"Corvette Thunder Racing Chronology"

 

1953 - On June 30th, just months after its debut as a concept car at the New York Waldorf Astoria Hotel in General Motors' Motorama, the first Corvette rolls off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan. Somewhere a dedicated racer thinks to himself that maybe this new American sports car can be competitive on the track, and starts devising ways to get more power from the "Blue Flame" Six. 1953 Corvettes were raced on various types of tracks by private owners, but with little success.

1954 - In the 1954 Carrera Panamericana, Bill von Esser drives a 1954 Corvette in what was then called the "Large Sports" class. The car tosses a rod through the block during the first leg of 329.3 miles from Tuxtla to Oaxaca and does not complete the race.

At the request of Bob Rosenthal, Dr. Dick Thompson drives a 1954 Corvette in practice sessions for the 1954 Andrews Field races in Washington, D.C.

1955 - Zora Arkus-Duntov, John Fitch, and Betty Skelton take Corvettes to Daytona Beach for speed trials. Fitch, in a stock-bodied car, runs the standing-mile at a speed of 86.872 mph. Duntov's Corvette records 89.753 mph, the best standing-mile acceleration for modified sports cars. In the same trials, Fitch records a flying mile of 145.543 mph, followed by Betty Skelton's 137.773 mph.

1956 - Zora Duntov returns to Daytona Beach with the all-new 1956 Corvette aiming to exceed 150 mph. In January, he achieves this milestone by setting a two-way average speed of 150.583 mph, a Beach record for stock production sports cars. The news is immediately flashed to New York where it is announced to a stunned Waldorf Astoria Motorama audience at the 1956 Corvette's introduction.

Corvette scores its first major win, a Sports Class B victory in the Sebring 12 Hours with John Fitch and Walt Hansgen driving. Ray Crawford and Max Goldman in a second Corvette win the GT Class for cars with more than 3.5 liters displacement.

Dick Thompson wins the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) C Production National Championship.

1957 - Dick Thompson and co-driver Gaston Andrey win the GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Thompson also claims the SCCA B Production National Championship, as does J. E. Rose in B Sports Racing.

1958 - Jim Rathman and Dick Doane win GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Corvette takes honors class at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

James Jeffords in a Corvette is crowned the SCCA B Production National Champion.

1959 - James Jeffords repeats as SCCA B Production National Champion.

1960 - Jim Hall wins the GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

John Fitch and Bob Grossman finish eighth overall at 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Dick Thompson and Robert Johnson win SCCA National Championships in C Sports Racing and B Production.

1961 - Dallas, Texas, Chevrolet dealer Delmo Johnson and Dale Morgan win GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Corvette wins its class at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

Dick Thompson again wins the SCCA B Production National Championship.

1962 - Doug Hooper comes in first overall at the 3 Hours of Riverside.

Dick Thompson and Don Yenko win SCCA National Championships in A and B Production.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by A. W. Joslin, Central; Ben Moore, Northeast; Joe Freitas, Pacific Coast; George Robertson, Southeast; and Delmo Johnson, Southwest.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Ralph Salyer, Central; and Paul Reinhart, Pacific Coast.

1963 - The GS Corvette driven by Dick Thomspon wins the prototype class in the Nassau Trophy.

GS Corvettes driven by Roger Penske, Augie Pabst, and Dick Thompson sweep the first three GT Prototype positions in the Nassau Governor’s Trophy race.

Don Yenko again takes the SCCA National Championship for B Production.

Dick Guldstrand wins the Pacific Coast Championship in Cal Club competition.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Ralph Salyer, Central; Mack Yates, Midwest; John Coley, Northeast; Bill Sherwood, Pacific Coast; George Robertson, Southeast; and Jerome Moore, Southwest.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Brad Brooker, Midwest; and Don Meline, Pacific Coast.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Brad Brooker, Midwest; and Don Meline, Pacific Coast.

1964 - Jerry Grant and Skip Hudson take their Corvette to a GT class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

In what would be their only meeting under equal circumsrtances, Roger Penske in a GS Corvette beats Cobra ace Ken Miles and takes the overall victory in the Nassau Tourist Trophy. This was the only overall win ever achieved by the GS Corvette.

Frank Dominianni wins the SCCA B Production National Championship.

Dick Guldstrand for the second consecutive year wins the Cal Club Pacific Coast Championship.

Don Yenko wins the SCCA Northeast Divisonal Championship in B Production.

1965 - Dick Boo and George Robertson co-drive their Corvette to victory in GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Dick Thompson driving a Grand Sport wins the GT Prototype Class and finishes fourth overall at the Nassau Toruist Trophy.

Completing a historic first time three-peat, Dick Guldstrand again takes the honors as the Cal Club Pacific Coast Champion.

John Martin wins SCCA Midwest Division A Production Championship.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Brad Booker, Central; and Zoltan Petrany, Southwest.

1966 - Dick Guldstrand, Ben Moore, and George Wintersteen team to win the GT class at the Daytona Continental, now expanded to 24 hours. This is the first ever victory for the newly-formed Penske Racing.

Ben Moore and George Wintersteen follow their Daytona win with a victory in GT class at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Herb Caplan, Northern Pacific; and Jim Hall, Southwest.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Allan Barker, Central; Dick Durant, Midwest; and Rick Stark, Northern Pacific.

1967 - Don Yenko and Dave Morgan win the GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Dick Guldstrand and Bob Bondurant in the Dana Chevrolet Racing Corvette leads the GT class for more than 11 hours at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France before retiring. In the process, Guldstrand sets a speed record of 171.5 mph on the famed Mulsanne Straight.

Bob Hirsch averages 192.879 mph at the Bonneville National Speed Trials to set an A Class Grand Touring record.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by David Morgan, Midwest; Robert Frayar, Northeast; and Rex Ramsey, Southern Pacific.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Bill Petree, Central; Brad Brooker, Midwest; Robert Frayar, Northeast; Frank Search, Northern Pacific; and Phil Weider, Southern Pacific.

1968 - Jerry Grant and Dave Morgan win the 24 Hours of Daytona in GT class.

Grant and Morgan repeat their Daytona win in the GT class at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Tony DeLorenzo, Central; and Don Yenko, Midwest.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Allan Barker, Central; Dick Durant, Midwest; and Rick Stark, Southern Pacific.

Bob Johnson and Delmo Johnson take 2nd place in GT class at the first Watkins Glen 6 Hours of Endurance.

1969 - Corvette wins the GT class at the 24 Hours of Daytona Continental.

Tony DeLorenzo and Dick Lang take the GT class victory in the Watkins Glen 6 Hours of Endurance.

Jerry Thompson wins the A Production SCCA National Championship, the first such championship for Corvette since 1962.

Allan Barker makes it a Corvette sweep by winning the B Production SCCA National Championship.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Tony DeLorenzo, Central; ?on Yenko, Midwest, Herb Caplan, Northen Pacific; H. C. Whims, Southeast; Garry Gregory, Southern Pacific.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Dick Durant, Midwest; Rich, Sloma, Northern Pacific; Neben Evol, Southern Pacific.

In a rare European foray, Corvette takes fourth in the GT class in 1,000 Kilometers of Spa-Francorchamps.

1970 - Jerry Thompson and John Mahler win GT Class at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Tony DeLorenzo and Dick Lang take the victory in GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

A Production SCCA National Champion is won by John Greenwood.

Allan Barker wins back-to-back B Production SCCA National Championships.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by John Greenwood, Central; Cliff Gottlob, Midwest; John Paul, Northeast; Herb Caplan, Northern Pacific.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Allan Barker, Central; W. Marvin Schoenfeld, Midwest; Tom Rizzo, Northeast; Rich Sloma, Northern Pacific.

1971 - A new series was born and with it a new Corvette milestone: A Corvette, driven by Dave Heinz, won the GTO class in the inaugural International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Camel GT race at Virginia International Raceway in Danville. Corvette took Grand Touring Over 3.0 liters (GTO) honors in five of the six 1971 Camel GT events and won three overall.

Tony DeLorenzo, Don Yenko, and John Mahler win the GT class at the 24 Hours of Daytona, finishing 4th overall, the highest finish for a GT car up to that time.

Comedian-turned-racer Dick Smothers teams with John Greenwood and wins the GT class at 12 Hours of Sebring.

Bob Johnson and John Greenwood take GT class honors at the Watkins Glen 6 Hours of Endurance.

John Greenwood wins the A Production SCCA A National Championship.

Allan Barker three-peats as B Production SCCA National Champion.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by James Greendyke, Central; Ronald Weaver, Midwest; Frted Kepler, Northeast; Herb Caplan, Northern Pacific; and Bill Matzen, Southeast.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Allan Barker, Central; John Orr, Northeast; Rioch Sloma, Northern Pacific; and Bill Jobe, Southwest.

Corvette wins the inaugural IMSA GT Manufacturers Championship.

1972 - Dave Heinz and Bob Johnson become the first Corvette team to take the unofficial "36 Hours of Florida," winning the GT class in both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance.

Corvette continues its IMSA dominance by winning the GTO class in the Daytona Starlight 3 Hour. Completes the season with anothert IMSA Manufacturers Championship.

Jerry Hansen wins the A Production SCCA National Championship.

Allan Barker takes his unprecedented fourth B Production SCCA National Championship.

A Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Peter Ritos, Central; Michael Oleyar, Northeast; Ted Mathey, Northern Pacific; Charles Kemp, Southeast; and Lynn Butler, Southern Pacific.

B Production SCCA Divisional Championships are won by Bob Johnson, Central; Allan Anderson, Northeast; Rich Sloma, Northern Pacific; Bill Jobe, Southwest.

1973 - Holds overall lead in the 12 Hours of Sebring before retiring;.

Leads 24 Hours of Daytona and finishes second overall.

Wins SCCA B Production, B Stock Solo II and B Prepared Solo II National Championships.

1974 - Wins Daytona and Talladega IMSA GT races.

Wins SCCA A and B Production and B Stock Solo II National Championships.

1975 - Wins IMSA GT finale at Daytona.

Scores a class victory at Watkins Glen 6 Hours of Endurance.

Wins SCCA Trans-Am Series overall championship and SCCA A Production National Championship.

1976 - Wins GT class at 24 Hours of Daytona.

Takes SCCA National Championships in A and B Production and B Stock Solo.

1977 - Crowned National Champion in SCCA A Production, B Stock Solo II and B Prepared Solo II.

1978 - Greg Pickett wins SCCA Trans-Am Series Category II championship.

Wins IMSA AAGT Manufacturers Championship.

Claims SCCA National Championships I A and B Production and B Stock, B Prepared and B Stock Ladies Solo II.

1979 - Again wins the SCCA Trans-Am Series Category I championship.

Earns SCCA B Production and B Stock, B Prepared and B Stock Ladies Solo II championships.

Grand Sport #003 wins Riverside Vintage Car Races.

1980 - SCCA Trans-Am Series runner-up.

Wins two IMSA races in GTO class.

1981 - Takes SCCA Trans-Am Series Championship.

1982 - SCCA Trans-Am Series runner-up.

Wins one race in IMSA GTO class.

1983 - Scores two IMSA GTO class runner-up finishes.

1984 - Corvette wins SCCA Showroom Stock GT National Championship.

Sets three IMSA GTO class race-lap records and one qualifying-lap record.

GM Goodwrench-sponsored Hendrick Motorsports turbo V6-powered GTP Corvette captures the pole at the 1985 Daytona three-hour IMSA finale, setting a new track record.

1985 - Corvette is undefeated in all six SCCA Showroom Stock endurance series races Captures SCCA Showroom Stock GT National Championship.

Corvette Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) wins the pole at Daytona with new IMSA lap record.

1986 - At the first annual vintage races at Riverside Raceway in California, Bob Paterson races his Grand Sport Corvette #003 to first place, among eight powerful Cobras.

1988 - The first round of the SCCA Corvette Challenge race series is held in Dallas, Texas. Mark Dismore wins the race.

The Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette reaches a top speed of 254.76 mph at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio.

1989 - The final 1989 SCCA Corvette Challenge race is run, in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Texas American Racing Team, with driver Scott Lagase, wins the race. Overall, Bill Cooper of the Valley Chevrolet team wins the series.

1990 - At the Firestone Test Center near Fort Stockton, Texas, a team of drivers set a dozen land speed records with a Corvette ZR-1 and a Corvette L-98. The cars are in near stock condition, minus mufflers and catalytic converters. Records include 5,000 miles in a time of 28:46:12.462; 5,000 km in a time of 17:40:53.748; and 4,221.256 miles in 24 hours. Average speed for all record runs were 170-175 mph. One of the drivers is Corvette Development and Validation Manager John Heinricy.

1994 - A Reeves Callaway Corvette qualifies at Le Mans for the pole position in the GT2 class. At the 6-hour mark, the car is leading in its class, and is 8th overall. But at the 9-hour mark, the car runs out of gas, due to a fuel economy miscalculation.

At the four-hour endurance GT Championship race at Vallelunga, Italy, A Callaway SuperNatural Corvette LM driven by Andreas Fuchs and Enrico Bertaggia finishes first in GT-2 class and second overall, behind a Ferrari F40. At the Spa/Francorchamps four-hour race, a Callaway SuperNatural Corvette LM driven by Boris Said and Halmut Reis finishes first in GT-2 class, and third overall.

1995 - Three Reeves Callaway SuperNatural Corvettes enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One qualifies for the pole position in the GT2 class, and finishes second in class, 10th overall. Another finishes third in class, and 11th overall.

1997 - At the Nevada Open Road Challenge, an ex-GTO Corvette is the overall winner, averaging 187.66 mph for the 90-mile race.

At the Bonneville salt flats, Ed Van Scoy drives his stock 1985 Corvette to a world record 203.226 mph.

1999 - At the 24 Hours of Daytona, Chevrolet debuts the GT2 class C5-R Corvette race car, marking the long-awaited factory return to on-track competition. Ron Fellows and Chris Kneifel drive the car to third place in GTS class.

At the 12 Hours of Sebring , Ron Fellows, John Paul Jr., and Chris Kneifel drive the C5-R to 4th in class. In the Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point Raceway in California, Chris Kneifel and Ron Fellows drive a C5-R to second in class. At the West Michigan Grand Prix in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reese Cox drives his C5-Raqcer Parts Kit Corvette to second place.

The Second Annual Petit Le Mans is held at Road Atlanta, in Atlanta, Georgia. The Corvette C5-R of Andy Pilgrim, Scott Sharp, and Kelly Collins, places 4th in GTS class, 13th overall.

Corvette wins the SCCA T-1 class at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, using a Corvette-developed racing suspension package.

At Pikes Peak, John Heiricy driving a C5 Corvette finishes second.

The VISA Sports Car Championship Petit Le Mans is held at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. John Heinricy races his C5 Corvette to first overall.

Chevrolet announces it will enter a C5-R Corvette race car at the 68th 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 2000.

2000 – In the first race of the so-called “36 Hours of Florida,” the Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel, and Justin Bell take second overall and second in the GTO/GTS Class at the Daytona 24 Hour. It is the highest a Corvette as ever finished in the Florida endurance classic.

In Florida, the 48th Annual Superflo 12 Hours at Sebring is held. Corvette C5-R, #4, driven by Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel, and Justin Bell, places 16th overall. Corvette C5-R, #3, driven by Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins, and Frank Freon places 24th overall.

At Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, Round One of the Speedvision GT Championship is held. Bill Cooper, driving the Les Stanford /Pirate Racing Corvette C5, wins. In second place is MTI Racings Corvette C5, driven by Reese Cox.

In Corvette’s first factory involvement with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel, and Townsend Bell steer their C5-R around the famous LeSarthe circuit to finish fourth in GTS.

Johnny Miller wins the SCCA Trans-Am Series’ San Diego Grand Prix.

2001 - In a stunning upset, Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, and Franck Freon lead the Corvette C5-R team to the overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona. It is the first time a Corvette has won Florida’s grueling test of endurance. Fourth overall is the C5-R driven by NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt and his son Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Following up their Daytona triumph, the C5-R team of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, this time joined by Scott Pruett, records Corvettes first -ever victory at Le Mans, winning the GTS class and finishing 7th overall. A second C5-R grabs the runner-up position in GTS.

The Corvette Racing team captures the GTS Class Manufacturers Championship in the American LeMans Series. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell finish third and fourth in driver points.

Doug Goad, by winning six of 10 races in the Powell Motorsports Corvette, takes the Grand American Cup drivers championship. Corvette wins the Grand American Manufacturers Championship.

2002 - Continuing their domination of world endurance racing, Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell with Oliver Gavin tune up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans by winning the GTS class at the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance.

Fending off a field of Dodge Vipers, Saleen S7s, and even a factory-entered Ferrari Maranello, the Corvette C5R co-driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, and Oliver Gavin win the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In second place is the team C5R of Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins, and Franck Freon. The winning Corvette completes 334 laps of the famous 8.5-mile LeSarthe circuit, over 2,830 miles at an average speed of almost 120 mph. It's nearest non-team competitor, a Dodge Viper, finishes 9 laps behind.

Ron Fellows wins the American LeMans Series Drivers Championship followed by teammate Johnny O’Connell taking. Team drivers Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim in the second factory Corvette C5-R tie for third. Corvette easily wins the ALMS Manufacturer crown, taking eight of 10 races.

Despite winning four races, Doug Goad is edged out for the Grand American Cup drivers championship, finishing in second position with the Powell Motorsports Corvette. Corvette comes in second to Porsche in the Grand Am manufacturer standings.

2003 – With the 24 Hours of Daytona now part of the Grand American Series, Chevrolet elects not to enter a factory effort, preferring to concentrate on LeMans and the Ameircan LeMans Series. Still, a Covette co-driven by Charles and Rob Morgan, Lance Norick, and Jim Pace manage a second place finish at Daytona in the GTS Class.

Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell again team to win the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance, their third victory at the famed airport circuit in four years.

Their bid to win an unprecedented third straight 24 Hours of LeMans falls just short as Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell, and Franck Freon run a close second to a Ferrari 550 Maranello To honor the 50th Anniversary of the Corvette, the team C5-Rs were specially numbered 50 and 53 (50 years of production, with 1953 being the first year) and had a one-time only red-white-and-blue paint treatment.

Ron Fellows and teammate Johnny O’Connell share the American LeMans Series Drivers Championship, winning at Sebring, Sears Point, California, and Mosport, Canada. In a closely fought battle, Corvette defeats Ferrari for the ALMS Manufacturers Championship.

2004 – This is the final year of competing with the Corvette C5-R, and Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell start off in grand fashion and make it three-in-a-row by again winning the GTS Class in the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance.  Their closest competition, after the team car of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Baretta suffered clutch problems, was a Ferrari 575, which finished 22 laps behind.

Returning to LeMans determined to avenge their close loss in 2003, the Corvette team faces no less than five Ferraris equally determined to retain their crown at the famous LeSarthe circuit. After enduring numerous problems during the crash-filled race, including the sidelining of Ron Fellows due to an accident, the Corvette team scores a stirring 1-2 finish with the #64 car of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnuson taking first in GTS Class followed home by the #63 car of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell, and “Mad” Max Papis. The fleet of five Ferraris all trail many laps down in places three through seven.

After LeMans, the Corvette team goes on an unprecedented  tear, recording 1-2 sweeps of the GTS Class at all of the remaining American LeMans Series events. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell win at Mid-Ohio, Infineon, Portland, and Laguna Seca while Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta stand atop the podium at Lime Rock, Mosport, Road America, and Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta.

Not since the halcyon days of the indomitable Owens-Corning Corvettes has Corvette so dominated American road racing. The Corvette team wins all 10 races it entered in 2004, finishing 1-2 in eight of them. Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell again share the ALMS Drivers Championship with Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta sharing second. Corvette wins the Manufacturers Championship.

2005 – The all-new C6.R Corvette makes its debut at the Sebring 12 Hours of Endurance. Challenged by factory-backed efforts from Aston Martin and Maserati, the C6.R gets off to a fast start, leading the GT1 Class handily into the ninth hour. Then both Corvette team cars are damaged in separate incidents. The #3 car suffers brake failure that sends the car into a tire barrier while the #4 car is hit by another entry causing rear suspension damage. Both cars spend many laps in the pits undergoing repairs but return to the race. In chasing down the Aston Martin DB89 which leads GT1, Johnny O’Connell sets the race’s fast lap and eclipses the track record. O’Connell and teammates Ron Fellows and Max Papis put in near-heroic driving performances and finish second in GT1, only one lap down to the winning DB89 while Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, and Jan Magnuson bring the second C6-R home in third.

Rebounding from the Sebring disappointment, the Corvette C6.R team records back-to-back 1-2 sweeps at the American LeMans Series events at Road Atlanta and Mid-Ohio, with Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connelll winning both. Last year’s C5-R racecar, now entered by the privateer team of Ryan Dalzel and Alex Figge, finished fourth in GT1 at Mid-Ohio.




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