Racing Technology Industry Leader in Detroit's Backyard
Pratt & Miller: The Wizards behind the curtain at Chevrolet
THE GRAND-AM ROLEX Sports Car Series' usually has few rules changes, allowing team owners to invest in cars that should be competitive for multiple seasons, rather than having to buy new equipment every year.
However, that changed a bit for 2012, and a Detroit-area company - Pratt & Miller Engineering of New Hudson - has been at the forefront of taking GRAND-AM into the future.
GRAND-AM's Daytona Prototype class debuted on the track at the 2003 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Rules changes were minor until 2008, when small updates were allowed. For
2012, GRAND-AM in1roduced the second generation of DPs.
The cars were referred to previously by the names of the chassis manufacturers, such as Riley, Fabcar, Lola, or Crawford, but for 2012, latitude was given in the exterior design to allow for manufacturers to style them to resemble road-going cars.
Chevrolet is the first to take advantage. It introduced the Corvette DP at this year’s Rolex 24 and has been racing the car since.
When Chevy decided to join the DP class - Corvettes and Camaros already compete in the production-based GT division - it turned to Pratt & Miller to develop and build the car.
After all, Pratt & Miller boasts a long relationship with General Motors; it is responsible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans class winning Corvettes that race in the American Le Mans Series.
Additionally, Pratt & Miller spearheaded Cadillac's championship-winning program in the Pirelli World Challenge Series. The company also has experience
in GRANO-AM. A Pratt & Miller built Corvette took the overall win at the Rolex 24 in
2001, a major upset after all of the Prototype cars experienced problems. The race
was also notable for the other plunge into the series.
"We like this connection and between the race car and the on the street car," said Jim Campbell, vice president of Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "When the rules got adjusted, we were able, from a design perspective, to give the race car a sleek look that really lines up nicely Corvette. This was our opportunity.”
The timing, though created a real challenge for Pratt & Miller: It had only eight months to develop and build the first one.
Such tight deadlines aren’t unusual for the company founded in 1989 by Gary Pratt and Jim Miller. Though best known for its motorsports work, it also offers classic-car restoration and has done engineering work on everything from motorcycles to military missile systems.
With Pratt & Miller at the helm, it is no surprise that success came quickly to the Corvette DP. Three of the five fastest qualifiers at the Rolex 24 were Corvettes, and just one race later, at Barber Motorsports Park, the Corvette owned by the Spirit of Daytona team won- as did Sun Trust Racing’s Corvette DP at Homestead Miami Speedway on April 29.
As Campbell said, “When a trip to victory lane comes so quickly after the introduction of a new race car, it’s a tribute to those who worked to bring the vision to reality.”