Sunday, November 20, 2011

Corvette to Raid Grand Am Daytona Prototype Class in 2012

Photo Credit: General Motors

When the Chevrolet Corvette was first introduced in 1953, the personal sports car struggled through the first few years of existence barely convincing American (let alone the world) the two-seat fiberglass vehicle would be worthy of the 'sport' moniker. It was a young engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov that led the champion for V-8 power unleashing the Corvette's performance potential.

In 1955, the first production years of the eight cylinder powerplant, Duntov led an exhibition to Daytona Beach, Florida demonstrating the Chevrolet Corvette for a two-way mile speed run. Sailing to a 135-mile per hour run on the soft sand of the Daytona in 1955, Duntov himself piloted a specially-outfitted Corvette at an average speed of 150.582 miles per hour a year later. Breaking the 150-mile per hour benchmark Zora Arkus-Duntov wanted to achieve with the Chevrolet Corvette, the motorsport legend of the American sports car was born in Daytona Beach. For the upcoming 2012 Rolex 24 of Daytona race, Corvette will create another chapter in sports car competition history in the origin of their performance foundation.
Photo Credit: General Motors

Bringing the sports character of Corvette to the Grand Am Road Racing Series' top Daytona Prototype class, the wraps were taken off a stylish blue race car on November 15th. Long-time Corvette Racing supplier Pratt and Miller as well as General Motors were involved in bringing the Chevrolet Corvette's persona to the Grand-Am Rolex Series next season.

Conforming with the Daytona Prototype class' cost-saving construction structure, the Corvette Daytona Prototype is shaped with a front-end shaped to the current stock sports car. The 2012 Daytona Prototype car may also hint at the production car styling planned for the seventh-generation Corvette (the C7) due for the 2014 or 2015 model year. A familiar Corvette styling feature despite the fact it was involved on only the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, the split-rear window is incorporated on the Daytona Prototype car shielding the mid-engine chassis configuration. The Corvette's large side louvers also makes an appearance on the Daytona Prototype car incorporated in the functional aerodynamics of the bodywork.
Photo Credit: General Motors

Conducting a track test at the Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile road course just a day after its introduction to the public, the Corvette Daytona Prototype racer is already positioned to present a sizable force for the 2012 edition of the 24-hour event. Three of the early race entrants includes the #10 Suntrust Racing, #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and the #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing teams that were Chevrolet-powered participants of the concluded 2011 campaign. Along with winning over current Chevrolet teams in the Grand Am Rolex Series, the Corvette body and Chevy engines will also be presented in the Action Express Racing #5 and #9 teams. The 2010 Rolex 24 of Daytona champion Action Express Racing organization had campaigned with Porsche power based off the Cayenne's V-8 engine. Spirit of Daytona Racing owner and manager Troy Flis was an instant supporter of the factory-supported Corvette Daytona Prototype program. “Everyone will immediately recognize it as a Corvette which is different than the original DPs and that is a huge advantage for Chevrolet” said Flis. 

Photo Credit: General Motors

The Daytona International Speedway was the launch pad for the GT class Chevrolet Corvette C5R in 1999 narrowly missing out on a class win. Refining under racing conditions, the Corvette C5R would two years later take overall victory in the 24-hour sports car event. The #2 Corvette Racing car piloted by brand heroes Chris Kneifel, Franck Freon, Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows celebrated victory ahead of other major sports car wins including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Competing in the American Le Mans Series, the Corvette Racing C6R sports cars will remain a GT mainstay.  

Contain to be a big draw to the 2012 Grand Am Rolex Series, the Corvette Daytona Prototype will face tough competition on the top-class of the sports car circuit. The Daytona event is slated to be the Chevrolet Corvette's first appearance in the prototype class since the IMSA GTP car fielded by NASCAR's Rick Hendrick in the mid-1980s.

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