|There are Corvettes, and then there are The Corvettes. Recognizing the power, performance and durability that has made Corvette America’s beloved sports car, Chevrolet has assembled a collection of Corvettes that have remarkable pedigrees for a special exhibition at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion August 16-18. The annual event on the Monterey Peninsula this year celebrates the rich 60-year history of the Chevrolet Corvette, widely hailed as America’s Sports Car.
This special exhibition, located in the race paddock (near Turn 3), will be a highlight for history buffs and motorsport enthusiasts. Chevrolet will share the story of Corvette’s technology transfer between the track and the street over the years by pairing six of the most significant Corvette race cars with their street car counterpart. The display will show how Chevrolet uses motorsports to test and push boundaries in order to continually improve the road-going model, which will be particularly evident in the 2014 Corvette Stingray that will be part of the display.
Here’s a rundown of some of the featured race cars:
1960 Cunningham Corvette #3 (Courtesy of Lance Miller)
This is the actual No. 3 Corvette that won its class and placed eight overall in the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960. It wasn’t until 2002 that Corvette again tasted victory in Le Mans. Presumed lost for many years, the No. 3 car Corvette was driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman through some of the most difficult circumstances. In the race’s 20th hour, the car experienced engine overheating. The fix to keep it running on the track? The crew team would pack ice from their coolers into the car’s engine compartment during more frequent pit stops. The result…was history.
1967 Corvette Le Mans (Courtesy of Harry Yagey)
The poster car is the 1967 Chevrolet Corvette No. 9 that was raced by Corvette legends Dick Guldstrand and Bob Bondurant at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The big block Corvette streaked down the Mulsanne Straight at more than 170 mph, enabling the duo to take a commanding class lead by miles before an engine wrist pin let go halfway through the race, forcing retirement. Guldstrand and Bondurant, however, already had become folk heroes, as they actually had driven the race car from the airport near Paris all the way to Le Mans, to the delight of locals.
1968 Owens Corning Corvette (Courtesy of Rick Hendrick)
This L-88 Corvette is the most victorious Corvette in history. Campaigned by a variety of drivers, such as Tony DeLorenzo, Jerry Thompson, John Mahler, Don Yenko, Gib Hufstaeder, Dick Lang and Jerry Hansen―this car was nearly unstoppable in FIA GT and SCCA National racing.
Most notable wins included the 1969 and 1972 SCCA National “A” Production Championship, second place in the 1969 12 Hours of Sebring, and first place in the GT division of the 1969 and 1970 24 Hours of Daytona.
1989 Corvette Challenge (Courtesy of Lance Miller)
The bright red No. 3 car was the overall series winner for 1989 and was driven by Bill Cooper of the Valley Chevrolet Team. Featuring the new for 1989, ZF six-speed transmission and FX3 adjustable suspension, the car also has the unique “Corvette Challenge” racing seats and roll cage installed.
2001 Corvette C5R (Courtesy of Chevrolet)
This race car was built by Pratt & Miller for Chevrolet Racing. It raced successfully in the American Le Mans Series and has been to four 24 Hours of Le Mans races. In its inaugural 2001 season, this car captured eight wins in 10 races, with an overall win in the 24 Hours of Daytona.
2011 Corvette C6R Le Mans Winner (Courtesy of Chevrolet)
This car was a lap down with six hours remaining in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia, the trio relentlessly pursued the class-leading Ferrari, cutting the margin by two seconds each lap. With just two hours and 10 minutes to the checkered flag, Milner overtook the Ferrari and steadily increased his lead to have the Corvette team finish two minutes and 29 seconds ahead of the runner-up Ferrari for the memorable and hard-fought victory.
Visitors to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will witness historic race cars from nearly every era, dating as far back as a 1911 National 40 to a more modern-day 1992 Mazda RX-7 92P. All the famous names will be represented, including Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, McLaren, Aston Martin, Porsche, Bugatti, Talbot Lago, Alfa Romeo, Ford and Chevrolet.
The cars, which were selected for their historical significance, authenticity and period-correctness, are divided into 16 classes, based on type of car, displacement and era of origin.