Vette fans swarm to any race that features the Corvette Racing team, a tendency that has not gone unnoticed by GM marketing officials. To take advantage of this captive audience, the company leases a prime spot on Sebring International Raceway's Turn 17 during each year's ALMS season opener. The site is converted into a Corvette Corral complete with ample parking, a large tent with closed-circuit television, and plenty of tables and chairs to allow guests to escape the Florida sun. A large private grandstand located outside the tent provides an excellent view of the C6.Rs doing battle during the race. The four-day package costs $165 for one guest ($265 for two) and includes track admission, infield corral parking, light refreshments, and lunch on Saturday.
Each year GM tries to unveil a new Corvette model at the Corral, and this year was no exception. Product Manager Harlan Charles and Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter unveiled the '11 Carbon Z06 on Friday afternoon, spending more than an hour describing the car's unique details and answering questions from the audience. As we noted in our last issue, the Carbon comes with the ZR1's ceramic brakes, wheels, Michelin tires, Magnetic Selective Ride Control, rear spoiler, and carbon front splitter and side rocker panels. It also features a special raised carbon hood that should provide enough room for an aftermarket supercharger. The splitter, rocker panels, wheels, and rearview mirrors are painted glossy black.
The engine remains at 505 hp but is fitted with carbon fuel-rail covers and a specially tuned exhaust. The interior is upgraded with gray suede inserts on the seats, armrests, shifter, parking brake, steering wheel, and door pulls. Each seat is embossed with the Corvette emblem and the word "Carbon" on the headrests, and all of the interior stitching matches the car's exterior color. Inferno Orange and Supersonic Blue are the only two colors offered for this limited-build (500 cars) Z06.
Pricing is expected to fall between the standard Z06 and the ZR1. The Carbon's weight will remain close to the current Z06's, since the lightweight carbon parts offset the added poundage of the ride-control system.
If enjoying the Sebring race from prime vantage point, learning about the latest Corvette hardware, and spending time with fellow Vette devotees sounds like your idea of fun, the Corvette Corral could be for you. Because of the limited space involved, early registration is recommended. Visit www.corvettemuseum.com for more details.