DIVERSE DRIVERS SET TO TIP-OFF SEASON FOR CORVETTE AT DAYTONA
DETROIT--At first glance, the driver line-up for the two factory-backed C5-R Corvettes in the Rolex 24 at Daytona looks like a formidable roster for a local YMCA basketball league. Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and John Paul Jr. will drive the #2 C5-R Corvette and all stand between 62" and 66". John Heinricy, Andy Pilgrim and Scott Sharp will drive the #4 C5-R Corvette but are a little closer to the average American male in height. Although they could pass for a starting five plus a sub, closer examination of their resumes will show that their forte is finding their way around a racetrack.
According to Fehan, assigning the drivers by height to their cars was just a common-sense approach to avoid drastic seat adjustments during driver changes. But height wasnt the only "measuring stick" used in making driver choices from a preliminary list of over 50 names. "The first criteria was that they had to be team players; they had to check their egos at the door," said Fehan. "That alone took a huge chunk of names off the list. Then, they all had to be available and willing to do this job for a reasonable sum of money. Amazingly, the six we asked--they all accepted."
The selection of the drivers line-up was but one key component to GMs overall C5-R racing equation. Not only did GM Motorsports design the C5-R GT2 racer, they also assembled a talented group of road racing specialists from Pratt & Miller (Detroit) and Riley & Scott (Indianapolis) to serve as one GM unit, under GM Motorsports management, to field two C5-R factory Corvettes.
Several of General Motors subsidiaries and business partners have joined sponsorship forces together to back GMs first "official" factory racing effort for Corvette, starting with primary sponsor GM Goodwrench Service Plus. Other associates include General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), UAW-GM, Mobil Oil, Action Performance Companies, Mid America Designs and Cutter & Buck. Together they help form the Corvette Racing Team.
#2 C5-R Corvette
Chris Kneifel is the tallest driver to compete in CART at 66" and was that series fifth youngest competitor at 21 years, 4 months, 6 days. The 37-year-old Arizona native has been instrumental in the development of the C5-R Corvette as a test driver the last two years. He drove on three Trans-Am Manufacturers Championship winning teams in 1985, 1986, and 1990, and posted two wins in his Chevrolet Beretta on his way to second in the Trans-Am points standings in 1990. He also won races in three different series in 1981 (Formula Ford, Sports 2000 and Formula Atlantic) and has won races in three different decades. John Paul Jr. drove his first race in Formula Ford at Sebring in 1979 and has been winning ever since. The 38-year-old Indy Racing League veteran finished the 98 IRL season 11th in points after posting his first IRL win at Texas Motor Speedway in September. He made his debut in CART in 1982 at Elkhart Lake and a year later chased Rick Mears down on the final lap for a victory in the Michigan 500. Paul is also no stranger to victory lane at Daytona as he is a two time Rolex 24 winner.
#4 C5-R Corvette