Corvette Racing Drivers - All The Answers

How Well Do You Really Know Corvette Racing's World-Champion Drivers?

Christopher R. Phillip Nov 4, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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You've watched their every race on SPEED TV, studied their every statistic on CorvetteRacing.com, and read every article ever published about them in VETTE magazine, but how well do you really know Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, and Johnny O'Connell, the four full-season drivers who embody Corvette Racing's core race team?

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To answer that question, we posed a plethora of fact-finding questions of our own-most of which had never been asked of the C6.R pilots before-and asked the quantum-quick quartet to reply.

"It's great when fans get to meet us at American Le Mans Series (ALMS) paddocks, Corvette Corrals, tech talks, and autograph sessions and get to know us," O'Connell tells VETTE. "But there are millions of fans across the world who can't make it to the live events and only see us on TV. For them, and for all Corvette Racing fans, this interview can give them a better understanding of how we tick."

Author's note: Due to time constraints, all four drivers did not answer every question.

Vette: If you could go back in time to any period in Corvette's 58-year history and order one new, what year and model would it be, what engine/transmission would you pick, and what options would you order?

Magnussen: A '53 Corvette because it looks incredibly cool for the time, and it represents its era so well. I'd take it even with the six-cylinder engine and two-speed automatic.

Gavin: I'd have one like the ['60] Corvette that John Fitch drove at Le Mans in 1960. It was a great-looking car-very unique and a great style.

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Beretta: A '63 split-window Sting Ray. That is the design I like the best. When I was a kid, I never imagined that I would be a driver for Corvette Racing, but this is the car that I would pick. I would like it in Sebring Silver with the biggest engine that can fit!

O'Connell: I would go with a '63 split-window Sting Ray, too, but make mine Tuxedo Black with a non-production gray interior. It would be under the radar. I'd tint the windows, go with every option that I could, and make sure that I never sold it.

Vette: If you could give your Corvette Racing race car a nickname, what would it be?

Gavin: "Jake."

Beretta: "Never Give Up," because if you look at the races at Le Mans, we have come back from a problem with a car that is faster than before the problem.

O'Connell: The first Corvette that I raced in 2001, I called "Sweetness," and I call the one I'm racing now "Rockstar."

Vette: When you're 100 years old and tell the same Corvette story to your great, great grandchildren over and over until they never want to hear it again, what story will it be?

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Magnussen: In 2004 at Le Mans, I was taken off the track by one of the Audis and had a big crash, and then we had another problem. We were six laps down to the leading Ferrari. We made up one lap by driving faster, but we needed some luck. Just as I was getting ready to get in the car, the leading Ferrari had a broken upright or bearing and locked up a front wheel. It took them five laps to fix it. Both cars came off their jacks at the same time, and I was in the lead by about five car lengths with two hours to go. We pulled away and won.

Gavin: The last race at Le Mans-we had a great battle with Jaime Melo in the Ferrari. We raced so close and so long-it was a great time.

Beretta: This year-the experience with the 50th anniversary at Le Mans with John Fitch [pictured with O'Connell, bottom of facing page.] I hope to be like him in 60 years.

O'Connell: If I were telling this story to my great-grandchildren, it would have to be G-rated. There are a lot of stories-the first win at Daytona with the Earnhardts and the first Le Mans win are two. [Also] the times when the whole team visited the U.S. Armed Services, landing on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. There have been some incredible life experiences with Corvette Racing.

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