GM brands Complete "Vintage" Season
Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Cadillac gain Podiums and Titles
Detroit, Mich., Dec.21, 2001 - With the extremely short time between the end of one racing season and the start of the next, General Motors (GM) brands participating in motorsports have little time to celebrate new manufacturer, driver, rookie, team and series championships, as work on the 2002 season is well underway.
"The competition year 2001 was a vintage year for GM Racing," said Herb Fishel Executive Director GM Racing. "Several examples highlight the success that our teams and drivers worked so hard to achieve in GM products. Monte Carlo won the Daytona 500; Corvette took the overall victory at Daytona and a 1 -2 class win at Le Mans; an Oldsmobile Aurora V8 engine won the Indy 500; Chevrolet and Pontiac swept all the pro classes at NHRA's U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis and a Cadillac LMP captured its first podium finish in just the second year of this international endurance program."
"Further, on one weekend, August 2 to 5," said Fishel, "Chevrolet Monte Carlo won NASCAR Winston Cup at the Brickyard and Busch at IRP, Silverado won in Craftsman trucks at IRP, the Corvette C5-R won ALMS at Portland and Firebird won NHRA Funny Car at Sears Point. Five major wins in one weekend is a significant accomplishment for any manufacturer."
According to Auto Racing Analysis, an independent sports results tracking bureau and other sources, GM brands or components were entered in 955 race events in 54 major racing series in 2001. Led by Chevrolet, GM brands produced 701 wins on paved ovals, dirt tracks, road courses, drag strips and street circuits in stock cars, sports car, sprint and off-road configurations. The 56-year-old Chevrolet small block engine continues to be "state of the art" choice among winning racers in major series and short-track "bullring" competition.
Individual series summaries including championships
Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled into Victory Circle a total of 16 times during the 2001 season on the way to a sweep of all three top Championship honors. Monte Carlo drivers claimed the driver championship, the rookie title and the manufacturer championship. Chevrolet's manufacturer title was number 22 dating back to 1958. In the Busch series Driver and manufacturer honors went to Chevrolet's Monte Carlo with 17 wins.
Pontiac Grand Prix claimed four victories, 30 top five finishes and three of the top 11 spots in the final point standings. Grand Prix made a strong statement by finishing second in the driver championship and winning on four different types of racetracks including half-mile high-banked oval, a road course, and intermediate oval and a 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Silverado led the most laps and most miles, nine pole positions and seven wins to claim the driver championship and rookie title. It was the sixth driver title for a Chevrolet driver in the series. Chevrolet continues to hold the top records in the series with 51 percent of race won, most manufacturer championships with four, and most poles, 70.
Indy Racing League
Oldsmobile concluded its racing program in grand style in 2001, dominating the IRL for the fifth straight year. The Oldsmobile Aurora V8 engine powered the IRL driver champion and won 12 of the 13 races in 2001.
The "Oldsmobile Era" in the IRL ended with 49 victories in 51 races, 51 consecutive pole starts and a sweep of the engine manufacturer, driver, team and rookie championships for five straight seasons.
GM bands participating in NHRA events included Pontiac, Chevrolet and Chevrolet S-10 winning the sixth manufacturer's Cup and Chevrolet won the Pro Stock Manufacturer's Cup for the third time. Chevy S-10 won the Pro Stock Truck points championship for the third time.
In the NHRA professional categories in which they competed in 2001, GM races captured 50 of 62 national events for an .810 winning percentage. In the last five seasons, drivers carrying the GM banner have accumulated 212 wins, 217 No. 1 qualifying spots and nine Winston championships in Pro Stock Truck, Pro Stock and Funny Car.
Cadillac LMP entered the second of a three-year program with a highly modified version of the original Northstar powered prototype with clear-cut goals of winning a podium position and gathering data for the development of a state of the art package for the 2002. Early in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the No. 5 car crashed out of competition during a vicious rainsquall. The No. 6 moved steadily forward running fourth overall by the 12th hour, ultimately covering 2273 miles to finish 15th overall. The two-car entry demonstrated improved performance in each of the five American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races entered and gaining the coveted podium position at Mosport with a third place finish.
Corvette C5-R opened the 2001 season with a spectacular 1st and 4th overall at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and followed up with a 1st and 2nd in GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the eight race ALMS series the two Corvettes scored a combined six wins on the way to the GTS manufacturer and team championship titles.
Corvette also scored a National Championship title in SCCA amateur competition, and driver titles in Grand Am Sports and American GT. Corvette was the equipment of choice for the 2001 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year.
GM RACING engines
The 56 year-old Chevrolet small-block V8 design continues to power open-wheel vehicles in stock cars, modified cars and winged and non-winged sprint cars in series ranging from All-Pro to World of Outlaws on paved oval, off-road and dirt tracks. The popular design is also found in countless Friday and Saturday night racers on North American short tracks.
"At General Motors, our racing program today," said Fishel, "is the best integration of engineering, marketing and communication aspects and that makes racing success on the race track mean more to our day to day business. And that, as much as anything, explains 'why we race.'"
General Motors is involved in racing all over the globe through the Cadillac, Corvette, GMAC, Holden, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pontiac, Saab and Vauxhall brands. Just as in business, motorsports success rarely comes overnight especially in the tough environment of international competition. The on-track "learnings" and experience are quickly integrated back into future production GM vehicles.