In a world where consistency is a key factor, there have been several recent, upper-level changes at Corvette Racing. Everything from driver changes, corporate mergers, and even Corvette Racing’s biggest fan, Doug Fehan, have been caught up in the shifting sands of 2020.
Everyone has likely read about the recent changes to the C8.R’s driver roster. It was announced just before the last outing at Sebring that long-time Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin would not be part of the team’s full-time driver lineup for 2021. He is stepping down from driving duties after the 2020 season. Before that, fellow long-time driver Jan Magnussen was removed from the Corvette Racing roster.
Ollie began with Corvette Racing in 2002 and has racked up over 50+ race victories for the team, including five Le Mans victories, 12-Hour of Sebring wins, Petit Le Mans finishes, and NUMEROUS team and driver championships.
Earlier this month, Corvette Racing announced who would be filling seats in both the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvettes for next year. The reigning GT Le Mans (GTLM) Drivers champions Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor (who replaced Jan Magnussen), will team again in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R with Nicky Catsburg for the long-distance events in IMSA.
Corvette Racing’s lineup in its No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R will have a significantly different look for the 2021 season with the additions of Nick Tandy and Alexander Sims alongside long-time Corvette driver Tommy Milner. Tandy steps into the role held by Oliver Gavin.
A Change In Defense
In other news, Oshkosh Corporation has just announced the purchase of Pratt & Miller, the engineering arm of Corvette Racing’s cars since the program began in 1996. The Pratt & Miller team has been an integral part of designing and engineering speed into each of the cars piloted around the world by Corvette Racing drivers.
Oshkosh isn’t so much interested in getting into racing, but they are heavily seated as, “a leading innovator of mission-critical vehicles and essential equipment…” aka, defense. Pratt & Miller has made a name for itself in such engineering as well as racing, so makes perfect sense that a company steeped into “getting things done” might find a company so widely-known in racing circles as quite valuable. The change is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2021 in what is described as a “cash-free, debt-free purchase price of $115 million.” The press release states that Pratt & Miller will maintain its name, team members, facilities, and branding elements.
Keep Winning, But Where?
While Corvette Racing has announced its driver lineup for 2021, this change of hands at its engineering outlet has many wondering what this announcement means for the championship-winning C8.R Corvettes. To further stir the pot of uncertainty, Corvette Racing has just announced that Doug Fehan will be “stepping down” from his role as Program Manager after 25 years with the team. Doug began with Corvette Racing in 1996 when the all-new C5 Corvette was being introduced and was tasked with preparing the car for worldwide competition. He joined with those merchants of speed at Pratt & Miller and together, they and the team at Corvette Racing have honed Corvette Racing into the world-dominating force it is today, both loved by fans and feared by competitors.
Interestingly, many outlets report that Doug’s exit was of his own choosing, while Sportscar365 holds that Doug was shown the door. Either way, it’s clear that Corvette Racing will lose a vast trove of experience and wisdom as its frontman makes his absence known. Fehan started with GM Racing in 1988 and worked on a number of the company’s motorsports programs including the Chevrolet Beretta Trans-Am, Chevrolet Intrepid GTP, and Oldsmobile’s World Sports Car efforts.
Doug was Program Manager for Corvette Racing since 1996 and has led the development of the Corvette C5-R racecar, and three additional generations of racing Corvettes: the C6.R, C7.R, and the mid-engine C8.R, which made its competition debut this year. In the team’s 22 seasons, Corvette Racing has won 14 Team championships, and 13 Manufacturers and Drivers titles to go along with 113 race victories. It also is the only team to achieve 100 wins in IMSA. In 238 races, the two Corvette Racing teams have finished first and second a remarkable 63 times.
The resume of Corvette Racing is a tribute to Doug’s leadership and the love exhibited by fans both home and abroad for the American racecar is directly attributable to Doug’s character, candor, and personality. Many now wonder if Corvette Racing is setting its sights on competition within IMSA’s GT3 class instead of GTLM. Reportedly, Corvette Racing has been reviewing the GT3 rulebooks, and while it was described as, “a relatively large task” many feel that may be the direction the team may be ultimately headed.
Drama On-Track And Off
With the current low number of cars competing within the GTLM class, recent changes in ownership, and recent personnel changes both behind the wheel and at the very top, the rumor mill is primed for various scenarios for the famed racing team. Like many, we’re ready to turn the final page on 2020 and hoping that all the recent changes this year within the Corvette Racing team will continue to bring awesome competition to the marque as we warm our engines for 2021. We won’t have to wait long, as Corvette Racing will open its 2021 season with the Roar Before the 24 from Jan. 22-24 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 30-31.