Middle East – Corvette Racing celebrated the men and machines behind Corvette’s 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance racing legacy with a special Corvette Legends of Le Mans program at the American Le Mans Series Monterey race, from May 21-22.
The event saluted the Corvette Racing team at its final US race, and celebrated the team’s 50th participation in the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France, from June 12-13.
Chevrolet honored Dr. Dick Thompson, who co-drove Briggs Cunningham's No. 2 Corvette at Le Mans in 1960. Dick Guldstrand also appeared with the iconic red, white, and blue No. 9 Corvette Dana Chevrolet Corvette that he co-drove with Bob Bondurant at Le Mans in 1967. One of the star-spangled Greenwood Corvettes that went to Le Mans in 1973 was also displayed. The first 2011 Corvette Z06 built (VIN 001) with special white and blue Le Mans graphics by GM Design completed the Corvette quartet.
Two-time Le Mans winner Ron Fellows and current Corvette Racing drivers Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, Johnny O'Connell, and Jan Magnussen contrasted their adventures at Le Mans with the modern Corvette C6.R race cars.
Fellows, who scored Corvette Racing's first Le Mans class victory in 2001 with teammates Johnny O'Connell and Scott Pruett, said: "The first thing that struck me when I fired it up was a familiar sound – after 50 years, the cars look different, but there is still that awesome Chevy V-8 sound. I was surprised by how nice it was to drive – it starts and stops fine, and has good power.”
O’connell, the only American driver to score four class wins at Le Mans, and drove the 1967 Guldstrand/Bodurant Stingray on the day of the celebration, said: “That car is all beast, and the strength needed to turn that thing was incredible. It really made me appreciate those guys as race car drivers and athletes. That was state-of-the-art technology in 1967, and driving a Corvette C6.R gives me an appreciation for how far Corvette has come over the years.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit of “24 Heures du Mans” in Le Mans, France.