For over two decades, the Corvette Race Team has stood as a dominant force within the realm of endurance racing, compiling numerous wins along the way. This is a fact that carries immense weight, especially considering that the Corvette’s earliest racing endeavors were thwarted by GM’s insistence toward complying with the AMA’s (Automobile Manufacturers Association) 1957 ban on factory-backed racing.
The Corvette Race Team has made up for lost time, taking numerous checkered flags in recent years. In fact, few factory race teams can boast of such a rapid rise to infamy. This success has come as a cumulative effort between some of the nation’s most skilled drivers, and world-class engineering staff.
The following is a brief history of the Corvette Race Team’s rise to success.
New Corvette, New Ambitions
The Corvette Race team was officially formed in 1999, through a joint venture between Chevrolet and Pratt Miller Engineering, which operates as the team’s managing entitiy. The solidification of this partnership served as the realization of a planned return to racing, that had initially originated in the mid-1990s.
As the Corvette’s fifth-generation came to fruition, so did the team’s official on-track debut. The Corvette C5.R first took the track at the 1999 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Initial success came soon thereafter, with the Corvette Race team claiming a total of 31 victories in the ALMS, over the next five years, as well as a 2001 overall win at the Rolex 24.
The Corvette Race Team experienced immense success on the international stage during this time period as well. The Corvette’s first win at Le Mans came in 2001, which was followed by repeat performances in 2002 and 2004.
C6.R Era Dominance
As the C6.R materialized in 2005, the Corvette Race Team officially entered a period of unprecedented success. The C6.R laid claim to a total of 31 GT1 race victories during its on-track tenure, as well as GT1-class wins at Le Mans in 2006, 2007, and 2009. The final of these wins would be the team’s last formal race in this class.
The Corvette Race Team would also go on to clinch Driver, Team, and Manufacturer Championships in the ALMS GT1 circuit every year from 2005 to 2008. From 2005-2006, the C6.R claimed 12 straight victories, followed by a 25 race win streak that spanned from 2007-2009.
Final Front-Engine Racer
In 2014, GM introduced its newly designed C7.R platform. This would prove to be the final front-engine Corvette racer, as C8.R to come would take on a mid-engine form. The C7.R would compete in GTLM-class racing, a newly formed circuit that resulted from the merger of GRAND-AM and the ALMS.
While the Corvette Race Team did indeed find success during the C7.R era, it came to a lesser extent than was the case in years prior. During the C7.R’s tenure, the Corvette race team claimed a total of 17 wins, including a Le Mans win in 2015.
Though only a year into its tenure, the C8.R has proven itself more than worthy, as the Corvette Race Team put together an undeniably impressive record during the 2020 season. The C8.R posted its first victory at Daytona, on July 4th of this year, giving the Corvette Race Team their 100th all-time victory.
Since then, the C8.R has dominated GTLM-class racing, winning 6 races during its debut season. The Corvette Race Team now looks to repeat this level of success during the 2021 season, which is set to begin at Daytona on January 30th.