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PSCR, USRRC: Corvette Returns to Road Racing with GM Factory Effort

6 November 1998

LAS VEGAS - Chevrolet Corvette, Americas performance icon since the 1950s, has raised the ante in its quest to dominate the international sports-car arena in the United States and abroad. GMs most prestigious nameplate announced today that it plans to field the C5-R Corvette, a GM factory engineered GT2 sports car endurance racer, in 1999 to compete with the likes of Porsche, Viper, BMW and Honda in select endurance races starting with the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in January.

Not only will Corvette be racing at Daytona, but the latest addition to Chevrolets fifth-generation family of C5 Corvettes, the Hardtop, will also be pacing the international field of world-class sports cars at Daytonas famed road course as the official pace car of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Not since the days of Corvette engineer Zora Duntov has the brand been supported by such a comprehensive factory effort to design, build, and race one of the greatest sports cars on earth.

"The return of Chevrolet Corvette to the racetrack reinforces everything Corvette stands for -- we owe this to Corvette and to Corvette owners around the world," said John Middlebrook, general manager, Chevrolet Division.

Several of General Motors subsidiaries and business partners have joined forces to sponsor the C5-R Corvette, including primary sponsor GM Goodwrench Service Plus. They are joined by UAW-GM, GMAC, Mobil Oil, and Action Performance Companies.

This story goes beyond the Detroit automakers desire to win races.

"Our primary focus is to improve the breed," says Jim Campbell, Corvette brand manager, whose brand team is directly responsible for the sales and marketing of the new fifth-generation Corvette, as well as funding for the racing project. "The time is right to reinforce Corvettes image and magnificent heritage as Americas sports car."

While the C5-R Corvette is a purpose-built race car, race veteran Ron Fellows has logged over 4,000 miles in it using a significant number of production-based components. The cars structural integrity and general layout work together to make it a great car - whether for the road or for the track.

"The Corvette has always been at the cutting edge of sports-car performance," said Dave Hill, Corvette chief engineer. "The things that make it a great road car will also contribute to its success as a race car."

From a marketing standpoint, GM wants to show America and the world that they can modify a $40,000 production car to successfully compete with the best in the world at 1/3 the price. For now, Corvette is content with competing in the U.S. in 1999, but international sports-car racing has been put on alert - beware the red bowtie at Le Mans 2000.