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Corvette nameplate hits the high-banks of Daytona again

Andy Bolig - November 16, 2011 07:17 PM


Chevrolet unveiled the Corvette Daytona Prototype amid a flurry of media and enthusiasts. Racers, reporters, various NASCAR and Grand Am officials attended the official first showing. GM also had an online forum for those who couldn’t attend.


The Corvette Daytona Prototype utilizes a 5L LS-based power plant, mounted mid-engine.


Based on a 6.2L block, the engine utilizes a specific EFI system with different length stacks to allow for clearance with the slant of the rear window.


No, the image is not flipped. The controls are tilted to the right-hand side of the car although the electronics and various controls fill the entire cockpit.


The rear is full of diffusers and air vents, coupled with the differential and rear chassis. The cars will run one of the three chassis designed by either Coyote, Dallara or Riley.


You COULD say that this is a split rear window!


The Daytona Prototype takes a bow by the namesake’s track title on the banking. Teams were on hand to test the abilities of the car during their preliminary introduction and testing on November 16th.

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Corvette has a storied history of racing-related feats in Daytona. Zora Arkus-Duntov – the father of the Corvette and chief engineer working on the Corvette in the ’50s and ’60s – set a flying-mile speed record of more than 150 miles per hour in a Corvette on Daytona Beach, one of a number of record runs on the beach for him. When Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, Arkus-Duntov turned the fastest laps – 155 miles per hour – in a Corvette SS.

More recently, in 2001, a Corvette driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell, Chris Kneifel and Franck Freon was the overall winner in the Daytona 24-hour. Another Corvette finished fourth that year, with Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins.

Corvette has also participated in competition under the GTP class banner during the 1984-1988 seasons of IMSA racing where it fielded a total of seven cars throughout the various seasons. Several cars were sporting smaller, turbocharged V6s, while others carried the more traditional, naturally aspirated V8s. To continue Corvette’s heritage in the GTP class and increase GM’s exposure in racing, as well as improve the manufacturer’s street-going brand, Chevrolet unveiled its 2012 Corvette Daytona Prototype at Daytona International Speedway. The Corvette Daytona Prototype will make its competitive debut in the 50th anniversary of the GRAND-AM Road Racing Series Rolex 24 at Daytona from January 26-29, 2012.

Four teams will campaign the Corvette Daytona Prototype in 2012: No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing; No. 10 SunTrust Racing; No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, and the Nos. 5 and 9 Action Express Racing teams. The new Corvette Daytona Prototype participated in a GRAND-AM test at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

“The 2012 Corvette Daytona Prototype was developed by a multi-faceted effort involving Chevrolet, Corvette Designers, Pratt & Miller and GRAND-AM. Chevrolet also worked closely with chassis builders Riley, Coyote and Dallara,” said Mark Kent, GM Racing director. “The IMSA GTP Corvette Prototype campaigned by Hendrick Motorsports in the '80s was the inspiration for this new Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype. And, like the GTP Corvettes, the new Corvette Daytona Prototype contains numerous styling cues from the street version of the Chevrolet Corvette.”

The Corvette Daytona Prototype features a 5L engine, using the same block as the supercharged LS9 used in the ZR1. Numbers spec out at 530hp with 450 lb/ft of torque. With the help of Pratt & Miller, the entire design-to-reality process took only 8 months to complete and the car will be utilizing one of several chassis designed by Dallara, Coyote or Riley. While not a factory-sponsorship program, Chevrolet is involved in a “Key Partners Approach” that will share common issues among teams while keeping competitive edge information and innovations proprietary.

“Racing and performance are the founding principles of Chevrolet, and bringing the Corvette Daytona Prototype to GRAND-AM is a tremendous opportunity,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports…”The design of this race car incorporates iconic Corvette styling cues and will be immediately recognized by sports car enthusiasts and fans of GRAND-AM Road Racing,” Campbell said.

As the Corvette Daytona Prototype hits the high-banked course at Daytona in January during the Rolex 24 hour race, it will not only be heralding in a new era for Chevrolet in this iconic field of racing, but also, it will take its place in history, waving the Corvette and Chevrolet banners with pride. As Chevrolet is investing in this project with podium finishes in mind, rest assured that just as “racing improves the breed”, minds at Chevrolet will be using this platform to glean any additional information and benefits to be utilized in street-going projects that might currently be in the queue.