Corvette Racing Wins its Eighth Straight Championship
October 23, 2008
MONTEREY, Calif. – Corvette Racing won accolades in the American Le Mans Series award ceremony following the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan was presented the From the Fans award for the second time, and Mike West, crew chief for the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R, was named GT1 Mechanic of the Year. Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell won the GT1 drivers championship on the strength of eight wins in 11 races with their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R. Chevrolet took home the GT1 manufacturers championship trophy for the eighth straight year, and Corvette Racing claimed its eighth consecutive team championship title.
"No brand in the American Le Mans Series is as iconic and recognized as GM," said Kelli Stavast, co-host of the award presentation. "If you don't believe it, then clearly you haven't seen the Corvette Corrals or the endless lines at the autograph sessions. General Motors is one of the most successful manufacturers in this series, with 68 victories and now eight consecutive manufacturer championships. General Motors has also proven to be a leader in Green Racing by campaigning its two C6.Rs on cellulosic E85 as a way to market its consumer product line through its participation in the American Le Mans Series."
Mark Kent, director of GM Racing, accepted the manufacturers championship trophy on behalf of Chevrolet.
"Corvette Racing has achieved remarkable results in 10 years of competition in the GT1 category," Kent said. "The 2008 season marks the end of one chapter in Corvette Racing history, and the beginning of a new chapter as we move into the GT2 category in 2009. We look back at our past success with pride, and we look forward to new challenges with determination to succeed. We anticipate great competition, and I can think of no team that is better prepared for that challenge than Corvette Racing."
The From the Fans award, determined by ALMS fans in online voting, is presented to the person who has made the greatest contribution to sports car racing in the past year. Fehan first won the award in 2004, and he became the second repeat winner in 2008. Corvette Racing's program manager has been an ardent supporter of the Green Challenge initiative. In August, Fehan raised more than $6,000 in the Corvette Challenge Bike Ride to Fight Cancer to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation in a lighthearted bicycle match race with driver Oliver Gavin.
"Each and every one of our team members knows how to take care of our fans – not only our fans, but all fans," said Fehan. "Anybody who visits Corvette Racing knows that hospitality is our No. 1 priority. We try to make everyone feel at home."
Fehan and Corvette Racing team manager Gary Pratt also accepted the GT1 team championship trophy.
"This marks our 24th year of working together," said Fehan as he acknowledged his long-time friend. "I think for those who understand the value of continuity and the value of teamwork, it becomes completely clear why Corvette Racing has been successful. This is the guy who makes it happen. The guys working in the trenches, led by this man, are the ones who have won eight consecutive manufacturers championships and five Le Mans victories. So Gary Pratt, thank you."
O'Connell won the GT1 drivers championship for the third time in his career, but his first with Jan Magnussen. O'Connell also came within three votes of winning the Most Popular Driver award.
"Jan and I were teamed together in 1999 with another marque, and we never got that second season," said O'Connell. "I'm so grateful to everyone at Chevrolet for giving us the opportunity to realize what I thought would have happened in 2000. I'm blessed that throughout my career I've had great teammates, guys that I could push and that could push me. To all the great champions, whether you won or not, it's an honor for all of us to compete with you week in and week out."
The GT1 Mechanic of the Year award is selected by the pit lane and technical staffs from IMSA, the sanctioning body for ALMS events. West won it for the first time after succeeding Ray Gongla, a two-time winner of the prestigious award, as crew chief for the No. 4 Corvette C6.R at the start of the 2008 season.
Corvette Racing’s next event is the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., on March 21, 2009.