American Le Mans Series Salutes Corvette Racing in Final U.S. GT1 Race Long Beach Street Race Marks the End of an Era for GT1 Corvettes in ALMS Competition LONG BEACH, Calif., April 14, 2009 -- The streets of Long Beach are a stage where ...
American Le Mans Series Salutes Corvette Racing in Final U.S. GT1 Race
Long Beach Street Race Marks the End of an Era for GT1 Corvettes in ALMS Competition
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 14, 2009 -- The streets of Long Beach are a stage where motorsports history has been made since the inaugural race was held on the city's bayside course in 1975. On April 18, Corvette Racing will mark the end of an era with the final U.S. appearance by the Corvette C6.Rs in the GT1 category. The 100-minute Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach will bring down the curtain on the team's record-setting run in the GT1 division.
The series will give a send-off to the GT1 Corvettes in a special post-qualifying ceremony in the Long Beach winner's circle showcasing the championship-winning Corvette C6.R race cars and the production GT1 Championship Edition Corvette they inspired. Later this season, the most successful sports car team in ALMS history will begin its transition to an eagerly anticipated global GT class based on current GT2 regulations as the GT1 category passes into racing's record books.
"The best sports car teams in the world have competed in the American Le Mans Series over the last 11 years, but it is impossible to think of one that has generated more success than Corvette Racing -- both on and off the track," said ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton. "The countless people at Corvette Racing, GM and Pratt & Miller who have made this program the most popular among our fans and dominant among its competitors have every reason to be proud as they have made history and rewritten the record book in GT1.
"Corvette Racing has been a benchmark example of developing technology on the race track that gets transferred to the road car," Atherton said. "It has succeeded with every challenge, the latest being the pioneering use of cellulosic E85 in the American Le Mans Series. While this marks the end of one era, it signals the start of another with Corvette's imminent GT2 program. The fight and might it will bring to what already is the most competitive class in the American Le Mans Series will make it even more of a spectacle for fans -- especially the legions of Corvette fans -- around the world."
While this year's event marks the ALMS' third appearance in Long Beach, Corvette Racing has previously raced 18 times in California, an important Corvette market. Since the team's debut in 1999, two generations of Corvette race cars have turned laps and turned heads at Golden State road courses such as Infineon Raceway and Laguna Seca.
"Long Beach is a great place to say goodbye to GT1 in the United States," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "The race is a hugely successful event attended by thousands of fans, so it's a very fitting place to finish the GT1 program by taking the Corvettes to the people.
"When the checkered flag falls at Long Beach, I think it will be a moving experience for everyone on the team," Fehan said. "It will mark the closing of one chapter, the likes of which will never be written again in Corvette history. At the same time, it will mark the opening of another chapter that will eventually see Corvette competing in a global GT class under the international regulations that will come into effect next year. That is one of the most exciting challenges that this team has undertaken, and it will be the culmination of a decade of development and continuous improvement that has made Corvette the standard by which GT cars are now measured."
Driver Johnny O'Connell agreed: "I've been there for all but two years of competition in GT1, so there will certainly be some sadness when we finally say goodbye to such an amazing car," O'Connell noted. "There is a huge Corvette following in Southern California, so to let them see the Corvette C6.Rs in their last GT1 race in the U.S. is very special.
"The GT1 Corvettes are among the coolest cars in racing history, and they've left their mark in the record books for Corvette, for Chevrolet and for sports car racing," O'Connell continued. "Over the years we've had great battles and rivalries with Viper, Ferrari, Saleen, Maserati, and Aston Martin. But we're moving to an even more competitive arena, and that's another example of Chevrolet taking on challenges. The commitment to compete on the world stage is something that everyone at Chevrolet can be proud of."
Winner of the last eight ALMS GT1 team and manufacturer championships, Corvette Racing has posted 75 class wins worldwide -- including a record 69 ALMS victories. Corvette Racing drivers have won a total of 13 ALMS class championships since 2002. Since its debut in 2005, the Corvette C6.R has won 38 races, the most of any GT1 car and second all-time in ALMS history regardless of class.
The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 18. The one-hour, 40-minute race will be televised by ABC on April 19 at 12:30 p.m. ET.