Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Grand American Road Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype Unveiling

Enjoy something I posted over at Hooniverse earlier this week.

Well my fellow Hoons, this olelongrooffan has done it again. Yesterday was the official unveiling of the Daytona Prototype Corvette right here in good ole Daytona Beach, Florida. As all I was doing all day long was working with Manuel Labor, I decided to take the afternoon off and crash the gates at that unveiling to see what could be seen.

Yeah, there were more muckity-mucks in attendance than you could shake a stick at. It seemed like every member of Chevrolet corporate motorsports who wears a suit was there as well as all the big shots from NASCAR (they were there for the fuel injection testing out on the track anyway), Grand American Road Racing, Pratt and Miller Engineering (not a suit in sight with that bunch), Wayne Taylor and his Suntrust Racing team, Bob Stallings GAINSCO team (Bob however was AWOL), and virtually every member of management for both the Spirit of Daytona and the Action Express racing teams. That's GM's Jim Campbell at the podium reminding all of us what a great and storied history the Corvette possesses. Hell, he even invoked the name of Betty Skelton.

And all of the team's drivers made it out for the event. Darren Law, David Donahue, Terry Borcheller, Christian Fittipaldi, JC France and a bunch more were out for show and tell. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. even took a break from NASCAR testing to step inside, see the show and enjoy a plate full of salami and cheese.

Several items were mentioned either by Jim Campbell in his presentation or during the requisite Q and A session afterwards with a member each from Chevy racing, Pratt and Miller and Grand Am Road Racing joining Mr. Campbell on stage. Brad Brownell, who broke the story on this release here on the Hooniverse yesterday summarized those points for me in a much more succinct manner than this olelongrooffan could ever accomplish so I'll let him speak to them.

1. The beautiful blue car in the pictures is the first of three that have already been built. Bob Stallings-Gainsco Racing and Wayne Taylor-Suntrust Racing have already taken stewardship of their cars (first in line, likely because they have been loyal to GM for years, with both having run Pontiac and Chevrolet engines in the past). There are another two cars being built right now, as Action Express Racing will be fielding two cars and Spirit of Daytona Racing have committed to one full season entry.

2. The new Corvette DP chassis was a joint development between Cheever Racing's Coyote manufacturing and GM's de facto racing squad of Pratt and Miller.

3. Talks between GM and Grand Am began nearly 18 months ago, and the three chassis have been in the works for about 8 months from design concept to finished product.

4. Nobody knows exactly how well the car will perform, as it has never been on track before today's test session. We shall soon find out, I suppose.

5. Dyno testing has been completed, however, which shows the Small Block Chevrolet engine produces 530 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 450 lbft at 5,500 rpm. The engine has been equipped with aluminum heads and a dry sump oiling system for a lower center of gravity, and to eliminate the slosh effect on an oil pan under g-loading.

6. No estimates have been given on the actual cost to purchase and run a new style Daytona Prototype, though I would suspect that the new chassis are slightly more expensive to build than the outgoing set of chassis (most were originally designed and built in 2003). However, even with a price increase, it is unlikely that these four teams would have paid full price anyway due to heavy subsidies levied by Chevrolet Racing's marketing budget.

7. As GM increases their presence in Grand Am, it is unlikely that their successful GT2 program will be going away any time soon. GM wants to see another class victory at the 24 hours of Le Mans before they put a bookend on that section of their racing history.

Thanks a million Brad.

After the Q and A session, the floor was open to photographers and, of course, this olelongrooffan stepped right up on that stage and captured some close up images of it for my fellow Hoons.

While I was up there, I approached one of the Pratt and Miller dudes and asked him if any of the technology from the much acclaimed ALMS Corvette had found its way to this Daytona Prototype.

He commented that yes some had and that most of the latches, hinges, tiedowns and other such items from the ALMS Vette had been utilized on this DP.

And trust me, regardless of the mediocre advertising team running the ads geared toward those potential customers who do not follow Hooniverse, the team that came up with the color of this beautiful car and its contrasting engine compartment did a fantastic job.

Now if my fellow Hoons know anything about this olelongrooffan, you know I didn't just stay around for the show but I had to stay until the bitter end. Plus, my elcheapo 28 dollar ebay acquired camera works a helluva lot better outdoors than indoors. (that there is a giant hint to whomever gets my name for Hoonimas this year!)

Oh yeah, while I was out there waiting for this to show up, I wandered over to the pits area to to check out the NASCAR test session.

And I'm here to tell you, whatever aero changes they tried on those NASCAR machines didn't work and "two car drafting" was in effect all day long.

That Pratt and Miller engineer also mentioned the headlights were exactly the same at those on the ALMS Vette. Imagine a who know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars race car that is an exercise in parts bin manufacturing!

Yeah, the designers of this DP were able to incorporate a bunch of the street version of the Corvette's design features into this new body style.

And as much as this olelongrooffan despises "Lambo doors," on these Daytona Prototypes they are pretty damn cool.

The taillights were flat across the top just below the lower spoiler.   I have seen mention around these webs they are reminiscent of the tail lights on a new Camaro.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear this SBC sing but I am confident it possesses a wonderful, throaty melody when at speed. I can't wait.

The first split window Vette since 1963!

And just to reassure my fellow Hoons these are original images (hell, I don't even know how to photoshop!), I got a member of the Spirit of Daytona race team to capture this image just prior to his applying their decals to this beauty.

Oh yeah, I must once again thank Brad Brownell and a special note of appreciation to General Motors for the plate of food and the cold Diet Coke and to the security dude at the Turn 1 entrance of the Daytona International Speedway who, once again, let this olelongrooffan slip by to gather even more trivial information and experiences to share with my fellow Hoons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yeah, It's Been Quite A Couple Months

In the words of the infamous Johnny Carson, MORE TO COME.

Click here for more on this one.

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Yeah, I'm Back.