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Easy to get lost in Cyberspace January 18, 2011

Posted by wilsonniblett in Enthusiastic Commentary.
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Sometimes life can send you many new things.  This is really good, except when you have too many cool things to play with at one time.  A while ago, I decided to explore the use of Facebook to spread the word about the Chevrolet product, especially Corvette and Camaro.  This took a bit to get into the proper rhythm of posting and analyzing what type of information people wanted.   I have found out that it is not different from posting on this blog.  We are all thirsty for knowledge, especially the “inside track” on any subject.

We have all become much busier in our lives over the past decade, and especially during the last few years.  The economic landscape has changed around us.  Business has changed with some reduction in areas and growth in other domains.

All of these factors combined with  joyous family life changes, have made me neglect this blog.

I apologize!!  I am back:)

Check out the Facebook page when you get a chance and let me know what you think!

http://www.facebook.com/WilsonNiblettPerformance

The Chevy Enthusiast

 

Spring Mountain makes 200 MPH Speed Run Attempt March 10, 2010

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Auto Racing, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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Our friends at Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch decided to make a high speed run on a dry alke bed in an effort to run a factory ZR1 to 200 MPH.  The lake bed had some standing water that only allowed them 3 miles of running room.  This factor coupled with 15 MPH headwinds limited their attemp to a 190MPH run.  Dave Petrie, the Track Manager, was the driver.  They have vowed to return!

I have been to the Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch and it is a first class facility.  It is a place where all the staff are extremely couteous and professional.  You feel as if your are under the care of a well run efficient and safe private institution but at the same time you are among a group of best friends!

Dave Petrie, Victor and “Ricky Bobby” along with their team are superb.  If you have “driving a Corvette on a track” on your bucket list, these are the fellows to contact.  Sign up for the Ron Fellows Driving School and you will be hooked;-))

The Chevy Enthusiast

2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Edition March 10, 2010

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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FRont view of 2011 Carbon Z06 Limited Edition Corvette

Rear 3/4 view of 2011 Carbon Z06 Limited Edition Corvette

General Motors has just released the information concerning the 2010 Corvette Z06 Carbon Edition.  This is the Corvette Z06 that the “Track Rats” have all been dreaming about.  Features such as the ZR1 brake package, blacked out wheels, ZR1 style magnetic ride are dream features for high performance driving fans!  Couple those features with carbon fiber hood, splitter, rockers and roof panel and you have a ZR1 with the heart of a Z06.

Chevrolet has seen the need to offer certain features of this combination seperately.  Since some Track Rats may only want the performance features, they have resurrected a Z07 Performance Package code to offer the mechanical upgrades on a standard Z06.  Equally cool is the fact that you can order a CFZ Z06 that will give the client all the carbon fiber features on a Z06 without having to opt for the mechanical upgrades.

The Z06 Carbon Limited Edition, Z07 and CFZ Z06 option packages will be available in August 2010.  As a Track Rat myself, I cannot wait.

Here is the official GM Press Release

DETROIT — When the 2006 Corvette Z06 was introduced, it represented the closest connection to the Corvette race cars ever. The 2009 Corvette ZR1 closed the gap between racing and production even further. This year, Corvette continues its tradition of track-to-street technology transfer with the 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition.

  “Designed to further incorporate technology developed through racing, the Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Corvette’s first race in the 24 Hours of LeMans,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet General Manager. “With a limited production of 500 units, this car is a must-have for the true Corvette collector and driving enthusiast.”

 The Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition is another example of the expanded Corvette line-up. Five years ago, customers had the choice of a Corvette coupe or convertible. With the addition of the Z06, Grand Sport coupe and convertible and ZR1, Corvette enthusiasts now have more choices than ever.

 “For track use, the Z06 Carbon is the best balanced Corvette yet. It combines the lightweight and naturally-aspirated Z06 engine with the road-holding and braking of the ZR1,” said Tadge Juechter, Corvette Chief Engineer. “For technical tracks like Laguna Seca, the Z06 Carbon could shave up to three seconds off the Z06 lap time.”

 This limited edition Z06 will boast Brembo carbon ceramic brakes with specific dark gray metallic calipers. These powerful brakes were first introduced on the ZR1.  Black 20-spoke 19-inch front/20-inch rear wheels complement the car’s Michelin PS2 tires. Other mechanical features include Magnetic Selective Ride Control for the first time on the Z06 and enhanced cooling. The car also features a special carbon pattern engine cover.

 The Corvette Z06 Carbon will be available in two colors: Inferno Orange and the all-new Supersonic Blue. Black headlamps and mirrors, a ZR1-style body color spoiler, body color door handles, carbon fiber raised hood, and black carbon fiber rockers and splitter enhance the Z06’s dynamic design and reduce mass and aerodynamic lift. For track events, customers can also install the Euro-styled racing numbers that come with each car.

 The Z06 Carbon’s ebony leather and suede interior is complemented by blue or orange seat stitching to match the exterior color chosen. Other features include a unique steering wheel emblem, sill plate and logoed headrest. The suede used on the steering wheel, shifter, seat inserts, armrests and doors add to the luxury of this limited edition Z06.

 An optional Z07 performance package that includes the mechanical upgrades introduced on the Z06 Carbon can be added to a regular 2011 Z06. This package also includes Competition Gray 20-spoke wheels and all the chassis and cooling upgrades.

 The CFZ Z06 carbon fiber package includes black carbon fiber rockers, splitter and roof panel with the full-width body color spoiler. It can also be purchased with or without the Z07 package on regular Z06 models.

 The 2011 Corvette Z06 Carbon Limited Edition, as well as the new Z07 and CFZ Z06 option packages will be available in late summer.

Danica Patrick goes Nascar in a Chevrolet December 9, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Auto Racing, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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Danica Patrick, the stellar Indy car driver has signed a deal with JR Motorsport to drive in the NASCAR Nationwide Series starting this February 2010.  The Chevrolet race care is co-owned by Dale Earnhart Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports.

Having recently resigned with the Andretti Autosport to run the full 18 race season in the Indy Car series for 2010, she will be adding the NASCAR Nationwide Races to her schedule starting with the ARCA Race on Feb 6, 2010 in Daytona.  She will continue to be sponsored by Godaddy in both campaigns. Being the only woman to win an Indy Car Race, there will be a lot of people watching her progress in the #7 Chevrolet race car as she actively competes in NASCAR.

She has had a varied career during her Indy Car years and has earned 2005 Rookie of the year, Most Poular Driver 2005-2007 and won the Japan 300 in 2008

She certainly has talent and is not reserved.  This should turn out to be a great season to watch!

http://www.danicaracing.com/main.html

The Chevy Enthusiast

Corvette Racing at Laguna Seca October 16, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto Racing, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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Porsche wheels turned into Corvette just before the crash

Porsche wheels turned into Corvette just before the crash

One thing is for sure, the last race of the 2009 ALMS Race schedule was very exciting.  Laguan Seca is an exciting track from a technical point of view with various elevation changes to the well known “Corkscrew” all on a surface that sometimes has windblown dust/sand on it.

When you arrive at the last event of any form of competition that involves a much heralded championship, the competition can become fierce.  Now if you add a larger field of competitiors, that are all quite evenly matched, the heat gets turned up another notch.  Just to make it really exciting the ALMS Series runs with multiple vehicle classes out on the track at the same time…..slow and fast!

Now liberally sprinkle this event with Tv coverage, sponsorship pressure, adrenalin, pride and douse it with testoserone……….you better pull your cooler of drinks and food closer to you because you don’t want to miss a thing!

This years event did not fail to excite the fans.  There was enough  action to keep even the couch potatoes focused.

While it was a great event all around, there was one incident on the last lap of the race that coloured the event.  The turnout of this last lap was terrific for Gil De Ferran who won in his last racing event as a driver but for Jan Magnussen of Corvette Racing this was a devastating lap.  While there is lots of controvery and armchair sports commetary about the last lap of the race, the result is the #3 Corvette crashed into the wall on the straight just before the finish line and J. Bergmeister in the Porsche claimed the win.

I have taken a few days to read all the comments, view the video, analyze the pictures and personally feel that there was an injustice done to the Corvette Racing team.  IMSA has come out and given both Bergmeister and Magnussen a two race probation during the coming 2010 ALMS Race season.

While nothing can be done at this point in time that will change the outcome of the 2009 Laguna Seca ALMS GT2 race, we can all look forward to a very exciting 2010 ALMS season.  One thing is for sure, the Corvette Racing Team that has dominated the ALMS GT1 series for the better part of a decade, will now have a newly steeled resolve to fiecely compete for the GT2 crown in the future.

All Corvette fans wish Jan Magnussen a speedy recovery.  His accident is a testament to the well engineered/built Corvettes fielded by Pratt & Miller.

I for one will attend any of the races that I am able to and for the rest of the 2010 schedule I will have my cooler of drinks and food close to me, my Corvette Racing shirt on and the TV up loud!

The Chevy Enthusiast

Very Cool Transofrmers Camaro Costume October 16, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Enthusiastic Commentary.
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There are always ingenious folks out there that are capable of creating wonderful things.  Sometimes they are very useful, beautiful or just wild.  I have no idea who created this wonderful costume but it is very cool.

If your kids are still at the Halloween Trick or Treat stage, don’t let them see this video or they will want a costume just like this one!

The Chevy Enthusiast

Donna Mae Mims October 16, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Auto Racing, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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Donna Mae Mims

Donna Mae Mims

Donna Mae Mims passed away on October 6th this year at the age of 82 after complications arising from a stroke.  She was a free spirit that will be missed by all the people that she met or influenced in her life.

She started out racing a  fuel injected Corvette in SCCA competition back in 1960.  She had purchased the Corvette from the famous Yenko Chevrolet where she worked as an executive secretary.  Ms. Mims later became deeply involved in the Yenko Performance Division of the organization.  Many of her later racing accomplishments were at the wheel of various Corvairs, MGs, TR3 and her famous Austen Healy  Bugeyed Sprite.

Donna Mae Mims was the first woman to win an SCCA Championship. She also competed in the Daytona 24hr and Sebring 12hr endurance races with team mates Janet Guthrie and Suzy Dietrich driving a Sunbeam Alpine.  Notably she competed in the Brock Yates’ much heralded Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash in a pink ’68 Cadillac Limo with co-drivers Judy Stopus and Peggy Niemcek.  Even after her active racing career, Donna Mae could be found volunteering at SCCa racing events.  Her favorite colour was pink and her cars, racing suit and clothing was always pink.   Her latest 1979 Corvette has an airbrushed image of Marilyn Monroe on the hood.

Her love of Corvettes brought her to be involved in Corvette Club of Western Pennsylvania, Steel Town Corvette Club and the Three Rivers Corvette Club.

Her love of motorsports and the people attached to the automotive hobby was so great that her request was to be displayed in her Corvette in the funeral home.  The funeral home was able to fit the car in for the funeral and there were over 50 Corvettes and many club members that participated in a procession to the funeral home.

 http://kdka.com/video/?id=63814@kdka.dayport.com      Click on the link to see the details

One thing is for sure, she lived her life to the fullest …passionately all out!

The Chevy Enthusiast

Corvette Racing Wins GT2 at Mosport September 1, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Auto Racing, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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2009 ALMS GT2 Winners at Mosport

2009 ALMS GT2 Winners at Mosport

The Ollies 3rd Place Corvette at Mosport

 

Jan & Johnny's GT2 Winning Corvette in Mosport Winners Circle

Jan & Johnny's GT2 Winning Corvette in Mosport Winners Circle

Any Corvette race fan that did not attend the ALMS Race at Mosport or has not seen it on video, is missing one of the best races of all time!  I was lucky enough to attend this race in person as a participant in the Corvette Corral.  There was already an electricity in the Corral right from the beginning of the event.  All Corvette Racing fans were very excited about the move to GT2 by the Corvette Racing Team and bouyed by the team’s recent podium finishes at previous races.

Jan Magnussen held off the Ferrari for the Win after Johnny O’Connell had run the #3 Corvette for the first part of the race.  This was the very first win for the Corvette Racing Team since switching to GT2 this year.  Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta took third place making this the first double podium finish for the team in GT2.

The weather at Mosport was the usual turbulent variable extreme example.  Going from sunny to heavy rains then deep fog changing to high winds and cold temps.  Many fans believe that Mosport has it’s very own weather sytem!  Race day was windy and cool.

The Corvette Racing team arrived thursday with their three trucks and set up with their usual precision and efficiency.  This group comes ready to race.  Racing is not a game.  Their “Jake” logo and “Take No Prisoners” motto are just the tip of the iceberg as to how this team approaches ALMS Racing.  Teamwork, expertise and professionalism are the hallmarks of Corvette Racing and the Pratt & Miller organization.  However, no group of this size, that has worked together this hard for a decade can survive without deep respect and camraderie within the organization.  Make no mistake, Corvette Racing is made up of wonderful team members that are closer to a family than a team.

The other aspect of the Corvette Racing organization, that is not lost on the fan base, is their belief in the Corvette enthusiasts!  The team members and the drivers are always very accessible and extremely polite and courteous towards the fans.  They are eager to share their excitement and knowledge in response to any fan’s request.  Pratt & Miller are fully aware of the impact that all Corvette enthusiasts have on the hobby.  After all, they are major Corvette fans too!

All this hard work and energy has resulted in a legacy of winning in GT1 for a decade and now is forging ahead in the highly competitive GT2 Class.  After the fantastic 2009 Mosport ALMS Race resulting in a double podium finish of 1st and 3rd, all the fans will be eagerly awaiting the next two races this year!

If you are a Corvette fan, then support Corvette Racing…………after all, they are fans too;-)

The Chevy Enthusiast

First Callaway RCSE Corvette in Canada August 20, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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2009 Callaway RCSE Corvette

2009 Callaway RCSE Corvette

Supercharged & Intercooled 606BHP / 553 lb. ft. Torque

Supercharged & Intercooled 606BHP / 553 lb. ft. Torque

Callaway Console ID Plate #9 of 29 Built

Callaway Console ID Plate #9 of 29 Built

Callaway RCSE Corvette Steering Wheel

Callaway RCSE Corvette Steering Wheel

Auto aficionados all have an affection for cars that stand out from the norm.  While style and image are important, the automobile must have character and advanced engineering.  In other words it cannot just be a pretty face, it better be able to back up the image with substance!

All Callaway automotive creations are held in high regard due to the company’s engineering prowess.  This is due to the dedication to excellence that runs through the hearts and minds of all the Callaway staff worldwide.  They all live, breath and strive to create automotive icons that not only capture the essence of elegance, but can also back up their claims of performance.   Callaway Corvettes are based on engineering concepts that are brought to life through the application of data and experiences honed through varied background such as FIA racing. OEM engineering programs and decades of specialty automobile creations.

Reeves Callaway is the founder and leader of this iconic firm.  In honour of their founder, the team at Callaway has brought a new iconic vehicle to their historic list of cars , the 2009 Callaway RCSE Corvette.  The Reeves Callaway Signature Edition Corvette represents everything that the engineers at Callaway strive for in a product, with  sleek functional styling with a heart of reliable power and handling.  The supercharged and intercooled RCSE has 606 BHP and 553 lb. ft. Torque just to remind all competitors that it is based on solid engineering and is not just a pretty face.  Performance levles speak for themselves.  0-60 MPH in 3.4 sec and  a blistering  11.0 seconds at 124 MPH in the quarter mile!

The 2009 Corvette RCSE will be a limited production run of only 29 Corvettes.  One vehicle for every Callaway Dealer in the World.  Each RCSE is identified with a Console ID Plate and backed up with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Reeves Callaway.  As Canada’s #1 Corvette Dealer and a Callaway Dealer, we are proud to announce that our Callaway RCSE Corvette will be arriving Monday August 24th.

This supercharged & intercooled LS3 V8 with 6 Speed Manual and Z51 Suspension car is an extremely driveable package with extremely good road manners.  The exclusive Callaway Double D Exhaust note will send chills down your spine.   This is the kind of car that is equally suited to take you and a friend downtown for dinner in style and comfort, spirited driving over twisty mountain roads or out to the race track to show off your tail lights to other drivers!  This is a seriously fast, powerfully engineered automobile.  Driving the Callaway Corvettes is always a heart pumping experince that will make you want one.  Beware, this car will attach itself to your heart and soul.  If you drive it, you will buy it!

The Chevy Enthusiast

2009 Corvette Racing GT2 Unveiled August 4, 2009

Posted by wilsonniblett in Auto News, Auto Racing, Enthusiastic Commentary.
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GT2 Tech Sheet

GT2 Tech Sheet

GT2 Engine

GT2 EngineCorvette Racing GT2 Brakes

Both GT2 Corvettes on track

Both GT2 Corvettes on track

Corvette Racing GT2 Corvette side view

Corvette Racing GT2 Corvette side view

Corvette Racing GT2 Rear View

Corvette Racing GT2 Rear View

All Corvette Racing fans have been very excited waiting for a glimpse of the new GT2 Corvette C6R.  There has been lots of internet chattter about how the car will perform, what will be the construction parameters, what will the body configuration be and what will the paint scheme look like.

Well. our friends over at GM Racing have released the media information for these fantastic 2009 Corvette C6R GT2 cars!

The following Press Releases by Rick Vogelin will give you the clear and total details about these long awaited asphalt warriors.

For Release: Aug 4, 2009

Charting the Changes: GT1 vs. GT2 Corvette C6.R

The following is an overview of the differences and similarities between the GT1 and GT2 versions of the Corvette C6.R.

  GT1 Corvette C6.R GT2 Corvette C6.R
Homologation Model Corvette Z06 Corvette ZR1
Frame Hydroformed steel Hydroformed aluminum
Wheelbase (in) 105.7 Same
Length (in) 178.7 176.2 (-2.5)
Width (in) 78.7 78.6 (-0.1)
Weight (lb) 2580 2745 (+165)
Engine 7.0-liter LS7.R 2009: 6.0-liter LS7.R2010: 5.5-liter GM V8
Horsepower 590 2009: 470 (-120)2010: TBD
Torque (lb-ft) 640 2009: 535 (-105)2010: TBD
Intake Air Restrictor (mm) 30.6 28.6 (-2.0)
Bore diameter (in) 4.180 Same
Crankshaft stroke (in) 3.875 3.32 (-0.555)

 

 

Transaxle Xtrac 6-speed sequential Same
Wheels BBS magnesium, 18 x 12.5 (front); 18 x 13 (rear) BBS aluminum, dimensions same
Tires Michelin racing tires
300/32-18 (front)
310/41-18 (rear)
Same
Brakes Carbon rotors and pads Steel rotors, ceramic composite pads
Fuel capacity @ ALMS E85 spec (gal) 29 Same
Wing Chord (mm / in) 400 / 15.74 300 / 11.81 (-100 / -3.93)
Diffuser Leading edge at rear axle centerline, with side plates and longitudinal fences Leading edge at rearmost point of wheel opening, no side plates or fences
Splitter (mm) 80 25 (-55)
Telemetry Yes No
Windshield Polycarbonate Production laminated glass

2009 Corvette Engine Specifications

  2009 Corvette ZR1 2009 GT2 Corvette C6.R
Displacement (L / ci): 6.2 / 376 6.0 / 366
Horsepower: 638 @ 6500 rpm 470 @ 4800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 604 @ 3800 rpm 535 @ 4500 rpm
Bore diameter (mm / in): 103.25 / 4.06 106.2 / 4.180
Crankshaft stroke (mm / in): 92 / 3.62 84.33 / 3.32
Deck height (mm / in): 235 / 9.24 235 / 9.24
“V” angle (deg): 90 90
Cylinder bore spacing
(mm / ci):
111.7 / 4.40 111.7 / 4.40
Valvetrain: pushrod with overhead valves, titanium inlet pushrod with overhead valves, titanium inlet and exhaust
Valves per cylinder: 2 2
Camshaft drive: chain chain
Cylinder case material: aluminum aluminum
Cylinder liners: dry iron none
Cylinder head material: aluminum aluminum, CNC ported
Lubrication system: dry sump dry sump
Fuel system: sequential EFI sequential EFI
Throttle system: supercharged w/intercooler, throttle body individual runner
Fuel: premium unleaded gasoline required E85R ethanol

 

2009 Corvette Chassis Specifications

  2009 Corvette ZR1 2009 GT2 Corvette C6.R
Body style: two-door hatchback coupe two-door hatchback coupe
Drivetrain: longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
Chassis: hydroformed aluminum chassis, composite body hydroformed aluminum chassis, composite body
Wheelbase (in): 105.7 105.7
Length (in): 176.2 176.2
Width (in): 75.9 78.6
Height (in): 49 45.9
Weight (lb): 3324 2745
Front suspension: independent, short/long arm double wishbone, cast aluminum controls, transverse-mounted composite leaf spring, monotube shock absorbers, anti-roll bar independent, short/long double wishbone, fabricated steel upper & lower, machined aluminum knuckle, coil-over multi-adjustable shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension: independent, short/long arm double wishbone, cast aluminum control arms, transverse-mounted composite leaf spring, monotube shock absorbers; anti-roll bar independent, short/long arm double wishbone, steel fabricated upper & lower control arms, machined aluminum knuckle, coil-over multi-adjustable shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Brakes: front and rear power-assisted carbon-ceramic disc with 6-piston front and 4-piston rear calipers, cross-drilled rotors, ABS 4-wheel disc with monoblock calipers, steel rotors and ceramic composite pads
Wheels (in): 19 x 10 (front); 20 x 12 (rear) 18 x 12.5 (front); 18 x 13 (rear)
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2
P285/30ZR19 (front),
P335/25ZR20 (rear)
Michelin racing tires,
300/32-18 (front),
310/41-18 (rear)
Fuel capacity (gal): 18 26.4
(29 @ ALMS E85R spec)

For Release: Aug 4, 2009

Corvette Racing White Paper: Inside the Next-Generation Corvette C6.R

Technical Insights on Corvette Racing’s Production-Based GT Race Car

DETROIT – Corvette Racing is moving toward the future of production-based sports car racing with the introduction of the next-generation Corvette C6.R race car. With international regulations converging around a single GT class, Corvette Racing will continue its motorsports heritage by racing against manufacturers and marques that Corvette competes with in the marketplace. This white paper highlights the design and development of the latest version of the Corvette C6.R and spotlights its technical features.

The second-generation Corvette C6.R is the successor to the championship-winning C5-R and C6.R race cars that have dominated the GTS and GT1 categories in the last decade. Corvette Racing retired its GT1 Corvette C6.R race cars following the team’s sixth victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14, 2009. Corvette Racing will compete in the GT2 category of the American Le Mans Series for the remainder of the 2009 season, starting at the series’ sixth round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 8. During this transition, Corvette Racing will test and develop the next-generation C6.R race cars in anticipation of a unified GT class in 2010.

PRODUCTION-BASED PLATFORM

The next-generation Corvette C6.R race car has strong ties to its production counterpart. Under the leadership of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the Corvette Racing program’s key objectives include reducing costs, encouraging independent teams to purchase and race Corvettes, and reinforcing the relevance of racing technology to production vehicles.

Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager: “Key elements in the decision to move to the new class were the strong visual and mechanical similarities between production Corvettes and the racing Corvettes, along with the increased production content in the GT2 race car. Corvette is a technological development platform for GM, and this move provided the opportunity to design and develop technology and components that would be relevant to future Corvettes and other GM vehicles. This connection drew the race team even closer to the production Corvette group and gave us new areas to explore together.”

Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer: “Behind the scenes, the race team and the production car team have grown closer together, finding numerous ways to support each other and to make both cars better. Most automotive companies give lip service to claims like ‘racing improves the breed’ or ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’. For team Corvette, it is a daily reality. It is now impossible to imagine one team without the other.

“The move to GT2 only strengthens the trajectory we were on. The Corvette race and production teams will grow even closer together, and so will the cars. Having more commonality will increase the synergies in the development process. Facing our market rivals on the track will be a thrill for race fans and strong evidence that potential sports car customers should buy a Corvette. I am confident that endurance racing in GT2 will be an enormous benefit to our customers and to General Motors.”

GT2 HOMOLOGATION

The regulations require the Corvette C6.R race car to be based on a production vehicle. This designated vehicle then determines the specifications for homologation (acceptance and approval) of the racing version. The GT1 version of the Corvette C6.R was homologated on the production Corvette Z06. A crucial step in the design of the GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R was the selection of the Corvette ZR1 as the basis for its homologation.

Doug Louth, Corvette Racing engineering director: “Early in the design process we had to decide whether to use the base Corvette coupe with its steel chassis and narrow bodywork or the Corvette Z06 or ZR1 models, which have an aluminum chassis and wider bodywork. We ran a number of simulations and CFD studies comparing the wide versus narrow bodies and looked at various track width options. In the end, the data favored the wider car, even at a high-speed, low-drag track like Le Mans. Fortunately that aligned with the marketing objective to showcase the ZR1 as the Corvette that offers the highest level of performance.”

ZR1 ROOTS

The Corvette ZR1 is an American supercar that has won accolades for its extraordinary performance and exceptional value. While the GT rules preclude the use of the ZR1’s supercharged 638-horsepower LS9 small-block V8 engine, they do permit the race car to take full advantage of the ZR1’s aerodynamic enhancements that were developed in concert with Corvette Racing. The production Corvette ZR1 has wide carbon fiber front fenders with dual vents, a full-width rear spoiler, and a front fascia splitter – features designed to enhance high-speed stability and driver control.

Fehan: “The ZR1 uses a different splitter and a different rear spoiler than other Corvette models, and both of these enhance the Corvette C6.R’s aerodynamic performance. The ZR1 was conceived as a 200 mph road car and it was developed with input from Corvette Racing. Race team engineers worked with Corvette chief engineer Tom Wallace and his successor, Tadge Juechter, providing track data and CFD simulations that had been done on the race cars. Working together they were able to develop an effective and balanced aero package for the Corvette ZR1.

“The Corvette C6.R race car is now virtually identical to the Corvette ZR1 street car in appearance. The rules in GT1 allowed us to section and widen the fenders, but the GT2 rules require production-type fenders with simple flares to accommodate wider tires. Consequently the race car looks like a production car, because it fundamentally is one.”

ALUMINUM FRAME

The GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R is built on the same aluminum frame that underpins production Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models. In contrast, the GT1 race cars used steel frames from the Corvette coupe and convertible. Both aluminum and steel production Corvette frames are hydroformed, a process that uses high-pressure hydraulics to form complex shapes.

Fehan: “The race team had been exploring the aluminum frame for several years. The traditional methods of connecting a steel roll cage to an aluminum frame simply didn’t provide a level of safety that met GM Racing’s stringent standards. Consequently we have developed a proprietary installation method that is consistent with GM’s commitment to safety.”

Louth: “The race car chassis retains all of the elements in the production chassis structure – the windshield frame, the hoop around the rear of the passenger compartment, the door hinge pillars, the drivetrain tunnel, the firewall, the floor pan – they’re all there. In the GT1 class, these components could be removed, modified, or trimmed down, but the ACO and FIA rules for GT2 require that we maintain all of the primary production chassis structure in the race car.”

AERODYNAMICS

Differences in the GT1 and GT2 rules account for many of the changes in the Corvette C6.R’s aerodynamic package. The front fender louvers used in GT1 are not allowed in GT2. The chord width of the rear wing was reduced 25 percent, from 400mm to 300mm. The diffuser now starts at the back of the rear wheel opening rather than at the centerline of the rear axle; strakes and sidewalls are not permitted, so the GT2 diffuser is a flat panel while the GT1 diffuser was effectively a tunnel. The production-based ZR1 splitter extends 25mm, in contrast to the 80mm splitter allowed under the GT1 rules.

Louth: “CFD (computational fluid dynamics) was the primary tool used to develop the aero package in the short time that was available. During the validation phase, the team performed high-speed straight-line tests and conducted a full-scale rolling-road wind tunnel test. We have been through all of our aerodynamic tuning options at the track, and the baseline aero settings meet all of the performance targets.

“As we developed the race car aero package, we went through a number of reviews with the Corvette design group. They were very interested not only in what we were doing, but what they might take away for future Corvettes. There was a two-way exchange of concepts and ideas, and it proved to be a very rewarding relationship.”

Fehan: “The production splitter we are using in GT2 does not require a massive rear wing to produce aerodynamic balance, and consequently there is less total downforce. This actually makes the car more predictable over a wide range of speeds. The GT1 version had tremendous downforce, but the downforce was directly proportional to speed. In slow corners the car behaved differently than it did in fast corners, so the drivers had to adjust for the amount of grip they would have at various speeds. With the GT2 aero package, the car behaves very predictably in low, medium, and high-speed corners. Consequently the drivers report that the new Corvette C6.R a very good race car.”

SUSPENSION AND STEERING

The GT1 Corvette C6.Rs were equipped with carbon brake rotors, while GT2 regulations require ferrous (steel) brake discs. The Corvette race car’s wheel and tire dimensions are the same in both classes, but the GT2 version uses aluminum rather than magnesium rims.

Fehan: “The production ZR1 has ceramic brakes, which we would love to use in the race cars. However, the series requires steel brakes to help contain cost.”

Louth: “Early in the GT1 program we ran steel brakes in the 24-hour Daytona race, so we did have some previous experience. We also received excellent information from our brake and pad suppliers, and input from GM’s other racing programs. Initially there was some concern about the switch from carbon to steel brakes, but in the end the braking performance is actually very good. Steel brakes don’t produce the absolute stopping power of carbon brakes, but the braking performance – repeatability, consistency and driver feel – hit our targets in fairly short order.

“The GT2 race car has a production steering column, with a fully adjustable steering wheel – a real convenience with as many as three drivers per car. The rack-and-pinion steering is also production.”

SAFETY AND ERGONOMICS

Safety is the No. 1 priority at GM Racing. The GM Racing safety research and development program was founded in 1992, and it expanded from its initial focus on open-wheel cars to encompass stock car racing, sports car racing, drag racing and off-road racing. The racing safety program is built on the foundation of GM’s world-class safety research and testing programs for passenger vehicles.

Louth: “Our chief concern was the aluminum chassis and the attachment of the steel safety cage. Analysis and physical testing of structural components suggest that this car is the safest GT car on the track. We carried over the energy-absorbing panels in the doors, the door bar structure, the crush structure, the right-side safety net, and other safety features from the GT1 Corvettes. These are not mandatory items, but we chose to add those components at a considerable cost and weight disadvantage because driver safety is our top priority.

“Driver ergonomics was not a big challenge because the cockpit layout and packaging is very similar to the GT1 C6.R. The production-based air conditioning system was carried over from the previous version because it had proven to be very effective, although improvements were made in the ducting.”

TELEMETRY

The GT1 Corvettes were instrumented with nearly 100 sensors that monitored everything from engine oil temperature to tire pressures. Much of this information was transmitted in real time from the car to the pit, where engineers and technicians could watch for developing problems. The GT2 rules do not allow telemetry, so this data must now be downloaded during pit stops.

Louth: “Without telemetry, the driver has more responsibility to catch minor problems before they become major problems. Obviously a driver is extremely busy during a race, so he may be less effective at monitoring data and seeing warnings than someone in the pits who is focused on a computer screen. Since we cannot use telemetry in GT2, we are working on our dashboard alarms to alert the driver when there is a problem without distracting him when operating conditions are normal during a race.

“The ban on telemetry is due to cost considerations. However, the downside of not having telemetry is that when something does go wrong, it can result in a catastrophic failure that costs much more. A blown engine, a seized transmission, or a punctured tire that causes a crash and injures a driver are failures that can often be avoided or stopped short with telemetry.”

CONSTRUCTION AND TESTING

The GT2-spec Corvettes were designed, built and tested on a compressed schedule. The program was approved and announced in September 2008, and construction of the first chassis began in early December. The first track test was conducted at Road Atlanta on April 8-9, followed by single-car tests in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Sebring, Fla.

Fehan: “Testing has gone very well, and that’s not really surprising with all of the lessons we learned in GT1. In the initial track test, we rolled the car out of the trailer and ran for two straight days with absolutely no problems. It was incredible, and everyone was understandably very excited.

“Corvette Racing has the advantage of sophisticated computer models for aero and chassis development, and we have a library of suspension setups. In the first two days of testing, we hit all of the predictions dead on, which validated both our software and our design.

“In the limited testing we’ve done so far, we’ve been very impressed with the car’s durability, reliability and performance. We’ll continue to focus on those three factors in the upcoming races. We view the rest of this year as a development cycle, and we believe that our experience as a team in preparation, race strategy, and pit stop execution should allow us to be competitive even if there is a slight performance disparity.”

Gary Pratt, Corvette Racing team manager: “We’re not running for a championship this year, so the testing we’d prefer to do in private we do in the public eye. We’re looking at the next five races as preparation for 2010. Our goal is to learn as much as we can.

“In a perfect world we’d have the rest of this year to test and then come out with new cars at the start of next season, but we felt we just needed to get out there and race for the Corvette customers and fans. We think we’ll be competitive, but there are many good cars and teams in GT2. We know it will be a challenge, and we’re looking forward to it.”

The GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R will make its debut at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The two-hour, 45-minute race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 8. ABC will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 9.