No. 4 Corvette Team Earns Rolex 24 GTLM Pole with Motul Pole Award 100 Win; Auberlen, Foley Take Top Spot in GT Daytona
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Corvette Racing has shown it can win shorter IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races at Daytona International Speedway. It remains to be seen if the GT Le Mans (GTLM) stalwart can end a drought in the iconic 24-hour race.
Alexander Sims and Nick Tandy – both new to the team in 2021 – drove to the class victory Sunday in the Motul Pole Award 100, the qualifying race that sets the starting grid for the world-famous Rolex 24 At Daytona that starts Saturday, Jan. 30 on the same DIS road course. Sims and Tandy guided the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R to a 12-second win over their teammates, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg, in the No. 3 Corvette.
It marked the second straight win for Corvette at Daytona, going back to July’s IMSA WeatherTech 240 when Taylor and Antonio Garcia won in the No. 3. However, a Corvette hasn’t won the big race, the Rolex 24, since 2016.
“It was fun, actually,” Tandy said of Sunday’s race that climaxed the Roar Before the Rolex 24 that in the past consisted only of WeatherTech Championship test sessions. “I think it was good for the Roar. It enables you to get some different testing in, but obviously it’s meaningful.”
Starting third on a wet track from a pre-race shower, Sims jumped the two BMW Team RLL M8s in front of him and took the class lead on the opening lap. From there, it was a battle of strategy as the track began to dry. Sims handed over the car to Tandy on the first pit stop under a full-course caution with just more than an hour remaining in the 100-minute race. The No. 4 also took on slick, dry-condition Michelin tires at the time.
“It was an interesting first taste of the conditions for me in the car,” said Sims, who most recently was a BMW GTLM endurance driver. “But very quickly I was given a lot of confidence from the car as to how to push. I was able to get around the BMWs on the first lap and then just sort of find my feet, lap by lap. … It was nice to just get some experience in the wet and get a feeling for how the car was working.”
The main competition from that point was the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19, attempting to stretch its fuel to the finish. But with the race staying green for the final hour, Kevin Estre was forced to stop with 17 minutes remaining and surrendered the lead back to Tandy. Estre and co-driver Cooper MacNeil finished an impressive third in the privateer Porsche.
“I think their plan was to stay out and hope for a lot of yellow and kind of roll the dice that way,” Tandy, the former Porsche GTLM driver, said. “We went with the slick tire in the stop, where a couple of the cars and one of the BMWs stopped and kept the wet (tires). It proved to be a good strategic call from Corvette Racing which got us a 1-2 in the end.”
“Everyone wants to start the Rolex 24 from the pole position. We get to do this (qualifying race) in sort of a pressure situation and run through all the procedures. … It’s obviously a great start for both me and Alexander to kick off our time with Corvette Racing.”
As important as the victory was, it also earned the No. 4 a valuable 35 points toward the GTLM championship under the WeatherTech Championship’s new scoring format.
With the starting grid settled, all cars are idle now until Rolex 24 At Daytona practice begins Thursday. The 59th Rolex 24 takes the green flag at 3:40 p.m. ET Saturday. Live coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. on NBC. Complete IMSA Radio coverage is also available on IMSA.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Auberlen Earns Another First, Winning an IMSA Qualifying Race
Bill Auberlen has the most race wins in IMSA history, so he’s quite familiar with victories. Taking first place in a qualifying race, however, was something new for the Turner Motorsport driver.
Auberlen and teammate Robby Foley were the GT Daytona (GTD) class winners in Sunday’s Motul Pole Award 100, crossing the finish line in the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 4.424 seconds ahead of the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R.
The result gives Auberlen and Foley another Motul Pole Award for the ledger, and the 52-year-old will take whatever accolades come with the 35 points he and Foley earned toward the season championship.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a qualifying race,” Auberlen admitted afterward. “It’s cool to win something new. I like it! To qualify on the pole for the Daytona 24-hour race is amazing. That is really great because that’s just the crown jewel of IMSA, is Daytona.”
The No. 96 BMW followed a similar path to the GTD win as the No. 4 Corvette did in GTLM. Foley started seventh in class and was among a throng of GTD cars to pit at the first opportunity once his 30-mimute minimum drive time was achieved. Auberlen hopped in with fresh slick tires.
The wily veteran stopped again with 50 minutes remaining and stalked the leaders from there, waiting until the No. 111 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F GT3 needed to make late pit stops. Rolf Ineichen and Mirko Bortolotti finished third in the No. 111 Lamborghini.
“The race today, we just tried to execute,” Foley said. “We ran through the driver change, a couple pit stops, so the guys did a nice job in the pits. It was just nice to get back in the swing of things.”
“For sure, it’s the best place to start,” he added of the pole-clinching effort. “I think you can control your own destiny a bit better.”
They’re Back! Chip Ganassi Racing Returning to WeatherTech Championship in 2021 with Cadillac DPi Entry
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chip Ganassi Racing, which has fielded seven IMSA season champions and eight Rolex 24 At Daytona champions, is returning to IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition with a Cadillac entry in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class.
Joining its already-successful operations in IndyCar and NASCAR, Chip Ganassi Racing joined IMSA in 2004 and won the first of seven championships that same year. The team competed in the Daytona Prototype category through 2015 before moving to the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class from 2016-2019.
Other sports car achievements by the team include 64 total race wins, including marquee events such as the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi is the only team owner in history to win three straight Rolex 24s (2006-2008).
“We can’t wait to get back to IMSA and fight for the overall win after several years competing in the GTLM class,” Ganassi said. “Our relationship with General Motors has expanded from the NASCAR Cup Series and we couldn’t be happier. Partnering with Cadillac is a tremendous opportunity for our team and we want to start delivering for them in January at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”
CGR will field one car in the 2021 season, with the driver lineup to be named. It joins a Cadillac program that has claimed victory the last four years at the Rolex 24, won last month’s Motul Petit Le Mans and came within a single point of winning the 2020 DPi driver, team and manufacturer championships.
“We are very excited to welcome Chip Ganassi Racing to the Cadillac competition family,” Cadillac Vice President Rory Harvey said. “Their success across many forms of racing, including sports cars, will be a great addition to our IMSA WeatherTech lineup. Chip’s pedigree at winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona eight times, as well as their championships in this form of racing, gives Cadillac another stalwart team to compete for the 2021 IMSA DPi championship.”
The 2021 WeatherTech Championship season kicks off with The Roar Before The Rolex 24 testing Jan. 22-24 at Daytona International Speedway. The Rolex 24 At Daytona begins Saturday, Jan. 30 on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course.
Source: Mark Robinson
Corvette Racing is loving the new Corvette C8.R. The team had already taken four wins in its new-for-2020 mid-engine race cars heading into this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio and managed to make it five after the No. 3 car of Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia dominated the race from flag to flag.
Taylor put the No. 3 Corvette C8.R on pole position for Sunday’s race, but lost the lead to the No. 4 C8.R sister car of Oliver Gavin shortly after the green flag came out. The American eventually worked his way past his British teammate, however, with the No. 3 Corvette C8.R then remaining in the top position in GTLM for the rest of the two hour and 40-minute race.
“The 3 car has been particularly strong all weekend,” Taylor said post-race. “We led all four sessions. I think we just had a little bit of speed on them all weekend. The balance of the car was just really strong from the get-go. It says a lot for the team, coming here for the first time with the Corvette C8.R, with no testing, just simulator time and rolling off the truck so strong. I think it’s hard to complain about anything at this point.”
“Jordan did a fantastic job all day long, getting on pole and then getting a solid lead even if there were a ton of yellows,” added Garcia. “When you are in that position, you are in control of the race. The C8.R worked perfectly again today. Not only on a quick lap but the consistency through the stint was the main thing. The C7 was good as we proved over the years, but this is definitely a step forward.”
While the 1-2 result for Corvette Racing was a welcome result for the American team, it was somewhat diminished by the fact that the GTLM field only had four cars in it Sunday. Porsche pulled its factory drivers from all events this past weekend after four members of its 24 Hours of Le Mans program tested positive for COVID-19, leaving only the two Corvette Racing entries and a pair of BMW M8s in the GTLM field.
Click here to view complete results from the 2020 Acura Sports Car Challenge from Mid-Ohio.
We’ve been expecting to hear this news and finally today it has been confirmed by Chevrolet that the new 2020 Corvette Stingray will be the official Pace Car of the 104th Indianapolis 500. This marks the 17th race that Corvette has served as the official Pace Car, and the 31st Chevrolet to lead the field.
This year’s running of the Indy 500 will take place on Sunday, August 23 with the race being shown live on NBC.
With no fans allowed in attendance this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the official pace car driver will be GM President Mark Reuss.
“It’s truly an honor to have the opportunity to be behind the wheel of the mid-engine Corvette Pace Car at such a historic race as the Indy 500,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “The 2020 Corvette Stingray is the result of a close collaboration between the Corvette Racing and production engineering teams, setting a new benchmark for supercars around the world.”
The 2020 Corvette Stingray Pace Car is Torch Red and features the high Wing Spoiler and ground effects package. The Z51 Coupe will also wear the 104th Indy 500 livery on the doors. The new 2020 Stingray is capable of accelerating from 0-60 in 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 194 mph, so it should have no trouble in setting the pace for the IndyCar racers.
“This is a continuation of our outstanding partnership with Chevrolet,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway President J. Douglas Boles said. “We’re so grateful for all that Chevrolet has contributed to the success of our events. The Torch Red 2020 Corvette Stingray is a world-class machine rich with speed, performance and excitement, perfectly suited to pace the ‘500′ field.”
Chevrolet has been linked to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with both entities founded in 1911. Company founder and namesake Louis Chevrolet and his brothers Arthur and Gaston raced in the early 500-mile races with Gaston winning the race in 1920. Today, Louis Chevrolet rests in peace in a local Indianapolis cemetery just 15 minutes away from the track.
This afternoon we came across this Facebook post from Corvette Exterior Design Manager Kirk Bennion sharing these words from fellow GM designer Adam Barry who led the project. The 2020 Corvette Pace Car features a number of items from Genuine Corvette Accessories as discussed:
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
By Corvette Racing -Aug 2, 2020
Garcia, Taylor take second GTLM win of season; Gavin, Milner finish as runners-up
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 2, 2020) – Corvette Racing took its second consecutive 1-2 finish in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans (GTLM class) following a chaotic finish Sunday at Road America. Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor won for the second time in their No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R following a late-race pass in torrential rain.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner placed second in the sister No. 4 Corvette C8.R. It was the eighth victory at Road America for Corvette Racing, and the team’s first there since 2016. Garcia and Taylor both won for the first time in their IMSA career at Road America and extended their points lead to 10 in the class. Gavin and Milner unofficially moved to third in the standings.
Chevrolet also grew its lead in the GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship to eight points. Corvette Racing has now won three consecutive races in the category.
Things weren’t looking positive for the first half of the race. Taylor, who qualified second, led early but the expected tire degradation reduced the pace for the GTLM cars. Adding to the problems for the team were electronics issues on the No. 4 Corvette that left both Gavin and Milner without traction control.
The predicted rain for the race came with just under an hour to go. Garcia, who took over with two hours left in the race, was the first GTLM runner to pit for rain tires and stopped from sixth place. Two other GTLM cars followed suit but three others stayed out, including the then-leading Porsche which skidded off-track during a downpour at Turn One.
Milner remained on slick tires during the first deluge as officials halted the race with 43 minutes left. The rain let up initially before cars returned to the track with about 25 minutes to go once the red flag was lifted. Following the final pit stops for wet tires, racing resumed with seven minutes left and Garcia in second place.
An even more intense rain began to fall with just minutes left in the two-hour, 40-minute race. Garcia was locked in a back-and-forth duel with Porsche’s Nick Tandy just before the GTLM leader and the third-place Porsche went off-track late in the lap. Both Garcia and Milner, who did a masterful job on a wet track with no traction control, were able to get through the chaos and took the checkered flag under a race-ending, full-course caution period.
Corvette Racing’s next event is the GT-only Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, Aug. 22.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM RACE-WINNER:
“It was super tough. Because of the wave-by, we were at the back of all the GTD cars. So the spray we had back there was amazing. It was impossible to see anything. The first thing was to go by a couple of LMP2 cars while fighting (Nick) Tandy to catch up to the 24 BMW. It was a very intense three laps. I knew from Sebring practice that the Corvette C8.R was really good in the wet, even if today was beyond wet! I had Nick all over me, and we had many times when we were together… almost just sailing together instead of racing together. I knew the Carousel and the Kink were going to be really bad, and the line I took on the previous lap seemed to work. Luckily enough for me it was the same and I was one of the few cars to make it through. It’s another 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing, which is amazing. It’s finally my first victory at Road America, so it’s been a very good weekend.”
WHAT DID YOU SEE OF THE BMW AHEAD OF YOU? DID HE SPIN ON HIS OWN? “The Carousel and the Kink were almost impossible to go through that part of the track. There is really nothing you can do there. It depends on the depth of the water. The Corvette C8.R survived it better than the rest. I don’t know if it was due to the race line I took. I was following the car behind me and saw the BMW lose control. The race still wasn’t done because I had to do another lap through there. It’s a credit to how good the C8.R is in the wet. Thanks to everyone at Team Chevy because this car seems to be working in all conditions.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS WIN TO EXTEND YOUR POINTS LEAD? “We didn’t know starting the season how the C8.R would be. With the fourth at Daytona, we saw the potential of the car. Our team did a great job during the shutdown with fixing things that needed to be corrected. We’ve had a chance to win the last three races, and we’ve converted those. We need to keep putting pressure on everyone and make the rest of the field make mistakes. On our own, we need to be their in the end and maximize our points opportunities. The next one is VIR, where we have tested with the new Corvette. We will do what we can to keep this momentum and carrying on winning.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM RACE-WINNER:
“It was a wild day…very unexpected. The race started off strong for us. We took a different strategy to go with three stops from the beginning. Thankfully it worked out well with the timing the rain and track position. Antonio never gave up. It was a tough fight in tough conditions, but he did a great job of surviving for our second win of the year and third of the year for Corvette Racing.”
THIS RACE WAS ON THE NATIONAL NBC NETWORK. WAS THIS THE KIND OF EXCITEMENT THAT WAS GOOD FOR NETWORK TV? “It had a bit of everything. The start for me was exciting, and the battles were all good. I could see on the big screen across the frontstretch that the prototype battle was often exciting and had a little bit of everything with the strategies. The weather was a bit different for those who probably turn into NBC for NASCAR where they wouldn’t run in the rain. There were probably too many crashes for everyone’s liking, but the show was very exciting with the battle for the win at the end. You like to see that between the manufacturers.”
TALK ABOUT WINNING ON THE SAME DAY AS YOUR BROTHER (RICKY TAYLOR): “It’s definitely cool. I think this is the first time we’ve won on the same weekend. I know we’ve gotten a pole on the same weekend, but in all the years a win has never gone both our ways. It was cool to watch their battle at the end with the 10 car. I know my dad’s team hasn’t won here either, and we tried hard for many years.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SECOND IN GTLM:
“I take my hat off to the team every time for never giving up. It didn’t look like we were going to be finishing that high up in the dry. But as we all know, there was a chance of rain all around. In this part of the world when the rain comes, it comes big. You just have to take you chances and make the right calls at the right time. We got a little lucky with a few things, and ultimately the No. 3 Corvette made the right choice on the right tires at the right time. We didn’t quite get that break or make that decision at that time. But then as all the pit stops cycled through for that last restart, we knew we just had to flat-out race. Our car was compromised a little as we didn’t have any traction control as part of an electrical issue throughout the entire race that we couldn’t really get on top of it. I fought it all during my stints. I honestly don’t know how Tommy kept the car on the track when he driving around on slick tires behind the safety car. I mean… water that was three or four inches deep on slick tires with no TC was amazing. For us to come away, even with all the stuff that happened, with a one-two finish is pretty spectacular. Hats off to the team and the crew and also to the C8.R. It seems like it is a car that can live through some crazy circumstances and conditions on track and deals with it. It’s a very fine car.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SECOND IN GTLM:
“That was absolutely wild. We had kind of a tough day to start with, but it came back pretty well for us there at the end. Credit to the guys with their never-give-up attitude that Corvette Racing is famous for definitely paid off today. The conditions were unbelievably difficult. The call to stay out there on slicks just before the full-course yellow was just as much mine as it was the engineers. I thought it was the right thing to do to run one more lap to see how bad the rain was going to be. And it ended up being almost biblical in the amount of rain that came. In all the races I’ve done, this has been the most rain I’ve ever seen come down at one time. It was hard enough just keeping it on the track under yellow with slicks, and it was bad enough when it was still green just trying to survive. Then it went red flag so we had the opportunity to come in and change it to rain tires. That in itself was difficult. For me I knew I just needed to get to pitlane and survive. That was the name of the game there and see what happened at the end. Once we went green, it was the most difficult conditions I have ever driven in my life with the amount of spray and with traffic and having so many cars around. At times it felt like I was driving blind. I could have closed my eyes and would have had the same amount of visibility at that point. I just tried to use very bit of muscle memory and track knowledge I could as to where the track goes at certain points. In the end, luckily we just survived with a first and second for the team. The day didn’t start out well, but it ended as well as it could.”
(Not having traction control) “Because I didn’t have it from the time I got in the car, I had to manage it from the start. In the dry, it’s definitely difficult because you are trying to not use the rear tires too much. I felt like I did a decent job in that first run but driving in the wet without it makes it that much more difficult. To be honest, the Corvette felt really good in the wet. Even though we don’t have a lot of time in the wet, the guys made the right call with tire pressure. When the Michelin wet tires are new, they’re really good. That gave me the confidence early on to really push, get through traffic, and trust in the car and tire to find the fastest way around.”
Corvette Racing carries momentum to collect 101st victory in IMSA competition…
Corvette Racing’s second win in only the third IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race this season “speaks volumes” for the new Chevrolet Corvette C8.R according to Jordan Taylor.
The No. 4 entry of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin led home a 1-2 finish for Corvette at the Cadillac Grand Prix of Sebring, marking the team’s first sweep since Lime Rock Park in 2016.
It gave the Pratt & Miller-run factory GT Le Mans squad its 101st victory in IMSA competition after notching up the century last time out at Daytona.
Milner led home the sister car of Antonio Garcia by less than five-tenths of a second but says the final laps were not as easy as it looked.
“I know it took us a while to get to 100 but it’s nice to get over the hump and get 101 so you’re not talking about that one,” he said.
“Today was all about strategy, all about not making mistakes. It looked like we were going to have a pretty good race there with the Porsche. It was all pretty close but then it fell apart as far as that goes.
“In the end, it was just left to myself and Antonio and Olly and Jordan there to put on a show a little bit there.
“Olly really made the race for us there saving fuel and that allowed us to have a bit of a better pit stop and get out in front of the No. 3 car and that was the race for us.
“It got pretty close there at the end, he was close but he was a little bit nicer to me than he could have been.”
Co-driver of the second-placed No. 3 Corvette, Taylor, was pleased with the team’s double podium.
“It’s a great day for Corvette Racing,” he said. “It’s our third race and to get two wins, our first 1-2 since 2016, I think it speaks volumes for the team and this new C8.R.”
Porsche Incident Spoiled Potentially Close GTLM Race
While Corvette’s run was without trouble, the same could not be said for the factory Porsche 911 RSR-19s, with both the Nos. 911 and 912 car’s chances of victory being dashed in seconds.
The pair came together in the first round of pit stops which resulted in the No. 912 losing its nose and the No. 911 suffering a puncture from the contact a few laps later.
Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber impressively recovered to third in the No. 912 Porsche. However, Milner believes the race would have been closer had the Porsches not collided.
“It was looking like it was going to be very close pace-wise and everything,” he said.
“You saw in the pit stop as well we came in together and we were going to leave together. In terms of strategy details, it looked like it was going to be a close race, fuel numbers, tires whatever it was.
“They’ve been fast all season and continue to be quite quick so for sure we have some work to do to find an advantage somewhere if we can and ultimately not make mistakes throughout the race.
“We saw today how one little mistake can ruin your race. We just need to be extra vigilant, no pit lane incidents like that. All those little details that aren’t quite sexy in some way but make the race for you in the end.”
Gavin was on pit road in the fast lane and was caught up in the incident but did not sustain any damage.
“I didn’t know anything about it. I just saw one of the Porsches left missing its front bumper,” he said. “I think it was all of us trying to leave together and there just wasn’t enough room.
“I was already in the lane so when it’s like that I have priority.”
Slade Perrins for Sportscar 365
Corvette Racing’s 100th victory in IMSA competition has been coming for more than two years. The last one came in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in April 2018.
Tonight, the iconic American sports car team’s drought finally ended, appropriately enough, on the Fourth of July at Daytona International Speedway. Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor will go down in the history books as the driver pairing to deliver the milestone victory – also the first for the revolutionary, midengined C8.R race car – in the No. 3 Velocity Yellow machine.
Fuel strategy was the name of the game in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class tonight at Daytona. And while every car in the class led at one point or another throughout the evening, it was the No. 3 team that hit the strategy just right.
Garcia won the high-speed game of musical chairs by 1.977 seconds ahead of defending WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR-19.
“The engineers spotted very early how close we’d have been with fuel and how early we should start working on that,” Garcia said. “Jordan did a great job and saved a lot there and I saved another one. We didn’t know about the 912. We didn’t know if they could make it or if we were fighting them and the 911.
“We were expecting the Porsche to follow the 4 car (Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin), but we realized it was a fight. As soon as I had an opportunity early in the stint when I knew my tires were good, I waited for Earl to make a little mistake, and because I was able to follow very close I took advantage of that position. After that I worked my way through traffic really, really well.”
It was Taylor’s first GTLM win after moving from his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi team to the Corvette factory program this season. The significance of the Independence Day victory wasn’t lost on him either.
“It’s obviously very special,” Taylor said. “I was Antonio’s third driver for so many years and we finished second at Sebring, and Petit and Le Mans, and had so many podiums. It’s great to finally get a win with Antonio. And to get a win on the Fourth of July in an American car and being an American driver is pretty sweet.”
Bamber and co-driver Laurens Vanthoor finished second, matching their result from January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. The same can be said for No. 911 Porsche co-drivers Nick Tandy and Frederic Makowiecki, who claimed their second straight third-place trophies in Daytona’s Victory Lane.
Many gearheads have a strange affinity to Hot Wheels. Here is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the company, but never asked.
Toy cars can be divided into two categories: Hot Wheels and everybody else. For over 50 years, Mattel has dominated with what is now recognized as the best-selling toy in the world. It’s impossible to count how many car buffs, from mechanics to real race stars to TV personalities, grew up playing with these cars. Whether it was just a few models or massive collections, Hot Wheels has been part of car culture for decades and is never going to stop. Whether it’s a simple model or some fancy licensed vehicle, Hot Wheels simply enthralls.
Yet it’s incredible how some people are unaware of the facts of the company and its history. From its unique origins to how these cars are put together, the story behind Hot Wheels is fascinating. There are also touches from how some of these cars are more expensive than real ones to some unique touches on the culture. Here are 20 amazing facts about Hot Wheels to prove they’re more than just “kids toys.”‘
20/20 Real-Life Hot Wheels Jump Was A World Record
Growing up a massive Hot Wheels fan, racer Tanner Foust decided to honor them in a fun way. At the 2011 Indy 500, Foust talked the management into seeing up a massive orange ramp and raced down it in a rally car.
After 90 feet of track, Foust sailed 332 feet, the longest record for such a move. He topped it by driving through a 66-foot loop in 2012 to live out the dreams of every kid.
19 Technology In Car Building Is Amazing…
Making toys has become a very high-tech business today. Just like real car companies, Hot Wheels has adapted to the 21st century nicely. Computers and 3-D technology are utilized to make sure the designs are perfected before the building begins.
It also helps them keep on top of the latest car trends to ensure that today’s Hot Wheels are sleeker and more natural than the ones of the past.
18 But They’re Still Diecast
There are many toy car lines out there, but Hot Wheels is still the king of the bunch. The key reason is that, for all the advances in technology, every car is still diecast and built mostly by hand.
Even when cheaper materials are available, Mattel knows the diecast is what the fans want. It’s also helped in making customized cars at home for popular models. After 50 years, Mattel doesn’t want to mess with success and do away with diecast.
17 They’ve Worked With NASA
Hot Wheels have done a few astronaut-themed toys over the years. But that’s not the only connection they have with NASA. In 1998, they were able to work with the agency to create an exact replica of the Mars Rover, which landed on the Red Planet that very year.
They also worked with them in 2012 for scale models of the Curiosity rover. It’s amazing how the company got access to top-secret plans to make these toys.
16 Collectors Take It Seriously
Some may dismiss Hot Wheels as “just for kids.” But collectors take it more seriously than real automobiles. The 1969 Volkswagen Beach Bomb (only 16 prototypes were made) is known to go for at least $15,000.
Some rare models can go for a hundred grand, and collectors are always on the lookout for unique mint models. Entire museums are devoted to various cars as some Hot Wheels collections put legit car collectors to shame.
15 Scaling Down The Cars Was Tricky
A key to the company’s success is that they work with scores of real car companies to get looks at plans for their toy models. Yet it’s not so simple as just “make a smaller version.” The biggest challenge is to achieve the proper scale for the toys in a diecast model yet retain the details of the actual car.
That can be complex with some fancy vehicles. That every model has to be sized to fit the same tracks just adds to why it takes as long developing a toy car as a real one.
14 NASCAR Star Has The Record For The Longest Track
Ever since the Hot Wheels tracks were created, fans have been trying to top themselves making the most extended and most complex. A few have achieved great ones, but it’s fitting a NASCAR star holds the record for the longest.
In 2019, Joey Logano unveiled a 1,941-foot long track stretched across his garage. It weaves through his car collection with 1222 boosters before ending in Logano’s own 2018 HW Ford Mustang. Add yet another title to Logano’s list of accolades.
13 They Made A Car Coated In Diamonds
In 2008, Mattel made a big deal of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Hot Wheels line. As a special reward, Mattel had Jasons of Beverly Hills craft the most expensive Hot Wheels car on the planet.
Cast in 18-karat gold, it’s covered with 2700 diamonds and gems totaling nearly $150,000 today. It’s become a rotating exhibit at toy museums for the glitziest Hot Wheels you could see.
12 The Darth Car Is A Speed Machine
While they do stick to toys, the company has been busy creating some real-sized cars for collectors. One of the most notable is based on Darth Vader, with the hood looking like his fearsome helmet and in jet black.
This isn’t just for show as it’s based on a C5 Corvette with a GM LS3 V-8 engine capable of 526 hp and 150 mph. The Dark Lord of the Sith would be proud of this powerful craft.
11 Every Car Is Tested To Make Sure It Can Run A Track
Almost from the beginning, Hot Wheels car fans had to have a track with the cars. They’ve gone from straight lines to elaborate roller-coaster-like loop systems to leave kids entertained for hours.
What few realize is that the track determines if a car makes it as Mattel prides itself on “every car can fit every track.” More than once, a prototype has to be altered when it won’t fit as the track decides a car’s final form.
10 There Are More Hot Wheels Cars Than Real Cars
While it’s tricky to figure out for sure, most sources agree there are at least one billion cars on the planet (give or take a few hundred thousand in auto graveyards). In contrast, since 1968, six billion Hot Wheels cars have been created.
True, many have been trashed and/or recycled, and it’s impossible to count how many have been lost in backyards. But given how 16 cars are produced every second, it’s no shock the toys outnumber the real deals.
9 Several Creators Are Legit Car Designers
The one constant of Hot Wheels is that the cars look just as good as the real deal. There’s an excellent reason for that as scores of the manufacturers are legitimate car designers. Larry Wood was a veteran of Ford before becoming one of the first Hot Wheels designers.
He’s not alone as Jack Ryan was a rocket designer who crafted the bearings that made the cars so great. Scores of the car designers were in real automobiles first, so it’s no wonder the vehicles look so good.
8 The Original Camaro Is Worth A Fortune
Mint conditions of the Original 16 Hot Wheels releases are all pretty collectible items. But one dominates from the pack. While versions of a Camaro were produced, a few had white enamel paint.
They had been meant to discover flaws in a prototype but accidentally released. A mint version of one went for a hundred thousand dollars and made this one of the most expensive toys on the planet
7 They Released A Custom Corvette Before GM Did
An early standout for the company at a custom Corvette in 1968. What made it notable was that the toy was released before GM had their actual Corvette in car dealerships.
The fact designer Harry Bradley had worked at GM indicates he may have “borrowed” the designs before he left to allow Mattel to beat GM to releasing a Corvette to the masses.
6 The Red Stripes Are Expensive
If you find what looks like an old Hot Wheels car, take a good look at the wheels. If they have red stripes, then you’ve just found a fantastic collector’s item. From 1968 to 1977, designers hand-painted red lines onto the wheels to make the cars look distinctive.
As a cost-cutting measure, they switched to all-black wheels in 1978. Some mint condition red-striped vehicles have been known to go for thousands online.
5 One Of The Original Cars Was Based On A Car With No Doors
The first wave of Hot Wheels was just 16 cars, and any of them can be valuable today. One is notable, the 1965 Dodge Deora. This car boasted no doors but rather a hatch for folks to crawl into.
It was based on a fun design used by Mike and Larry Alexander but in an irony, no real Dodge Deoras were built, to make this a truly unique model
4 A Tie-In Cartoon Got Pulled By The FCC
Today, cartoons based on toy lines are commonplace. But in 1969, Hot Wheels got in trouble when they put out a cartoon series about some teenage car drivers. Despite good messages, the show was hit by complaints about being a “half-hour commercial.”
The FCC agreed, and it was yanked off the air. The company was just ahead of their time with a cartoon tie-in for a hit toy line.
3 There’s A Fight On Where The Name Came From
Much of Hot Wheels is shrouded in myth, and that includes just where the name comes from. The familiar story is that when Eliot Handler saw the first models from designer Fred Adickes, he remarked: “those are some hot wheels you’ve got there.”
Another version is that Handler just blurted the name out in a meeting with a designer. Regardless, it just stuck to become one of the most popular toys on the planet.
2 They’re Number One…Because They Remain So Cheap
In the ranks of the most popular toys on the planet, Hot Wheels dominates. They’re not just the biggest toy vehicle sellers but also the number one selling toy in the entire world. The reason is that in many markets, the cars can still go for only a dollar each.
True, they can be put out in packs, and some nations charging a few bucks more. But many stores do sell the cars for less than a bottle of water, which is the reason they are so dominant.
1 Its Creator Was Married To Barbie’s Creator
Elliott and Ruth Handler were the First Couple of the toy world. The two had founded Mattel as a picture frame company in 1945. While making a dollhouse, Ruth decided to craft a series of dolls she named Barbie.
It was an instant hit to make Mattel a success. Elliott then realized how a toy car line could be great for boys to craft what would become Hot Wheels. The two remained together until Ruth’s death in 2002 (Elliott passed on nine years later) to be icons of their industry.
Sources: Mentalfloss.com, hotwheels.com, hotwheelsmedia.com, thrillist.com
Both cars retail for about $81,000, but one is a lot more accessible.
SPEED PHENOM ON YOUTUBE
If you’ve got $80,000 to spend and want an American high-performance car, now’s a pretty good time to be in the market. In addition to tire-shredding stalwarts like the Camaro ZL1 and Challenger Hellcat, Ford and Chevy have recently launched high-profile, track-ready sports cars. And thanks to a new video by Speed Phenom, we now know how they directly compare on track.
Naturally, we wanted to do this comparison ourselves. But the GT500 wasn’t ready during our Performance Car of the Year competition when we had an early C8 to test. And now that both cars are on sale, stay-at-home orders and track closures mean we’ll have to wait for an opportunity to do a full R&T comparison.
In the meantime, Speed Phenom does a good job of breaking down how they perform. With the caveat that he’s got a base model GT500 without the optional Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, he notes that the car struggles for grip more often than the similarly-tired Corvette. It’s also less composed through mid-corner bumps, with slower cornering all around. Thanks to its massive horsepower advantage, though, it jets through straightaways.
The C8, meanwhile, benefits from serious mechanical grip. The better-balanced midship car fires through corners and has no problem putting its power down. That makes it more approachable, not surprising given that it’s the tamest version of the C8 while the GT500 is stretching the limits of the S550 platform. We’re sure to see more track-ready Corvettes soon, but for now the Stingray is a surprisingly capable start.
Mack Hogan- Road&Track
Some fans complain that race cars don’t have much in common with road vehicles, but that wasn’t a priority in the 1970s. Loose regulations in the period allowed teams to erase nearly all road-car DNA as they searched for greater performance. This 1977 Chevrolet Corvette, dubbed the “SuperVette,” is an example of the era’s excesses.
Offered for sale by noted Porsche 959 restorer Canepa, the SuperVette was built to take advantage of a rule change in IMSA road racing. In 1976, the sanctioning body allowed full tube-frame cars to compete in its top-level series. Corvette racer John Greenwood saw this as an opportunity to build a more competitive car, and teamed up with designer Bob Reilly to make a tube-frame Corvette. This Corvette—COV002—is one of two chassis completed in 1977.
This car has almost nothing in common with a stock 1977 Corvette, which is a good thing because Corvettes offered very little performance at the timie. Underneath the swollen bodywork is a chassis and roll cage made from 2.0-inch chrome-moly tubing. Its bulging hood hides an aluminum 500-cubic-inch big-block V-8, making more than 750 horsepower. It was built by Don Nichols, whose Shadow Racing team competed in Formula 1, Can-Am, and F5000. The engine is harnessed to a Jerico 4-speed manual transmission.
COV002 was bought by John Paul, Sr. for the 1978 season. Paul raced with his son, John Paul, Jr., and both were later convicted for running an illegal marijuana trafficking operation. It was a different time, for sure.
It was the elder Paul who specified the Nichols-built engine, rather than one built by Greenwood. In an effort to reduce drag, the car also got a narrower track and more aerodynamic bodywork than its sibling.
Paul raced the ‘Vette during the 1978 IMSA season in the GTX class, primarily competing against Porsche 935s. The car earned two podiums that year. After that, it was sold but continued to race through the 1982 season. After retirement, the car changed hands a few more times before being bought by Canepa.
The Corvette has been restored to its 1978 racing specifications, and is currently eligible for to compete in vintage racing, according to Canepa. The seller didn’t list a price, but we don’t expect a car with this pedigree to sell cheap.
Stephen Edelstein for Motor Authority
Even off the pavement, the new ‘Vette is a rocket ship.
The 2020 C8 Chevy Corvette is a fast car. In base form, it can hit a staggering 194 mph flat-out. Even with the drag-inducing Z51 performance package, the car can still do 184. Hennessey Performance took theirs to 182 mph with ease before they turbocharged it to oblivion. Now, there’s another C8 top-speed run on the internet, and this time, it takes place on a dry lake bed.
Popular YouTube TheStradman took his new Z51-equipped Corvette to a dry lake bed in Utah to test out the top speed of the car. He managed to hit an impressive 173 mph before slowing down—not bad considering the uneven and bumpy surface. It helps that there’s absolutely nothing for miles in either direction. In fact, from inside the cabin, it looks a bit uneventful. Here’s a perspective from outside the car to give you a sense of how fast 173 mph is:
If the base Corvette is this quick right out of the box, we’re curious to see how the upcoming Z06 stacks up. Considering the last-gen car could hit 200 mph, we’re expecting big things.
Source: Brian Silvestro; for RoadandTrack
IMSA Announces Updates to 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Schedules
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced schedule updates for three 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge events.
- The Acura Sports Car Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio has been moved to the weekend of Sept. 25-27, 2020. It was originally scheduled for the weekend of May 1-3.
- The IMSA Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca has been moved up one weekend to run on Sept. 4-6. It was originally scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 11-13. This date adjustment was made to accommodate IMSA competitors planning to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which now will run on Sept. 19-20.
- The 23rdannual Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta has been moved back one week and now will run Oct. 14-17 to provide teams a more balanced schedule as the season comes to its conclusion. The original dates of the event were Oct. 7-10.
These three event date changes are in addition to the previously announced reschedule of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, which now is set for Nov. 11-14. Previously purchased tickets for all four events will be valid on the new dates.
IMSA will provide additional series updates, broadcast information and event schedules as they become available.
The Goldilocks zone of Corvette C8 interiors?
By now, you should know that Chevrolet has started deliveries of the mid-engine 2020 Corvette. Lucky owners of the ‘Vette C8 are starting to receive their newest toy and most likely you’ve already seen one on the streets – that’s if the state you’re in is not affected by the coronavirus lockdown.
If you’re among those who are planning to purchase the new Corvette but are undecided with the trim level to choose, this video might be able to help you – especially if you’re particular with a car’s interior.
The Corvette C8 comes with three trim levels: 1LT, 2LT, and 3LT. The differences lie mainly in the features offered on each trim level, which defines that the cabin will look and feel like. That’s pretty important, considering that we spend so much time inside the car rather than staring at our investment from a distance. So, here’s a little guide.
The base 1LT trim isn’t really basic. With the entry-level trim, you already get the GT1 seats wrapped in mulan leather, a customizable 12-inch gauge cluster, push-button ignition and keyless entry, and an 8-inch Chevy MyLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and 10-speaker Bose sound system. The Corvette 1LT trim is available in three color options: black, gray, or red.
Going up the 2LT trim gives you more interior color options plus features like a rearview camera mirror, a colored head-up display, heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel, advanced blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic warning. The infotainment gets upgraded as well with a wireless charger and a 14-speaker Boss audio system.
Finally, the 3LT trim dials up the ante by adding a premium Nappa leather with suede microfiber accents – all in combination with the GT2 seats that have more bolsters. These seem not a lot but the range-topping trim adds luxury to the sports coupe.
If you’re still undecided, watch the 2LT interior review on top of this page to check whether you need to take it down a notch to 1LT or go all out on the top-level 3LT.
Source: HorsePower Obsessed
It took 30 hours for Hennessey Performance Engineering to tear apart a new 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, install twin-turbo setup, and put it back together.
It’s no surprise, then, that the twin-turbo C8 Corvette isn’t ready to be sold to customers. The engine lacks intercoolers and Hennessey hasn’t cracked the code of GM’s new electrical architecture to reprogram the ECU.
“This is just the beginning, our own car, doing R&D,” company founder and CEO John Hennessey told Motor Authority.
On Monday, the engine made 643 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque at the wheels on a Dynojet dyno while running just 5 psi of boost. That compares to baseline testing HPE performed on the stock car which revealed 466 hp and 451 lb-ft of torque. HPE plans to offer a 1,200-hp version of the C8, which Hennessey said could make 18-20 psi of boost.
Hennessey took delivery of an orange C8 Corvette in Detroit on March 13. He and his daughter, Emma, drove back to the performance outfitter’s Texas headquarters and performed baseline testing before the Hennessey team tore apart the car.
The orange C8 fired back to life on Friday with twin 62-mm Precision Turbos and twin blow-off valves connected to the throttle body mounted behind the catalytic converters. Both turbos are oil-cooled with twin scavenge pumps that feed back into the motor.
The system is not intercooled. Instead, there’s a methanol injection setup to keep things from getting too hot. HPE is considering where to put intercoolers. The current packaging has limited space for intercoolers without cutting into trunk space, which Hennessey does not want to do. 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray undergoes twin-turbo conversion at Hennessey
Hennessey told Motor Authority his team currently can’t tune the factory ECU, but it is looking at aftermarket solutions for the engine management system. He noted it took a year for solutions to come to market for the C7 and added, “hopefully, it won’t take a year.”
Hennessey said when the turbocharged C8 was first started it didn’t throw any codes, errors, or a check engine light. “The computer seems happy with the turbos,” Hennessey noted. A check engine light did appear when the front wheel speed sensors were disconnected to put the car on the dyno, Hennessey said.
The orange C8 will used for R&D of upcoming modifications. Hennessey said he doesn’t expect to deliver modified customer C8s for at least six months, and all will have intercoolers and full plumbing.
Joel Feder for Motor Authority
Did you see the two race on YouTube? We’ve tested them, too; here’s why the results were no surprise.
- We have tested both the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette (11.2 seconds at 122 mph) and the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (11.4 seconds at 132 mph) in the quarter-mile.
- A video on YouTube, however, shows flipped results: 11.5 seconds at 120 mph for the Corvette and 10.8 seconds at 132 mph for the GT500.
- As always, the driver and track conditions are critical, and our two-run average is far more repeatable than any one-off run at a drag strip.
When we tested Ford’s new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 against the top-dog 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the Mustang came out on top on the drag strip. But how does the front-engine Shelby stack up against the other, now mid-engine, threat from Chevy?
Greg PajoCar and Driver
During our testing, the GT500 hurtled through the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 132 mph. But that was on a regular street-like surface, not a sticky, prepped drag strip. We struggled mightily with traction at launch, and our best run was with the launch control set to the lowest rpm allowed (1200 rpm) to prevent igniting a rear-tire fire. However, no surprise: with more traction far, better numbers are possible, and we’ve seen numbers below 11 seconds at drag strips, including this kid, who ran a 10.665 shortly after he acquired the car.’Murica Which Ultimate Pony Car Is the 1/4-Mile King?This Kid Ran a 10.66 Quarter Mile In His GT500
On the other hand, the 2020 Corvette has far fewer launch struggles, as it benefits from its newly acquired mid-engine layout and rear weight bias. Moving the weight distribution rearward improves launch traction, helping it jump off the line much quicker. During our testing, and despite far less horsepower, the mid-engine Vette outaccelerated the GT500 through the quarter-mile by two tenths of a second, reaching it in 11.2 seconds at 122 mph.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
We’re starting to see other people’s numbers from both of these cars, though, as customers are starting to take deliveries of their C8 Corvettes and GT500s. Contrary to our test results, there’s a video circulating on YouTube that shows the new GT500 beating the C8 Corvette through the quarter-mile by seven-tenths of a second. It raced to the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds while the Corvette reached it in 11.5 seconds.
Keep in mind that the driver and conditions are huge factors in quarter-mile and acceleration results. We suspect that here, the Corvette likely got bogged down on the high-grip surface, as the launch control isn’t optimized for those conditions, and the 760-hp Mustang benefited from the extra traction on the track.
Connor Hoffman for CarandDriver
Oh ZR1, how quickly we have forgotten you and moved on to the C8. But then comes along a video like this that reminds us that even with an engine upfront, you are still one of our favorites!
All kidding aside, the 2019 Corvette ZR1 is one of our favorite Corvettes of all time particularly because of the things it could do, like shooting down a former Space Shuttle runway at Cape Canaveral at nearly 200 MPH!
Typically we see these high speed runs with a ZR1 that has the ZTK’s High Wing. This Long Beach Red Corvette ZR1 has the low wing for less drag and it seems to definitely show off its speed in this standing mile run in which the Corvette reached a top speed of 191.16 MPH.
Two views are shown including the in-car with telemetry overlay on the screen. We see the car was still accelerating past the mile and we’re excited as they tell us that two more videos coming that show the ZR1 also running 2.3 miles and 2.7 miles down the runway.
The video comes the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds on Merritt Island Florida. Previously we have seen the Genovation GXE Electric Corvette run on the same track and in fact, it might be interesting to compare the two cars after the ZR1 shares the two final runs
From Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds via YouTube:
As we continue to digest all the new information that came out of last week’s First Drive Event with the 2020 Corvette Stingrays in Las Vegas, there is a new “Mode” to discuss that most Corvette enthusiasts have never heard of.
The 2020 Corvette Stingray has several “modes” that help drivers get the most out of their cars. We are already familiar with the regular driving modes that feature settings for Weather, Touring, Sport and Track, as well as the two customizable modes called MyMode and Z-Mode. But what you may not be aware of is that the 2020 Corvette Stingray’s equipped with Magnetic Ride Control also features a “Flying Car” mode.
Well, it is the 21st century after all!
Corvette’s Vehicle Performance Manager Alex MacDonald is responsible for the chassis tuning of the new Corvette and he was tasked with explaining much of the on-track performance capabilities of the new Corvette to those at Spring Mountain last week.
For the C8 Corvette, engineers have rolled out version 4.0 of Magnetic Ride Control with the biggest change to the system is the use of accelerometers rather than position sensors that measured wheel height. Here is the slide that was offered on the new Mag Ride for the C8 Corvette:
The Magnetic Ride Control is tied into the Corvette’s Performance Traction Management system and that’s where the Flying Car Mode comes into play.
When your crest an incline and the Corvette’s wheels are off the ground, they will spin faster like they are on ice or another slippery surface because there is no resistance. The performance traction control senses that and sends commands to slow the wheels. But that’s not the best reaction when on the track. The system now senses when the car’s front wheels leave the ground (and assumes that the rears will be leaving as well), and the system tells the performance traction control to ignore it because it knows that it’s temporary and that all four wheels will be back on the ground momentarily.
Here is Alex talking about the Flying Car Mode:
“The other interesting note about MR is that it communicates with the performance traction system and it tells that performance traction system that if the front wheels have just gone over a big crest that we know that one wheel-base later the rear is about to go over that same crest, we can adapt the traction control to work in that situation and we call that Flying Car Mode, which is a cool name for it, because it does detect when the car is airborne and we can alter the chassis controls to deal what happens when the car lands.”
Video by Keith Cornett
With the highest performance versions of the seventh generation Corvette, customers were forced to make a choice. Did they want their car to have the highest possible top speed, or did they want to sacrifice some of that by bolting a slew of aerodynamic aids to their car for maximum cornering ability?
We would love for Chevrolet to take that decision out of the ordering equation for buyers of the upcoming Z models and the Grand Sport. They could give buyers the best of both worlds with the incorporation of Active Aerodynamics.
Active Aerodynamics can take many forms, from grille vents that close at high speeds to streamline a car, to suspension that lowers at speed to reduce lift. We know that the Corvette team would build a fully functional system that integrates several of these technologies into a cohesive package, just like they did on the C7 ZR1’s chassis-mounted wing and innovative balancing front underwing, but what we mostly want to focus on here is the most visible piece of such a system, the rear wing.
This unit would elevate both the performance and even the prestige of GM’s looming halo car. There are several benefits of an active rear wing that accompany their off-the-charts cool factor.
1. An active rear wing can be lowered, causing it, for all intents and purposes, to disappear, along with any drag that it was creating. Top-end General Motors Products have become so fast that the most track-worthy editions have suffered at the dragstrip because of massive fixed wings. The effects of the C7 Z06/Z07’s wickerbill spoiler have been well documented. Chevrolet officially listed the top speed of ZR1’s with the “big-wing” ZTK package as 10 MPH lower than their stock counterparts, and the Camaro ZL1 with the 1LE package has proven slower than the car it is based on, even in distances as short as a quarter-mile. Allowing these serious track performers to retract their wing, and the ZTK/Z07/1LE models become the best version of their respective model-line with no excuses or asterisks, which is what buyers that dole out more funds expect.
Photo Credit: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz
2. Just as these wings can retract to reduce drag and improve top speed, they can be “actively” placed in full “attack mode” for maximum downforce in the corners. This increases cornering speed, stability, and driver confidence which can lead to drastically lower lap times.
3. Upon hard braking, an active wing can also go vertical, transforming into an air brake. This assists the actual brakes, resulting in shorter stopping distances. It also keeps more weight in the rear of the car, again helping with stability and, especially in a rear-wheel drive car, improved corner exit speeds.
Photo Credit: Car Magazine (UK)
All three of these traits brought to the table by an active wing radically assist the driver and make the car faster in all aspects. The coolest thing is that, with the right programming, the wing does all three automatically with seamless transitions, and, did we mention how awesome they also look?
There has been speculation about Active Aero coming to the Corvette for several years now. These rumors were fueled by GM’s own patent filings which showed a sketch of a C7 fitted with advanced aerodynamic trickery. We think the top dog mid-engine offerings are the perfect place for the General to finally deploy this technology that can already be found on the majority of the world’s supercars.
For the last two days we’ve been in Corvette Heaven as we were invited by Chevrolet to come out to Las Vegas and test drive the 2020 Corvette Stingray. The test consisted of two parts that included a route through the Valley of Fire state park and then today we drove the new mid-engine sports cars at Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Country Club.
Today’s driving session culminated with the very talented instructors from the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School offering hot laps around the track. Each driver gave their passenger a demonstration of the capabilities of the new Corvette and those two fast laps started with engaging launch control as each car took to the track.
With 60% of the weight of the 2020 Corvette residing over the back wheels, the Launch Control demonstration shows just how quick these cars are able to put power to the pavement as those Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires quickly hook up to send the car on the track.
We will be traveling from Las Vegas to home in Tampa on Wednesday, but keep checking back as we got a lot of great photos and videos from our 2020 Corvette drive on deck!
Video by Keith Cornett
From an acclaimed concept car John DeLorean reportedly dismissed because he wanted something “smaller and more European,” to the design that ended a feud between a pair of GM giants — but may have set the Corvette back decades — a trove of unique documents, sketches and models tells a secret history of the 60-year quest to build a mid engine Chevrolet Corvette.
The story begins in the late 1950s with legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and came to fruition when the first mid engine 2020 Corvette Stingray sold for $3 million at auction in January.
Titled “The Vision Realized: 60 Years of Mid engine Corvette Design” and created by GM Design Archive & Collections, the exhibit included 19 original sketches by designers including Larry Shinoda and Tom Peters, the massive 4-Rotor rotary engine from the 1973 Aerovette engineering, a wood wind-tunnel model, even letters from Arkus-Duntov’s personal files.
“The story of the mid engine Corvette is incredibly complicated, full of fits and starts,” said Christo Datini, manager of the GM Design Archive & Collections.
Cristo Datini at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
A mid engine Corvette was a dream shared by GM designers and engineers. The layout, in which the engine is behind the passenger compartment and immediately over the rear wheels, improves acceleration and handling. It’s been a mainstay at Ferrari for decades, and inspired repeated design and engineering projects at GM. None of them made it to production till now, largely because the Corvette’s original front-engine layout was so successful.
“Why would we change the Corvette?” GM chairman and CEO Richard Gerstenberg said to Arkus-Duntov before both men retired in the mid-1970s. “We sell every one we can make.”
‘Design without limit’
A generation of GM designers and engineers had already fought that attitude toward the sports car that debuted in 1953 model, and a couple more would before the midengine eighth-generation C8 Corvette Stingray debuted last year.
The exhibition included dozens of sketches, models, photos and documents.
“Our mission is to preserve the heritage of GM Design and educate our designers on GM’s prominence in the world of design,” Datini said. The archive also is working with the Detroit Institute of Arts on a massive exhibition dedicated to automotive design that opens this summer.
The Corvette exhibition closed at the end of January, but elements of it are likely to be displayed at other events and locations, possibly including the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which provided materials for the collection.
Original magazines with drawings of what Corvettes could have looked like on display at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle I, Also called SERV I and XP-708, was the beginning. A running model that debuted in 1960, the car had the looks of an Indy car and a chassis that tested what a midengine layout could do. It was “a design without limit” and an “admirable tool” to help Chevy figure out “what to put in Corvette,” said Duntov, himself a former driver in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.
CERV I was used as a test vehicle for years. Larry Shinoda, who would go on to be known as the father of the ’63 Corvette Stingray and the Mako Shark concept car, tweaked its design repeatedly as engineers tested it with seven different power trains.
GM eventually retired CERV I, selling it to the Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum for $1. When the museum failed in the 1980s, GM bought it back for “somewhat more,” Datini said.
A model of the 1968 Chevrolet mid-engine Corvette Roadster that is one of many items for General Motors workers to see at the Corvette design display at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Corvettes the world never saw
Shortly thereafter, Duntov heard rumors Ford was developing a Le Mans racer to challenge Ferrari and launched work on CERV II. GM decided not to race, Ford and Carroll Shelby built the GT40 that inspired “Ford vs. Ferrari,” and the CERV II was used as an engineering test bed at secret proving grounds and never seen by the public during its active lifetime. Built in 1964, CERV II had a 500-horsepower V8, 210-mph top speed and 2.8-second 0-60 mph time.
A picture of the CERV II Corvette. The sports car never went into production but it was influential in the design of the C5 production Corvette. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
“By that time, engineers and designers knew a midengine chassis was necessary” to get maximum performance from the ‘Vette, Datini said. Putting the engine behind the passenger compartment puts the car’s weight over the rear wheels to put down more power without spinning. Shifting balance from the production ‘Vette’s nose-heavy weight distribution would also improve handling.
Also in 1964, the XP-819 experimental car was being tested. Designed by Shinoda, it bore a strong resemblance to 1970 Corvettes, but Duntov hated it, calling it an “ugly duckling” at least in part because he wished his engineering team got some of the budget allotted to designing the car. It had a 327 cubic-inch V8 and pop-up headlights.
Like many concept and engineering vehicles, XP-819 was destroyed, chopped up. Years later, the pieces were found in NASCAR designer and mechanic Smokey Yunick’s garage.
Half Corvette, half Porsche
With a name GM would later recycle on a minivan, the Astro II XP-880 was never publicly identified as a Corvette, but it was one, intended for production in 1970, but never got there. It debuted at the New York auto show, featuring a nose, front fenders and Firefrost Blue paint that that foreshadowed 1970s production cars.
DeLorean, then Chevrolet general manager, asked for a rush program to create a different midengine design to match the midengine Pantera Ford was developing with Italian sports car maker De Tomaso to debut at the 1970 New York auto show. The XP-882 had a tapering body with dramatic fender flares and a louvered rear window like the Mako Shark II concept car. Like so many midengine ‘Vettes before and after, GM brass decided to stick with the tried and true front-engine layout.
Also in the 1970s GM president Ed Cole — another legendary engineer who led the development of the small block V8 and catalytic converter, among other achievements — became enamored with the Wankel rotary engine. Duntov built two midengine experimental ‘Vettes with rotary engines, glad for Cole’s support despite not sharing his enthusiasm for the engine.
Sketching and notes about the Corvette, one of the many originals on display for workers to see at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
The 1973 Corvette 2-Rotor XP-987GT was a smaller, European-scale sports car with a rotary engine. The body was all Corvette, but its chassis came from a Porsche 914. Italian design house Pininfarina built its body. GM displayed the 2-Rotor at auto shows in Frankfurt and Paris before the car disappeared, probably sold to a collector.
Bill Mitchell’s most beautiful car
At the same time, Duntov wanted to develop a bigger midengine Corvette. He and Cole hadn’t been on speaking terms since Duntov refused an annual bonus he thought was insultingly small. They made up, at least in part because Duntov wanted a budget to develop what would become the Corvette 4-Rotor Aerovette, an iconic, gull wing design. Duntov believed it was the most beautiful vehicle GM design chief Bill Mitchell oversaw in a career that included the ’57 Chevy Bel Air and ’66 Buick Riviera.
Duntov recycled the XP-882’s chassis for the Aerovette, which featured silver leather interior trim.
A picture of the Aerovette featuring bi-fold gulping doors in the sports car that was never made. It is one of many photographs, drawings and sketches on display on all things Corvette design inside the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020 (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Despite the car’s striking appearance, Duntov would come to believe his agreement to use a rotary engine was a nail in the midengine ‘Vette’s coffin.
Despite that, another midengine engineering car arrived in 1974. The XP-895 began its life with a steel body. Intrigued by the idea of lightweight materials, DeLorean asked Reynolds Aluminum to create an aluminum body. That cut the car’s weight by nearly 40%, but DeLorean pulled the plug on the project because he wanted a smaller, more European design.
That never happened, and design work on midengine ‘Vettes came to a halt for more than a decade, as GM struggled meeting the challenge of higher fuel prices.
Closing the deal
By 1986, the quest for a midengine Corvette was ready to create another giant figure, and it got one when a young designer named Tom Peters began work on the Corvette Indy concept car. Peters went on to become the chief designer of the sixth- and seventh-generation C6 and C7 Corvettes and play a key role in starting work on the 2020 C8.
With a radically short hood compared to production ‘Vettes and cutting-edge technologies including four-wheel steering, traction control and active suspension, the Indy — so named because it used a 2.65L V8 Chevy developed for Indy Car racing — kept dreams of the midengine ‘Vette alive
The 1990 CERV III — this time the C stood for “Corporate,” not Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle — was the next step. Datini’s research convinced him it was an attempt at a production version of the Indy.
CERV III had scissors doors and was built of Kevlar, carbon fiber and aluminum. With a 650-hp twin-turbo 5.7L V8, GM predicted a top speed of 225 mph. It debuted at the 1990 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
After that, work on the midengine Corvette went undercover for two decades. Photos of disguised prototypes at test tracks surfaced from time to time, but the car seemed to be as much myth as metal. There are whispers the Great Recession halted work on one, setting development back years.
A display of Zora Arkus-Duntov known as “The Godfather of the Corvette” at the General Motors Warren Technical Center in Warren, Michigan on Friday, January, 31, 2020. (Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
Development of the 2020 Corvette Stingray began around eight years ago, a long time for most projects, but the blink of an eye when it’s the last chapter of a 60-year story.
Mark Phelan for Detroit Free Press
Zora’s dream of bringing a mid-engine Corvette to market has finally been fulfilled!
Chevrolet is celebrating the Start of Regular Production (SORP) of the 2020 Corvette Stingray today and they shared this photo of a Black mid-engine Coupe on the Corvette assembly line in Bowling Green, KY.
The car is the VIN 001 Corvette that was purchased by Rick Hendrick for $3 million last month at Barrett-Jackson. Chevrolet told us previously that the first mid-engine Corvette produced for customers would be a Black Coupe with the Z51 package.
Here is Chevrolet’s tweet celebrating the start of C8 production from this afternoon:
Chevrolet is saying that initial vehicle shipments to dealers are expected to begin in late February or early March.
Congratulations to all those who worked on the new Corvette to get it to this point and we are excited for all of our friends that have a new C8 Corvette on order. The new Corvette Stingray is a grand slam home run for Chevy and from it, we will see a paradigm shift in how people will view mid-engine sports cars in the future.
And with VIN 001 coming of the Corvette assembly line today, that future is now!
Chevrolet also offered up this trailer for a documentary of the C8 Corvette’s development called Revolution:
The 58th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the first round of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, saw the first race for the new Corvette C8.R, the participation of an all-female driver line-up, 2019 NASCAR champion Kyle Busch’s first start in a 24-hour race and Ben Keating at the wheel of two different cars.
A NOTEWORTHY DEBUT FOR THE NEW CORVETTE C8.R
The #3 Corvette C8.R finished the first 24-hour race of its career in fourth place in GTLM (the equivalent of LMGTE Pro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans). Drivers Antonio García, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg encountered zero problems with the car and completed 785 laps (nearly 5,000 kilometers). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the #4 Corvette C8.R of Gavin-Milner-Fässler. As the car was in the top 5 in its class going into the ninth hour, an oil leak caused the car to return to its garage. The leak was found to be in an area that forced the mechanics to remove the engine for repair and the work took almost nine hours. The #4 was then able to hit the track again and finished the race in 36th place.
Much like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona is an extremely challenging race. To make it to the checkered flag with an all-new car is already a major accomplishment for Corvette Racing. The American team’s next stop is the 6 Hours of the Circuit of The Americas on Sunday 23 February in Austin, the fifth round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship season.
AN ALL-FEMALE DRIVER LINE-UP
All-female driver line-up Christina Nielsen, Katherine Legge, Tati Calderon and Rahel Frey shared GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the GTD class, but the car was forced to retire after a fire.
KYLE BUSCH ENJOYS HIS FIRST ENDURANCE RACE
2019 NASCAR champion Kyle Busch took the start in his first Rolex 24 at Daytona at the wheel of the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team’s Lexus RC-F GT3. Along with teammates Parker Chase, Jack Hawksworth and Michael de Quesada, Busch finished 26th overall and ninth in the GTD class. The American driver pulled off a double and a triple stint without the slightest mistake and said after the race he really enjoyed the experience and hopes to return for the overall win.
BEN KEATING DOUBLES DOWN
Ben Keating participated in his 10th Rolex 24 at Daytona at the wheel of not one but two cars: the #52 ORECA 07 fielded by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports in the LMP2 class and the #74 Mercedes AMG-GT3 fielded by Riley Motorsports in GTD. Both cars crossed the finish line, the #52 ORECA 07 in 10th place overall and second in its class two laps from the winners, and the #74 Mercedes AMG-GT3 in 29th place overall and 11th in its class. This was the fifth time Keating participated in the race with two different cars.
Source: 24H LE MANS
There’s A New Engine In The C8.R Corvette, And It Sounds Nothing Like Its Predecessor.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and although that’s true, it can also be in the ear of the listener.
Since the Corvette first hit the streets back in the 1950s, it was imbued with the beautiful and nearly magical sound of V-8 performance. It was a deep, bass-filled rumble that just oozed a feeling of power. Over the years, the sound emanating from Corvettes, both on the street and at the track, had a distinctive note that became synonymous with the car. When the Corvette moved to the LS1 in 1997, the firing order was tweaked a bit, and although the sound did change, it still had that deep rumble that we all love.
But the only thing constant in the world is change. For the C8.R, Chevrolet Racing really changed things up with its new mid-engine marvel, but it wasn’t the engine placement that ended the car’s iconic sound signature. It was the engine itself. Gone is the deep baritone exhaust note, replaced instead with a high-pitched Ferrari-like sound. Think puberty in reverse. And although we love the sound of a wound-out Ferrari or other Italian supercars, having that pitch emanate from the back of a Corvette is something that will be hard to get used to. We’re not saying the sound is bad—it’s actually pretty badass—but it’s not even close to the sound signature we’ve come to associate with Corvettes.
The real culprit here isn’t the new 5.5L DOHC V-8 that Chevrolet moved to. Instead, it was the choice to go with a high-revving flat-plane crank. This drastically changed the firing order of the engine and eliminated the classic American V-8 sound that’s typical with the firing sequence of a traditional cross-plane crank. But we know what you’re thinking: “Well, this is just the race car, so I’m going to be able to get my V-8 rumble fix from the production car!” Well, yeah, for now. You see, for Chevrolet Racing to run this new DOHC flat-plane crank mill in the C8.R, it has to, according to the rules, run a similar engine in at least 300 production cars. So does this mean that an eventual C8 Z06 variant will lose its iconic exhaust note?
Corvette “had reason” to take its No. 4 car back out on track after lengthy repair…
The “tough lessons” of the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R’s tumultuous Rolex 24 at Daytona debut gave Corvette Racing confidence going forward with its new car, according to team manager Ben Johnson.
The silver No. 4 Corvette spent eight hours in its garage during the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener after a cracked bell housing resulted in an oil leak.
Having pitted at around 11 p.m. the car eventually returned to the track close to 8 a.m. but it still managed to be classified as a finisher, albeit 327 laps behind the GTLM class winner.
While not divulging the extent of the oil leak and associated damage, Johnson explained why the team kept its car in the garage for so long.
“To fix the problem we had to move the engine back,” he told Sportscar365.
“We tried to do it with the engine installed to expedite it but then we realized that if we wanted to get it back on track, we had to take time to take the engine out and put it back in.
“We just took our time to make sure that there was nothing else. At that point, we were no longer in contention, but we had reason to go out and just understand where else the car may have issues.
“It was just kind of a test session after that.
“I think we will go back and disassemble the whole car. We have some issues to address with the oil leak.”
Oliver Gavin, who shared driving duties in the No. 4 with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler, said the Corvette crew “wanted to be methodical” about its repairs which added to the length of time it spent in the garage.
The Englishman suggested that the car was starting to show signs of promising pace that it could have taken through the night had the leak not occurred.
“It was really tough on the guys, eight hours of working from midnight until eight in the morning, it was crazy,” Gavin told Sportscar365.
“As soon as that happened, we knew that our day was done and that we wouldn’t be challenging. It was a shame because up to that point, our car had just started to come along.
“It wasn’t super strong right at the start, but we were gaining on it as we went through the race. Could we have been in the mix at the end? Who knows. But there was a lot that we’ve learned from this.
“As a team, we figured a lot of stuff out today. Testing is great but you really see exactly where you are when you come to a race and see where your competition is.
“We’ll take that away and process the data to see how we can make ourselves and the car better for Sebring.”
The No. 3 Corvette fared better than its sister car with Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg bringing home a fourth-place class finish on the lead lap.
Johnson said that this car’s run wasn’t entirely straightforward, but it held up well enough to remain in contention for a podium heading into the final two hours.
“We had a slight clutch issue at one point, but we had fixed it after the first stop that we witnessed it, so it wasn’t a time loss,” he explained.
“But nothing held up that car specifically again. We were really happy that all the execution, pit stops, driver changes… all things that you don’t get to test in anger until you reach the race, all went super well.”
Johnson added that the Rolex 24 has given the Corvette team confidence ahead of its next race outing at the ‘Super Sebring’ endurance racing double-header weekend in March.
“Coming away from our first race with one car on the lead lap… the issue with the oil leak is obviously very apparent, but when we looked at it we realized it’s a pretty simple fix,” he said.
“I think it raises everyone’s confidence that we can get through some of these early tough lessons and move on to Sebring in a much better spot.”
Source: Daniel Llyod for Sportscar365