette race cars start testing for the 1999 24 Hours of Daytona – 2 VIDEOS”

Tommy Milner & the C7.R Corvette Wins GTLM at 12 Hours of Sebring!!! – 3 VIDEOS

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

Tommy Milner & the C7.R Corvette Wins GTLM at 12 Hours of Sebring!!! – 3 VIDEOS”

What’s New In Vette Vues Magazine! 8/15

Here’s what’s in the August 2015 issue of Vette Vues Magazine!


Dateline: 8.15.15 – The cover story for the August issue of Vette Vues is “Victory At Le Mans!” There’s an old saying in road racing that goes, “If you win the 12 Hours at Sebring or the 24 Hours at Daytona, all of America will know. But if you win the 24 Hours At le Mans, the WHOLE WORLD will know. The Corvette Racing Team scored their eighth Le Mans win since the debut arrival of the C5-R cars in 1999. BRAVISSIMO! Corvette Racing Team!

Feature stories in the August issue include:

Circle City Corvettes Caravan to the Beach – Article & Photos by Charley Robertson

Second Annual Indianapolis Grand Prix – Story by Tom Fielitz & Photos by Dave Estes

“Eyes On Design” In Detroit 2015 Show Coverage – Article & Photos by Wayne Elwood

Corvette Milestones: August” – Story & Graphics by K. Scott Teeters

“The John Meyerhoff and Mary Carol Plott Corvette Love Affair, Pt 2” – Story and Photos by K. Scott Teeters Continue reading

What’s New In Vette Vues Magazine! 8/15″

Corvette Widebodys – Past and Present

Dateline: 5.31.12

When it comes to widebody Corvettes, it’s all about BIG tires.

Check out the wide body Corvette prints at the bottom of this post.

Special thanks to Corvette Racing for the very cool images. For tons of Corvette Racing fun, be sure to visit, www.corvetteracing.com/.

On March 16,2012 GMAuthority.com announced that for the 2012 racing season, the C6.R ZR1 Corvette would be wearing a new suit. We’re not talking about the livery, it’s still Competition Yellow with black graphics that seems to change every few races.

No, we’re talking about actual body parts. It was only six years ago that the production widebody C6 Z06 gave the new C6 that big, broad shoulders look that we love so much. It wasn’t long before lots of regular Corvettes were wearing Z06 outfits, and why not? It looks great, almost as if that’s the way the C6 should have looked in ‘05. But things evolve and we go from there. It wasn’t just a fad either. Chevrolet certainly noticed and and in ‘10 dished up the Grand Sport model, wearing Z06 cloths and a new set of front fender vents. The new look struck a chord, because in ‘10 the Grand Sport Corvette made up 49.5% of total sales and in ‘11 Grand Sports accounted for 58.7% of sales! That’s very impressive and the Corvette planners deserve credit for picking up on the widebody trend.

Special thanks to Corvette Racing for the very cool images. For tons of Corvette Racing fun, be sure to visit, www.corvetteracing.com/.

But when ‘12 Corvette Racing season began, the ZR1-based race cars were wearing an even wider, wider body. And just like the original ‘70s widebody Corvettes popularized by John and Burt Greenwood, it was all about tires. Race car tires are a whole other interesting topic. If you go all the way back to the earliest Corvette racers, you can’t miss those painfully skinny tires. These were stock tires that were sometimes shaved a little. When you got into the late ‘60s tire sizes began to grow and L-60 series tires were considered enormous. Continue reading “Corvette Widebodys – Past and Present”

CorvetteNews: 3-24-2012: Driver Reports From Gavin & Magnussen, 60th Anniversary TV Ad, & Bowling Green Readies For The C7

Dateline: 3.24.12

Breaking news and information for Corvette friends and fans around the globe!

* Driver Report: Corvette RacingTeam driver Oliver Gavin’s report on the team’s 2nd and 3rd place wins at the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race. CLICK HERE.

* Driver Report: Corvette Racing team driver,Jan Magnussen weighs in on the 2012 Sebring ALMS race. “We all expected the 12 Hours of Sebring to be one amazing battle, but even I didn’t think we’d end up with three cars from three different makes fighting it out on the final lap.” CLICK HERE.


* New Chevy Runs Deep 60th Anniversary Corvette “Candles” Commercial. Look’n GOOD for a 60-year old babe! CLICK HERE. Continue reading “CorvetteNews: 3-24-2012: Driver Reports From Gavin & Magnussen, 60th Anniversary TV Ad, & Bowling Green Readies For The C7”