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1960 Cunningham Corvette, class winner and eighth overall in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, courtesy of Lance Miller. Photo credit: GM Heritage Center
1960 Cunningham Corvette, class winner and eighth overall in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, courtesy of Lance Miller. Photo credit: GM Heritage Center
Rarely-Seen Corvettes Assemble-
 
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.

 

RMMR

INSPIRATION, DETERMINATION, DESIGN, GLORY  

It is said that all things have a beginning, a middle and an end, but that may not be true of the extraordinary Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe, which is one of the star cars at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.  There seems to be no end to the excitement and awe that this car, of which only six were built in the early 1960s, brings to all who know its history and have had the opportunity to experience the magic of its design.  At the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, which today held practice sessions for 17 race groups in preparation for weekend racing, vintage car racing enthusiasts will not only find a legendary Daytona Coupe on display in a museum-like setting but also thrill to the sight and sound of another on track as it chases down 44 other authentic competition Shelby Cobras in a highly anticipated race on Saturday.

Inspiration
According to the Daytona Coupe’s designer Peter Brock, who will be a featured guest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, both he and the inspiration for the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe were born about the same time. 

“During the late 1930s, Germany was working on low-speed aerodynamics; they were far ahead of us on that,” said Brock, explaining that in the United States, there was no interest in aerodynamics, since all motor racing was on oval tracks.  “The German government set up studios all around their country, and in one of them some automobile prototypes were built with some strange looking forms that were not very well received, so not much was done with them.  At the outset of war, all that material was essentially lost or buried. ”  

Two decades later, however, Brock was working at General Motors for Bill Mitchell, styling what would become the Corvette Stingray Racer, and he found in the GM library an obscure paper written in German.

“As I looked through the pages, there were some funny little scratches, but no photographs or real drawings, so at first I couldn’t understand what I was looking at,” said Brock.  “But as I looked at the CD (drag coefficient) numbers, they were very impressive. I took the information to Bill Mitchell and said we might try to apply some of this stuff to the Corvette.” Mitchell declared the car drawings the ugliest he’d ever seen, and Brock filed the information away until a few years later when he was working at Shelby American.  Carroll Shelby had wanted to go to Europe with his Shelby Cobra Roadsters but didn’t feel they had enough horsepower to compete, so Brock resurrected the German plans as the problem’s possible solution.

Shelby gave Brock his shot, but Brock warned him to expect something very different, and after he drew up his ideas, GM’s chief engineer and others were certain they weren’t going to work.  “Luckily, Ken Miles, our number one driver, knew something about what was going on in Germany in the late ‘30s, since he had been a club racer in England during that period,” said Brock. “He convinced Shelby that we should build a prototype.” 

Using the chassis from a crashed roadster in the shop, Brock layed his lines, “letting the car design itself.”  “We built the buck and then built the car around those shapes,” he said.

Determination
While the Cobra Coupe was being built, Shelby brought one of his old friends, Denny Howard, a top consultant in the aircraft industry, to see it.  “The car was about 85% complete, and Shelby said to me, ‘explain to him how this thing is going to work.’  I felt like a third grader, reciting the alphabet to the teacher, and when I finished, Howard looked at me and said, ‘that will never work; if you’re going to beat the Ferraris, you’re going to need 600 horsepower and you only have 385.’”  When Shelby later told Brock “he thinks we’re nuts,” Brock responded, “he may be the smartest guy who ever designed airplanes, but I don’t think he knows much about automobile aerodynamics.”  Shelby just looked at Brock and said, “You’d better be right.”

Design
“So we finished the car, and the first time we took it out, Ken Miles broke the lap record at Riverside by 3 ½ seconds, and we were immediately on pace with the Ferrari speeds,” said Brock, adding that the Coupe went on to smoke the Ferraris at Daytona in ’64 (a fire in the pits prevented it from finishing, however), win the 12 Hours of Sebring and set lap records at Le Mans and Spa, but not without some necessary adjustments.

At Spa, after driver Phil Hill reached speeds up to 170 mph in the Daytona Coupe, he complained that if he went any faster he feared crashing, since he couldn’t keep the back end of the car on the ground. “At that point, we put the crudest form of spoiler on the back end, because we had very few tools and no material, just a little sheet of aluminum that wasn’t even big enough to go across the back end.” Brock cut the sheet in four parts and screwed them onto the back end of the car.  When Hill went back on course, he now had so much down-force at the back end that when he came into corners he was locking his front wheels.  “So we trimmed off half an inch of the spoiler, and he went out and broke the lap record.  When he came into the pits he said, ‘Don’t touch a thing; it’s perfect!’  That then became our standard spoiler, and from then on the Cobra Daytona Coupe became untouchable.  For a $1.98 piece of aluminum, I guess you could say we did pretty well.”

Glory
The car that Peter Brock designed for Shelby American astonished the world of motorsports with all it achieved, but for Brock, it was Les 24 Heures du Mans that he remembers as the pinnacle of his own achievement. 

“The first time we tested the car at Le Mans, Ford came out with the GT40s on the same weekend, and it was the first time they had ever run.  Roy Salvadori, who paired with Shelby in 1959 when they won that race in an Aston Martin, was one of their drivers, and Jo Schlesser was the other.  Schlesser went out in the morning, but the car was so aerodynamically unstable that it went upside down, crashed into the trees and was destroyed.  When Schlesser came back to the pits, he was pretty discouraged, but when he saw our Cobra Coupe, our chief mechanic was preparing it for our drivers who had not yet arrived.  He said, ‘well who’s going to drive this thing? I would like to.’” 

The mechanic set up the seat and adjusted the pedals, and when Carroll Shelby arrived, he agreed to let Schlesser drive.  Meanwhile, Salvadori went out in the second GT40 and promptly crashed.  

“Schlesser got into the Daytona and broke the lap record; he told us that if the track had been dry, he would very likely have broken the Ferrari prototype times as well.  That was enough to give us a whole lot of confidence, and for me that was truly the high point of my Cobra Daytona Coupe experience. I had gotten so much resistance in building the car–everybody thought it was a dumb idea, it wouldn’t work, and besides, it was so ugly.”

Legend
With Shelby Cobras now celebrating their 50th Anniversary and with the legacy of the Shelby Daytona Coupe as such a sterling example of how perseverance and passion can achieve so much, it is fitting that the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is celebrating the Shelby Cobra as its special marque this year.  “Obviously I am very proud, as any architect or musician would be, or for that matter anyone who does something creative,” said Brock.

The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe #9 (CSX2286) that will be racing was the last of the six Daytona Coupes built.  It raced at Le Mans in 1965 with co-drivers Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant behind the wheel.  Grant set the fastest time in class during the race, but the car retired in hour 16 with engine failure. 

The Daytona Coupe featured in the Shelby Cobra Heritage Display, was the first Shelby built and the only one made in the USA.  After winning its class at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Les 24 Heures du Mans and Spa Francorchamps, it was clear this car was the car to beat in 1964.  In 1965, the car went on to win the World Championship of Makes.  The current owner of the car, Fred Simeone, is as proud of the car’s history after its official racing career ended as he is of its legendary years racing internationally.  “It went to Bonneville where it set 23 sports car land speed records” said Simeone, “including my favorite, which was 150 miles per hour average speed for 12 hours including stops for refueling.”

 

WEC

Q&A with Nigel Stepney…
 
JRM Racing conducted two days of testing at Aragon, Spain, on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 August as it prepares for its home race at Silverstone next week. After finishing sixth at Le Mans on its 24 hour racing debut, this test was crucial in keeping the momentum going as the team bids to take the lead of the FIA World Endurance Championship standings.
 
We caught up with team manager Nigel Stepney to get some details of the test and a look forward to the coming races.
 
You’ve just had two days of testing at Aragon, what was the aim of this test?
It’s been almost two months since the Le Mans 24 Hours and, although we’ve not exactly been idle, it’s a long time not to have been out racing and working together as a crew. The first morning was really about getting everyone – drivers and the mechanics – back up to speed. David and Peter had been to Aragon before, but it was new for Karun so he had a particularly steep learning curve.
 
How did the test go?
Really good actually. It was our first two day test with the car as we only got the car together in time for the Sebring race and then had one day of testing post Spa. It was very positive on the whole; we didn’t have any issues and were able to do a lot of running and get all the drivers in the car on both days. All three drivers went out in the car in the first part of the day on Tuesday to get back into the feel of it and then we built up from there. We did over 800km, with each driver getting some good time in the car. We looked at understanding the tyre behaviour at very high temperatures. Michelin brought along the medium development tyre, which will be introduced in Bahrain later this year. With a track temperature of over 50 deg C it’s a good warm up for this hot race – we won’t see conditions like this in Silverstone or Brazil!
 
It’s been a long time since Le Mans; what did the team do between two races?
The car was returned to our workshop in Rye the following week and almost immediately taken to a couple of media commitments, including the Sky F1 Show. It was then stripped back down and checked over before the parts were analysed thoroughly, cleaned and repaired where necessary. The build up to Le Mans was quite tough as we didn’t have a long time from the Spa race and then it was into the pre-Le Mans test and then the race week itself. Being such a new team – and new to the track – we had a long job list so after the race people also took the opportunity to take some time off. After we returned it was straight into the car build for the test here in Aragon, then the test itself. From here we return to our HQ and rebuild the car for Silverstone next week.
 
The team had a fantastic result at Le Mans – how difficult was it to achieve and what did it feel like to cross the line first time out?
Le Mans is one of the hardest races in the world so to finish is a massive achievement. Whether you’ve got ten years of experience or it’s your first time, getting to the end after 24 hours is a phenomenal feeling. However we’d had a really tough lead up to the event so the result was even more special. I felt really proud of the team and the drivers – it was a complete team effort.
 
Silverstone is just round the corner, what are your feelings on this?
It’s our home race and we’d all love to get a good result on home ground. All the same it’s a race we need to do well in. We are second in the standings now to Rebellion, only 24 points behind so we really need to close the gap. That’s the focus now.

RMMR

 

Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper

 

THE COBRA CHARM-

 

To millions of motorsports fans around the world, a cobra isn’t a snake. Instead, it is one of the most iconic and replicated cars of all time.  From August 16-19 in Monterey, Calif., the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra, Ford Motor Company’s now-vintage race car developed by Carroll Shelby, who passed away earlier this year.  The four-day event is not only a cornerstone of Classic Car Week, which draws hundreds of exquisite cars and thousands of car lovers annually to the Monterey Peninsula, but also the only occasion where automobile enthusiasts can enjoy their vintage favorites racing as they were meant to be, wheel-to-wheel in 17 period-appropriate classes, starting with pre-1940 Sports and Racing Cars and representing nearly every era of motorsports history through to 1990 Stock Cars.

 

The Shelby Cobra exudes raw horsepower and elegant design with a racing heritage that is unparalleled, and on Saturday, August 18, an impressive grid of 45 authentic series CSX 2000 and 3000 Shelby Cobras will take to the challenging 2.238-mile road course that is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, thrilling spectators with a ground-shaking performance that has never before been witnessed.  At this dedicated race, the green flag will be waved by none other than Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, and fans will watch as entries from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada and across the U.S. finesse their way with precision through 11 turns and 300-foot elevation changes that include the notorious “Corkscrew,” famous for its five-story drop. 

 

The den of Cobras at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will include two of only six extraordinary Cobra Daytona Coupes ever built by Shelby American in the early 1960s.  One will be racing on Saturday and another will be included in the Shelby Cobra Heritage Display.

 

 

 

THE COBRA CHARM
 
To millions of motorsports fans around the world, a cobra isn’t a snake. Instead, it is one of the most iconic and replicated cars of all time.  From August 16-19 in Monterey, Calif., the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Shelby Cobra, Ford Motor Company’s now-vintage race car developed by Carroll Shelby, who passed away earlier this year.  The four-day event is not only a cornerstone of Classic Car Week, which draws hundreds of exquisite cars and thousands of car lovers annually to the Monterey Peninsula, but also the only occasion where automobile enthusiasts can enjoy their vintage favorites racing as they were meant to be, wheel-to-wheel in 17 period-appropriate classes, starting with pre-1940 Sports and Racing Cars and representing nearly every era of motorsports history through to 1990 Stock Cars.

The Shelby Cobra exudes raw horsepower and elegant design with a racing heritage that is unparalleled, and on Saturday, August 18, an impressive grid of 45 authentic series CSX 2000 and 3000 Shelby Cobras will take to the challenging 2.238-mile road course that is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, thrilling spectators with a ground-shaking performance that has never before been witnessed.  At this dedicated race, the green flag will be waved by none other than Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford, and fans will watch as entries from the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada and across the U.S. finesse their way with precision through 11 turns and 300-foot elevation changes that include the notorious “Corkscrew,” famous for its five-story drop. 

The den of Cobras at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion will include two of only six extraordinary Cobra Daytona Coupes ever built by Shelby American in the early 1960s.  One will be racing on Saturday and another will be included in the Shelby Cobra Heritage Display.

 

Blancpain GT Endurance

The waiting is over. This week-end spotlights will be turned on the most important meeting of the Blancpain GT Endurance season: the 24h of Spa. It’s a hard but charming circuit, nestled in the forest of Ardennes .

For Davide Rigon this will be a return on the ups and downs of the Spa circuit behind the wheel of a Ferrari, just after the 2008 victorious experience in the FIA GT World Championship. The race is worth a whole season, not only for the charme and glory that go with it but also for the standing: scores will be awarded during race three highlights. So being constant and handling a good management of the Ferrari 458 are race most important issues. After getting on the podium at Paul Ricard, the Kessel team driver, together with his team mates Zampieri and Gattuso, is dead set on getting another important result.

“ The 24h of Spa represents my most important race of the season. I trained a lot for this race I’ve already won in 2008 behind the wheel of a Ferrari GT2 of BMS team. I remember each lap was like a qualifying lap. We have to maintain top speed and remain focused throughout the race, ‘cause it’s so stressful. As usual rain will play a dominant role” says Davide Rigon.

“ This year we’re in good shape, even if we’ve been quite unlucky and we’ve got less than deserved. This kind of event can deeply influence the whole race season. It’s three races in one. Scores will be awarded after the 6th, the 12th and the 24th hour. This is the reason why we have to be constant and handle the car with kid gloves, even if till now the Ferrari has been a very reliable car. About 85 cars will take part in the race and also Audi and Porsche official drivers are expected to run the competition. Track will be so crowded, so it will be so hard to find free stretches.”, says again Rigon.

“ I’m confident that we can get a good result. During a 24h race difficulties are so many, but the crew is one of the most powerful and the team has enough experience to do a good job. I wish good luck to everybody!”, comments the manager form Faenza Giovanni Minardi.

Qualifying will start on Thursday, while the green light will turn on only on Saturday afternoon at 4pm

F1weekly podcast # 482

Podcast number 482

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed and…

Special repeat interview Mr. Tony Brooks.

Laguna Seca presents:

JAGUAR’S RICH RACING HERITAGE TO BE CELEBRATED AS FEATURED MARQUE


Reunion to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Jaguar E-Type and 60th Anniversary of Jaguar’s First Le Mans Win

The storied racing heritage of one of Britain’s legendary motor car companies will be celebrated, as Jaguar will be the featured marque of the 2011 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Few companies are as synonymous with sports car racing as Jaguar, and the reunion will highlight the 50th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type and 60th anniversary of the remarkable Jaguar C-Type’s win in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is hallowed ground for automotive racing aficionados, and thus a very meaningful place to celebrate the Jaguar E-Type’s 50th Anniversary,” said Richard Beattie, Executive Vice President Marketing and Sales Jaguar North America. “Today, as much as 50 years ago, hi-performance, racing and stunning design are integral to the Jaguar brand. At the Reunion we will give enthusiasts a chance to take a look back and forward at all three of these elements in Jaguar’s sensational cars.”

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 19-21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will host approximately 550 authentic and historic race cars from nearly every decade of motorsports history. The cars are divided into 17 groups according to age, engine size and must be period-correct in their presentation.

“Jaguar and their many famous drivers represent a time in motorsports where camaraderie among drivers and works teams was second only to winning,” explained Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “We look to share Jaguar’s heritage with fans worldwide. And for the E-Type, it’s hard to argue with what Enzo Ferrari said 50 years ago upon seeing the sleek E-Type at its introduction, saying it is, ‘The most beautiful car ever made.’”

For Sir William Lyons, founder of Swallow Sidecar and Coach Building Company which evolved into Jaguar, winning Le Mans was a crucial goal to demonstrate to the world the robustness and performance of the XK120-C. Malcolm Sayer’s aerodynamic, lightweight design was based on his aviation background with wind tunnel testing. The C designation stood for “competition.”

Three factory C-Types were entered in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans with stunning results. A 22-year-old Stirling Moss recorded the fastest lap, and Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead’s # 20 C-Type won the race. It was the first of seven Le Mans victories for Jaguar.

Jaguar’s American racing roots are firmly planted on the Monterey Peninsula. It was in 1950 at the inaugural Pebble Beach Road Races that Jaguar achieved its first win on American soil. A 23-year-old American named Phil Hill, who months earlier accompanied the same Jaguar XK120 aboard the Queen Mary, took the checkered flag, thereby capturing international accolades for both himself and Jaguar.

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