Stevenson Motorsports To Field Two Corvettes In Grand Am GT class in 2007 The 2007 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is shaping up to be the most extensive collection of competitive teams, cars, and drivers to come down the racing road in a...
Stevenson Motorsports To Field Two Corvettes In Grand Am GT class in 2007
The 2007 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is shaping up to be the most extensive collection of competitive teams, cars, and drivers to come down the racing road in a very long time. While the Daytona Prototype class has been getting most of the attention in the media, the real excitement this season will be in GT. No less than 44 cars are entered in the class for the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona on January 27-28.
The field will include such acclaimed marques as Mazda, Porsche, Pontiac, BMW, Nissan, Infiniti, and Ferrari. Looking to lead this field that represents the best of Japanese, German, Italian and United States automotive technology will be the "paternal twin" Chevrolet Corvettes of Stevenson Motorsports, operating out of Jacksonville, North Carolina, home of the U.S, Marine Corps Camp Lejeune. And these 'sisters' will be proudly wearing the red, white and blue colors of the U.S. flag as they go head to head with the best of the rest of the world.
John Stevenson heads up the team that will run a pair of Corvette chassis that are slightly different from one another. The #97 is a solid-axle chassis, produced by Tommy Riggins Engineering and campaigned in the 2006 season as car #57. The new #57 is a custom built transaxle chassis that was just completed in the Crawford Race Cars shop in Denver, North Carolina.
"We picked up the Crawford chassis on the drive down to Daytona for the test days!" Stevenson noted. "We ran it there and then dropped it back at the shop on the way home so they could finish up a few details. We had been hoping to get the car sooner but there was a delay in the engine area -- something beyond Crawford's control. Crawford Race Car Engineering owner Max Crawford and Andy Scriven (Crawford's designer) had only had a single opportunity to run one test with it at Kershaw before we picked it up. But we did manage to get in 20 laps at the Daytona test days and it ran pretty well without having to push it.
Stevenson had nothing but praise for the build quality of the new chassis.
"Max and Andy just did an outstanding job with this car. And they feel the aerodynamics of this car are going to prove to be a real advantage for us. We are excited about getting the finishing touches put on and getting back out to test her again for the Rolex 24."
Stevenson noted that the two Corvettes will wear mirror image American flag paint schemes, but under their patriotic skin will be two very different chassis designs.
"The Crawford car has the same kind of transaxle and gearbox combination you find in a DP car. In a GT car it's mounted in the reverse of how it is in a DP. This combination enables us to have a car that we can left-foot brake and flat shift all the time. And this year we will have both the old and the new type chassis to take to the fight."
The new season not only will find Stevenson Motorsports running two Corvettes -- one more than last year -- but also find them working from a new, expanded home base located in Jacksonville, and with a few new faces on the team.
"This season we have moved a few people over from our dealerships and put them working full time on our race team. One of these people is our I.T. man, Phillip Taylor. He will be monitoring our data acquisition efforts. Michael Hoffman is our overall Crew Chief and he will be assisted by Aaron Aliff and John Hobbs. Ron Ogletree will also be returning for 2007 as our Team Engineer and Strategist. (Ogletree, along with his partner, Rob Debardeleben, are building the new Sabre Daytona Prototype recently approved by Grand Am). And we have pulled together some great crew guys so we are really excited about this season."
For the season opening endurance race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the new Crawford chassis #57 will be driven by Marc Bunting, Dominic Cicero II and James Gue. Cicero and Bunting will drive the car in the rest of the races this season as well.
Bunting is the 2006 Rolex GT co-champion (along with Andy Lally) as well as the 2004 Co-champion of the Rolex Series SGS class. With a history of finishing at or near the top, he sees 2007 as another season in which to excel once again.
"My goal for the year is to win the championship! My overall impression of the new Corvette is that it is a great platform, Crawford did an extraordinary job. I have high hopes for the car and for the rest of the season. It is unfortunate that we were unable to turn as many laps prior to the Rolex 24 hour as I would have liked. But I have the utmost confidence in Stevenson Motorsports to provide us with a well prepared car for the Rolex 24 hour, as well as the rest of the season."
Cicero is an accomplished veteran of the Formula Renault and Renault V6 series.
Gue has raced in the ALMS, Grand Am Cup, and in the premier Daytona Prototype class. He is excited to be a part of this expanded Stevenson Motorsport entry.
"This is a great opportunity for me. Stevenson Motorsports is a great team, and we have a strong driver lineup, not to mention a really fast car. The team has been working very hard to get the car ready, so I'm very optimistic for the 24. I just need to thank Mr. Stevenson for the opportunity to be a part of his team."
The Riggins chassis #97 will be driven by returning teammates Tommy Riggins and Vic Rice, as well as Spencer Trenery.
Riggins is an accomplished race car builder and racer, and the owner of Riggins Engineering in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a past winner of the Sebring 12 hours (1987 in GTO) and was the driving champion in the IMSA Kelly American Challenge series in 1984 and 1985.
Riggins spent a number of hours in the off season making repairs to the original chassis as the car suffered its share of race damage in 2006. "We made a number or repairs to the car and we were able to put in some upgrades to the suspension. This past season helped us to learn a lot about the car and we made some evolutionary changes to it. I'm looking forward to the new season and I think we will build on the gains we made last year. And I feel real good about coming back to race with John and Susan Stevenson again. They are great car owners and are really committed to achieving success."
Rice is a founding partner of Pacific Forest Resources, Inc., and the 1996 IMSA GT American Champion. While he gave the new Crawford car a run at the test days, he is looking forward to wheel time in the updated Riggins-built car. "I tested the new Crawford Corvette last week and it's a beautiful piece of workmanship which we've come to expect from Crawford engineering. No doubt this car has all the capability of running up front. But I'm looking forward to driving the rebuilt, updated Riggins Corvette, together with Tommy and Spencer. We had a strong package last year and we ran 3rd at Daytona in June 2006 until a late race splash of fuel cost us a podium finish.
"John and Susan Stevenson, and the whole Stevenson Motorsports team, are dedicated to insuring that both cars will be fast and reliable and with over 40 very competitive GT cars entered to date, this is shaping up to be an epic event."
Trenery won the American Cities Racing League Sports 2000 championship, making him the youngest ever SCCA Pro Racing champion, and has spent the last few years competing in various American Le Mans series and international endurance races. Trenery has grown up in and around the motor sports industry. His Father, Bruce Trenery, has been competing in various racing series since 1968 and Spencer was bound to follow in his footsteps. And those steps have led him to be behind the wheel of two cars during the Rolex weekend. In addition to the Rolex 24, he will be running an Acura RSX for Davis Racing in the Koni Challenge ST class, on the Friday before the Rolex 24. < /P>
"I am excited to re-join the Stevenson Motorsports team this year. With another year of development under this chassis, and a mature, well seasoned driver line-up, I am confident that we have a package that is set to shine on Sunday morning."
Also, recently added to the team's driver list is long time SPEED World Challenge and Trans Am competitor - and veteran Corvette driver - Lou Gigliotti, as well as team owner John Stevenson.
Gigliotti is a three time champion in the SPEED World Challenge series and has taken the win 22 times, competing in several different classes over 99 starts prior to the 2007 season. This will be his first outing with Stevenson, and his enthusiasm for the opportunity to race with them in the Rolex, driving a Corvette, is evident in his comments.
"I feel privileged to be included with this team and the Crawford-built Corvette. Getting the opportunity to race with John Stevenson and his driver line up at the Rolex 24 at Daytona is a highlight of my year. And for this to be in a Corvette makes it even better."
"I have checked out the Crawford chassis and I must say it looks like a winner. Crawford has built a potent and formidable package for this race. Any 24 hour race is as much luck as it is skill but luck favors the prepared."
-credit: stevenson motorsports