History/News/Commentary from K. Scott Teeters

Vette Videos: Chevrolet Embraces Corvette Racing

Dateline: 2.13.12

It’s too bad Chevy didn’t do this 50 years ago!

To see the BIG version of this very cool Zr1 Corvette ad, just click the above image.

The very cool “Chevy Runs Deep” video featuring the C6.R Corvette racers is at the bottom of this post.
Wouldn’t it have been awesome if General Motors had told the AMA to “stuff it” back in 1957? Why should Ford and Chrysler get all the racing glory? Just before the GM enforced the 1957 AMA ban on racing, paperwork had been submitted to take Duntov’s Corvette SS race car to Le Mans. And what might have happened if Zora had been allowed to fully develop the ‘63 Grand Sport. Ah, the stuff of bench racing.

In the early years of the Corvette, Chevrolet and General Motors seemed to almost be shy about their involvement in Corvette racing. While the infamous 1957 AMA ban on corporate involvement in racing was for a very long time, their excuse for not being upfront about racing, there was PLENTY of back door parts and engineering “field testing” going on. Select individuals received special assistance that always kept things a little murky. Names such as Smokey Yunick, Roger Penske, Bill Jenkins, Jim Hall, John Greenwood, and others were often gifted with development parts (at no, or little charge) in exchange for feedback from the race track.

And for the regular customers, there were plenty of go-fast parts that were unofficially referred to as Duntov’s “racer kits.” Not that the parts came in a special box, like an AMT model kit, but they did give a wanna-be Corvette racer the benefit of solid Chevrolet engineered parts for their racing efforts.

Fortunately for every Corvette owner for the last several decades, many race developed parts slowly and subtly made their way into production Corvettes. The tide didn’t really turn in the corporate attitude towards racing until the mid-’80s when Chevrolet began to build specially prepared cars for the Corvette Challenge Series. Plus, there was a lot of help given to the C4 Corvette racers in the Showroom Stock Series. Then there was the GTP Lola/Corvettes and the Morrison Motorsports speed demon C4 ZR1 Corvette that shattered speed records.

But the shackles of the old ‘57 AMA racing ban didn’t die once and for all until ‘97 when Chevrolet announced that they would be teaming up with Pratt & Miller to design and develop the C5-R FACTORY-BACKED Corvette Racing Team. FINALLY! The rest, as they say, is history. And since the ‘99 debut of the C5-R Corvette racer, the team has racked up seven class wins at Le Mans and now there’s a new prototype Corvette racer being sorted out. The only sad part of the story is that Duntov didn’t live to see the day when his Corvettes won at Le Mans.

So, with all that as our history, I thought it was very cool that in 2010 Chevrolet touted the racing-developed parts and concepts that are now part of the C6 ZR1 Corvette with a very cool-looking 2-page poster magazine advertisement depicting a ‘10 ZR1 in the foreground and the all-out, ZR1 dressed C6.R Corvette race cars. The photo of the production ZR1 Corvette has number callouts that point out the racing derived elements of the ZR1. I say, “BRAVO Chevrolet!” for finally tooting your own horn about the potent C6.R Corvette race cars.

And the kicker about the current C6.R (ZR1) Corvettes is that the rules required Chevrolet to use their less potent racing engine so that the Corvette Racing Team wouldn’t have an unfair advantage. Hey Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, and BMW! What’s a matter, can’t keep up? – Scott

Here are the 18 points of how the Corvette’s involvement in racing has been integrated into the production ZR1. To see the BIG version of the below ZR1 Corvette advertisement,  just CLICK the picture.

1. Exposed headlights driven by racing – more efficient, better aero.
2. Open grille/front breather feeds engine, manages air.
3. Front splitter designed for improved high-speed downforce.
4. Production hydroformed aluminum frame rails provide race car foundation.
5. Carbon fiber fenders for lower curb weight.
6. Side coves reduce heat.
7. ZR1 visible carbon rocker panels foster high-speed stability.
8. Front and read ducts cool the brakes.
9 Six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers for fast stops.
10. ZR1 carbon ceramic brakes for high performance, low mass.
11. Rear defuser to release air cleanly from the car.
12. Rear-mounted battery for better weight distribution.
13. Wide body developed in wind tunnel with C6.R racer.
14. Visible carbon fiber roof and bow on ZR1 for lower curb weight.
15. Carbon-fiber balsa-sandwiched floorboards reduce noise and curb weight.
16. Dry-sump oil system delivers pressurized oil from external reservoir.
17. Titanium intake valves and connecting rods for low mass.
18. 7.0-liter in Z06 was codeveloped with C6.R racing engine.


Vette Video, “… Dial it back… just to be fair.”


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