History: Chevrolet Corvette Racing Then and Now

Don Sherman

The good news is that this program, along with NASCAR, survived GM's quick bankruptcy rinse. Pratt & Miller Racing boss Doug Fehan is quick to point out why: because even the witless government financial experts could see that racing Corvettes have delivered a valuable return on investment; because there are 800-million pairs of eyes that watch some portion of the 24 Hours of LeMans every year; because Chevy is a global brand and the success of its racing flagship casts a warm glow over the entire bow-tie product line; and because there is genuine technology transfer -- a true two-way street -- between Corvettes plying the street and those that live on the track.

Diving into the deep end against well established GT2 competitors last year, the Corvette team made its intentions known with second and fourth place finishes in the first race at Mid-Ohio. When the season ended at Laguna Seca, the record showed one victory at Mosport and five podium finishes. Four Corvette drivers tied for sixth and 11th place finishes in the driver's points race. Chevrolet finished fourth in the manufacturers' championship and Corvette Racing scored sixth on the team championship list, an excellent finish for contesting only half of the 2009 GT2 races.

The 2010 series begins on March 20 with the 58th edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring. Two Pratt & Miller factory Corvettes will face 12 GT2 competitors fielded by eight other teams and representing five other manufacturers: BMW (M3), Ferrari (F430), Ford (GT), Jaguar (XKR), and Porsche (911 GT3 RSR).

To find out to what extent the outgoing Corvette GT1 differs from the new wave GT2, we recently visited Pratt & Miller in New Hudson, Michigan. The short answer to the 'what's the dif?' question is virtually every nut and bolt. There are no parts shared between the GT1 and GT2 Corvettes.

The rules drive most of the changes. Since carbon-carbon brakes and forged magnesium wheels are not permitted, the 2010 GT2 Corvettes are now equipped with cast-iron brake rotors and aluminum wheels supplied by BBS.

Racing's attempt to seem green has also prompted a major change in engine design. Replacing the 7.0 and 6.0-liter LS V-8s used previously is a 5.5-liter version of the same engine with smaller bore and stroke dimensions. Breathing through two 28.8-mm diameter intake air restrictors, the advertised horsepower is 485 at 5800 rpm which is not a whole lot more than a base Corvette's 6.2-liter V-8 delivers.

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