Friday, July 12, 2019

RETRO: Corvette Racing Celebrates Two Decades of Competition in Gay Paree'



Long forgotten Callaway C6 Super Natural LM GT2 racecar and limited edition Le Mans Street Car. (Image source: callawaycars.com)
Although thou Bowtie' hasn't exactly gone outta its way to commemorate said Milestone, or acknowledge those that came before Thar Factory effort.

Sixty Years of Corvette's History of Racing at Le Mans

Funny, I suppose one whom lives by thou Sword, shouldn't be to annoyed to also Die by thoust Sword; Err Keyboard when relying heavily upon good 'Ol Al Gore's wondrous invention, Zed Internetz' doing thoust Heavy lifting, Eh?

As it's annoying enough over the sketchy "Broad Brush Strokes" painted over John Greenwood's Le Mans Adventures some forty-plus years ago. But Shit! Try finding any definitive information upon Callaway Corvette's racing at Circuit de la Sarthe, Uhm, Ah, Crickets; Bueller?

Reeves Callaway's first "Tuner" Corvette to race at Circuit de la Sarthe was his Mega Bitchin', as Randal, Thy No Fenders Moniker King would opine... Was the 1994 #51 Callaway C6 Super Natural Corvette LM GT2, based upon the C4 Vette' body platform, for which reportedly only four Racing models & five Street versions were built.

As it appears that Callaway's High Water mark at Le Mans came the following year, when the car finished a very respectable ninth place Overall, and runner-up in its GT2 Class,.

With somebody with the Sir-name Unser on its Driver's roll. As Johnny Unser wheeled' the #73 Callaway Competition Vette' with Co-drivers Frank Jelinski and Enrico Bertaggia.

Ironically, Corvette lost the GT2 Class Scrum that year to a rival Honda NSX GT No less! As the two now go Head-to-Head in Indy Cars.

While I recall briefly meeting Johnny during one of the Indy 500 Legends Day's outings, where he mused that "Uncle Bobby" (Unser) still thought he knew how everything should be done. Even giving Johnny instructions on how to coil up the RV's garden hose correctly...

Next, the Callaway's C12 replaced the previous Corvette racer at Le Mans beginning in 1997, contesting the ACO's GT2 Class against such Competizione as the All Conquering Dodge Viper GTS/R's, Porsche 911 GT2's and a brace of Saleen Allen Speedlab Mustangs to Boot.


With the C12's High Water mark reportedly being when it captured the Class's Pole position in its final outing at Circuit de la Sarthe in 2001. As Callaway's Le Mans efforts seemingly served as the bridge to General Motors finally deciding to enter its Factory team under the auspices of Pratt & Miller Engineering, beginning in Y2k', nee Double Buckshot, Ought', or simply 2000.

As when I think of Corvette Racing and it's Bad Arse Banana Yellow Vettes', I immediately think of Johnny 'O', (O'Connell) and Ron Fellows, along with "Mad Max" Papis and Scooter', nee Scott Pruett in Thee lead Dawgs' Vette', prior to "Ollie's," nee Oliver Gabins arrival. Whilst I vaguely recall Frank Freon in the Seester' Corvette, and totally forgot 'bout Bad Arses Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim.

As I tend to believe it was a long ago Speed Freaks interview where Johnny O' regaled us all 'bout his getting a speeding ticket in France with his son in the car, a "loaner" Corvette Obviously... Upon his way to Le Mans for that year's event.

Naturally, today when I think of Corvette Racing, I think of MAGS', aka Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, whom the team calls "Thee King 'O Spain," the aforementioned Ollie' and Tommy Milner, along with Thar Endurance event team-mates Mike "rocky" Rockenfeller and Marcel Fassler.

As Jan, father of Kevin "Bacon" Magnussen of Haas F1 Fame just contested his 151st race for Corvette Racing at Trois Rivieres, Canada, with the front engine C7'R's seemingly to finally be reaching the end of their fruitful competition life, albeit having claimed eight GT Le Mans Class victories at Le Mans to Date.


But Yuhs can never count out the Corvettes, especially with the likes of Longtime Crew Chief Danny Binks manning the Pumps! As it's funny knowing that Binks came to Corvette Racing from Blue Oval rival Roush Racing, where he led Tommy Kendall to three consecutive SCCA Trans Am Championships in a Mustang.


Whilst I totally enjoyed the very brief Racer interview with Corvette Racing's Manager Doug Fehan, who's been Thar since Day-1 and has seen plenty 'O Ups 'N Downs. Especially enjoy the part 'bout the team donning Beret's and Fake Mustaches for their first team photo.


Yet like I said before, this year's 24 Heurs du Mans wasn't what Corvette was hoping for, especially with Messer Fassler being taken out of competition thru No fault of his own.


As now we just await the arrival of the new C8.R racecar, Corvette's first mid-engine chassis, along with ponderin' what it's powerplant will be?

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