It’s only been about 15 years since Team Chevy formed Corvette Racing with the intention of sticking it to Dodge and Porsche not only in IMSA racing, but in European events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team is now a mainstay in touring car racing and the Le Mans grid would be missing something if the yellow Corvettes didn’t show up, a testament to how far they’ve come in such a short time.
Corvette Racing’s current race series, the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship, recently reflected on 15 years of Corvette Racing history with a list of five facts you might not have known about the team. Some of you racing diehards will already know a few of these, so if you have any other little known facts about Chevy’s factory racing team, feel free to share them in the comments below.
1. Corvette Racing’s first outing was at the 1999 Rolex 24 At Daytona, where Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and John Paul Jr. drove the C5-R to a 19th place finish. They crossed the finish line 34 laps behind the class winning Porsche 911 and would go on to compete at Sebring, Sears Point, Laguna Seca and more later that year.
2. Two Scotts who currently compete against Corvette Racing in the IMSA Tudor Championship used to drive for the team. Scott Sharp drove three races in the C5-R in 1999 along with current Cadillac Racing driver Andy Pilgrim and John Heinricy. Additionally, Scott Pruett drove to a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Ron Fellows and current Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O’Connell in 2001. The team has also had 26 different drivers race for them, including both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Sr.
3. During the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette Racing’s C5-R experienced some minor problems during the endurance race. The team needed to replace bodywork and suspension tie rods, but didn’t have any spare parts. That’s when one team member remembered they had a third C5-R on display at the race, which they quickly raided for parts. Drivers Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen went on to win the race in their specially modified Corvette.
4. Corvette Racing’s cars have racked up nearly 210,000 combined racing miles in more than 58,000 laps over its 16 racing seasons. In that time, they’ve won 94 races in the the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, American Le Mans Series, GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
5. The most successful driver to ever race a Corvette is Oliver Gavin, who has won 44 victories with the team. Johnny O’Connell is a close second, with 40 wins in the yellow car under his belt.