BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (November 4, 1998) - With General Motors being the "team owner" of the C5-R Corvette in GT2 competition next year, there will be more than a few watchful eyes on the factory-backed entry when it hits the track at Daytona. None will be more interested or prideful than those who actually work at the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Ky., and build the production C5 Corvette.
When Wil Cooksey, Corvette plant manager, looks out onto the big U-shaped parking lot at the Bowling Green facility, all he sees are Corvettes.
"I reserve that front lot for employees who are Corvette owners, and every day that lot is full," says Cooksey, himself an owner of a 1995 ZR1. "I think what makes this plant special is involvement -- employee involvement with the product. Our people care about what they build. They drive what they build and they care about other people who drive what they build. There is a feeling of pride in being a part of Team Corvette. Were all members of a club."
Not only do UAW workers put the Corvette product on the street, but UAW will be a sponsor partner on the C5-R Corvette along with GM Service Parts Operations, GMAC and Mobil 1. The importance of racing isnt lost on Bill Jackson, Bowling Greens UAW Local 2164 president.
"To have the Corvette racing is a plus for us here at Bowling Green. Its good publicity, its a challenge. Its been a long time coming. Its a way to show America and the world that our work force and our quality is second to none.
"Here in Kentucky, the Corvette is a thoroughbred," Jackson continues. "And what goods a thoroughbred if youre not going to race? Its a natural!"
Cooksey echoes Jacksons thoughts on the formation of the C5-R Corvette Race Team.
"Were completely behind the C5-R Corvette Racing Project - were a part of the team. Thousands of people are affected by racing ... employees, Corvette owners, even people who dont drive Corvettes. Because of a race, maybe one day they will.
"The 1999 C5 is the best production Corvette yet.
Racing validates the UAWs craftsmanship and production ability. It confirms
everything we feel about ourselves and our products. It creates excitement. Its the
icing on the cake. If you think you have the best, you have to go against the best.
Theres only one real way to find out - on the track."