Click above for a high-res mega gallery of the Corvette Racing GT1 program
Here's to you, Corvette Racing. The car has evolved, the livery has changed, drivers have come and gone, competitors have challenged and fallen away, and even the type of fuel is new, but one thing remains the same -- a winning formula. Starting with a second-place finish at its inaugural race at the 1999 24 Hours of Daytona, Corvette Racing went on to become one of the most dominant teams in motorsports history. The easily recognizable yellow paint scheme and the deep sound of the V8 have made the Corvettes a fan favorite, as have drivers like Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Oliver Gavin, and Olivier Beretta. Continue reading more about Corvette Racing's successes in ALMS and at Le Mans after the break, along with our positively massive gallery below.
Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc
The first win for the C5-R came at the Texas Motor Speedway in 2000 with Ron Fellow and Andy Pilgrim behind the wheel, beginning a slew of victories that essentially left the GT1 category barren of any teams wanting to compete against the Corvettes. The C5-R went on to capture an overall win at Daytona (2001), three 1-2 finishes in the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2001, 2002, 2004), and four consecutive manufacturers' championships. Corvette Racing had a perfect season in 2004, winning every race and capturing every pole position without ever breaking down or replacing an engine or transmission -- not so much as a flat tire.
A new era began in 2005 with the introduction of the C6.R. It may have been a new car, but with six seasons of competition under their belt, the Corvettes immediately continued their class dominance (renamed to GT1) by winning all but one race of the ALMS season as well as finishing 1-2 at Le Mans. Four years later, Corvette Racing have racked up an impressive resume: eight straight team and manufacturer championships, seven straight drivers' titles, five class victories at Le Mans, and seven class victories at Sebring. After their last win at the Long Beach Grand Prix this past weekend, the total of class wins in ALMS comes to 70 and 76 worldwide.
Alas, Corvette Racing's success has been their undoing. Its dominant form left them with nobody to compete in the last two years, with the closest challengers from the Aston Martin factory team managing to win five of ten races in 2006. Still, with Aston Martin's departure of the GT1 class in 2008, Corvette Racing has grown tired of racing themselves and announced that they would be moving to the GT2 class later in the season to hunt down the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, and Panoz. So while the victory in Long Beach may have been unexciting in one aspect, it was still a memorable since it would be the last time we would see the Corvette C6.R on track here in the United States.
While Corvette Racing's tenure in the GT1 class might be at an end, they still have one more test ahead of them before launching their GT2 campaign in August. The very last race for the C6.R will be at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, and it's the one place that Corvette Racing still have something to prove. Aston Martin have taken the top spot in GT1 the last two years, and the Corvette team is determined to reclaim its supremacy. "We still have unfinished business in Le Mans," said Oliver Gavin after the Long Beach race. If the C6.R does come out on top, it will be a fitting end to an impressive race car and an even more impressive racing program in GT1.
As our own tribute to Corvette Racing's success in GT1 in ALMS, we've put together a huge mega gallery of our Corvette Racing photographs that we've taken over the last several years. Included in the gallery are photos from the C6.R's first race (Sebring, 2005), it's last race (Long Beach, 2009)
, Petit Le Mans, and Laguna Seca. We've even added a few photos of the C5-R's last factory-backed ALMS race at Laguna Seca in 2004
. So once again, here's to you Corvette Racing!