2003 Corvette Racing Season
The 2003 season for Corvette Racing proved to be a challenging year for the team due to a new rival. Corvette Racing would capture the ALMS manufacture championship for the third straight year in a row, but Prodrive had developed a Ferrari 550 Maranello GT1 race car that benefited from higher straight line speed and thanks to the Michelin tires, produced more grip than the Goodyears on the Corvette and lasted double the duration. This would leads to Prodrive taking the GTS class victory at the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans forcing Corvette Racing to second and third place finish.
The C5-R underwent more changes especially within aerodynamics. The louvers over the radiator waterfall hood were fully deleted making for one large extraction scoop. The NACA ducts on the hood for the engine air intakes were deleted and relocated back to the two stock looking C5 grilles, where the air was more dense. The fender louvers were made wider and longer featuring more louvers. This made for more front aero improvements along with a newly designed larger and wider front splitter. Additional cooling was made from a small grille added to the center endurance light cover and the brake ducts allocated beside the lower grille had been enlarged. The AP Racing Carbon Ceramic brakes had been swapped out for Alcon Carbon Ceramics.
2003 marked the 50th anniversary for the Corvette brand. To celebrate Corvette Racing at Le Mans would not run the traditional Millenium Yellow but a special blue/red/white 24 Hours of Le Mans Commemorative Edition Corvette paint scheme, which would be a GM factory option for the 2004 Corvette C5. The traditional #63 and #64 Corvette Racing used at Le Mans was switched to #50 and #53. The #50 was used to celebrate 50 years of Corvette and #53 was to signify 1953 – the first year of production for Corvette.
The driver lineup saw a switch from Andy Pilgrim becoming the third driver in endurance races and Oliver Gavin taking his full time seat for the #4 C5-R.
2003 Corvette Racing Schedule & Results
|Race||Race Date||Race Distance (time)||Track||Car Number||Class Position||Overall Position||Start Position||Drivers||Laps Completed||Fastest Lap||Series||Class|
|51st Annual Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring||March 15 2003||12 Hours||Sebring International Raceway||3||1||8||2||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell / Franck Fréon||332||2:00.469||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|51st Annual Mobil1 Twelve Hours of Sebring||March 15 2003||12 Hours||Sebring International Raceway||4||3||26||1||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins / Andy Pilgrim||283||2:00.330||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|24 Heures du Mans||June 14 2003 – June 15 2003||24 Hours||Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans (France)||50||2||11||3||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins / Andy Pilgrim||326||3:58.830||ACO||GTS|
|24 Heures du Mans||June 14 2003 – June 15 2003||24 Hours||Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans (France)||53||3||12||5||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell / Franck Fréon||326||3:59.406||ACO||GTS|
|Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta||June 29 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center||4||1||7||3||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||118||1:21.194||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta||June 29 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center||3||3||9||1||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||116||1:21.194||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|2 Hours and 45 Minutes at Sonoma||July 27 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Infineon Raceway||3||1||8||4||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||97||1:33.265||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|2 Hours and 45 Minutes at Sonoma||July 27 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Infineon Raceway||4||2||9||1||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||97||1:32.813||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières||August 3 2003||3 Hours||Circuit de Trois-Rivières (Canada)||4||1||4||2||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||162||1:02.141||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières||August 3 2003||3 Hours||Circuit de Trois-Rivières (Canada)||3||2||5||4||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||162||1:02.059||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|The Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport||August 17 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Mosport International Raceway (Canada)||3||1||4||4||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||112||1:15.339||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|The Toronto Grand Prix of Mosport||August 17 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Mosport International Raceway (Canada)||4||7||31||1||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||24||1:15.491||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Road America 500 presented by Chicago Tribune||August 24 2003||500 Miles||Road America, Elkhart Lake||3||2||5||2||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||75||2:04.875||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Road America 500 presented by Chicago Tribune||August 24 2003||500 Miles||Road America, Elkhart Lake||4||5||9||1||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||73||2:03.398||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|2 Hours 45 Minutes at Laguna Seca||September 5 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca||3||2||8||4||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||112||1:24.535||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|2 Hours 45 Minutes at Laguna Seca||September 5 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca||4||3||9||3||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||111||1:24.044||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com||September 27 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Miami Downtown Street Circuit||3||4||27||3||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell||122||51.795||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com||September 27 2003||2 Hours 45 Minutes||Miami Downtown Street Circuit||4||DNS: Accident in Warm Up||DNS: Accident in Warm Up||2||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins||DNS: Accident in Warm Up||DNS: Accident in Warm Up||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Audi Presents Petit Le Mans||October 18 2003||1000 Miles or 10 Hours||Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center||4||3||7||4||Oliver Gavin / Kelly Collins / Andy Pilgrim||366||1:20.171||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
|Audi Presents Petit Le Mans||October 18 2003||1000 Miles or 10 Hours||Road Atlanta Motor Sports Center||3||5||14||6||Ron Fellows / Johnny O'Connell / Franck Fréon||353||1:19.878||American Le Mans Series||GTS|
#3 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Drivers 2003 (#53 used for Le Mans)
2003 would mark Ron Fellows’ fifth full season with Corvette Racing. He along with teammate Johnny O’Connell would capture their second straight ALMS GTS Drivers Championship, which also gave Corvette Racing their third straight ALMS Manufactures Championship.
Fellows was a fundamental part to the development and success of Corvette Racing. He was one of the original test drivers along with Andy Pilgrim during the two year testing and development period for the Corvette C5-R. Fellows would bring Corvette Racing’s first victory in September 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway and later in 2001 would help give Corvette Racing their first victories at Rolex 24 at Daytona and Le Mans 24 Hours.
Fellows drove for Corvette Racing for nine years winning the drivers championship three times and helping Corvette Racing win eight championships. In 2007 Chevrolet introduced a limited edition Corvette Z06 “Ron Fellows Championship Edition” to celebrate Fellows success with Corvette Racing.
He retired from Corvette Racing after the 2008 season and started the Ron Fellows racing school located in Nevada. In 2011 with partners Carlo Fidani and Allan Boughton, Fellows formed Canadian Motorsport Ventures Ltd., which purchased Mosport International Raceway and renamed it Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
- Birthdate: September 28th, 1959
- Birthplace: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
- Residence: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Family: Wife Lynda, children Lindsay, Sam, Patrick
- Corvette Racing: 1999-2008
Notable Career Highlights
- Three time ALMS Drivers Champion – 2002, 2003, 2004
- Two time Le Mans 24 Hours Class Winner – 2001, 2002
- Overall winner in Rolex 24 at Daytona – 2001
- Four-time ALMS Most Popular Driver award – 2004-2007
- 19 SCCA Trans Am wins
- Five NASCAR wins
Johnny O’Connell would make his third year start with Corvette Racing in 2003. O’Connell along with his teammate Ron Fellows won their second straight ALMS GTS Drivers Championship, helping Corvette Racing capture their third straight ALMS Manufactures Championship.
O’Connell is recognized as one of North America’s most talented race drivers. He began his racing career in single-seaters competing professionally in the Formula Atlantic series in 1987 where he won five races, the championship and Rookie of the Year. O’Connell moved to sports car racing where he would scored a class victory in the 1993 12 Hours of Sebring, an overall win in 1994 and another class victory in 1995 all driving a Nissan 300ZX Turbo for Clayton Cunningham Racing. At his first outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994 he achieved a class victory.
O’Connell joined the Indycar series in 1996 where he competed in 4 races including the Indianapolis 500. In 1997 O’Connell made a return to sports car racing driving a Panoz GTR-1 in the IMSA GT race at Pikes Peak where he finished third. O’Connell competed in five races in a Hawk C-8 Chevrolet in the IMSA championship for the Mandeville Auto Tech team the same year before returning to full time sports car racing with Panoz Motorsports in 1998.
O’Connell joined Corvette Racing in 2001, scoring an overall victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in his first race for the team. In the same year he was part of the #63 crew helping Corvette Racing achieve their first class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Whilst part of Corvette Racing he helped the team capture eight straight manufacturers titles and shared the drivers championship for the GTS class with teammate Ron Fellows in 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2008, O’Connell and teammate Jan Magnussen dominated the GT1 class in the C6.R, scoring eight wins and the class championship. O’Connell is the all-time leader in Sebring victories with his eight career wins in 2009.
- Birthdate: July 24th, 1962
- Birthplace: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
- Residence: Flowery Branch, Ga.
- Family: Son Canaan, daughter Kelly
- Corvette Racing: 2001 -2010
Notable Career Highlights
- Formula West Champion and Rookie of the Year 1987
- 12 Hours of Sebring GTS class winner 1993, 1994 and 1995
- Rolex 24 at Daytona Overall winner 2001
- ALMS GTS Drivers Champion 2002, 2003 and 2004
- ALMS GT1 Drivers Champion 2008
- Won class in 12 Hours of Sebring for record eighth time in 2009
- Four class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – 1994 (IMSA GTS), 2001, 2002 (GTS), 2009 (GT1)
Franck Fréon (Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans)
Fréon rejoined Corvette Racing for the three endurance races the team competed in for 2003. He helped Corvette Racing capture a GTS class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Fréon began his racing career in the French Renault 5 Turbo Championship in between 1986 and 1987. He then joined the French Formula Three Championship from 1988 to 1989. Fréon moved to the United States and joined the Indy Lights Championship between 1991 and 1993, where he achieved 4 wins and finished runner up in the 1992 and 1993 standings.
Despite his success in Indy Lights, he struggled to find a good team in the CART series, making only 4 starts (and 1 DNF) for 3 seperate teams in the 1994 season. His best finish was 12th in his CART debut at the Long Beach Grand Prix. In 1995 Fréon ran into the same hurdles, finishing 15th in the Long Beach season opener, to then fail to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in a 3 year old Lola chassis.
In 1994 Franck Fréon competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans where he achieved a second place finish in his debut, racing a Mazda RX-7 GTO for Team Artnature. In 1996 Fréon achieved a class victory in LMP2 driving a Kudzu DLM-Mazda for Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd.
In 1998, Franck Fréon leveraged his knowledge, experience and passion for cars to establish his business Pumpkin Fine Cars & Exotics.
- Birthdate: March 16th, 1962
- Birthplace: Paris France
- Residence: New Jersey, USA
- Family: Wife Gina, children, Harrison and Isabella
- Corvette Racing: 2000-2003
Notable Career Highlights
- Second in 1992 Indy Lights standings
- Second in 1993 Indy Lights standings
- 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class win
- Seven 24 Hours of Le Mans class podiums – 1994 (GTS), 1995 (WSC), 1996 (LMP2), 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 (GTS)
#4 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R Drivers 2003 (#50 used for Le Mans)
Gavin quickly made an impression the previous year with Corvette Racing. This secured him a full time seat in 2003 replacing Andy Pilgrim.
Oliver Gavin would become the most successful and longest-serving driver in Corvette Racing history. With 51 victories and five championships as part of the program, Gavin would rank as one of the most accomplished drivers in IMSA history. His Corvette Racing record included wins at Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona and Petit Le Mans. Gavin would win two championships with co-driver Tommy Milner (2012 and 2016) and would become the longest-running driver pairing in IMSA history at the time of the start of the 2020 season.
- Birthdate: September 29th, 1972
- Birthplace: Huntington, England
- Residence: Yardley Hastings, England
- Family: Wife Helen; children Lily, Isaac, Fergus
- Corvette Racing: 2002-2020
Notable Career Highlights
- 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM Champion
- Four-time ALMS champion – 2005-07 (GTS/GT1), 2012 (GT)
- Five class wins in 24 Hours of Le Mans – 2002, 2004-06 (GTS/GT1), 2015 (GTLM Pro)
- Six class wins at 12 Hours of Sebring – 2001-02 (GTS), 2006-07 (GT1), 2013 (GT), 2016 (GTLM)
- Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona winner – 2016 (GTLM)
Kelly Collins rejoined Corvette Racing in 2003 for his third full season but it would mark his fifth year driving for the team.
Collins first joined Corvette Racing at the 1999 Petit Le Mans. In 2000 Collins joined Corvette Racing for four rounds of the ALMS season and two endurance races outside of the ALMS. 2001 became the first full season for Kelly Collins with Corvette Racing.
At the age of seven Kelly Collins began racing motorcycles. He started his racing career in 1987 earning six wins in Formula Ford and Formula Mazda.
From 1993 to 1996 Collins drove a Honda in the IMSA Series earning eight wins. He then would race a Porsche in the PSCR GT Championship in 1997 and 1998. In 1999 Collins won the GT3 Class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Porsche 911 RSR for Alex Job Racing finishing sixth overall. Collins continued to drive for Alex Job Racing in 1999 in the ALMS where he achieved another GT Class win at Sebring. After Sebring Collins moved to Martin Snow Racing, driving a Porsche 911 Turbo in the GTS class for four rounds.
Collins joined Corvette Racing at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 1999, to then finish the season with Martin Snow Racing for the last two rounds in the ALMS.
- Birthdate: April 21st, 1965
- Birthplace: Sun Valley, Idaho
- Residence: Newport Beach, California
- Corvette Racing: 1999-2003
Notable Career Highlights
- 1992 Sebring 12 Hours winner
- Eight wins in the IMSA Series between 1993-1996
- 1999 Rolex 24 at Daytona GT3 class winner
- GTS class win at 2000 Petit Le Mans
- Four consecutive GTS class Le Mans 24 Hours podiums 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003
- Three GT class wins in Grand-Am Sports Car Series – 2006
- Four GT class wins in Grand-Am Sports Car Series – 2008
Andy Pilgrim (Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans)
Andy Pilgrim would join Corvette Racing in 2003 for a fifth year, however this time he would be a third driver for the three endurance races Corvette Racing competed in that year. Oliver Gavin would take the full time seat Pilgrim had vacated.
Pilgrim was one of the integral people involved in the development of the Corvette Racing program being the first to drive the Corvette C5-R as a test driver in its first two years of development. He would go on to race for Corvette Racing from 1999 to 2003 giving the teams first win at Texas Motor Speedway in September 2000. He became famous for the ‘Pilgrim pass’ at the 2000 Petit Le Mans where he made a difficult move to steal the win from the Team Oreca Viper in the last minutes of the race, giving Corvette Racing their first endurance race victory.
Pilgrim born in England moved to the USA in 1982 and had his first professional race in 1984. Pilgrim received his first professional victory in the IMSA Firestone Firehawk Endurance Championship in 1986 at Sears Point driving a Pontiac Firebird. Between July 1992 to September 1998, Pilgrim won 25 races and three IMSA championships, finishing a record 116 consecutive IMSA races without a DNF (did not finish). He took titles in the 1995 and 1998 IMSA Speedvision Cup championships, the 1997 IMSA GT1 championship and the 1996 Brazilian GT2 title. Pilgrim has two Rolex 24 at Daytona victories, including an overall win in 2004.
Away from the race track Andy Pilgrim is the CEO of Electronic Computer Services, a successful computer consulting and management company that employs more than 200 information technology professionals. Pilgrim also works with high school students, teaching them safe driving skills. In 2005, he created an instructional DVD on safe driving, “The Driving Zone: Essential Techniques For New Drivers,” in cooperation with Chevrolet NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Dale Earnhardt Foundation.
- Birthdate: August 18th, 1956
- Birthplace: Nottingham, England
- Residence: Delray Beach, Florida
- Family: Single
- Corvette Racing: 1999-2003
Notable Career Highlights
- Five podium finishes at Le Mans 24 Hours – 1997 (GT2), 2000 (GTS), 2001 (GTS) 2002 (GTS), 2003 (GTS)
- Third place in the 2002 ALMS driver standings
- First place overall at the 2004 Rolex 24 at Daytona
- 2005 SPEED World Challenge – GT champion
- Second place in the 2007 and 2008 SPEED World Challenge – GT championship standings
- Second place in the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge GT season standings