February is almost over, which means we are all that much closer to the series opener of the 2011 American Le Mans Series at Sebring on March 19th. Corvette Racing has a new blacked-out car, a new engine, and a new season of their web series show, Track to Street. The web series catalogs the adventures of the Corvette Racing team, as well as showcases how racing technology makes it was from the race track to production cars.
In the 2011 series opener, the topic of discussion is none other than paddle shifters, which the ALMS has just approved for use in GT1 cars. As Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan explains, “If it is legal, you have to go there.”
Why? Because once the ALMS or any racing organization lifts a ban on a new type of technology, it is almost guaranteed that every team will make use of it right away. As Fehan goes on to explain, it is a “little quicker shift” and it also reduces wear and tear on the gearbox (as the physical shifter is replaced by signals from the paddles.) This small advantage can mean huge gains in the competitive GT1 class. Of course a new technology means dialing it in on the racetrack, and with the season opener mere weeks away, these guys have got their work cut out for them.
While the production C6 does have a paddle shift option, the sequential race transmission in the ALMS Corvettes is a far cry from the 6L80 automatic you can drive off the lot, and adapting to the new setup will take some serious development work. They’ve got to manage things like how it shifts, engine shutoff between shifts and more. Even so it’s interesting to see for once, technology from street cars made its way to the track, rather than the other way around.