I stopped off at Bowling Green, Kentucky so that I could attend the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park ground breaking ceremony today (Thursday, June 27). Before this I went into the museum theater to see the 30 minute presentation by Doug Fehan, the program manager for Corvette Racing. Doug was his usual excellent self, and he talked about Le Mans and the Motorsport Park.
One of the questions asked by the audience was regarding the C7.R and whether the engine would be derived from the LT1 platform in the new C7. According to Doug, the new engine for the C7.R will be the same LS-derived 5.5 liter engine currently in the C6.R, but with the direct fuel injection from the LT1 (or a race version of the system). Doug explained it was a bit pointless developing a brand new 5.5 liter platform for racing based on the LT1 block when the existing 5.5 liter LS1 block is already race proven, and more importantly an ACO / FIA homologated unit.
Doug Fehan has been involved with the NCM Motorsports Park project almost from the beginning, and he is a massive supporter of the project as he explained it is a win-win for everyone involved. The city of Bowling Green gets an additional revenue stream as does the museum, the Corvette Racing Team will make it their home track, and because the track layout will replicate parts of the Le Mans circuit, it will allow the team to test for the 24 hour race, which is impossible to do except for the official test day before the race each year and on the Wednesday / Thursday before the race.
Doug also explained that part of the issue this year at Le Mans was that the team was running on the new Michelin tire for the first time at the race and therefore had done no testing. Given that the weather was changeable during all three days this year, the team got maybe two hours of meaningful data to set up the cars for the race, which is one of the reasons that the Corvettes performed so badly relative to the other brands competing, as they had already run a full 6 hour race at Spa in May on the tires.
We all departed from the Museum and drove the mile to the new facility on the other side of I-65. The NCM had prepared a stage on the back of a low loader truck trailer and a whole bunch of Corvette owners had driven over to be part of the event, plus others were shuttled over from the Museum.
NCM Executive Director Wendell Strode started proceedings, and then a number of other people took turns in explaining what their involvement was in the project and how they saw the benefits to the new Motorsports Park. It was estimated that 80,000 additional visitors would be added in the first year after the park opens in August 2014, but that will just be phase I of the project.
The Motorsports Park still needs Corvette owners to put their hands in their pockets and donate money to help fund the land purchase needed and also to pay for the building of the additional phases of the track. The Museum is using the “Field of Dreams” concept that “if you build it (Corvette owners) will come”. Another interesting concept Doug Fehan alluded to was that when Corvette Racing tested at the track, they would invite paying Corvette owners along to watch! Can’t imagine, Porsche, Ferrari or Aston Martin doing this…
So, people of the Corvette hobby I implore you, got some spare cash? Donate it to the NCM Motorsports Park fund – Let’s get this done.