2008 Detroit ALMS Race - Belle Of The Ball

Corvette Racing waltzes away with another easy GT1 win in Detroit

Dr. Greg P. Johnson Mar 1, 2009 0 Comment(s)
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The overall race win was captured by the Andretti-Green Acura LMP2. In fact, Acura stole the show by finishing 1-2-3 to capture the podium and move ahead of Porsche in the LMP2 points race. One of the impressive Audi R10 LMP1 cars initially finished Third overall, but it was disqualified in post-race technical inspection when it was found to be two pounds lighter than the rules allowed. The LMP2 Porsche Spyders took four of the next five places, while the Corvettes rounded out the top 10 with Ninth and Tenth Place finishes.

The GT1 victory was especially gratifying for Gavin, as he had closed out the last two races with DNFs precipitated by significant off-track excursions. The win gave crew chief Mike West and the rest of the No. 4-car crew their first win since St. Petersburg at the beginning of the season. General Motors, meanwhile, had the weekend of weekends. The company celebrated Chevrolet's centenary by winning the 100th race entered by the modern Corvette Racing team, all under the approving gaze of the hometown crowd.

Corvette Racing Team Profile: Ralph Simpson
They say an army travels on its stomach. The same could be said of the Corvette Racing team, whose successes are powered by the fare emanating from the kitchen of culinary overlord Ralph Simpson. The work days in the Corvette garage are long and vigorous. The crew works tirelessly at the track, typically laboring from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the only breaks are often those taken at mealtimes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day while the team is at an event, and Simpson is in charge of making sure it all happens flawlessly. To accomplish this, he rises at 3 a.m., traveling to the grocery store to stockpile ice, drinks, and snack essentials for the day. He then makes sure the various mobile coolers stationed at the garage and the pits are well stocked, supplying the team with cold drinks and calories as they need them. Once he arrives at the track, having already set up the silver chafing dishes in the hospitality area, he visits the traveling kitchen that services many of the ALMS teams. There, he begins the daylong transfer of hot food to the Corvette garage in the paddock. If the job seems effortless for Simpson, it's only because he's spent a lifetime refining his methods.

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Simpson started out in 1965 as a truck owner/operator with two rigs in his stable. He later had an opportunity to enter the hired-coach business, and from 1977 to 1983, he worked as a charter bus driver to learn the ins and outs of that business. By 1984 he had developed a relationship with Marathon Coach and started a company that catered to the rich and famous, supplying transportation and logistics upon request. His past-clients list reads like a who's who in business and entertainment, including corporations such as American Airlines, Calvin Klein, Coca-Cola, and Disney Studios, as well as world-famous touring musicians such as Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Paul McCartney, and U2

Simpson's business was booming, but it was hard, relentless work. In 1996, he decided to sell the company and retire from the rigors of the road. Retirement would not last long. In 2000, Marathon called Simpson with a desperate plea for help. It seemed the company had several racing clients, including Penske and Corvette Racing, clamoring for the services and expertise he possessed. Corvette Racing eventually won out, and Simpson has been the go-to man for the team's culinary needs ever since. In addition to his Corvette obligations, Simpson runs a hospitality rig for Delphi Corporation and is involved with NASCAR and IRL. With that busy schedule, he is on the road constantly from February through October.

When Simpson is on task, it's best not to get in the way. But catch him after hours, and his stories of past experiences on the road will keep you spellbound. He does everything in a first-class way, just like the rest of the Corvette Racing family. He's an essential part of the crew that makes the C6.R program a success.

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