Mosport was a very special weekend for me. Along with my primary duties in the Cadillac CTS-V race car, I had my chance to be back with team Corvette for a one-off run and drive the big bad C6-R with my old team mate Ron Fellows.
I had been thinking about this for weeks and could hardly wait to get in the car.
Now I was definitely under no illusions that this would be a challenging weekend. Time constraints for the team had meant that I would not get any testing in the car and this car was way different than the C5-R. The difference between the two is more than a class - the GT2 Porsche and Ferraris car are now faster than our old GT1 C5-R, but I felt I was ready.
Then, along comes my old engine guru, John Rice of team Corvette and Katech fame, just to make me think.
John and I have a great relationship and have had great laughs about all kinds of stuff during out time together in the Corvette program.
He greeted me as normal, but then I made the mistake of saying this will be a fun weekend and I’m looking forward to it. He looked at me with a face that told me he had something on his mind.
“So,” he says, “you haven’t driven the car yet, huh?”
“No,” I reply.
“We’re at Mosport,” he continues, “the fastest track and blindest track in North America, home of Ron Fellows, the local hero here, maybe 20,000 of his closest friends are here to see you help him win, and you haven’t even driven the car yet and the race is in 48 hours. Man, no pressure there.” He walks off laughing and shaking his head.
I was laughing too, a kind of forced laugh now as I look back. I can smile now though as things went very well. John had several good points I guess, but I had not wanted to think of the pressure side. I couldn’t, I just had to do my job. Learn the car and drive.
Ron and I raced the #33 C6-R at Mosport, and it was white to match the Z06 Ron Fellows special edition Vette that is for sale now. This was in addition to the normal two yellow Vettes that run in all the ALMS races.
I think GM doing the Z06 in honor of Ron is a terrific idea. Not only has Ron been the best driver of production-based cars ever to come out of Canada, but through his karting schools and other programs in conjunction with Sunoco, he’s done a lot to “feed” the starting grids of decades to come.
Ron and I were co-drivers in the ALMS with the Corvette in 2000 winning the first race the for team Corvette over the famed Oceca Viper factory team.
I’ve not done a race with Team Corvette since the end of the 2003 season when I changed over to Team Cadillac for the 2004 World Challenge series.
In the meantime, Pratt and Miller took what was a terrific car to begin with and made it way better in its C6 generation. Nothing about this race car is the same from the tires up. It is so much faster than the old car, I loved it.
Sadly practice was quite frustrating with only one session of 20 minutes for me being good conditions, the next session was rained out and we didn’t run at all, and the last one being a drying track which was not perfect, either. Yuk!, not what I wanted.
It ended up that I used the morning warm up to get up to speed in the car - talk about cutting it fine - but I was ready and up to a good speed in the race.
The ALMS has been in tough shape for GT1 this year with really no racing going on except between the Vettes. The guys are pushing hard during the race and Ron and I almost manged to pull off beating the reigning Champs of Ollie Gavin and Olivier Beretta for second but Ron just couldn’t hold them off in the last two laps due to getting caught in slower traffic.
What a car the C6-R is! I lapped Mosport four seconds a lap faster than I did in any other race car ever and almost ten seconds a lap faster than the World Challenge Cadillac. Amazing!!
It was a blast being back with Team Corvette. It was a privilege being Ron’s co-driver again and doing so at his home track.
The fans have been super-supportive and I want to thank them for all the emails both before and after the race.
Doug Fehan, the team manager of team Corvette, sometimes has an economy with words, but before the race he said I would be fine and afterwards he said I did fine.
I’ll take that as a good thing…..many thanks for the opportunity, Doug.