FOR RELEASE: November 4, 1998
CONTACT: Cam Melangton
Detroit (November 4, 1998) — In a sport where the driver usually gets all the accolades, the postrace victory lane interview usually begins with: "It was a team effort that allowed me to win." The C5-R Corvette Race Team - the latest factory racing effort from GM Motorsports - wholeheartedly embraces the "team concept" where specialists share their knowledge and expertise with other members of the team to produce a winning effort. They will get a chance to prove this concept at next year's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, 12 Hours at Sebring and Petit Le Mans endurance races with a two-car team.
"The Corvette C5-R Racing Project is the fulfillment of a Zora Duntov dream," says C5-R Corvette Race Team manager Doug Fehan, speaking of the famed GM engineer who in the early `50s was the driving force behind the Corvette's emergence into a world-class sports car. "Racing the Corvette is the next logical phase in the evolution. How else do you prove performance?"
The C5-R Corvette Race Team has combined the talents of GM Motorsports, Chevrolet Race Shop, and Corvette production vehicle engineers to provide racing specs to develop "the best `vette yet." Fehan brought road-racing specialists Pratt & Miller, Detroit, and Riley & Scott, Indianapolis, to the team to lend year's of practical road-racing experience to the project. Due to their close proximity to GM's headquarters, Pratt & Miller was selected to do most of the design, fabrication and development work on the racing Corvettes. However, they could only field one car on race day with the personnel and resources they had available, so Fehan approached Riley & Scott to see if they'd be interested in fielding a second car for the team.
Fehan reflects, "We had two suppliers -- Pratt & Miller in Michigan and Riley & Scott in Indiana -- who were right for us and right for each other. They had worked together in another lifetime, and since then had achieved their personal goals. Their personalities mesh, they run synergistic programs, and they both expressed the desire to make this program succeed."
Gary Pratt leads an organization that has done various R & D projects for General Motors, and their engineering and design work has proven its mettle on the racetrack over the years. In 1994 they fielded a championship Trans-Am entry for Scott Pruett, and in 1995 built the championship car in GTS competition. Pratt & Miller designed, built and raced an Aurora GTS car to the championship in 1996, and most recently won this year's Pikes Peak Hill Climb in an S- 10 in the Supertruck Division.
Like Pratt & Miller, Riley & Scott is known for their superior race-car design and engineering. Chief Design Engineer Bill Riley has helped prove that Riley & Scott can race cars as well as design them. Their first-ever factory World SportsCar team in 1996 captured the coveted 24 Hours at Daytona and 12 Hours at Sebring endurance races, as well as qualified for Le Mans. Their dream season ended by capturing the `96 World SportsCar Driver's and Manufacturer's Championships.
Working closely with GM Motorsports engineers, Pratt & Miller's first assignment was to develop a 40% scale model of the Corvette using 3D CAD data from the production car as a starting point. GM aerodynamicist Brian Miller then took the model to the wind tunnel and tweaked it until the car was stable at speeds approaching 200 MPH. The tweaked model then came back to Pratt & Miller and became the body CAD template for the racing Corvette test mule.
Meanwhile, development of the racing Corvette's chassis was ongoing. Ken Brown, who worked on the development of the actual production Corvette's chassis and suspension prior to his assignment to GM Motorsports, worked with Gary Pratt to develop the racing Corvette's suspension components and chassis layout.
Engine development was being handled across town under the watchful eyes of Joe Negri, GM Motorsports Engine Director. Using the stock LS1 block as a starting point, Joe and his engine specialists have so far been able to nearly double the output of the production engine with their racing versions. Once some engines were built, they were sent to Pratt & Miller to be installed on the rolling chassis for some actual track testing.
To this point, about 4,000 miles of on-track testing has been completed. Several tests are planned for November and December leading up to the 24 Hours at Daytona in January 1999.
"We want to race the car to show America and the world that we can modify a $40,000 production car to compete internationally with cars 2-4 times the price," adds Fehan, "and to garner additional global recognition for the quality and integrity of American design and construction."
Zora Duntov would be proud of this team.