The Sebring ALMS event always attracts a large number of Corvette owners who come to watch their favorite sports car compete against the world's best. A few years ago, Chevrolet, the C5/C6 Registry, and the National Corvette Museum began offering these enthusiasts a "Weekend at Sebring." The package includes many special "Corvette only" amenities, secure parking, private grandstands on Turn 17, lunch, car displays, a large tent, TV coverage of the race, and a slate of Corvette guest speakers.
This year, four special Corvettes were on display: an '09 ZR1 prototype, an '08 Indy pace car convertible, a 427 Limited Edition Z06, and a Pratt & Miller C6RS convertible. On Friday, retired Corvette Plant Manager Wil Cooksey presented the first 427 Limited Edition Z to the fans (see sidebar). Cooksey gave everyone a walk-around tour of the car, which previously had been presented to him as a retirement gift. Later in the day, the Corvette Racing drivers came to the Corral for the ever-popular autograph session.
On Saturday, retired Chief Engineer Dave McLellan gave a presentation on the history of the original C4 ZR-1 project. McLellan then drove a '90 ZR-1 on an exhibition lap around Sebring, accompanied by current Corvette supremo Tom Wallace at the wheel of a new ZR1. In an interesting twist, McLellan, who serves as an engineering consultant on the mid-engined Mosler MT900, brought one of the Vette-powered supercars to the Corral for everyone to inspect.
Later, Wallace spoke at length about the new ZR1. A large crowd asked him many probing questions about the new car, to which he gave commendably candid answers. Next, IMSA Event Director Larry Hayes honored Cooksey for his contribution to Corvette Racing by presenting him with a plaque. Owners were then presented with celebrity choice awards, and the rest of the day was spent watching the race and bench-racing with other Corvette owners. Once again, the Sebring Corvette Corral proved a winning complement to this season-opening race.