Johnny O' Connell

 

Sebring 2010
Added 03/27/10

What a bummer.   We had two really great cars, and just rotten luck kept us out of the running at Sebring.   To win there, you have to be perfect at everything, and well one bad thing led to another and we early in the race found ourselves just doing hard laps trying to get back in case others had problems.    During every season each team has bad luck, and I hope ours is out of the way.

Before the race we had struggled with some handling issues and also a few engine management problems.  Luckily all were sorted out by the race, and I went into it feeling pretty confident.   Jan had a great first stint, and when I got in my objective was to do strong laps, and not get into a position where we might have contact with someone.   On the restart after a yellow, Patrick long got by me on the first lap, but I was totally content that early not to fight, and just fall in behind him and learn about his car, and where we were better and worse then them.   Information I could use later in the race.   Our pace was good, and there was no point in forcing to get by.   

Sadly, about ten laps in I started losing power steering.   It got to the point to where it took all my strength to hold onto the car in the corners, and the bumpy areas became very dangerous.   So we pitted… Antonio got in, did one lap.. and then went back to the garage where the guys did an awesome job replacing a hose, and then we went back to the fight.. but 10 laps down.     Had this not happened.. well the wreck in pit lane most likely wouldn’t have either.   

The four car was still very much in the hunt… the guys doing a great job.   Our fuel window opened… Jan got in the car, and was ready to go.   Our job is to light it up once we hit the ground, and that is what Jan did.    Sadly, the 4 car which was supposed to do an extra lap, got a fuel warning approaching turn 17 and pitted.   Our guys never knew they were coming down pit lane, and the resulting accident you saw was just the perfect storm striking as Jan pulled out just as Emmanuel was coming in.    Our car was damaged a little.. the 4 car needed to go behind the wall.    So our chances of winning.. were over.

But there is a good thing about it all.   The crew got practice incase something bad happens at Le Mans… and both crews were awesome getting the cars back on track.   Also, the cars were very strong.    All drivers never gave up… never let up on our pace… and the crew was the same… always pushing hard.   In that… I was very proud, and know that we’ll have good success this year… and we’ll fight back to get the points we lost at Sebring.

As always, thanks so much to all the fans there that make the event so special.   The turn 10 gang I know had a rough time missing Norm, and though we didn’t get the result he would have wanted, I know he knows how hard it is to do well there.   Long Beach is up next, and we’ll get things right there….

 

Johnny O

 


 

Corvette Racing Update
Added 11/18/09

Well it’s been a bit of time since Laguna, but things with the team keep moving forward.    The car that was wrecked has been completely rebuilt.   It was a massive shunt Jan was in and a lot of work went back into bringing that car back to life.   But if I know anything, it’s that the guys at Pratt and Miller are the best in the business, and  she’ll be as good as new the next time we get in her.   Speedy as always and looking forward to 2010 and starting everything over again.   And winning.

Perhaps one the greatest strengths of Corvette Racing is the close association we have with production, and the relationship between the two.    Included in that  is the importance both place on safety.    Jans wreck was huge.   He’s still not back to 100 % but getting close.   That said, many aspects of the crash have been analyzed and changes made to the car to better protect us in the future.   Just like was done when Dale Jr. had his crash and fire, things have been changed and improved.   So as we move to the future all of us drivers will be confident in the safety or our car and know that everything has been looked at many times by the best in the industry.

I’ll continue to post here in the off season, and let you know how things are going.    Both Mark Kent and Doug Fehan are committed to Corvette Racing being successful into the future, and so much of that is due to the support we receive from all of our fans and Corvette owners.   For that, thank you all, and a happy thanksgiving to everyone.

Johnny O

 


 

Laguna Seca 2009
Added 10/14/09

Normally I really enjoy talking about what went on over a race weekend and sharing the inside scoop of what happened and how we did.   Right now, I’m just still too upset about that finish and all that transpired.   Needless to say the best car that should have won the race is destroyed, and the one driver that proved he was faster and better is very banged up and having to spend time healing.   While the one with no integrity, honor or sportsmanship is fine.  

Congratulations to Patrick Long who does deserve to be a champion.   He’s a class act and fair driver at all times.   One of the United States brightest young drivers.   The same can be said about Seth Neiman and everyone on his team Flying Lizard.    Great guys and a good team.  Congratulations. 

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto was quoted as saying, “ I fear that all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant. “   You can fill in the rest as it relates to how next season will go.

As always, thanks to everyone that supports Corvette Racing and the American Le Mans Series.   

Johnny

 


 

Petit Le Mans 2009
Added 10/01/09

Rats.   Not exactly the Petit Le Mans we expected, but I guess sometimes things don’t always go your way.   Brutal heat during the week, and then unreal rain…. Well  it was more than interesting dealing with it all.

Petit is without a doubt the hardest event of the year for me with all I have going on.   The auction was a great success, and thanks to everyone that attended and endured the unreal heat under the tent.   I hated holding it there, but with the chance of rain being so high, really had no option.  Kelly I must say singing was the coolest thing a Dad could ever be a part of, and mega thanks to my good friend Dan for not only playing the guitar, but also arranging all the music ( which I’m sure for a heavy metal guy was a hassle ) and then going above and beyond by bringing in a sound crew for Kelly as well as the stage that we used.    Guys a class act all around.  Anyway, it’s not all totaled yet but I’m guessing we’ll be around $30,000 raised to help those with Alzheimers and their families.

As far as the race went, well I stunk up the joint in qualifying only managing 7th.    We were just nervous entering corners, and then understeering in the middle.    I was kind of pissed at myself, but what can you do but hope the car was better for the race.

Now in the morning warm up on rain tires, the car felt so good.  Unreal so.   One of the best rain cars I’ve ever had.    At the start, I couldn’t believe how much grip I had and immediately went to work moving to the front.   On about the 3rd or fourth lap, OG moved inside the ford for the lead, but slid off and I was able to move into second, and then just two corners later took the lead that we held on for the rest of the stint.  

For the rest of the race we mostly held first or second, but then when the big rain came we found ourselves after stopping for tires in 5th behind the 4 car.    The rain that came down was unreal, like nothing I’ve been in before, and after the yellow came out,  I got caught out coming under the bridge ( I swear I wasn’t going that fast ) and hydroplaned big time.   The car went 90 degrees and just slide all the way down the hill before landing on the beach at the bottom.   Needless to say I felt like a jerk, and Binks… god love him… after we got things settled some… asked if that had happened under the yellow.   Pretty cheeky I know, but I probably would have done the same.  

Anyway, shortly after with us in 6th position now, the race was red flagged, and not restarted.   All told it was I’m sure a difficult call for the officials, but I was glad they chose the path that presented us all with the safest option.. the track.. was a mess.

Laguna is up next… and time for redemption…

Johnny

 


Auction Information 2009
Added 09/15/09

My Annual charity Auction at Petit Le Mans is slowly coming together, and I hope everyone is there and has fun bidding on things.  It will take place on Friday that the winners circle at 6:15…and as always the money raised will go to support the Alzheimers Association, and a senior citizen day care center in Gainesville.

Some of the very cool things being auctioned off are:

Bottles of Patron signed by your favorite driver

Dinner with Doug Fehan

Set of Michelin Tires

A half day of Karting with me and my son.

Two days at the Bondurant School

Lots of Racing art and race car bits

Also… one very cool thing.. is that my daughter Kelly will be singing a Taylor Swift song… and be accompanied by Heavy Metal superstar Dan Fastuca… who will donate a guitar and amp.    That alone should be worth showing up for.

Hope that everyone that attends has a great time, and remembers its all about charity for folks that really do need our help and support.

Thanks…

Johnny O

 


Mosport 2009
Added 09/06/09

For some reason or another Mosport has always been a very good track to me.   My first major win came there with Jan when we teamed at Panoz, winning overall.   It was the first win for Don, and seeing him before the start of the race to celebrate my 100th start, I guess I feel it was a fitting circuit to have that happen at.   The Canadian fans have always been very appreciative of our type or racing, and each year I look forward to going there.

The weekend was kind of weird and challenging for us weather wise with some rain being thrown in, and as a result I wasn’t very happy about our handling when we went into qualifying.   We’d been very nervous in the back entering several of the corners, and that really makes it hard to attack.    Anyway, we sorta knew the BMW cars would fly.. they are really fast right now, and also some of the Porsches.   The Ferrari had a shunt just before qualifying, and so missed out.   Long story short,  I ended up qualifying fourth behind Oliver, who like me wasn’t really happy with his car.

At the start both OG and I were able to get by the second place BMW, and then had a very good battle with the lead BMW.  It took OG about 5 laps to get by, and then me another 4 or 5 after him.    My car was good at the start, but then started going really loose again, which was made worse by one of the Acura’s leaking a ton of gear oil all over the circuit.     I made the gigantic mistake, when it started raining a little, of turning my wiper on, and just ruined my windshield with oil.   Seeing anything was just miserable, and when you can’t see, well it’s hard to commit.

So for the rest of my stint, I just held on and did my best to hand the car off to Jan.   That happened just over an hour into the race when there was a full course caution.    A great stop saw us come out in third place, behind the Ferrari and the 4 car being driver by Olivier now.   Those of you that saw it witnessed one great battle.

Leading the race, Olivier  was doing a great job when a p car went down the inside of him going into turn two and pushed OB onto the marbles…. Then into the grass… and it was a miracle he didn’t wreck.  He did an awesome job of saving the car.   But with him out of the picture, it left things  up to Jan.   And I knew he was loving it.

He pressured the Ferrari like nothing else, and then when it came for final pit stops the guys on the 3 car did an amazing job and got Jan out in front of the Ferrari.    For 35 minutes Jan was rock solid and drove as well as I’ve ever seen him drive.   The Ferrari glued to him.   But he was perfect.   And we won.

This was a huge win for the team, and with it being my 100th race, and my 7th win at Mosport …one I will always remember.   Corvette Racing in just three races has shown the world how strong it is, and how well prepared.    Once again we weren’t the fastest car on the track, but in every aspect we needed to be perfect in, we were.    That is the result of all the knowledge and experience gained racing in GT one, and the hard work put in by everyone on the team.   

Petit Le Mans is next, and I know it will once again be a major battle.   But if we follow Fehans rules, like we almost always do, good things will happen.   As always.. thanks for supporting us all at Corvette Racing.

 


Petit Le Mans Auction 2009
Added 08/27/09

Once again I will be holding my auction or helping out those with Alzheimers and a senior citizen day care center here in Gainesville.    Over the years we’ve raised over $300,000 and it would be great to continue on with it.

To start with, if you are ordering tickets through Road Atlanta, mention that would like your tickets to go to the Johnny O’Connell charity auction.    They’ve been great at supporting it over the years, and their outreach to help others is an amazing thing.

As usual, some of the items to look for are tires from Michelin as well as hopefully some other manufacturers.    Driver apparel and team apparel, and hopefully some wrecked body work from the season.   Corvette Racing has always been the biggest donor, and I’m confident that Gary and Robin Pratt will once again come up with some great things.

It’s always been fun, and I hope to see you all there.

Sincerely,

Johnny O

 


Road America 2009
Added 08/18/09

Now that was fun.     It’s funny but when you start racing as a kid, it’s all about fun, and even if you don’t win, well at the end of the day you’re just cracking up as you’ve had such a good time driving and racing.   For Corvette racing this was one of those type of races.    It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so good about a third place finish…but I think the entire team was feeling the same.   Good times.

At the start it was a really great battle between Jan chasing down Jorg in the Porsche, while being followed by the Ferrari who was then getting hounded by Olivier.   We were all sitting in the pits watching the monitors cheering them on.    After a bit Jan got a very good run on Jorg in the Porsche and moved into third.    I really didn’t think we would be able to do much with the BMWs, as they were totally hooked up, and the thought of that happening was taken away completely when a safety car again broke up the class.   

Anyway, it was a great race they were all having, and an hour and 15 minutes into the race there was a caution and everyone pitted.   The 4 car had a great stop and beat us out of the pits, but then I think the Porsche also had a great stop and moved back in front of him.     I do need to point out that with us running e85 we end up taking on more fuel then they do, and I’m pretty sure that is the only reason they beat us out of the pits.

So we go racing and it’s total chaos !!!   Too much fun.   I’m just trying to stick on OG/s bumper, and we’re moving through the slower cars and I’m sure he was as into it as I was.    Sadly for OG a prototype made an ill advised move and they both had contact which tore off his side view mirror that forced them to have to pit to replace the door.    I had moved by him by the time that he had to pit, as he had gotten bunched up in turn one and I was able to get a run on him.

The rest of that run it was trying really hard to run down Kaffer in the Ferrari.   He was doing a great job, and there was little I could do to make serious time on him.   But then a caution came out and it allowed us to pit again.  We took fuel and tires, the Ferrari took just fuel, and Patrick Long in the Porsche took fuel and tires as well.

When we went green again, all of us were very close, and I do have to give kudos to Kaffer who on used rubber was doing a great job.     But after a few laps he bobbled exiting one, and I was able to get by.    After that I pushed as hard as I could to catch up to Patrick and with three laps to go I got to his bumper.  We were so close, with him being stronger in some areas, and us being stronger in a few others.   

Now Patrick is a great driver and I knew getting by him was going to be hard.    But I also had the advantage of knowing he needs to think about the Championship, and his biggest concern I know was staying in front of the Ferrari.    I had it in my mind that I was going to set him up for a pass after the kink, when going into turn 5 he carried just a tic too much speed and was wide of his apex.    Our car had been good there and as the hole appeared I darted into it as fast as I could.   I felt bad that we had a little contact, but once my tires got on the rumble strips I needed more track than I thought I would.    Anyway, he did a great job holding onto his car and we both ended the race still very close on the track.

So it was another good run for Corvette Racing.     We continue to learn about the car and make it stronger and hopefully the situation will arise soon where we can win.    Mosport is up next for us and Jan and I have always run well there.    I’m confident that the car will be good, and that all of our Canadian friends and Fans will enjoy watching us show off the new hot rod.   As always…. Thanks for supporting Corvette Racing…

 


Mid Ohio 2009
Added 08/13/09

Sorry I’m late getting this out, but needless to say we had a great debut with the new GT 2 car.   You really can’t say enough about how good Corvette Racing is as an organization…but I think the first race of this car was a true testament to their ability to build a car like no one else can.   We had done so little testing, but every issue that we had was properly addressed prior to Mid Ohio, and like always the cars ran faultlessly.

For us to be competing against Porsche, Ferrari, BMW and the Panoz is for sure going to be a lot of fun.   I know that in short order the car will be as strong as they all are, and all of us driving the car are really enjoying being in the class and knowing how hard we are going to have to work.

For the race, Jan qualified third, and at the start was able to get by the Ferrari, and though he was close to the Flying Lizard Porsche, found that we were just a tic shy of where we need to be to beat those guys.   He had a great stint, very consistent with lap time, and when it came time for pitting both Corvettes were running second and third.

When it came time to stop, Jan and I had a tic quicker stop than the 4 car, and we were able to hold about a 4 second gap to them.    Good luck came for us, and bad for them when a full course caution came out and it allowed us to gain almost a full lap on them.   So it at that time came down to us versus the Porsche.  

Unfortunately we were a bit worried about fuel consumption, so while under caution I came in to get a few more gallons of fuel, and in doing so lost track position to the Porsche.    It would have been nice trying to run them down, but I don’t think at this time we had the pace.    So for the rest of my stint, I mostly just stayed out of trouble and protected a second place finish for us.   A good debut no matter how you look at it.

So as we go into this week-end at Road America, everyone on the team is feeling good.   Both cars I expect to be strong, and we all love racing at this track.    I’ll have a bit more time when I get home from this race, and promise to give you a more detailed report on all that is going on with the team.

As always , thanks for supporting us at Corvette Racing.

 


Le Mans 2009
Added 06/17/09

It’s been a few days home now, and if you’re wondering what I’m doing you’d laugh.    It’s back to doing laundry, getting groceries, cooking dinners, and cleaning.   But for some reason or another it all is a bit easier to do now.   Le Mans was awesome.   A great battle between the two cars, and a win that will always mean a lot to me.   

It was from the start a great battle.   Jan did a good job getting us on the pole even though neither car really made an honest qualifying run to the conditions and focusing more on set up.   For the first stint, Jan was able to keep Oliver behind him, but as close as OG could stay to Jan I was concerned that maybe our car was not working quite as well as the 64 car.    Just before I got in for my first double, there was a caution that separated the two cars and allowed us a gap of around two minutes.    Luck is always a part of the game in long races and we caught a good break.

When I got into the car, it was pretty good the first stint but suffering from too much mid corner understeer so that you could not carry the speed you wanted through the middle part of the corner.   We had a huge lead so I was not all that concerned, but on the second stint, the tires really fell off and it was all you could do to run a decent lap time.    Beretta in the 64 car was also pushing really hard, and with their car working a bit better in the middle of the corners was able to make up some time on me.

Us trying to sort the car and make it better was a big part of the race.  We made several changes, but could never get the car completely in the sweet spot.   We again got another break with a safety car later, building up a gap again to the 64 car, but soon would have problems of our own that would really cost us.

The first was a fueling rig problem that would add about 20 seconds to each time that we stopped.    That cost us a ton.    Then around 2 in the morning, Jan was unreal sick, and had to take some medicine to get over it.   The problem was the medicine totally knocked him out and it was iffy whether or not he would be able to get back in the car, so Antonio and I just put our heads down, and pushed as hard as we could.   Personally I only got about 45 minutes of sleep during the race, and would spend my time not in the car either getting massaged or icing my feet which I had bruised in my first stint.    I also at one point did and IV and took two bags of whatever it is they pump into you.     But all that was enough.

Anyway, we were still having a great battle, situations arose that allowed the 4 car with another safety car to get back up to us, and I found myself having to hold off Marcel in the 64 car.    It was a fun battle… he’s a very good talented driver, and I knew that with them having the better car it would be hard work holding him back a long time.   But I’m kinda sure I could have.   Anyway, I did get the call to let him go, and once by me he was able to open up a good gap as he was on his first stint with tires and I was on my second stint.

As I pulled in to change drivers with Antonio, I was a bit down as I thought that the race for us was most likely over.   But then talking with our engineer was given hope as with the way tire strategy was working, we might be in a better tire and fuel window then the 64 car, and that it would come down to the last stint.    So I went to get worked on and prepare for the last stint, and it wasn’t 20 minutes later than Jans wife let me know the 64 car had had a problem, and we provided we didn’t make any mistakes, we could get this last win in the GT 1 category.

There was only one thing on my mind when I got into the car for the last stint, and that was be perfect.   Perfect lines, perfect shifting, watching mirrors, total focus.    Not just for me wanting to win for Jan and Antonio and myself, but really a much bigger picture.   To be perfect for all our Corvette Fans.   To be perfect for all the Americans back home pulling for us.   To be perfect for everyone that loves and cares about the future of GM.  For everyone that believes in Corvette Racing and it’s value to Chevrolet.   For Doug Fehan, Gary Pratt, Jim Miller, everyone at Katech, for Compuware and all our sponsors.   And especially for all the mechanics and engineers with Corvette Racing that spend hours upon hours building the race cars.

The guys on both cars did an amazing job.   It was bad luck for the 64 guys, as they work every bit as hard as the guys on the 63 car.   And Oliver and Olivier and Marcel drove really well.   So hats off to them.   And for Dan Binks…. Well it was nice to finally get him a win at the one track he’d never won at.   Now rumor has it he was all emotional and crying at the end.   Personally I’ll have to see it before I believe it as the Dan I know is a hard ass who even if I scissor kicked him in the head wouldn’t cry !!!  Of course I’m just kidding, as that place is the most emotional place in the world.   

My last several laps, I did not talk on the radio unless absolutely necessary, and then really short.   I know that if I had done anything but focus on the job of driving, as tired and beat up as I was, I would have done the same, and lost it.   So when I got close to the finish, I asked permission to do a burnout.    Seemed like the right thing.    And when I lit them up…. Smoked them big time….  Over the radio….  Dan said “  Now that’s showing them how we do it in America. “   

Finally, about this being my fourth win.   I’m sure it will sink in over the next few days how special it is to be the only American to get that many wins at Le Mans.   And like at Sebring, I hope I can still get a few more.   But those results are really not the result of just me.   It’s having teammates like Jan, Ron, Antonio, Oliver, Scott Pruett, Steve Millen and John Morton.   Guys preparing the cars like everyone at Pratt and Miller and Corvette Racing.   The support of GM and Chevrolet.   And early in my career, an amazing effort put forth by Nissan when they were involved in sportscars.  

When I drove for Nissan, the racing Manager at the time Frank Honsowitz once told me that at the start of every race, he gives me 100% of a car.   Bring me back just 1%, just make sure you win. 

When I first joined Corvette Racing in 2001, my first race was the 24 hours of Daytona.    A huge event for the team as both Earnhardts were racing with us.   Prior to the race, Program manager Doug Fehan told me that he only has three rules.   Follow them, and good things will happen.   Needless to say those directions were followed… we won, and since then have with the GT 1 car had the most amazing ride writing history.    As we move forward, know everyone at Corvette Racing is commited to winning, and always will be.

Johnny

 


 

Le Mans 2009
Added 06/11/09

Talk about lousy weather.    There was a total of 6 hours of track time last night, and only for about the first 35 minutes was the track actually dry.     It would’ve been nice to say that we learned a lot, but honestly other than trying out some different rain tires, not a whole lot was accomplished.   

Le Mans is an odd place in that you do a whole bunch of waiting around.   Kind of like Indy in that respect.    Tonight is important, and we’re really going to have to attack every second we are running.    Not only getting  the car tuned , but also getting all of us drivers in the zone.    Having a speedy car is important, and I know like always the Corvette Racing guys will give us one.

In other Le Mans news, it does look like the battle between Audi and Peugeot is going to be awesome.    They are each time they are out taking big chances, and  I’m sure those of you that watch the race on TV will be seeing a lot of that race.   Hopefully our Corvettes will get decent coverage as well… but I think the TV is done my the French… so expect to see a lot on the French teams and French drivers.   

I’ll put more up tomorrow and let you know how tonight goes.    This being the last time Corvette Racing is here with the GT 1 car means we have work to do…. There’s only one appropriate way to finish the story….. And we all know that that is….

Johnny


 

Le Mans 2009
Added 06/10/09

Well we’re back at Le Mans.   The weather here is currently pretty lousy, cold and wet, but it looks like the week-end may be nice.    That would be a nice change over the past few years as it has rained during the race, making it a bit of a challenge finding the right Michelin tire to be on.    Two years in a row finishing second has not been easy to take, and trust me we’ll all be working hard to correct that.

Yesterday was scrutinizing in town.   Usually there is a gigantic crowd there, but with the weather it was not that crazy.   Both Corvettes got through tech without a problem, then it was back to the track and our hospitality area where the drivers sleep, and the team is fed.    A relatively early night for us, and today will be one of just checking our gear, and maybe looking at some data.    One of the things at Le Mans, is that you do a lot of sitting around waiting.    We  are finally on track tomorrow afternoon, and I now we’re all eager to get to work.

We’ve for sure got some very speedy Corvettes, so this will be a great event for us.    Anyway, for now all is quiet here, but I’ll let you know once the noise begins how things are going.

Johnny

 


Le Mans 2009
Added 06/02/09

I know I’m not the only one that feels like it’s been forever since we’ve run our Corvettes.    Since Long Beach very little at the track work has been done, and most of the attention at Pratt and Miller has been directed to building the new GT 2 cars, which we are very much looking forward to debuting at Mid Ohio.   Quite simply, no one builds a race car like the guys at Corvette Racing, and I’ll be surprised if the mad scientists at Pratt don’t give us something that is close right out of the box.

Though that first race with the GT 2 car is still what seems a lifetime away, we will soon be  flying to France, and once again doing battle at Le Mans.   The competition should be good, and after finishing second the last two years, and on the same lap as the competition, I know that everyone on the team will be focused on making certain we get the job done this year.   Dan Binks has never won there, and no American driver has ever won there four times, so I’d like to remedy both those problems this time. 

As in years past, I will be doing updates about how things are going, so as we get into the week of Le Mans…. Check the site and I’ll be putting things up everyday.   The kids won’t be going this year so I know you’ll miss hearing about things from their eyes,  but I’ll do my best.

Being Speedy.   Mega Speedy… mega focused.   Count on us being really strong.   I know myself, Jan and Antonio have been working out hard, and are going to be ready.    Same holds true for Dan Binks and all the guys on the 63 car.   It’s time for the American flag to again wave in France….wish us luck…

Johnny O


Sebring 2009
Added 03/25/09

It was another good year for us on the #3 car at Sebring, why I have such good luck there I’ll never know, but I’m glad that I do !   It is a long and challenging week, and it seems each year the track gets rougher and rougher.   Watching the cars bounce through turns 17 and 1, is almost painful to watch, but it’s that aspect of the track that makes it such a challenge, and such a good tune-up for Le Mans.

This Sebring was the first the team has done without Ron being in the #3 car.   It was weird not having him to talk with about the car, but Antonio did a great job…. And I was glad Ron was still there to hang out with.  For most of the week we were a tic faster than the # 4 car, but in qualifying we missed just a little and they ended up getting the pole.   The track was changing a bit each day…. And staying ahead of it was not only hard in practice, but also the race.    Lots of wind… then sun.. then no sun… it kept the engineers working.

At the start, OG was able to hold off Jan and they ran together for the entire first stint…always within about 3 seconds.  We had a very good pit stop when Jan came in, and I knew my best chance to get by Olivier would be to put in a killer out lap, and then while he was still on cold stickers, make a move on him.   As it turned out, he left the pits and by turn 3 I was right on him.   I made a move bringing him deep into the hairpin, with the thought of crossing under him in the corner, but that was blocked by a prototype.   Then going into turn ten, he defended the inside, but still being on cold tires I knew I could brake later, and made the move on the outside going through ten.    It was fun racing to say the least.   From that point on, we really focused on just pushing each lap as hard as we could, and not make any mistakes.

As always, Dan Binks and the guys gave us a great car, and did awesome pit stops.   Ken Flory our engineer also did a great job… and hopefully the momentum will carry on to Le Mans.   Doing well there is so important, and I know the folks at Chevy would love having another win to brag about.    And speaking of Chevy.. one cool thing they have done is come out with the GT 1 street version corvette commemorating all that we have done with the GT 1 car.   A very cool ride… they even have Jake on the hood !!!

As far as the GT 2 car is concerned, I’ve been told it’s a very nice piece, but then you would expect that from Corvette Racing.    We’ve not tested it yet, but when we do… I’ll be sure to let you know about it.

Thanks as always for supporting us….  Long Beach is up next….

Johnny O

 


2009 Racing Season
Added 02/26/09

First off, I apologize for not putting anything up here for awhile and also not answering guest book questions. It’s been a busy winter being a dad, but lately has been awesome as Canaan is totally kicking ass in school with all A’s and B’s… which means I’m might have to dig into the piggy bank and get him started officially racing in Karts. Those of you that are parents, know that nothing makes you more proud then good grades, but I add to that when I am karting with Canaan and he puts a good move on me. That… is wicked cool. 

With all that has been going on in the economy, well there hasn’t been any testing for us at Corvette Racing. The guys at Pratt and Miller have been building the new GT 2 cars, and I know all of us are eager to get to work on them, but it’s still a bit away before we fire the first one up. I can’t begin to tell you how much we all are looking forward to racing against other teams again. Doing battle against others is what we love most, and developing things to where we are again the team to beat, well is a challenge drivers and engineers live for.

That said, don’t think for a second the last two years we haven’t been racing. The competitiveness between the two cars in unlike anything I’ve ever enjoyed, and though all buddies out of the car, well all you have to do is look at some of the races last year to know that we weren’t playing around. Adding that to GT 2… well I know all the fans will love us bringing our best to the track.

Sebring is the first race as always, and anyone that knows me understands how special that place is to me. It’s just a cool lap. And the fans, especially the turn ten gang… well it’s gotten to be where it’s like a family reunion. I’ve been training hard, doing lots of swimming and look forward like nothing else to getting back in the car.

This year joining Jan and I in the #3 car will be Antonio Garcia. I’ve not had the opportunity to spend a lot of time getting to know him, but what I do know I really like. He was in the winning Aston Martin last year, and he and I had a good battle for several laps…and he raced me very cleanly. He also was in the winning car for Daytona this year, so I think he’ll be bringing very positive energy to the car. 

I’m also going to be making the website a little more colorful… hopefully…. So when changes come let me know what you think. Good or bad… I just want to make it nice and easy.. like it has been.

For those of you that left notes on the guest book… I’ll get back to you before Sebring…

Johnny O

 


Corvette Racing Update
Added 12/15/08

It’s been awhile since I last posted anything, so I thought I would get something up to fill you in on what has been going on at Corvette Racing.

In November we did a three day test at Sebring, doing work on the GT-1 car, and also working on our GT-2 program for next year.   Jan and I did most of the work on the GT-2 car, and I know we both are looking forward to the challenge of competing there.   The car performed very well, and we gathered lots of data for the engineers.    As I write this, the entire team at Pratt and Miller is busy building the new cars, and though it will still be awhile before we get to run them, I am confident that they will be awesome.    That is simply the way things get done there.

Like pretty much everyone, we are very closely watching what is going on with GM and are hopeful for a good outcome.  The challenges of the current economy have certainly affected the automotive industry, and it’s our hope that our program will not be changed as a result.   Mark Kent, Steve Wesoloski, and or course Doug Fehan are doing everything they can to secure our future in these difficult times.    So if you believe in Corvette Racing, don’t be bashful about letting the folks at corporate know how you feel about what we do, and how well we represent not only the best of Chevrolet, but also the best of GM… on the world stage.

My personal feelings are that more than anything else GM does in racing, we are truly the most relevant of any other program, Nascar included.   Our use of E85, our winning the Green Challenge, our incredible performances every year at Le Mans, and our always pushing the envelope with technology, are a shining example of what Chevrolet is capable of.   And our involvement with those on the production side of things is something not seen in GM’s involvement in other areas of motor sport.

As a driver, right now I’m currently doing lots of training, and getting some practice by running go-karts with my son Canaan.   And with Christmas soon upon us, I’m of course focusing on the season, and the kids.   That said, may everyone have a merry Christmas and new year, and we’ll keep you up to speed on all that is going on with Corvette Racing.   

Johnny O

 


 

Laguna Seca 2008
Added 10/19/08

So the season is finally over, and even though we didn’t get the win at Laguna, it certainly was a great year.   Jan and I accomplished what we set out to do, which was win the championship, and along the way enjoyed some fierce inter team racing with the 4 car.   I know that all the Corvette fans enjoy seeing us do battle with each other, but I think all of us are looking forward to us moving to the GT-2 category after Le Mans next year, so that we can take on other manufacturers and give ourselves another challenge. 

I know as fans, you must have been extremely frustrated watching the race at Laguna.   It is sad that  a track that was once just about everyones favorite place to race on , has become little more than a sandbox.    The changes made to make it good for the motorcycle race they have there, have absolutely ruined it for car racing.    So much dirt and sand is brought onto the circuit by cars running close to the edge and occasionally dropping wheels on the exit of corners, that when one is forced off line by an overtaking car, there is no grip.    So the car getting passed becomes a passenger, and then gets stuck in the worlds deepest gravel traps.    Then when it is towed back on the circuit, it brings tons of sand and gravel back onto the circuit, making things even worse.    Trust me it was as frustrating for us driving as it was for you all watching.

One very funny thing that happened during the week-end was some fans came up to me who obviously watch the Star Mazda races that I commentate for on Speed.   In one of the shows I made a comment about how the new tracks that were being designed don’t lend themselves to very good racing as they are never designed by someone that actually races !!!   So they came up to me, mentioned that they like the idea of me designing courses,  and the next day showed up with a petition to let me be the one to fix Laguna !!!    I hope that they get lots of signatures as I would love being able to show them what we need to get done so that it’s good for motorcycles AND cars.     And heck, if Lime Rock ever wants me to tell them what we need to fix that place…. Well all they have to do is call. 

Tonight is the banquet, and I know both Jan and I will be enjoying the moment to reflect on what has been a great year.   Last year, we both left very angry when we looked back and saw all of the races that got away from us for silly reasons.     We both entered this season very motivated about doing all that we could to ensure this season went our way.     I’m glad we pulled it off.    Along with the crew of the #3 car, led by Dan Binks, special mention needs to be given to our engineer Ken Flory.    Sebring was his first race with the team, we had a good car there, but as the season went on, it was great working with him and seeing him learn what Jan and I liked and needed in the car.   The last few races of the season we were so good, and his spending late nights going over data I know were a major contributor to our success.  

Next year will present new challenges to us, and I know we are all excited about it.    I’ll keep posting on here to let you know what is going on, and as always, thanks for supporting Corvette Racing and the ALMS.

Johnny

 


Petit Le Mans 2008
Added 10/07/08

A lot of good things have been happening for us in the 3 car this year, and Petit was no exception.   Our engineer Ken Flory seems to give us better cars every race, and we for sure had a good hot rod this time.   All the guys prepping the car did their normal perfect job, and there were very few issues we had to deal with in the race other than trying not to get run into by the prototypes.

Petit is a very exhausting race for me with all the friends I have attending, as well as putting on the auction.   That takes a lot of work and energy, but man is it worth it.   And for those that go to it, it’s always a lot of fun.   We did pretty well with it again this year, and I know that the Alzheimers Association and the Guest House will be pleased that we can again help them with their endeavors to help our senior citizens.    This year I’m also going to be giving some of the money raised to Keith Jones, who is the crew member of De Ferran that was burned at Mid-Ohio.   So thanks to everyone that attended and helped out.

At the beginning of the season, I had set several goals for myself.   One of course was to win the championship, and the other was to improve on how I qualify.   At Road Atlanta I was very pleased to get the pole on my last lap… I needed it to be perfect as I could be as my previous laps I had traffic.   Getting the pole I think put everyone in a good mood towards the race and we all looked forward to a good run.

Last year the highlight of the race for me was without a doubt hearing my daughter Kelly sing the national anthem, but with me starting the race this year I didn’t really get to hear her.  Everyone told me she did a great job though… and for an eleven year old kid to do that, well needless to say I’m unreal proud of her.   Our objective for the race was to make sure we put in a clean run with no contact with the prototypes, and for the most part we pulled that off.   I’ve learned over the years that at Petit if you just put in a clean run, well good things happen, and this year we made it stick.

Finally getting to win a championship with Jan was for me very special.   I thought we were a strong team when we were together at Panoz, and when the team separated us I thought it was a bad move.   Building this season on what we learned last year, I had a good feeling we could make it happen and am proud we both did.      Then to have Ron there with us at Petit, getting one more win sharing a car with him, well that also made it special.

Laguna is up next, and it sure would be nice getting one more win to finish off the year.  Thanks as always to everyone cheering us on, it means the world to us all at Corvette Racing.

 

Johnny O

 


Detroit 2008
Added 09/03/08

Before the race, all of us drivers had lots of different functions to attend to.   Wednesday night I again had the opportunity to throw at the first pitch at a Tigers game.    With my ribs still hurting I was worried it might not be a good pitch, but still think I threw a strike, and we all had a good time.   Then on Thursday Steve Wesoloski and I took a helicopter ride to the Ford Museum for a charity dinner held by Roger Penske.   The place was fantastic, with so much of America’s history on display, and then after myself and several other drivers gave a talk, it was a quick flight back to the track and get ready for racing activities.

As things worked out weather wise, I think I only had a bout 4 laps total on Friday, and then did another 8 or nine before the race.    Jan did a great job qualifying, getting the pole, and I was looking forward to continuing our winning streak.   He had a really good first stint, but OG kept him close, and on the first stop which was under  yellow both cars pitted together.

Sadly we didn’t have the best of stops, there was a problem with one of the wheels, and after getting dropped I had to get put back up for a few more seconds which was all the #4 car needed to get the lead.   I had a good stint myself, as our engineer Ken Flory had given us a pretty good car.    But the #4 car seemed to be working strong as well, and Beretta and I were quite equal.   I did feel that towards the end of my stint we may have been stronger, but a yellow came out again, and when we pitted Jan got back in.   He did a good job staying close to OG, but sadly there was another yellow that came out when the leader of the race was between the two cars.   That meant that we lost almost a lap, and long story short, we finished second.

I was really proud of the team, the guys on the #3 car, with how good a car they gave us.    Detroit is a hard circuit, very bump, and no grip at all.    Our car this year was miles better than last.   Ken has been doing a great job of giving us a speedy car, and I think that for the last two races we should be in a good position to pick back up on our winning ways.  

Petit is up next, and it will be good racing with Ron again.   It’s been awhile since we’ve won that race, and more than anything I would love to get another one.    I will be doing my auction, at 6:15 on Friday… I hope you all can attend.    Also, you will be able to get tickets through me, with the proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association, and a local senior citizens day care center.   I’m also going to get some of the money to Keith Jones, the crew man for De Ferren Racing that was injured at Mid-Ohio.   Thanks as always for supporting Corvette Racing… and fingers crossed that the #3 car is speedy the rest of the way….

 

Johnny O

 


Mosport 2008
Added 08/26/08

I always love going to Canada and racing at Mosport. It’s a great circuit with lots of history and very very fast. For some reason I’ve always had good luck there, and this year proved to be no different. Our engineer Ken Flory gave us a good car, and I was able to get pole. To be honest I’m usually a pretty lousy qualifier, but we had a speedy car and on my last lap I was just able to get in front of Olivier.

The race again went well for us, I was able to hold a slight lead over Olivier, and then Jan was able to build up more of a lead over his stints. He doubled up this week-end as my ribs are still messed up, and he did an awesome job. Speaking of which, the guys on the #3 car were unreal on the pit stops, getting us some added time which is always huge.

So for the most part it was a great week-end, we led each lap, and most importantly rolled both cars onto the truck at the end of the day. Detroit is up next, and we really want to put on a good show there and show the execs at GM what we are all about.

A few other things about the week-end I need to point out. On Friday the 4 car had a big shunt in the morning, and I honestly thought there would be no way that they would get the car back together in time for the next session much less qualifying. But Mike West and his guys did an amazing job, not only getting the car put back together and making the next session, but I think they made it even better as they for sure closed gap to us before qualifying.

One other cool moment was at the Corvette Coral, when courtesy of Ron Fellows I was named and honorary Canadian !!! I had to pass a test of course, but did so with flying colors and am very thankful for that honor being bestowed on me from our Canadian friends. Each year everyone at Mosport greats us with great enthusiasm, and we look forward to going every year.

Thanks as always for the support of all Corvette Racing fans… I know I speak for everyone on the team when I say that it’s you that keep this program running and being so strong.
 

Johnny O

 


Mosport and Auction Information
Added 08/19/08

I know we are still a bit away, but I wanted to let you know that I will once again do my best to put on an auction at Petit.   The schedule is a bit tight, but I’m doing everything I can to make it happen.

Also, Road Atlanta will once again be offering me tickets to sell and the proceeds will once again go to help out a local senior citizen day care center in Gainesville, and other proceeds going to help the Alzheimers Association.

Keep watching the site as I’ll have details up shortly.

I leave for Mosport on Thursday and I’m bummed as my ribs are still messed up.    From what I’ve learned they can take about 4 weeks to heal, and I’m praying I beat that.    Mosport is an amazing track, I’ve been lucky enough to win there 5 times, but as fast as it is with all of the right hand corners, I’m worried about how hard on me it’s going to be.    I guess we’ll find out.   Dan Binks and I will be doing all we can to pad the seat to make it more bearable, and I know that our doctors will be there to help as well.

So fingers crossed !   We should have a speedy car again…  I’ve named her Rockstar this year, and she certainly has been that.

Thanks for continuing to cheer on Corvette Racing.

Johnny O

 


Road America 2008
Added 08/11/08

Some tracks you just love going to, and Road America is one of them.   A beautiful race track with some of the best corners anywhere in the world.   It’s why everyone loves going there, and loves racing there.   For the longest time I only finished second there, and then two years ago I finally broke through driving with Ron.   Things went the way of the three car again this year, and Jan and I took another win.

Our car in qualifying and the race was not as good as we would have liked.   Jan is one of the best qualifiers I know, and for him to be as far off as we were was a sign that we were missing something on the set-up.   Things in the race weren’t much better, but the 4 car was struggling some as well, and we were able to keep things somewhat close.

Things looked quite bad for us on Jans second stint when he called in that he had a problem with the steering, and he had to come in and get it checked out under green.   At that point I figured we were out of the running, but we caught a break when a few laps later there was a yellow, and Jan came back into the pits for a full service, and all the time we remained on the lead lap.  

With new tires on, he was able to work through traffic and get back up to Oliver who was struggling on old tires, but still doing a great job pushing as hard as he could.   But really the 4 car was in a bad situation, as with them having not pitted, there final stop would be long taking fuel and tires, whereas all we would need would be a splash of fuel and we were good to go.

All of the strategy playing went out the window though when  Oliver fell off at the kink, and did just enough damage to keep them from continuing.   I wrecked in that same corner back in 1989 when I was running Indy Lights… and going that fast you know you are lucky when you don’t get hurt.    Luckily for OG he only had a little soreness in his wrist, and I know he’ll be good as new by Mosport.

The only bad part of the race for me, was in getting in the car for the final 45 minutes, I totally messed up my ribs.   Just as I was getting in the seat the car went up on the airjacks, and the quick movement made me lose my balance and fall onto the bar just inside our crash box.   I honestly thought I had broken my ribs… and when I called in to tell the guys, Dan Binks told me to bring it back in and he would drive it !!!!   I figured I would tough it out and after the race got checked out by the doctor and though not broken, I do need to take care of them the next week or so.    Anyway, a small price to pay for winning… and as we look to Mosport, one of my favorite tracks, things continue to look good for us.    As always.. thanks …

Johnny O

 


Mid –Ohio 2008
Added 07/22/08

Things continue to go our way this season, with Jan and I getting another win, this time at Mid-Ohio.   Judging from the number of e-mails and text messages I received after the race, it must have looked pretty exciting on TV.   It certainly was exciting in the car to say the least.

The week-end started out well, with both Jan and I really liking how our car was working, and not having to struggle too much.    The same could not be said for the guys on the 4 car, who were having serious handling problems, and were doing everything they could to find what the problem was.  

Last year I was able to get the pole for us in the number 3 car only to lose it in Tech when we failed the stall test.   This year I again felt I had a good chance of getting pole, as our car was good, and the 4 car was still struggling.   Nothing however is guaranteed, and as Olivier has more pole positions than anyone in the ALMS, I knew I would still have to do a good job.   I was able to get a decent lap in, with just a little traffic, and did end up getting pole.   Olivier did a great job on his lap, but with their car still not right, was a tic behind us.

When we left the track, the mechanics on the #4 car were working flat out, going through everything on it.   Mike West and his guys did a great job replacing everything, as when we showed up for warm-up the next morning, the #4 car was back where it should be, running the same times as we were.

The race was very exciting, and like usual all of us were running pretty much the same times depending on traffic.   Of course the most excitement in the race came when Jan and Oliver pitted and we ended up doing driver changes.    It was what we would call a short fill, as the fuel tanks weren’t empty, and meant that driver changes would have to be fast.   Both cars were dropped about the same time, and then the drag race was on down pit lane.

For sure that was exciting for everyone, and I think everyone can see that even though there are only two Corvettes racing in GT-1, well we’re still racing hard.   The fact that it all happened in front of the Corvette Coral made it even more fun I know for them.

The next race up for us is Road America, and it is a great place to really turn our cars loose.   I’ve only won once there over the years, but with things going our way this year, will keep my fingers crossed for more good luck.  As always, thanks for cheering on Corvette Racing….

Johnny O

 


Lime Rock 2008
Added 07/15/08

This year Lime Rock was a success for us, mostly because both Corvettes once again rolled onto the transporter after the race.   Like most drivers, I was hopeful going there that with the new pavement and changes made it would finally be a great place to hold an ALMS race.    The fans there are great, and we love that about the place, but sadly the layout of the circuit was if anything made more difficult to race on, and I don’t know of one driver that spoke well of the place.   It’s a shame that they didn’t use one of the drivers in the series to help them out, as I know things could have been done much better.

Both Corvettes were pretty close in the race, but on our car we went in a different direction after the first session to try something to help with understeer in the car.   Sadly, in the second session it was red flag after red flag, and we never really had the opportunity to work on the car with all the crashing taking place.   Jan did a great job putting down a lap in qualifying, but Oliver at the end put one down just a bit better so they had the pole.

The race was pretty exciting, with us getting caught out with the pace car and having to fight back, and the 4 car having gear box problems that allowed us to stay in touch.    We needed to take a splash of fuel near the end, and as I came out of the pits it was very close going into turn one with Olivier on my outside.   I knew that with me still being on the same tires I would have good grip there, and that with him on the outside he would have a hard time holding onto his car.    So we were able to stay in front, and then when the 4 car had further problems we were able to cruise on home, finally getting a win at Lime Rock.

To all the fans that showed up to watch the race, thanks for coming out and supporting us.   Mid Ohio is next, and I know everyone in the series will be looking forward to going there again.  

Johnny O

 


Le Mans 2008
Added 07/03/08

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to talking about Le Mans.   It was difficult to get my heart into it after again finishing second to the Aston, and again on the same lap.  So much work goes into winning that race, and but for the rain it might have well gone our way as we were getting better fuel mileage, and would’ve been able to gain one pit stop, which would have been a lot of time on the track.

Again, both the Corvettes and the Aston were very close speed wise.   Tire choice determined a lot on how fast you could go, and double stinting the tires was at times difficult.   Then when the rain came, it was important to be on the right tires there as well, as when we were on the wrong compound we suffered and lost lots of time.

Things went for the most part well for the 63 car, we did need one long stop of 90 seconds to change a rotor, the guys did a great job doing it so quickly.  The 64 car had a few more problems, that cost them more than us, and but for that they were very strong as well.

But once again the Aston went trouble free with their race, and that is what you need to do to win.   Luck has a lot to do with it.   And this time they had it again.    I’m sure that everyone at Corvette Racing is as motivated as I to go back and win again at Le Mans… and already looking into how we can go faster.

Lime Rock is up next for us.   It will be fun for me as some old college buddies will be there…  hopefully they will bring good luck.    The track has been repaved and changed in some areas, so I know all of us are really keeping our fingers crossed they did things right.   Not many guys really enjoy driving there as it’s so outdated and dangerous, but if they did things right, I know all of us will enjoy going back in the future.   The fans are among the best we visit, and like the circuit or not, it’s great getting to show them our cars.

Johnny O

 


Le Mans 2008
Added 06/13/08

Well if you’ve been paying attention you know that things are going well for us this year at Le Mans. Corvette Racing has two very strong cars, and Jan last night got the first pole in our history of racing here. We are all very optimistic about our chances, and it looks like we should have pretty good weather.

Tonight we have the drivers parade to attend, which is riding in antique cars through the village of Le Mans, the streets are lined with well over a hundred thousand people and it’s a very neat tradition. Then it’s back to the mini hotel we have at the track for hopefully a good night sleep.

If you are interested in seeing what we are doing during the race, log onto www.badboyvette.com as they will have 24 hour coverage of what is going on in our garage…. So if you have someone on the team you care about, you can see if they are awake or falling asleep !!!

I hope that you all enjoyed Kelly and her articles on what we were doing. And those of you that know me know that I’m not mean, and I can drive on the other side of the road. It’s just that I was driving a crappy ford rental car and the brakes were too sensitive…. But I did feel bad about her banging her lip. She’s better now, and it’s been fun seeing her adapt and come to love being over her. She didn’t want to leave the chateau we were staying in, and it’s the funniest thing in the world to see her get kissed on both cheeks the way they do over here. I’m thinking that she is going to be a good luck charm. Never has our car been more speedy, and there are good positive feelings in our team right now.

Thanks for cheering us on….

Johnny
 


Le Mans 2008
Added 06/11/08

Hi this is Kelly again.   My dad is making me do another article cause he is so mean.   SO  I will tell you about what we did in Ireland.  First off they drive on the other side of the road over there, and my dad really sucks at doing that.    When I was looking at my camera he hit the brakes really hard and I smashed my lips on the camera.  I got a cut and started to bleed and my dad didn’t even care.   He’s so MEAN!!!!!!!

But Ireland was more fun and nicer than Paris.  We stayed in Dublin on O’Connell street and saw the statue of Daniel O’Connell who was a famous historical figure in Ireland.   We played lots of games in an arcade.   And also shopped for lots of Irish things.    And of course we ate at McDonalds and Burger King which my dad really hated !!!!

The next day we drove down the coast and ended up in a great resort that had the nicest indoor pool ever.  We swam and swam.    It was the most fun that I’d had since coming over..    But then we had to leave and go back to Dublin because we had to fly back to Paris early the next morning.

IT WAS THE WORST FLIGHT EVER !!!    We had to wake up at 4 in the morning , and then for the entire flight there was a baby sitting next to me that screamed the entire time.   AND LOUD .   Everyone on the plane hated it !!!!   Then we took the train back to Le Mans and I was glad to get back to the track and get on the computer again.

It is supposed to be a better week weather wise.   I am having fun, but I’m also sad because my best friend Maura is going to be moving to Utah this week.    And if my other best friend Joy is reading this … HI JOY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Ok, well my dad is driving the race car tonight so I’m going to go.    So……..PEACE OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!BYE BYE!!!

By: Kelly O’Connell

 


Le Mans 2008
Added 06/06/08

Well I’m taking control back for a day or so.   Kelly and I are right now in Ireland, and staying just down the road from O’Connell Bridge in Dublin.   An amazingly beautiful city, the people are all very friendly, and we are having a great time.    We’re off shortly to drive around and check out some castles, and get a feel for the place.  It should be fun.

Paris was also great.   The highlight for me was going to the Louvre.. And sharing that with Kelly.   The Eiffel tower was also spectacular,  but I think Kelly had more fun chasing the pigeons there than going up to the top.     I’m learning that she is quite the shopping addict… and also quite the negotiator !!   Hopefully we’ll have room in our luggage to pack it all into !!  Or most likely I’ll just get another bag !!!

Anyway, I’ve not forgotten why we are here.   I’m very much looking forward to getting back to Le Mans, and getting on with business.   Prequalifying really didn’t show where everyone was at… and I’m anxious to see just how good our Corvettes are.   I know that even now tons of data are being looked at, seeing if there is anything we can do to eak out more speed.   The Pratt and Miller guys are second to none….   We’re going to be strong for sure.

Johnny

 


Le Mans 2008
Added 06/03/08

WE ARE IN PARIS RIGHT NOW AND I HAVE A LOT OF STUFF TO TELL YOU GUYS!!!!!FIRST OFF WHEN WE WENT TO RETURN RON’S RENTAL CAR AND MY DAD THOUGHT YOU HAD TO PRESS A BUTTON TO OPEN THE DOOR BUT IT WAS ACTUALLY THE FIRE ALARM!!!!TO OPEN THE DOOR YOU JUST HAD TO PUSH ON IT!!!MY DAD SAID IT WAS THE FIRST TIME HE’D EVER SET OFF A FIRE ALARM!!!!AND AFTER THAT WE GOT A TAXI AND WENT TO OUR HOTEL!!!I FELL ASLEEP ON THE TAXI.BUT ANYWAYS ITS BEEN A LOT OF FUN HERE!!AND I FORGOT TO TELL YOU GUYS WHEN I MADE MY FIRST ARTICLE THAT MY DAD MADE A VIDEO ON MY CAMERA OF HIM WAKING ME UP AND THAT WE MIGHT BE ABLE TO POST THAT VIDEO ON MY DADS WEBSITE!!!

BUT WE HAVE MOSTLY BEEN SHOPPING AND I’VE BEEN REALLY SPOILED SO FAR!!!I HAVE GOTTEN A LOT OF TINY LITTLE ANIMAL FAMILIES CALLED SYLVANIAN FAMILIES…

AND THEY ARE SOME OF THE CUTEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!THEY COME WITH THE TINIEST ACCESSORIES AND I LOVE TINY THINGS!!!!!! I ALSO GOT THIS REALLY CUTE KEYCHAIN!!!

AS FAR AS FOOD GOES I’VE BEEN REALLY PICKY AND MY DAD DOESN’T REALLY LIKE THAT…I DO THE WIERDEST THINGS WITH FOOD!!!FOR EXAMPLE  YESTERDAY WE GOT A BIG PRETZEL AND I ONLY ATE THE SALT OFF OF IT!!!I CAN EAT SALT PLAIN AND THINK IT WAS A FULL MEAL…..IT DRIVES MY DADDY CRAZY!!!!BUT IT’S FUN TO MAKE HIM GO CRAZY!!!

TODAY I RODE MY FIRST SUBWAY AND MY DAD AND I VISITED NOTRE DAM CATHEDRAL

!!!EXCEPT WE DIDN’T HAVE TICKETS TO GET IN SO THAT’S KINDA UNFORTUNATE!!!BUT IT WAS STILL A VERY COOL PLACE…THE WEATHER REALLY STUNK THOUGH, IT WAS RAINY AND COLD OUTSIDE…BUT WE MANAGED!!!

WELL I HAVE TO GO BECAUSE I HAVE A PLAN TO DRIVE MY DAD CRAZY!!!WISH ME LUCK!!!!BYE BYE!!!!!!!!!PEACE OUT!!!!  :P

KELLY

 


Le Mans 2008
Added 06/01/08

HI!! THIS IS KELLY!!!!!!THIS WEEK IT WILL BE RAINING THE ENTIRE TIME……HOW SAD….LLLWELL WHEN WE GOT HERE AT THE RACE TRACK I LOOKED AT THE ROOM AND SAID TO MY DADDY THAT IT WAS TO DULL…SO I TRIED TO BLING IT OUT MORE!!!FIRST I GOT TWO OF MY DISNEY MAGAZINES (BOP AND J-14)…THEN I TORE OUT A MILEY CYRUS AND EMILY OSMENT POSTER AND HUNG IT UP ON THE WALL!!!!!NEXT I SAW THAT OLIVER GAVIN HAD SOME PINK DUCT TAPE, SO I ASKED HIM IF I COULD BORROW IT!!AND THEN I TOOK THE PINK TAPE AND WRAPPED IT ALL AROUND ME AND MY DADS BEDS BUT IT IS NOT FULLY FINISHED YET…BUT WHEN IT IS OUR BEDS WILL BE PINK ALL OVER AND IT WILL FEEL LIKE I’M IN MY BEDROOM AT HOME!!!!SINCE MY DAD WAS WORKING ALL DAY TODAY AT PRE-QUALIFYING I HAD TO STAY ALL BY MYSELF WITH  NOBODY TO PLAY WITH,  SO I GOT ON MY DADDY’S LAP TOP AND WENT ON YOUTUBE…AND I WATCHED FRED VIDEOS AND PETUNIA VIDEOS ALL DAY AND LAUGHED MY HEAD OFF WHILE WATCHING!!

  SO TOMORROW WE ARE GOING TO PARIS AND ME AND MY DADDY ARE GOING TO BE THERE UNTIL THURSDAY AND THEN WE HEAD TO IRELAND AND STAY THERE UNTIL SUNDAY AND HOPEFULLY I CAN TALK MY DAD INTO A LOT OF SHOPPING LIKE I USUALLY

DO!!! JJJJJJBUT WHEN WE LEAVE IRELAND WE WILL COME BACK TO THE RACE TRACK AND GO BACK TO STAYING AT THE CHATEAU….AND SOME PEOPLE SAY IT IS HAUNTED BECAUSE IT IS SO OLD, BUT I KNOW THAT IT ISNT BECAUSE I HAVE STAYED THERE AND IT WAS REALLY FUN!!

THE CHATEAU IS REALLY,REALLY OLD AND EXTREMELY BIG!!!!!!! IT IS GINORMOUS!!!!! IT WAS TAKEN OVER BY THE SOLDIERS IN WORLD WAR 2 SO I THOUGHT IT WAS PRETTY EXCITING TO BE STANDING EXACTLY WHERE THEY WERE!!!BUT EVERYTHING LOOKED LIKE MEDEVIL TIMES SO I THOUGHT IT WAS REALLY FUN THERE!!!!IT WAS ESPECIALLY FUN BECAUSE VICTOR (THE GUY WHO OWNS THE PLACE) HAS FOUR DOGS AND THEY ARE ALL LABS!!!! THEY’RE GIANT!!!!BUT THEY ARE SO FUN TO PLAY WITH!!! THEIR NAMES ARE LASLO,ROMULUS,RAMULUS,AND LOOPUS. LASLO IS THE OLDEST AND HE IS PARALIZED ON HIS LEGS SO ALL HE DOES ALL DAY IS BARK AND DRAG HIMSELF AROUND WITH HIS FRONT PAWS….ITS REALLY SAD BUT HE IS A REALLY HAPPY DOG!!!!!THEN ROMULUS AND RAMULUS ARE BOTH SONS OF LASLO AND ROMULUS IS VERY OBEDIENT!!!THEN LOOPUS IS ROMULUS’S SON AND HE IS THE LITTLE PUPPY BUT HE IS REALLY BIG AND PLAYFUL AND BY PLAYFUL I MEAN HE TRIES TO BITE YOUR ARM OFF!!!!IT HURTS REALLY BAD!!!!!BUT HE IS A REALLY CUTE PUPPY!

SO THAT’S ALL I REALLY HAVE TO TELL YOU GUYS TODAY BUT I’M GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF MORE ARTICLES!!!!AND IF MY MOM,JEN JEN,CANAAN, OR ANYBODY ELSE THAT I LOVE IS READING THIS RIGHT NOW THEN I LOVE YOU!!!

                                                                            SEE YA L8TER,

                                                                             KELLYBELL!!!

 


Le Mans 2008
Added 05/31/08

As I write this I’m on my way to Le Mans with my daughter Kelly.   Lots of you know her from her singing the national anthem at Petit Le Mans, and I know this race will be very special getting to show her and share with her the amazing spectacle of Le Mans.  I know she is very excited, and it should be a great adventure.

The way the next few days will go, is we arrive in Paris and then take the TGV ( a very fast train ) down to Le Mans.    Once there we will settle in, check in at the race track, and then we’ll head out to the Chateau where Ron and I stayed last year.   It’s a very cool place with amazing atmosphere, and is over 700 years old, so historically very interesting.

Sunday is Pre Qualifying for the race, and allows us the opportunity to begin dialing the cars in for the race.   It takes several hours for the track to begin getting cleaned and having some rubber down on it, but once that happens the times really begin to fall.   I know there will be lots of competition for us this year, not only the Aston Martin guys, but also several Corvettes that have been campaigning in Europe should also be a challenge.    However , once again I think our Pratt and Miller Corvettes will be the ones to beat, and I expect both cars to be very strong.

I’ll keep you updated as always as to how things are going, and the adventure that Kelly and I are having.

I think it might also be fun to let her post on the website how she is seeing things over here, and hope that the perspective of an eleven year old girl is something that you all might enjoy.   Fingers crossed for next few weeks…

Johnny O

 


Salt Lake City 2008
Added 05/20/08

Things continue to go well for Jan and I in the Number 3 car with us getting another win, this time at Miller Motorsports Park.   It was a very good race, and as always Dan Binks and the guys did an amazing job making sure we had a speedy race car, that for the race was as good as it had been all week-end.   Special mention to our engineer Ken Flory, who gave us the best car we’ve had all season.    It’s very impressive to see how quickly he is learning what the car likes, and what Jan and I like, and translating tons of information into speed on the track.  

Jan and I had been the quicker of the two cars, right up until qualifying.    We were allowed 3 timed laps, and retard that I am, thought I was going to get one more than I actually did !!  I know.. hard to count to 3, but I left some on the table and Olivier ended up beating me by a tenth or so.   Needless to say I was a bit ticked off at myself, as I should have done better, but credit do to Olivier.    He has more pole positions than anyone in ALMS history, so beating him in qualifying is no easy task.    I’ll just have to work harder at that in the future.

The race went well, both cars were very equal.   I more or less followed Olivier for my first stint, and during our first stop we were able to take the lead when they had a fueling problem and took a bit more time on the 4 car.    Once in the lead, Jan and I never looked back, and were able to stretch the lead as the race went on.   Each stop we gained more time, and then the four car had a problem with an over anxious p-2 car that cost them even more time.   It was unfortunate for them, but good luck for us.

Luck is a funny part of the game.   For over two years, it seems there has been a dark cloud following the 3 car.   So many times things just went against us,  and no matter how hard we tried, bad breaks would happen.    But I’ve always known that as long as we didn’t quit, our luck would turn, and right now things are going well for us.    All the guys working on the car day in and day out have never quit on us, or trying to win, and for that I am so proud.   

So it’s off now to Le Mans.   I know that Corvette Racing will once again give us strong and fast cars, and that we will again be one of the favorites.    Ron I know is as eager as Jan and I to improve on finishing second last year,  so keep your fingers crossed,  as we’ll be pushing as hard as we can to make it our year there.

Johnny O

 


Long Beach 2008
Added 04/21/08

I first raced in Long Beach back in 1986 believe it or not.    Not until this past week-end with the Corvette did I ever win.   I had some good races over the years, and last year our Corvette was really strong, but things just didn’t go our way.   This time though, everything did, and the number 3 car and crew pulled it off.

The organizers of the race gave us more track time this year, which was nice, and I think proof that the strength of the series and the depth of the talent has been recognized.   This was Jans’ week-end to qualify the car and he did an awesome job.   He had been quick in every session and put in a great lap to get us in front of the 4 car.  Anyway, both Corvettes were strong and we knew we would have a great race.

At the start Jan and Ollie worked each other hard, running very strong times.    Jan would open up a slight gap,  and then Ollie would close it back up.   Really good racing.    Just as we came into our fuel window, there was a caution for debris, and both cars pitted at the same time.   That’s when just about everything went wrong for both Corvettes.

As Jan came down pit lane, Ollie right behind him, an official became confused, and ran right into the path of Jan !!  Now I was jumping off the wall to get in the car, and didn’t see the rest, but apparently he kind of bounced off our car and somewhat landed on the hood of Ollies Corvette.   The teams though didn’t miss a beat, and both cars dropped together with us able to maintain the lead.   It was pretty exciting stuff and I could hear in Dan Binks voice that it was a pretty cool thing to be a part of… that pit stop.  

Anyway, I was initially able to open up a slight gap to Olivier, but then we had a caution.   I was able to pull away some, but then he started stringing together some awesome laps and began closing gap to me.   I was struggling with a lot of understeer in the middle of the corners, and then loose on the exits.    Anyway, Binks is in my ear telling me, “you gotta go man, you gotta go”!   So I’m pushing as hard as I can, coming close to wrecking so many times, but was able to keep it off the wall and bring it home.

So it was a good week-end for us, and Corvette racing.   Anytime both cars roll on the trailer after a street race you’ve done your job, and both Corvettes were good as new after the race.    The E85 continues to work well, as do the Michelins.    Next up for us is Salt Lake City, a track I love.   The number 3 car was not as strong as we would have liked last year, and I’m looking forward to getting back and making things right this time.  Our new engineer Ken Flory is doing a great job, and with each race things are getting better and better….

Johnny  

 


St Pete Pre Race 2008
Added 04/01/08

Some of you may know that early in my career I spent a lot of time working as an instructor for the various driving schools.    This past week-end I was out in the phoenix area doing some aero work for a racing team, and had the chance to once again visit Bob Bondurant and see how things were going for his school out there, and needless to say I once again came away very impressed.

If you’ve ever thought about going to a driving school, definitely give serious thought to visiting Phoenix to do it.   The staff at the Bondurant school is second to none, and the facility was created solely for the purpose of teaching high performance driving.  I taught there for almost 5 years, and the only thing that has changed, is the cars.   Now they are using Corvettes rather than the old Mustang, so participants better be prepared for a whole lot more horsepower and way better handling.   Along with there usual programs, they also offer some very cool go-kart classes… which is really what this pre St. Pete report is all about.

I took Canaan with me on this trip, and on Sunday he went through the go-karting course.   Now he and I have been go-kart racing, and do a whole bunch of indoor karting nearby.   But what Bob and crew have created out there is unreal.   A perfect place for young kids to learn skills before they get in a real car, and done in a mega safe environment where whether you are 13 or 73, you can be safe and push hard.    I admit to running a few laps myself, and man it totally reminds you of how fun and pure driving karts is.

As far as St. Pete goes, well I know that last year really left an unpleasant taste in our mouths.   We had a speedy car, but then had a problem about 45 minutes into the race, and I ended up stranded on course.   Jan and I have lots of unfinished business there, and count on us being very focused and positive.   We began things right this year at Sebring… and know that everyone on the # 3 car is going to be doing all we can to keep that  momentum going…

Johnny  

 


Sebring 2008
Added 03/18/08

A few years back someone at Sebring mentioned that if I stay in the game long enough I might actually be able to get to Phil Hills record of winning at Sebring 6 times.    I kind of laughed to myself, thinking that it would be a cool goal, but probably not one that I would get to as the track is so hard, and you need to have lots of things go your way to get a win there.    Well when I tied him several years back, I was pretty excited to say the least, and honestly thought with my driving for Corvette Racing, there was a good chance I might actually get win number 7.

Last year I really thought was going to be the year.   We had a very good car, and Jan had put us on the pole.   Luck wasn’t on our side however and we ended finishing second on the same lap and not that far behind the 4 car, but still not what we wanted.   This year things turned however, and we finally got that win.

It was an interesting week in that the track was the slipperiest and most inconsistent that I’ve ever experienced there.   One lap would be ok, the next sliding around, made it very hard to set the car up.   Our engineer Ken Flory, who is new to us this year, handled the challenge well and we had a very good race car.   Jan got the pole, held onto the lead for his first stint, and then when I got in we held the lead.

Olivier and I were both having a good race running almost identical lap times, but just about 5 laps from the end of the stint they had a problem, which would end up taking them about 8 laps to fix.   Dan Binks got on the radio, and let me know, and from that point on we really just looked after the car, and left a little bit in reserve just in case.

I did the final two stints, and really focused hard on just not making any mistakes.   It’s sometimes more difficult to not run flat out, as you can relax too much and make a mistake, but luckily that didn’t happen.   Our Corvette ran great, we had super pit stops, and were speedy all day.

Sharing this win with Jan and Ron means a lot to me.   I had my first ALMS win with Jan back in 1999 in the Panoz, winning over all at Mosport.   Then with Ron, well we won 25 races together.   Both are amazing drivers, and I couldn’t pick better teammates.

Back to Phil Hill.   I met him at Sebring years ago, and well the guy totally lives up to the word hero.   He, John Morton and myself spent almost an hour talking about when he raced there, the cool cars that he drove, the competitors, what the track was like, and what the race meant to him.    And what was totally cool was that he didn’t see himself as anything other than a regular guy who just happened to race cars.    Someone any driver would admire.    Sebring has always been my favorite race… and well being mentioned in the same sentence as Phil Hill… is pretty darn cool.

Finally, the biggest thanks to everyone at Corvette Racing, and all the people behind the scenes.    Over the years we’ve done lots of amazing things, and I know that we will continue to do so in the future.    Years ago Doug Fehan had a vision.   He sold that vision to GM, and low and behold he has created the finest sportscar team in American History.    When he says something, you can guarantee it will happen.    I remember my first year with the team when we were not scheduled to race at Portland.   We were going to skip the event.   But if we did that, well we would not win the manufacturers championship.   So without the funding in place… we went.   And won.    Taking that chance on his own and then going on to win the championship, for me cemented his commitment to winning not for himself, or us as drivers, but to Chevrolet and Corvette Racing.   We’re lucky to have someone like him in place moving the program into the future,  and then also having Steve Wesoloski and Mark Kent from GM helping guide the ship as well, guarantees that for years to come you will get to see Corvettes racing at the sports highest levels.

St. Pete is next, and that track owes us.  Know that Jan and I will be pushing hard… good things happening this year.   Thanks to everyone for the congrats on Sebring…  now lets go get a few more !..

Johnny

 


First test of the year
Added 02/25/08

We just finished three days of testing at Sebring, and things went very well.   A lot of work was accomplished, and I know that everyone at Corvette Racing is eager to get the season underway.

Once again the # 3 car will be driven by myself, Jan and Ron, and I know we are going to have a great season.   It’s about time for us to win at Sebring, and there is nothing that I would like more than getting that 7th win with Jan and Ron as my teammates.   Both of them are great guys, and strong drivers.

The #4 car again will be driven by Olivier, Oliver and Max.   They totally put in a great season last year, and had way more luck than we did, man we gave a lot away.   But this is a new season, and Jan and I are totally ready to get things right !!!

One of the biggest changes we have for us this year is that we are running E85.   It’s pretty cool “going green” and we don’t seem to have lost much in performance.   Our mileage is not as good with it, but hopefully the ALMS will let us run a bit more fuel to make up for that.

So we’ve once again got speedy cars, and a team that is ready to get back to work.   It’s very good news that we have at least one Aston Martin to race against, and we are hearing rumors from Scott Atherton that more might join us soon.

Thanks as always for supporting us at Corvette Racing.   Steve Wesoloski and Doug Fehan really go to the mat to keep this program running into the future, so be sure and thank them, and let all the GM brass know how much you enjoy and appreciate seeing your Corvettes compete in the ALMS.  

 


Daytona Pre Race
Added 01/20/08

A Speedy car.    A pretty important thing you need to have in order to win the 24 hours of Daytona.   But that’s not the only thing that has to be speedy.   You need good drivers, good pit stops, and for sure luck on your side

The Matthews Riley Team I’m driving for this year has all the ingredients.   I just got back from Charlotte where we were practicing driver changes, and it went really well.   A long day though.   I woke up early, then drove 4 hours up to the shop, did two hours of practice then zipped on back to Flowery Branch.   But it was time well spent.   I have to be honest, one of my biggest worries is the pit stops during the race.   For so long in the ALMS I’ve come into the pits, and then shut the engine off once stopped.  In Grand Am, you leave the engine running, so I’m hoping they remind me each time not to shut the ignition off !!!!

The car is very fun to drive, not quite the hot rod that the Corvette is, but still very cool.   Now that I’ve driven a Daytona Prototype, well I can see why there tends to be so much contact in Grand Am.   Running in the GT category the past two years, I had the impression that the DP cars were glued to the track much like the prototypes are in the ALMS.   But really that is not the case at all.   They’re not as nimble and sharp as I expected them to be, and as a result it is sometimes easy to step over the line, and have to use your competition to hold you on the track.   Of course this is just my impression, but I did see that Alan McNish is doing the race, so I’ll track him down and ask him how it feels versus the Audi.   My guess is a lot different.

Anyway, by this time next week we are hopefully sitting with a really speedy race car, and ready for a hard 24 hours.   It’s never easy at Daytona, the night seems to last forever.   There are so many GT cars to avoid, and the name of the game is to follow Doug Fehans rules… and if we do… well it sure would be nice having another Rolex….  

 


Daytona Test Days
Added 01/09/08

I just got back from testing at Daytona and things really went well.   It was a 3 day test, and I didn’t need to show up until the second day.    I had been down in Fort Lauderdale with my kids, and the plan was to zip to Daytona on Saturday, and then just hang out until I got to drive on Sunday.   But things changed and I was able to do night practice, which was very fun.

What made it so cool was that the car was beautiful to drive.  So easy.   We went pretty quick and I was looking forward to more time in the car Sunday.   Now like all teams do, some changes were made to improve the car over night.    In the morning, Marc Goosens, who is really the lead driver on the team, went out, and spent the better part of his time in the car struggling with a bit of looseness.    I got in after him, and was amazed at how much more difficult the car was to drive from the night before, and gained all new respect for Marc as he did some great laps.  

Anyway, the car was changed for the final session, and we once again found the sweet spot and I was able to turn in the fastest time in the afternoon, which for sure made the long ride home much nicer.  I’m very impressed with the Riley Matthews team, and how well everyone works together.    They certainly have made me feel welcome, and I look forward to driving hard for them 

The race is just a few weeks away, and I like our chances.   Marc is of course very quick,   Ryan Hunter Ray is also very strong, and Jim Matthews unreal consistent.   Provided we just stay out of trouble,  I know it will be a good event.    I hope you all watch on Speed TV….  And a big thanks to Steve Wesoloski and Bill Riley for getting me in the car.  

Johnny O

 


Daytona
Added 12/13/07

Every year my boss at GM tries to get me in a car for the 24 Hours of Daytona.    It was the first race I ever did for Corvette Racing, and we won it.   That was very cool to say the least.   Now, I look upon the race as a great tune-up for the ALMS, and well winning there still is important to a driver.  

The past two years I’ve driven for Pontiac in the GTO and then the GXP-R.   We came up one lap short of winning in the GTO, and were it not for the pit lane speed limiter getting stuck on, well we would have won.   I’m very excited about this year, in that I’m once again in a Pontiac, but this time in a Daytona Proto-type, and a very speedy one to say the least.

A deal has been done to drive for Riley Matthews Motorsports, and I honestly feel it’s an effort very capable of winning.  The lead driver is Mark Goossens, who is an extremely gifted and fast driver.   I’ve watched him drive over the years, and he’s one of those guys who can get the most out of everything, look after the equipment, and I’ve never known him to fall off or hurt the car.   Very good things to have in a teammate.   Ryan Hunter Ray is also going to be in the car, and though we haven’t met have only heard very good things about him.   Very fast, and well he and Mark won the last DP race at Miller Motorsports Park along with Jim Matthews who is also a team principal.   I’ve known Jim the longest time.   One of the best guys you will meet in the sport, and also a very good driver.

Running the show is Bill Riley, who everyone knows.   He’s won tons of races, and is a lot like Pratt in that he runs a very tight ship, and overlooks absolutely nothing.    I’m still getting to know all the guys on the team, but they are no doubt a cohesive unit that knows how to win.

So come the end of January, be sure to check out the race.   I know there will be lots of big Nascar guys running there, as well as the best from other forms of motorsport.   It should be exciting, and well I’m ready to get 2008 going already.   Have a Merry Christmas….

Johnny O

 

 


Sema 2007
Added 11/04/07

Last week I went to the Sema Show in Las Vegas to make an appearance for Michelin.  For those of you that don’t know about it, Sema is where just about everyone associated with cars goes to show what they do and all of their products.   The place is huge, and you’ve never seen so many exotic cars, parts, wheels, you name it, in one place.   

GM had all of their cool stuff out, very impressive, and one very cool thing was the Corvette that Pratt and Miller have made that is almost the race car built for the street.   It has an engine in it that Katech built to over 600 hp, the aero kit on it having lots of stuff that the race car has, very advanced suspension and brakes, and a very nice leather interior package.   I haven’t driven one yet, but if I get the chance, know I’ll tell you all about it.  

The Michelin display area was very impressive.  They had one of the C6-R’s there along with a Z-06, as well as cars from Audi, and Porsche.    Also attending were Dindo Capello and Ryan Brisco.   Both really nice guys that I enjoyed spending time with and getting to know better.  Anyway, we all gave talks to the press, and then each evening had a nice dinner with the executives of Michelin.

  It is easy to see why Michelin is the dominate force in sportscar racing.   From their top executives down there is a commitment to using racing as a tool to better engineer their street tires.   And for all of us that are racing on them, well it is for sure the biggest advantage in the world.   I don’t’ think anyone has won a race on anything other than Michelin for ages… and I know that all of us at Corvette Racing look forward to building on the relationship into the future.

Finally, one very cool thing we did at the Michelin display was race XBOX 360 against each other and then also against other guys online.  Now as someone that owns an XBOX 360, I was somewhat confident that I would do well, and well I was fastest the first day.   But Ryan must’ve done his homework overnight as on the second day he was completely in the zone, and neither Dindo nor I could touch him.   Anyway, it was lots of fun, and thanks to John Reynolds from Microsoft for helping out.   People say that I have the best job in the world racing Corvettes, but I think those Microsoft gamers have a pretty good gig as well !!!

Anyway I’ll keep posting things up here on the website as the winter comes, and for sure let you know if I drive anything speedy.   Hmmm wonder what that will be ?  

Johnny O

 

 


Laguna Seca 2007
Added 10/21/07

Man I hate losing.     Especially when you have everything in place to win, and everything is looking like you will, and then something happens and you manage to grab defeat from the jaws of victory…or something like that.    Just too many times we managed to do that this season…and Laguna was no exception.

Jan did an awesome job qualifying, and got the pole setting a new track record.   The new surface at Laguna is really fast, and each category saw records broken.   Now if they would only get someone out there to move the gravel traps back so that we don’t have so many full course cautions, well then they would again find themselves with one of the better tracks in the country.    

For the race we had a speedy car, and Jan was able to maintain the lead for his first stint.   Both cars pitted under caution, and the 4 car was able to take the lead in the pits.   Ollie and I had a good run with both of us being very equal, neither really being able to make time on the other.   It would go up and down some with traffic, but for the most part it was a good race.   Towards the end of our stint, there was a full course caution, and a few laps after the restart Ollie had slight contact with a Gt-2 car and I was able to move ahead.    Shortly after that, there was another full course caution, and both cars again pitted together, and again the 4 car was able to take the lead in the pits.    And that was pretty much what decided the race.

It’s a bit of deja vous really, in that 2 or 3 years ago, our car won the Klein Tools pit challenge, and then in the race we had one bad stop that cost us the win.   The guys on the #3 car again had incredible pit stops during the pit stop competition, and once again won the Klein Tools Challenge.    The same thing happened this year, and it just goes to show how perfect we all have to be in order to win.   Honestly I wouldn’t change one guy on our crew.   They are the best.    Not only at pit stops, but always giving us a safe, fast hotrod.   They work harder than anyone I know in racing, and the success of Corvette Racing over the years is the result of their hard work and incredible skill.

So we go into the off season now, and all of us are still uncertain exactly what the program will look like going into 2008.    But I do remain confident that Corvette Racing will keep moving forward, and that the future for the team, and for the fans, is bright.   I’ll continue posting things here on the web site, and to everyone that supports us, thanks.  

 

 


Petit Le Mans 2007
Added 10/09/07

Sadly our race ended after only 15 laps when Bryan Herta attemped to make an impossible pass on Jan, hit him just in front of Jans right rear tire and launched him into the tire barriers at 118 MPH.    Jan was so lucky he didn’t get really hurt, but as it is I know that he’ll still be feeling it days from now.   The car was not so lucky, being very wrecked and so Jan and I will have to use one of last years cars for Laguna.   You expect drivers at this level to use their heads, and it’s a shame that Bryan was lacking once again in the patience department.  We for sure had the best car on the day.

It was an odd week for us, in that we had a pretty good car, but the track was changing a lot.   I qualified the #3 car and Ollie was in the #4 car.    I know that both of us were mega surprised at how little grip there was in qualifying and neither of us went as fast as we thought we did.   As it was I just had him by a tic, but the maserati was very quick and was on pole by over a second.    Jan took him on the first lap of the race though, and in race trim they couldn’t match the pace of either Corvette.

Some good things around the week-end were the auction, which went very well.    Not the best we’ve ever done, but still a lot of money raised to help the Guest House and the Alzheimers association.    Also, if you watched the race you saw my daughter Kelly sing the national anthem… which was beyond cool.    To say she was nervous would be an understatement, but as nervous as she was I was proud.    For sure the best part of the event.

So next up is the last race at Laguna.    Jan and I will be in a different car, but pushing as hard as we always do, and hopefully we will be speedy.    We both love that place, and it would be nice going into the off season with a win.  

 


Petit Le Mans Preview
Added 09/26/07

Two weeks from now,  the tenth Petit Le Mans will be in the history books, and hopefully Corvette #3 will have won.   The team is currently busy getting the cars ready, and lots of work I know still needs to be done as we just finished a three day test with Michelin out at Road Atlanta, but the test was more in preparation for next years 24 hours of Le Mans than the get ready for Petit.

I’m guessing that might surprise some of you, that Michelin is looking that far ahead, as are everyone at Corvette Racing, but we are.    Le Mans is the primary reason the team exists and why we still race as hard as we do, even with the lack of competition at the moment over here.    But hopefully in the future that will all change.

It is a shame that as we go into this race we don’t have the Factory Astons to compete against.   They are certainly a great team, and have provided us and the fans with some great racing.   Of course I feel our Corvettes are a bit more speedy…. But we did love the challenge.

I’ve been in touch with the track a lot, and from what they tell me this is going to be the biggest and best Petit ever.   I know that I’m looking forward to it, and hope that you are as well.

See you there !

Johnny O

 


Petit Le Mans
Added 09/07/07

Man I apologize for getting this information out to you so late, but I’ve finally gotten around to setting things up with Road Atlanta regarding tickets for the event, and how you can get them and help support the Alzheimers Association and the Guest House, a senior citizen day care center here in Gainesville.

A huge thank you to everyone at Road Atlanta that enables me to do this, and for playing such a big role in helping out two very worthy causes.    If you get a ticket through me, all the proceeds, and I mean every dollar, goes directly to the charity.   So I hope you pass the word, and we have the best year ever.

Road Atlanta has allocated 50 tickets to me, and all you need to do when you call them up to order your tickets is to let them know that “I bought tickets off of Johnny O's website”.   

That is the key phrase so that they know to credit the charity account.   Also, if you want to get into the Corvette Corral, they can do that too.  The phone number for Road Atlanta is : 770-967-7207

Also, we will once again be putting on the auction.   It will be Friday night at 6 PM and will be down in the main paddock at the winners podium.   I know that lots of teams will be bringing gear, parts, all sorts of stuff.   I know that I’ll have sets of tires to auction off, as well as some other cool things that will make it a fun event.

Petit Le Mans this year is going to be unreal.    It’s the tenth anniversary of the event, and the Road Atlanta staff I know is going to make sure that it is by far the best ever.   The surface is brand new and wicked fast and I know that our Corvettes will be awful speedy running around it.   I hope that I see you all there, and thanks to everyone that has supported the auction and charity over the years.

Johnny O

 


Detroit
Added 09/03/07

Well for those of you that are now wishing the #3 car bad luck … Thanks !!!  it seems to be working !   What an incredible week we had in Detroit.   Getting to see the Tigers destroy the Yankees from the GM suite on Monday, and getting to throw out the first pitch at  the game, and yes it was a strike… to visiting all the GM execs and the heritage museum, and then finally on raceday winning…. What more could you ask for?

What I like the best about it all though, is seeing the guys on the number 3 car getting their reward for all the hard work that they’ve put in with no complaints ever, and never losing the desire to win or losing their faith in me and Jan… or me and Ron.   It shows how strong our belief is in each other, and that glue has really held us together when on most teams things may have broken down and become miserable.

As far as the race went, well all credit for the win really needs to be given to Jan.  At least most of it.   He put in the most amazing qualifying lap, and then built up enough of a lead over Olivier that when a pace car came out, we were given the wave by and a huge lead that we would not give up.  

I got into the car with almost an hour and forty minutes left, and though we had a very speedy car, did not go psychotic with it as I knew that my job was to really look after it and make sure that we brought home the win.   I’ve been in that situation a lot, where you mostly have to just bring it home, and being in front of everyone at GM head quarters, wasn’t about to blow it by getting tagged or hitting  wall.  

To be honest, I never liked the circuit.  You know me, not afraid to let you know how I feel on some things.   But passing areas were minimal to non existent without taking a big chance, and the surface changes with bumps and different levels of grip I know are what led to so many people having contact with other cars and the wall.   I think there were more incidents during this race than any other that we’ve been to.  

But that said, the event was a major home run.   Detroit welcomed it with open arms, and GM and Chevrolets involvement and excitement with the event was visible everywhere.   It made you wonder what the other car guys based in Detroit were doing?    From what I understand the contract is in place for us to keep going back there, and I know that with the experts involved with the program that each year we will find ourselves with a race track that just keeps getting better and safer, by leaps and bounds.   Now if only Roger Penske could get involved with Lime Rock…hmmm there’s an idea !!!

To all of the team, on both cars, job well done.   The crew of the Number 4 car was quickest during the Klein Tool pit stop competition and won that event over the number 3 car but just a tenth or so, and the finals at Laguna will be amazing.   If I know Dan Binks, he is already thinking about it, as he hates losing just as much as Jan and I do.    Petit is next, time for me to get busy !!!

Johnny O

 


Mosport
Added 08/28/07

How about we keep on wishing us bad luck ???  Cause finally Jan and I broke through !!!   It was great in that we had our only win together when we were at Panoz in the prototype at Mosport, and was awesome finally getting things to go our way.    It was also mega cool being out there with Ron, and having him show me some of the tricks he’s learned about Mosport, that I could only learn by following him.   The guy is awesome.

Anyway, we were all pretty close in qualifying , but this time OG got the pole with Ron and I right behind him.   We were all so close and knew that it would be an interesting race.    Jan and I changed the car after morning warm-up, and it was a move in the right direction as I think we had just a tic better car towards the middle and end of a stint.

Anyway, we were running identical times until the first caution, and then on the restart the 4 car opened up a gap as Ron and I worked traffic.  Once clear we were about 4 seconds down, but running some really good laps.   Exiting turn 3 Ron had a problem, turns out it was a gearbox thing, and I was able to get by.    I was able to slowly close on the 4 car, and not long from our pit stops he had contact with one of the p-2 cars and spun off.   We went by, and from that point on never looked back.

Jan did an awesome job keeping the gap up, and with 40 minutes or so I got back in and was able to maintain the gap, and then when the 4 car had a puncture, well the win was in the bag.

We had a speedy car for sure, and big thanks to Ben Brady our engineer.   It’s been too long since we’ve been able to show off in the number 3 car,  and it was nice to finally win again.   Unreal nice.   But most of all, you have to give all the credit to the guys that sweat and break their backs on the car.   Dan Binks, Gary Young, Mike West and David James.     They never have quit, slowed down, or lost the hunger to win.  Thanks guys…. Job well done.

Johnny O

 

 


Petit Le Mans update
Added 08/22/07

Petit Le Mans update

A lot of you are getting in touch with me about getting tickets for Petit.   I just wanted to let you know I’m working on it  !!!   This has been one flat out year for me, and I do plan on doing the auction and hopefully the tickets as well.

I hope to get something done in the next week, and will let you know what Road Atlanta and I can arrange.

Thanks for the years of support.

Sincerely,
Johnny O

 


Elkhart Lake
Added 08/20/07

It’s getting kind of hard to believe isn’t it ?    Why is it that I have in the back of my mind that the next time we are on the pole… Something else is going to happen to take it away from us ?   This is just unreal.

Too bad it didn’t rain longer, as I usually quite enjoy driving in those situations.   I was looking for places to find grip, and think I might have found a few tricks for if it rains there again.

Our new engineer Ben Brady is coming up to speed, and I’m thinking that soon we should be really good.   The number 3 car is always speedy, but you need those little tweaks to get her to really fly, and Ben is figuring it out unreal fast.  

I know lots of you…. Especially my friends, have been wishing me good luck for awhile.   Maybe the trick is to wish us rotten luck….see what happens then !!!   Can’t hurt ?

Mosport is up next, and I’m really looking forward to it.   One of my favorite tracks, Jan and I won there in 1999 in the Panoz.   Hopefully we can repeat that …

Johnny

 


Mid Ohio
Added 07/25/07

Well again the dark cloud follows us.   It’s good to be speedy, but sometimes you need more than that.   Anyway, our new engineer Ben Brady did a nice job in his first race, and we had a pretty darn good car.

Qualifying went well, and I was very pleased with my lap.   We had made a significant change to the car just before qualifying, which makes it very challenging as a driver as you have to push really hard and not know what the car is going to do.   I was pleased to get the pole, only our second of the year, and knew that most likely we would be in position to win the race.

Sadly our car failed the stall test in tech, and we had to start the race from the back of the pack.   I knew that Ollie and I would match up well in the race, and I was hopeful that by our first stop we would still be in touch with them, and as it turned out we were about 11 seconds back, which in my book was ok.   Jan was running really well, and I was hopeful he could make up time on Olivier.

It was good being in the pits watching his run, and he started to make some big gains near the middle and end of his stint.   He closed in to just under 3  seconds, and I knew that with a good pit stop and out lap, we could take the lead.   Bad luck hit for the second time though when Bryan Herta got into the back of Jan just before coming out on the front straight spinning Jan out.   Was one of those ones that you watched on the monitor and wondered what in the world was Bryan thinking…. Impossible to pass where he wanted to, and it wrecked our chances.

Road America is next.    Anyone got a rabbits foot for us ?

Johnny

 


Lime Rock
Added 07/12/07

The place gets amazing crowds, and the fans are awesome.   Some of the best we get all year long.  They totally love us competing there, and we do our best to put on a good show.   That said, I always feel bad when I trash the facility, cause I know how much they love watching us race there.   But then if no one says anything, well then nothing will be done and when someone does finally get hurt it will be too late.

During the drivers briefing on Sunday I brought up the fact that the track had become too dangerous, and in ill repair.   There was not a big discussion as time would not allow, but prior to the race I had at least 5 top drivers from top teams come up to me to say thanks for bringing it up.   During the race we had an Audi wreck hard, as well as several GT-2 Ferrari’s.   Not to mention all the contact between cars where no one crashed.   And every year we get the same thing.    I applaud the track for improving the curbing in the chicane, but then also need to remind people that I first mentioned to the track back in 1994 that the curbing was wrong, and hope that it doesn’t take another 12 years to get things changed to make the track safer.

Ranting and raving aside, both Corvettes had a very good race.   Qualifying was determined by practice times in the first session due to weather, and Olivier had gone .01 of a second faster than I had, so they started in front.

And that was how we ran the entire race.   Glued right to the back of the #4 car.   I was happy to get fastest race lap, but frustrated that I still don’t have a win at that track.   The guys did a great job on the pit stop, even if I did stop a tic close to the wall, and both Jan and I were really proud of the job they did in the pit stop competition.   Talk about speedy…they completely smoked everyone.   With luck we can get another Klein tools championship for them.

Finally, I have to point out what a mega great job Jan did.   He had never been to the track before, and even with little time before the race, was totally rock solid.    I know both of us are frustrated that we have only one win, but I know another one has to be close.   Also, a big thanks to our engineer Joe Keifer.   Joe has been engineering our car for the past year and a half, and is moving on to another position with Pratt and Miller.   His presence will be sorely missed, as the guy is a total genius at setting a car up.   Mid-Ohio is next, and I know both Jan and I are both looking forward to it.

Johnny O

 


Lime Rock
Added 07/05/07

Well here we go again.   Back to the American Le Mans Series.   And back to Lime Rock.   It’s funny but about 3 years ago we were promised that the track would be paved, all new amenities for the teams would be added… and safety improvements made to the track.   Then we were told that unless the track did the improvements needed, that we would not be coming back to it.   But here we are.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some positive things to be said for the place.   For fans it’s great in that they get to see so much of the action.   It’s one of the most beautiful areas in the country and we have usually had nice weather there.   But as a place to show case the worlds greatest sportscars, well in that area it does come up on the short side.

Last year Ron and I almost won, with my finishing about a fender behind one of the Astons.   It was a good race.   But we should have won.   With about 20 laps to go I was pushed off by a prototype in the very dangerous downhill turn.   In gathering it up, and cleaning my tires off, I lost about 8 very valuable seconds.    I think that the downhill corner is alone a very good corner, but in racing situations one of the worst.   It’s far too bumpy to go two wide through it, but in our type of racing that is going to happen, and the outside guy is going to lose big every time.    And run-off room does not exist there.

Personally, I think that the standards for the circuits at which we compete should be higher than what is presented to us at Lime Rock.   And honestly there are really no other tracks that we go to that are at that level.   Virtually every other track we compete at, the folks that run the track make the investment to do all that they can to ensure the safest racing they can provide.  All of us want to be speedy, and show what we can do, but safety is something that should not be disregarded.

Three years ago I bought a bumper sticker that said, “ I helped pave Lime Rock”.   Needless to say that money must have been spent somewhere else…and I want my money back.

Johnny O

 


Le Mans 2007
Added 06/20/07

It’s always great landing back in the states after so long being away. You appreciate so much all the great things about this country. It’s nice to be home. Sadly we didn’t win Le Mans this year, but for sure we gave it all that we had. We just were missing a tic of speed versus the Aston Martin that was slightly more speedy then we were. Had the rain at the end of the race come sooner it might have been a different outcome, but was too late and all we can do is prepare for next year.

It was very much an odd race, and not what we expected. Very bad luck for the 64 car when they broke meant the teams chances were reduced, but throughout the entire race it was impossible to out run the Astons. In past years they broke…and this year they didn’t. Almost always in a 24 hour race, if you only pit for tires and fuel, you win. Well we did that, but they did the same and we wound up short.

That said, all should be very proud of the job the team did. Our car was the best it had been all week during the race, and the guys on the car did an excellent job. The weather certainly made us work harder in the car, and all three of us pushed as hard as we could the entire time.

As you know, my son was with me, and Canaan was super through the entire event, and I know will have memories to last a lifetime. He not only got to go in the drivers parade…but also got a lap around the circuit before the race in a corvette. He was all smiles, and that was awesome.

It will be a few days getting back to normal, and catching up on sleep, but thanks to everyone on the team for an excellent job. We’ll be back for sure, and I know we’ll all be working hard to get that final step on the podium again.

Johnny O
 

 


Le Mans 2007
Added 06/13/07

Well Canaan and I just arrived back in Le Mans after a whirl wind tour. We started out on Monday by jetting in our Z-06 up to Normandie...and reliving a bit of history. Visiting the American Cemetery was by far the most impressive and emotional part of the trip...and with it being only two days before the D-Day anniversary, there were lots of preparations going on. If you haven't been...I recommend it, in that it very much lets you know about the huge sacrifices made, and the unreal challenge those guys faced so that we can live the way that we do today. It very much puts things into perspective.

From there, we drove very speedy across France, getting a ticket along the way...sheesh...through Belgium and then into Germany. We stopped at the Nurburgring, and stayed in the hotel there in a room overlooking the circuit. Pretty nice place with a pool that we thoroughly enjoyed, then into a small village for Pizza and then back to the hotel. Driving to all of these places in the Corvette Z-06 was a total trip in that everyone wants to check the car out. We woke the next morning and hopped in the car, and cruised on down to Switzerland where in order to get to our final destination (Zermatt), we had to drive the vette onto a train and pass through a mountain ! It was the coolest thing ! Anyway, we made it to Zermatt and had a great time walking through the village, shopping some, and the next morning took the tram up to the highest point we could get to, and had a snowball fight. The view of the Matterhorn was spectacular, and I know is something Canaan won't soon forget.

So after that, we zipped on down to Italy to stay in Maranello and visit both the Ferrari and Lamborghini factories. Now I know it's a lot of driving we were doing, but that Z-06 made it really special. I was doing all i could to keep from flying everywhere, but on occasion we did let her loose a little, and each time Canaan made sure to take a picture of the speedometer ! For sure it was cool being in the heart of Ferrari country and having everyone check out the vette, and well we did have one little race I'll tell you about in a bit.

We spent two nights in Italy, then began the trip back to France and stopped over in Geneva for the night, and the next morning began the final push back to Le Mans. Now when we were on our way to Normandie, Canaan was all over me to pull the trigger and see how fast the Vette would go. I then made the mistake of telling him that if we came across any fast cars, Lamborghini...Ferrari...heck Aston...and they wanted to race...well that I would see what we could do. So of course as we are headed out of Geneva, on the highway, we see up ahead a Ferrari 430...and Canaan is all over me to catch up to it. So of course I do, and then the guy seeing us behind him takes off. Well we stick right with him until he backs off, and I'm pretty confident that we have him covered. We both arrived at a toll booth at the same time, and upon exiting both pulled the trigger. Now I'm not going to tell you how fast we went, but Canaan did get a mega cool picture of the Ferrari in our side view mirror behind us as we pulled away.

Anyway, it was a great week-off, and we met back up with the Fellows family Sunday night at the Chateau we are staying at, relaxed some and shared stories, and Ron and I began getting our heads into the game for this week. The weather looks like we might have a bit of rain for practice and qualifying, but for the race it looks like it should be good. I'll get reports up as I can, and let you know what's going on.

Johnny O
 

 


Le Mans 2007
Added 06/02/07

Well my son and I finally have arrived in Le Mans, and are excited about the events about to unfold. Getting to share this with him I know is going to be an unbelievable memory for him, and this year especially is a good time to be here. We arrived into Paris yesterday, and took a cab into the city to pick up a beautiful Corvette Z-06 to drive down to Le Mans. Needless to say a Corvette over here gets as much attention as a Ferrari does in Flowery Branch Georgia !!! We made a very speedy trip from Paris down to Le Mans, and for once didn't get lost once thanks to the GPS in the car. A special thanks to Tom Wallace for helping arrange that !

Upon arriving we checked in with the team at the track and settled in to the "mini hotel" that GM sets up in the paddock. The place serves as our dining area as well as a place for GM to entertain VIP's and press, and is a very cool set-up. We had a quick bite and then went with the Fellows family to check into the 14th century Chateau in which we are staying for the event. It's a pretty unbelievable place with so much history, and I know that Canaan was enjoying hearing about the history of it, and the region.

Le Mans is special for so many reasons, and it's history and tradition are enjoyed and honored by all that race here. Tomorrow is the first day on the track for testing, and with all the work that the engineers and team have put in, I'm confident that we'll have good cars right out of the box. We'll spend the day trying different things on the car, and different tires, and with luck finish the day with two cars that are very quick and most importantly reliable.

This year promises to be our most difficult in the history of Corvette Racing. Not only have the Astons been given a tic bigger restrictor than they had last year, but there are more of them ! Also, there are two Saleens being run by ORECA, that have shown to be quite fast in what they have done this year. I would be surprised if they aren't very fast.

On Monday after testing, Canaan and I will be heading up to Normandie to pay our respects to the brave soldiers that 63 years ago changed the course of history. It was a very special flight over for us, as one row back of us was a Seargent Jake McNiece who on June 5th, 1944, was one of the para troopers dropped behind enemy lines the day before D-Day. The captain of the plane flying us over told a bit about his story, and needless to say it was quite cool getting to travel with someone that truly is a hero. After Normandie, well than it's off to Germany for a look at the Nurburgring...and who knows maybe from there a trip down to Italy and a visit to the Ferrari or Lamborghini factory. 12 year old boys love that kind of stuff...and well so do I !

Keep watching Johnnyoconnell.com for updates as the event unfolds, and as always, thanks for cheering us on !!

Johnny O
 

 


Le Mans Pre Race
Added 05/30/07

It’s what we think about during the winter when we’re training, and what everyone at Corvette Racing is always focusing on.    It’s the most important event of the year for us, and I think all you need to is look at the teams success, to see that we take it very seriously.

This year could perhaps be our most difficult ever.   Not only will the factory Astons be there with a stronger package than what they had last year, but there will also be a few Saleens run by a very strong team that knows how to do well at Le Mans.   The Saleen on paper should be the fastest, followed by the Aston….then us.    Just kind of the way the ACO has written the rules.   I think there are something like 15 or 17 GT1 cars.   Most of them strong, so it will be a battle indeed.

Our strength though, will be in the back of every teams mind.   Our cars are the strongest.   Bar none.   We’ve proven it year after year.   Both cars have always finished, and always at least one on the podium.   In my mind it will take an extreme effort to qualify in the top 5.   Again, just how things will play out speed wise.    But Around the 20 hour mark, as others are struggling and getting fatigued as well as there cars,  know that we’ll be pushing even harder.

This year for me will be extra special, as I’m bringing my son Canaan with.    He’s usually a good luck charm for me, and will be fun letting him see what the greatest race in the world is all about.    Count on us being speedy and not quitting.   And I’ll be sure to get info to you while I’m over there.

As always thanks to everyone that supports me… and the team.   It means more than you could ever know.

Sincerely,

Johnny O

 


Salt Lake City
Added 05/08/07

We’re still a week away from Utah, but I’m really looking forward to it.   That track is amazing.   So fast, good combination of corners…and really safe.    Stretching the legs on the Vette there will be a good tune up for Le Mans.

Since Houston, I’ve done a lot of training, worked on my house a lot, and this week-end am taking my son down to savannah to race go karts.   It will be his second real race, and I know that both of us are looking forward to it.

Also in this break I visited the Corvette museum with my daughter.   It was her first visit and I know she had lots of fun.   It was cool showing her around, but I think what she liked most was the hotel and swimming !!!   I guess that’s to be expected of a ten year old !!

Anyway, rest assured that at Salt Lake we will have speedy cars, and that Jan and I will be giving everything we have…like always.

Johnny O

 


Houston
Added 04/23/07

Finally !   Each race this year we’ve had a speedy car, but something has kept us from winning.   At  Houston, well things finally turned right for the #3 car, and Jan and I got our first win together as teammates .    It was a great feeling.

Houston is a really difficult and bumpy track.   Not the sort of track you would choose to run on it you had a choice, but we don’t , so all of make the best of it then visit our chiropractors on Monday !   We don’t get much track time there, and for the session before qualifying we went the wrong way with the set-up, and with the tem minutes between that practice and qualifying the crew changed the springs, bars, and dampers to something closer to what we had started the event with.   The car was better, but not good enough and I was just about a tenth back of Olivier in the #4 car.   Frustrated as qualifying is so important.

Anyway, for , morning warm-up our engineer Joe Keifer had tuned on her a tic more, and in the morning warm-up I actually went faster than where we had qualified.   That was a good sign, and in the race we had a strong car.    I was able to stay right with Olivier, who I think was struggling a bit more with grip than I was.    The difference in the race came on the first round of pit stops, when I had a very clear in lap, and then on my out lap also had a clear track.   That was the difference as I came down the front straight, and got by Olivier just as he was leaving the pits.

I was able to open up some gap to him, and kept pushing hard as even though you might have some advantage, things can go wrong on the pits stops, and you loose it all.   But when I switched over to Jan, the crew did an amazing job, Jan got out in front of Oliver, and we never looked back.

A really good feeling needless to say.    Hopefully it is the beginning of a streak, that sure would be nice.   A special mention really has to be made to all the guys that work on the #3 car day in and day out.   Just like us driving, they have never given up, and never quit despite the long run of bad luck.   Make sure that when you see them at the track…to let them know what a great job they do.

Salt Lake City is up next….one of my favorite tracks…. And know that the #3 car will be speedy…. Wicked speedy…

Johnny

 


St. Pete
Added 04/10/07

Well sorry about the delay getting this report up, but after the race I went to South Florida with my kids and did some jet skiing and had a bit of fun.    Another disappointing result for us in the #3 car with us having a drive shaft failure during the race, and had it not been for that, well it would have been quite a battle as we really had a great race car.   Very speedy.

I had really been looking forward to the race, as I had a good run there last year in the Caddy.   We were good all the way up until qualifying when we went the wrong way on the set-up, and wound up being a bit behind the #4 car on the watches.   But knowing where we were, and had been, well I was optimistic that during the race we would be hooked up.   And we were.

Until we broke.  Olivier and I were having a good run, running very close, and pushing very hard.   I know that everything would have come down to pit stops, and I was quite confident that our guys could get Jan out fast and we could get in position to win.   Unfortunately we never got the chance to find out, and as I sat at the far end of the track with a broken car, well knew that Jan and my chances of winning the championship were truly set back, and that we’ll have to really attack the rest of the season.

Long Beach is up next and hopefully we will have a good run.   Jan has been there and run the current circuit….I’ve been there but on the old track.   Our schedule there really stinks, and the race is shorter than usual, but hopefully we have a good race, and put on a good show.   We are so overdue on the #3 car, and I know that both Jan and I are as hungry as ever to change that !!! 

Johnny

 


St. Pete
Added 03/29/07

Always always use the right tool for job.    When you don’t bad things can happen, and that is exactly what happened to me early in the week.   Trying to get a tie wrap off of something, I was using a Swiss Army knife, knowing it was wrong, and of course cut through the tie wrap, and then straight into my hand.    Not a pretty sight the inside of your own hand, and after quickly checking to make sure I could still move my fingers, wrapped my hand in a towel and headed to the emergency room.   About 2 hours later I was out with 6 stitches, and for the first time in awhile feeling some luck on my side as I didn’t get anything that would keep me out of the car.    So good news !!!

As I’m writing this, I’m in St. Pete, and realizing that it was over 20 years ago that I first raced here.   Having won and always been at the front, it’s a favorite place of mine to race.   Very cool city, and excellent circuit.   Making it even better is that I have my kids with me, and they are always good luck.    We brought the Jet Skis down with us, so after the race we’re going to the Marco Islands for a few days of fun.   Should be a great time !!!

The race itself should be really good, and I’m  looking forward to it.   The car is yellow again, and it will be the first time in 7 years that Jan and I will be together in a sprint race.    I know that he is as motivated as I am to win, and both of us are hopeful that we have a speedy car.   No doubt the guys in the #4 car will be motivated as well…so it should be a very hard race between us.

Hope that you enjoy watching it, and I’ll try and get updates up when I can.

Johnny O

 


Sebring
Added 03/24/07

Well it was a good event for Corvette Racing, but we came up just a tad short with the number 3 car. For me Sebring is just as important as Le Mans, I’m tied in wins there with Phil Hill, and each year I go there so focused on winning. We had a great car, and the guys did a super job prepping it, and changing it over to white, but I guess I’ll just have to keep on going back until we get that seventh win.

The week was going great for us on the number 3 car and Jan is acclimating himself very well. There were some tire issues that we were having to deal with, and based on what we had all run on before qualifying, it was best for Jan to qualify as he was the only one that had gone out on sticker tires that were what we would qualify with. He did a super job getting the pole, and all of us were confident that we had a great race car.

In morning warm-up, we found a small leak in the gearbox, and the team did a super job putting in a different one, that had slightly different ratios that we would have to get used to in the race, but it was not a big deal. Ron had a good stint keeping Oliver behind him, and then I was able to keep the lead and open up a gap to Olivier during my stint. We had one small problem in the pit stop when I handed over to Jan, that allowed the #4 car to catch back up to us, and when Jan handed the car back over to Ron, well that was the difference in the race.

Oliver Gavin had pitted two laps before us, and did just an amazing out lap and first lap that allowed the #4 car to get in front of us. You have to give credit where it’s due, and those few laps meant a lot in the overall scheme of things. From that point on we were pushing as hard as we could to get back in front, but the opportunity never arose, and so the #4 car won, with us second. Not the way I wanted to start the season, but we go again in a few weeks at St. Pete….and hopefully we can reverse that order !!!!

One really cool thing, no pun intended, that the team has developed in the off season, was the Air Conditioning. For the first time ever, the car is actually comfortable to drive heat wise. It was all developed in conjunction with the production side of GM working with Pratt and Miller, and is a good example of why Corvette Racing is such a valuable tool for GM. Each working together and improving the product. In 6 years of being in that car, working on the seventh, it’s the first time I’ve run with my visor down. That’s great as with it down you breath a lot less carbon dust, and towards the end of a stint, you are so much better physically and mentally. So to Doug Fehan and Gary Pratt and all the guys that made that happen….a big thanks.
 

Johnny O

 


Sebring
Added 03/02/07

Well a lot has gone on over the winter, but the biggest thing racing wise is Ron deciding to step back and just focus on the longer races.   I know that this was a hard decision for him to make, especially because he is still lightening fast, very speedy, and for me it’s really going to be odd not sharing the #3 car with him all the time.  

My first race with Ron was of course the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001 which we won overall.   It for me was a great debut, and as the season went on we began on a journey that I know for both of us will be incredible rocking chair equity.   All the wins, fun times, hard times, challenges we had to overcome….. just so many memories.   But I know we will make more.

Some special ones that come to mind.   The only win we’ve had in the #3 car at Petit Le Mans when we were running second to Thomas Enge in the Ferrari .   They had been running quicker than us just by a tic most of the race, but on the last stop the guys put softer rubber on and Ron just totally ran him down…and with like two laps to go we got by.   Unreal.   Then there was qualifying at Sears Point 2 years ago.  We had missed a tic on the set-up, but on Ron’s flyer, watching him run into turn one without lifting, well chills went up my spine.  He got the pole, and it was one of the most special laps I’ve seen.   Shoot as I’m writing this I know I could go on and on.

He’s been an incredible ambassador for the team over the years, and has always represented Canadians in the highest light.   He is the most honorable guy I know, and like me, I know that all Corvette and racing fans will miss him suiting up each week-end.   If you are only planning on one race this year, make sure it’s one that Ron will be driving in… I promise you you’ll see something special.  

I’m glad he will be going to all the races with us, as his ability to set up the car, work with the engineer…and well me, is amazing.  

Jan Magnussen will be my new full time teammate and is someone I know all Corvette fans will come to love.   He’s extremely quick and talented, and I know dedicated to winning races just like Ron is.   When you meet him, be sure and mention that you think Johnny has more hair than he does !!!   Kidding aside, I know that for me this is going to be a very special year.   Sharing the car with Ron for the big three races, hopefully getting some wins with him, and then working with Jan to make the #3 car as strong as possible.

I hope to see you all at Sebring….and if not there, somewhere along the way this season.

Johnny O

 


Super Bowl Ad Report
Added 02/10/07

OK for those of you wondering…no I’m not quitting my day job and leaving racing to pursue as career as a rapper.   But it is nice knowing I have something to fall back on, so thanks to everyone a GM for letting me exhibit some other skills !!!   Now you understand that normally I respond in time to almost everyone of the Guest Book, but I hope the following will answer your questions.

We actually did that in December at Indianapolis at the Speedway.  The last time I was there I left in an ambulance…so I was happy to know I’d not be leaving the same way.   It was really cold, and when they told me I was going to be rapping just laughed…cause Red headed white guys from Georgia are really known for that !!!   Anyway, I learned my lines, and they seemed to really like it.  

They then just in case had me sing American Pie.   Now that I nailed.   Honest.   I used to sing it to the kids at bedtime, and was hoping that they would use it…but no luck.   Anyway I had no idea that it was going to be a Super Bowl commercial, and man did my phone start ringing for the next few hours !!!   So thanks to everyone that called, and glad that I was able to amuse you all.

We just finished 3 days of testing at Sebring and it went very well.   The engineers keep finding ways to make the car better, and Michelin with the tires is always giving us solid rubber.   It looks like it might just be the 2 vettes in ALMS this year, which is a shame, but I know we’ll still put on a great show for all the fans.    Someone else came up with the following idea, and I think it’s great.    You should contact the offices at ALMS and let them know if you agree with me.

Let us run open.   Seriously.    We make around maybe 600 hp now.   Let our guys build them to 900 hp.   They can do it, and it will most likely be easier on the engines.   Think how cool it would be seeing old time horsepower again !!!   Like wheel spin in 5th gear type power !!!!   How cool would it be to see us out drag an LMP1 car…  They would still be faster cause of braking and cornering, but hey let us make a show !!!

Maybe you think that’s nuts, but it would be cool, and the ALMS is for the fans is it not ?  Yes we’re speedy now, but just imagine….

Anyway, for the first time in a long time I’m back in town for about 3 weeks and not having to leave.   I’m really looking forward to the breather, and getting to spend some time with my kids.   I’m closing soon on a new house they both love, and it will be fun getting that place up and running.    Again, thanks for all the nice notes about the commercial.   It’s very cool, and a good sign for our program, that GM included us.  

Johnny O

 

 


Daytona 24 Hours
Added 02/01/07

If you watched the race, I doubt you saw much of it as from what I heard most of the coverage was on the DP cars, and not the GT class.   Our Pontiac GXP-R was very well prepared by both Pratt and Miller and Banner racing, and all things considered it was a good result.   No kidding we were down about 10 MPH to the Porsches, and it was all we could do to just keep things close.

I had a very good qualifying session, using the draft, and would up 5th.    Way better than we expected, but I knew once the race started we would lose positions to be down on power.   I started out doing a double stint, and then gave the car over to my team mate Leighton Reese…and then he handed it off to Tim Lewis who was the third driver in the car.  

We all pushed as hard as we could and stayed in the top 8 of our class most of the event.

Tim did an excellent job staying out of trouble when it was raining, and think that as the season goes on he will show quite well.

Near the end of the race, we were running in  5th  about 14 seconds back of a Mazda driven by Randy Pobst.   I got in the car with about 50 minutes remaining, and finally caught him on the last lap as he got tangled in traffic.   I managed to get by him with some bumping and banging…then he got back by me…and then I finally got back by him and we crossed the finish line one car length in front.   It was a great way to end the race, and I really appreciated how hard and clean Randy raced me.   Good fun.  

Next up for me is testing in the Vette getting ready for the season.   Things with Pratt and Milller are as strong as ever, and we all look forward to putting on a good show for all Corvette fans this season.   It might just be us racing each other, but even that will be exciting.   Hope to see you at Sebring…

Johnny O

 

 


Updates
01/14/07

Sorry that it’s been awhile since I got anything up here, but with the holidays and all you know how it is.  Anyway, here’s what’s been going on.

Recently I tested down at Daytona in the new Pontiac GXP.R and got acquainted with Leighton Reese who will be campaigning the cars in Grand- Am this season.   He will be teaming with Tim Lewis Jr. in one car with Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards in the other.  For Daytona, I will be teamed with Leighton and Tim, and then Andy Pilgrim will be with Kelly and Paul.

In testing, we learned a lot of things.   One is that we needed to do a lot of work on making the cars more comfortable in the cockpit.   Lots to do there.   But we also learned that under the current rules, man it’s going to be impossible to win Daytona.   Compared to the Porsches we are so slow on the straights that we might as well be dragging a parachute !!!   Our handling is not that awful, but Hoosier apparently has a new tire this year, that I think most would agree is not an improvement on last year.   So many challenges ahead of us.  

One thing that blew me away in the test days was the number of times they had to stop the sessions for someone wrecking.    With the competition so close I guess…everyone is taking big chances, even in testing, dropping wheels all over the place, and making the chicane in particular a mess.   I hope it’s better for the race…but then that’s something you can never count on !!!

The GXP I think has lots of potential.   Some of the more difficult driving aspects now are visibility…when you see the car you’ll notice we sit very low…well actually that’s not the case.   It’s that under the rules the body work had to sit really high !!!  So it’s going to be hard not getting run into from time to time as you just don’t see the small proto types sneaking under you at the last minute !!!   Luckily Pratt and Miller build a really strong car !!   Anyway, it should be fun regardless.

On the Corvette side of things, well we are testing shortly and really looking forward to it.   I’m not sure where we are racing to be honest.   If there is no competition we may find ourselves racing in Europe.   I’m still shocked that no one has looked at the rule book and realized that the Saleen would be winning lots of races if it was still around.   They would have given both us and the Aston last year fits.   But as things stand right now we are waiting to hear if Aston will be back.   If they are, then I know we will be too.

Finally I’m doing more top secret work on future production corvettes.    I really enjoy doing it and having an input into what all Corvette owners will experience a few years from now.   I promise you the cars will be very speedy…very speedy indeed !!!!

Johnny O

 

 


More Corvette stuff
12/13/06

I’ve been totally flat out lately.   Between going testing for GM and other appearances I haven’t been home much, but finally I get some time to begin thinking about Christmas !!!

One very cool thing I’ve been doing recently is working with Tom Wallace and Jim Mero on future Corvette stuff.   I have to tell you, this stuff is wicked cool.   It’s interesting in that they are working on things so far into the future, and seeing how much technology and the geniuses associated with it, well very impressive indeed.   If you haven’t had the chance to meet Tom Wallace yet, do what you can to get the opportunity.   Behind all the intelligence and experience is a guy who digs cars … make that fast car…more than anyone I know.   We got mega lucky when he got the call to head up Corvettes future.

Finally, I was in Indianapolis at the Speedway on Monday.  The last time I was there I left in an ambulance…so it was a much nicer trip this time !   We shot a commercial bit that should be run on New Years I think.    I think based on what they told me it should come out looking pretty cool….but if you think I come off as a dork…well I don’t mind having a little fun poked at me.   Regardless let me know what you think !!!

Most importantly… to everyone, Merry Christmas.   I hope that God watches over us all during the holidays keeping us safe, our families safe, and our hearts happy.   2007 is here in the blink of an eye.   I’ll once again be doing Daytona in the Pontiac, and hopefully will improve on finishing second last year.   Then, the real work begins.   I’m already thinking about Sebring…and know once again the #3 car will be the one to beat.  We’ll be speedy for sure !

Johnny O

 


More sponsors
12/01/06

For ever now I’ve been wearing Bell Helmets.   Fortunately I’ve not had to rely on them for quite some time, but each time I’ve needed to, they’ve done great.   They take care of Ron and I really well, and Toni at Bell is the best at taking care of us.

Personally I get my helmets painted my Bullseye Visual.   Mine is a very easy design that I’ve had forever, but  they also do Andy Pilgrims helmet which if you get a chance to look at is very artistic and neat.   They do an amazing job if you are looking to get your helmet painted.

Other folks that help me out are Piloti Shoes.  Over the years I’ve used so many different brands, but by far the best are the Pilotis.   It used to be after a long race, 12 hours and up, my right foot would be so bruised from braking that  walking was a big problem much less being effective with the brakes.   With the Pilotis there is virtually no problem with that, and a big thanks to them.

Finally, X-Autoproducts.   They supply the team with great lubricants and car polish/wax.   The guy that  I work with is named Barry Moore, and he also sells car lifts for your own garage and other cool stuff.

So if you’re looking for a Christmas present for one of your car loving friends, check out my links page, and check out their sites.

Johnny O

 


Sponsors
Added 11/24/06

As you all know, sponsors play a big role in racing, so over the next few weeks I’ll mention a few of the folks that help me out.

I’ll start out by talking about BerryBoost.   It’s a product I use regularly, and is awesome at keeping colds away, but perfect for really maintaining your body whenever you are stressing it really hard.   Whether that be through hard training or just the stress of everyday life.

Anyway, I’ve found it to be really helpful for me in my training, and race preparation, and use it during the events.  It’s incredible the difference you feel the day after a race when using it, versus when you don’t.   So if you’re one of those people that are into looking after your body, you might want to check it out.  

You can click on the link and check it our for yourself.

Johnny O

 


Sebring Testing
Added 11/15/06

As I write this we are Sebring doing testing for next season.   Every year we come down here before thanksgiving, and begin to work on both tires and chassis for the following year.  Then during the month of December the team goes back, looks over the cars and the ton of data collected, and then when we return we always have a car that’s even more speedy.

We’re running our new cars, and they have a great feel to them.   Each year there are very small subtle changes made that improve the car.   It’s funny in that it seems the sanctioning bodies are always trying to slow us down, but somehow or another we find ways of remaining fast.

One really cool thing I did was tow my jet ski’s down with me, and before the test I went to Ft. Myers and did a little bit of running on the faster one around Sanibel Island.   Totally the coolest thing as about half an hour into my ride I saw a few dolphins so I stopped…and there must have been about 20 in the area.   It was extremely neat to watch, and once about 15 yards away one totally went airborne.   I was trying to take pictures with my cell phone, but sadly it wasn’t quick enough to catch.    Still it was a great time.

The next few weeks I’m busy doing lots of cool corvette stuff.  Both on the racing and production side.  I’ve also begun working on getting a few driving events set up like we did last year at Carolina motorsports park.   I’m most likely going to open it up to other cars…like Ferrari’s and porsches and stuff…so that we can see who really has what !!   I know that all that attended Corvette Camp had a great time and learned a lot, so if you’re interested keep watching the site, and we’ll get information out to you as we get plans firmed up.

Johnny O

 


Season Review
Added 11/06/06

Well we certainly didn’t get the results we wanted this season with the #3 car.   In looking back it’s very frustrating as so many times we had a good car, and then bad luck went against Ron and me.   Sebring was a great example where we were leading, had to do a stop and go, dropped back, then retook the lead only to have a rare gearbox problem take us out of contention.

At Houston, we had it again, but on my in lap there was a caution and the extra time getting in the pits allowed the #4 car to move in front of us.   Le Mans, well that was my mistake, but think that the Audi being so close to me on corner entry took the downforce off the back of the car…which led to the spin and contact.   But for that, we again had a great car.

Lime Rock we needed another lap,  Mid-Ohio a better starter, Petit we had brake issues…and well Laguna, we would have won but for a rare tire malfunction.   What is really frustrating is that speed wise I felt we were pretty good all year long.   Whereas last year the #4 car regularly out qualified us, this season I think we really got the better of them.   Our engineer Joe Keifer was amazing, and the Dan Binks, Gary Young, David James and Mike West crew of the number 3 car were stellar as always.

Ron, well like always he was fast and solid.   This was our 6th year teamed together and the guy continues to amaze me.   His ability to read the car is so good, and his race craft is second to none.   He is the best teammate a guy could ask for in the car, but out of the car he is just as special.   This past season has been very difficult for me due to some difficult family matters, and Ron, Linda, and well the entire team have been the best friends any guy could ever ask for.   The same could be said about all the Corvette Racing fans we see over the season.   The manner in which you treat us all, makes us so appreciate representing all of you on the race track…and your love for the Corvette and sportscar racing is one of the things that help keep our program alive.

Finally, a special thanks to everyone at GM and Pratt and Miller for the outstanding efforts given to our program.   Gary Pratt and Doug Fehan have assembled the best talent in America to ensure our success, and it’s with great pride that when we suit up and hop into the cars, we know that we are given the best possible chance to show well.   Though it seems far away right now, 2007 is going to be here in the blink of an eye.   We will be testing the new cars again shortly, and rest assured that next season, Corvette Racing will again be the ones to beat on the world stage.

Johnny O

 


Laguna Seca
Added 10/24/06

It used to be on of my favorite circuits.   Great layout, elevation changes, and good places to pass.   With all the changes that they’ve made to it to make it safer for motorcycles though, it has turned it into an awful place to hold a car race.   All the dirt and sand that gets dragged onto the surface, and cars getting stuck in gravel traps, well it is just as frustrating for us drivers as it is the fans having to spend so many laps under caution.   Hopefully next year they will have it figured out.

Once again Joe Keifer and the guys gave us a great race car.   I was pleased with my qualifying run, getting second to the Aston, and felt that though maybe not the best qualifying car, (we had too much understeer), we did have a great race car.    And so badly I wanted to end the year with a win.

Ron started the race and things got very interesting when Olivier was rammed into and had the left rear quarter panel damaged.   He pitted under yellow so didn’t lose to much time.   And luckily the handling was still ok for him.   Ron was having a good run, keeping the Astons close…and I knew it was going to be a great race as both teams seemed even.

I got into the car at about an hour and a half into the race, with the way things were going thought that maybe we lost a lap with yellows and all.   It was weird as you would have 2 laps of racing, then 10 of yellow.  Anyway, once things got going we were in third place and able to close on the Astons.  When I finally got close to the 009 car I was very pleased with our car, but was beginning to go loose.  I wanted to tell the crew, but then didn’t as I know that the Aston Martin team listens to us, and didn’t want them to know !!!

Anyway we closed up and had a very good battle.   With about half and hour to go I was able to get by, but then ended up getting passed back down the straight.  It was good fun, but to be honest with how the car was going loose…figured that even if I had made the move stick it would have been hard to keep the lead.    Just after he got by me I was punted by one of the Zytec cars and lost about 6 seconds.  I tried to get back our lap times, but with my tires going off, couldn’t do it and let Olivier go by so that he could have a chance.

The last 10 laps of the race were awful.   Unreal hard to go quick and not spin.   We ended up finishing third, and I later learned that my right rear tire had delaminated which is why our handling went so bad.   Just kind of our luck for the year, in that when we had a good car that should have won, well something always happened.

I also ran the caddy at Laguna, and honestly was given the best handling CTS-V that I’ve ever had.   We qualified 6th but things were close, and I thought for sure I would be able to work my way to the podium.   There was the usual chaos at the start, and once things settled down I was in 5th, and happy to stay there and let everyone else run their tires off.   Like I said, we had a great car and I was confident that we could not only move up…but a good chance that we would win.

Bad luck struck again though when we had an ignition problem similar to what cost us a win at St. Petersburg.   I tried recycling the master, and it was only when I got into pit lane that the engine re-fired.   We went back out way down the order, and though we only finished 13th or something, we did get fastest race lap.   Like I said…the car was really good.

So not a great week-end, but Corvette did win the manufacturers battle which is always the main goal.   Looking forward to next season there is much to be excited about.   New cars for next season that I know will be great, and getting back into the winners circle…and more than just once.    Thanks to everyone that supports us, it means an awful lot to us all.

Johnny

 


Laguna Seca
Added 10/16/06

Well I leave on Wednesday for Laguna and I’m very much looking forward to it.   New surface and other track improvements should make for a great time.  I’m racing both the Corvette and the Caddy…so it will be another busy week-end for me.   We should be a little bit more on equal footing with the Astons, and hope that the Michelin tires will suit the new surface well.   In the Caddy, well I’ll be running 100lbs more that Max Angeleli….but a little less than Andy Pilgrim.

In both series there are championships to be decided.   Manufacturers and Drivers.   Hopefully we will be in position to help both, by winning in the Corvette…and then hoping that one of the three Caddys can win as well.    Both cars have done well in the past, and hopefully can continue in the same direction.

Last year Ron and I had it more or less sewn up, when a very rare bad pit stop cost us the race.   In the Caddys…I think Max Papis won last year, so they also go there with a very good set-up.  No matter what , it will be a challenging week-end and with luck we’ll end the year on a high note.

Finally, we’ve already done a bit of testing with next years cars, and they look really good.   The engineers always find some way to improve things, and the new cars are no exception.   Everyone at Pratt and Miller does such an amazing job, it really is great being part of all that they do.

So keep fingers crossed for us…and I’ll be sure to fill you in on what went on behind the scenes…

Johnny O

 


Roebling Road
Added 10/11/06

So what do you do on a week-end when you aren’t racing ?   Well you get in the car and drive down to Roebling Road to help your son in his first go-kart race !!  Now it had been years since I’d been to a go-kart race, and pulling in and hearing the engines and smelling the fumes…well was totally awesome.

My son went down with his friend Palmer who’s been racing with his dad Height Adams for years.   They had a spare kart and were totally cool about letting Canaan have a run.   He practiced on Friday while I was up in Charlotte doing one of the star mazda shows, and then I met them at the end of the day.   The reports on him were really good, that he went quick but showed good patience.   We had dinner with a bunch of karters on Friday night and it was fun hearing their stories and seeing the boys crack each other up.

On Saturday one of the guys I had met came up and told me that there was a guy there named Robbie Harper who would be happy to put me in a kart.   I kind of hemmed and hawed, but after getting the OK from Steve Wesoloski went ahead and gave it a try.   Now it had been 22 years since my last kart race, and I had never been to the circuit, so figured I would be toast.   I got to do 7 laps before the race and was amazed to find how physical it was.   Totally a killer workout.

Anyway, I made a good start in the race, and after a few laps started catching the leaders.   When I finally got there it was the biggest blast drafting back and forth, and really I thought I had a good chance of winning.   I lead a bunch of laps but then my motor started missing and rather than blow it up pitted.  Big smiles on my face, and Canaan was cracking up as I guess was fun to watch.

On Sunday Canaan had his first race and I know I must have looked like the biggest goofy father ever.   Taking video…pictures…he did well not to punch me !!   There was very little coaching on my part, as I wanted him to learn on his own.   He made a great start and from the first corner on led the entire race.   So first race and gets his first win !!!   But what was really cool was watching how he progressed lap time wise.  Each lap getting quicker and quicker with his fastest being right at the end.

Now my deal with him is that if he gets straight A’s I’ll be his sponsor.   I’m totally hoping that he pulls it off, as it was so much fun.   And if he does, well I guess I’ll have to pick up a kart to and come out of retirement !!!

Finally, a special thanks to the folks at the WKA that helped make things easy for Canaan.    A great group of people.  Also thanks to Height Adams and Palmer….and Robbie Harper and Nelson.    We had a great time !!

Johnny

 


Petit Le Mans
Added 10/02/06

Not much you can say about this Petit le Mans except that we knew we weren’t going to have much of a chance.   Everyone at Corvette Racing tried as hard as we could, but then some misfortune for us on the #3 car with guys ramming me, and then having brake issues with both cars, well it just wasn’t to be.   The #4 car didn’t have the run-ins that I did with other drivers, but even so with the cars being down on power and heavy, it wasn’t much of a fight for even them.

It was good getting the pole but I think it was a bit of a gift.   I did do a very good lap, but the Astons had run only 3 tenths of a second slower than what I qualified the day before on full tanks, so I kind of think they held back so that it would not make their speed so obvious to IMSA.    Their top end is so much superior to ours, and at Road Atlanta you need that for overtaking.   Heck right now it’s all we can do to out drag a GT-2 car.

Anyway, the race was going ok at the start, Ron getting a good run and with pit stops and yellows when I got in the car thought maybe we had a shot at it still.   Unfortunately shortly into my first stint I was punted off track in turn 4 by Memo Gidley and even though I was lucky to save it, had to pit to get debris taken out of the radiator screen.  I kind of slammed him on TV, as I don’t know what he was thinking making that move in that place.   We spoke a second after the race and he swore he was next to me, but I don’t know how that could be as I pointed in very early to prevent exactly what happened.   Regardless, the general rule is that it’s the responsibility of the overtaking driver to make a clean pass…and it wasn’t.

Anyway we continued fighting and were in 3rd place on my second stint just behind the #4 car with the #007 Aston behind me.   On about the 3rd or 4th lap after a yellow, the Aston tagged me as I turned in for turn 10.   Spun me around, and though I was able to continue lost lots of ground to the #4 car.   They did give the Aston a stop and go, but the track position we lost was valuable.

Later, we knew we were in trouble when the #4 car had to change brakes, and we had to do the same.   That time lost in the pits cost us any chance.   We didn’t need another Sebring failure.   So the Manufacturers and drivers championship will be decided at Laguna.   Hopefully we will be given more power back, as we are still a long was from where the ACO says we should be racing.

Turning to the positive side of the week-end,  The auction went very well and we raised about $35,000 for the Alzheimers association and the Guest House.  Special thanks to all that helped…and also the Sebring turn 10 gang…it was great seeing you.   But the picture of Norm on the side of the window is going to have to go !!  I’ll tell you a funny story about that when I stop by at Sebring next year.

Johnny O

 


Nurburgring:
Added 9/23/06

Probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever run.   So totally demanding and huge, so fast, and no place to rest but for on one long straight.   Each day was a challenge, having sections that were dry, and some that were wet.   Driving wise it was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, and was tested every day.

Now I know all you Corvette fans were wondering if I was driving the Blue Devil, and sorry to disappoint you I wasn’t.   For the first three days I trained in a 2005 Z-51 and 2002 Z-06.   Both totally rocketships around the track, with really nothing out there faster.   It was fun in that we were just blowing by porsches , Ferraris, and lambourghinis like they were standing still.  At the end of the last day I got to do 3 good laps in a 2006 Z-06, and man what a car.   So fast and so much grip.   I never got to do a good timed lap as there was too much traffic, but think getting lower than the time that Jan did in the car, 7:43, is very doable based on what I was seeing for section times.   So with luck I’ll get to go back when the weather is right and have a go

Now the trick about that place is getting to know all the bumps and heaves in the circuit.   Literally 4 or 5 times you are lifting the car off the ground at over 100MPH, and in one area you are about 2 or 3 feet in the air.   The tricky thing is getting your throttle position right so that you jump with the car flat in the air, and not with the tail up.   Very hard to do, and man you have to suck it up.    The speeds are so great, and literally you have no run-off room, so any mistake is going to be huge and painful !!!

The first day I did training there with Tom Wallace who every Corvette owner should be happy is running the ship.   The guy is a total car nut, and so passionate about racing, the Corvette, and high performance in all the vehicles.   Also he’s a really great driver on top of it all.   So he has a good feel for what the Corvette should feel like.

Another guy I worked a lot with is Jim Mero.   He’s the guy really in charge of how the Corvette is tuned handling wise.   Also an amazing driver, the guy is totally switched on about how the car should behave, and is awesome at tuning the things.   He’s one of those guys folks don’t know about, but is a key component in the world class handling of the car. 

Also there running a bunch of other high performance GM stuff ( read top secret ) was John Heinreicy.    I got to look at some of his data while there, and the guy has totally no fear at all, and obviously is an amazing driver as well.  

So all in all it was a great trip and I look forward to going back.    See you all at Petit this week….it should be one heck of a show !!!

Johnny O

 


Something cool
Added 09/13/06

Every now and then you get to do something really cool in this job.   This Saturday I’m headed over to Germany to run some Corvette street cars around the Nuerburgring.  I’ve been there once before back when I drove for Panoz, and did do one lap on the long circuit, but this is going to be several days driving on it and should be a blast.   I’m getting to know the circuit beforehand by practicing on X-Box, so hopefully will have it memorized before I get there.

I get back the following Saturday and then it will be a thrash getting ready for Petit.   Not only do I have the race and auction to think about, but this year I am also the chief steward for a charity go-karting event to help out Motorsports Ministries.   So will be a busy week.

We have no word yet on if IMSA is going to make the fight with the Astons more fair, but our fingers are crossed.   Hope that yours are as well.    Those of you that order tickets for Petit through me while I’m gone, well it’s not a problem I’ll just make sure that your tickets are waiting for you at Will Call.   The Road Atlanta Staff is great, and if you run across one of them be sure and thank them as they give so much, and do a great job.

Promise to drink a beer for you all while I’m in Germany !!!  Yeah…will be fun !!!

Johnny

 


Mosport
Added 09/06/06

What can you say ?   Unless it had rained, we were never going to stand a chance at winning Mosport.  A shame really as I love the track as does Ron, and both of us were running strong.   But a bad call before we ever even crossed the starting line ruined our day.

On the start, Peter Kox was supposed to stay on the outside line, but upon exiting the corner he moved down on Ron and got himself taken out.   The video was pretty conclusive, but apparently a corner worker called in that it was Ron’s fault.   Kind of hard for me to believe that as Ron is a Canadian hero, but that is what I was told.   So he had to serve a stop and go, and our race was over, as soon after the pace car came out and with us losing track position we went a lap down.   Like the Astons aren’t being given a big enough break as it is.

Anyway, about an hour and ten minutes into the race Ron pitted and I got in.   Once again the guys on the 3 car gave us a great handing hot rod, very speedy, but we weren’t even close to the Astons.   Not only do they have us on horsepower, but apparently their tire program has come along well, as they did not seem to lose much time over the stint.   As things were, we should have been a third place car, as we could run a tic quicker than the 4 car, but with the penalty we once again lost points.   

So on to Petit Le Mans.   Hopefully we will be given a little bit of what has been taken away from us so that we can make it a race.   If not, well rest assured that we will always give everything we have.   And always will.

Johnny

 


Road America
Added 08/23/06

YEAH YEAH YEAH !!!  I don’t know about you but I was beginning to wonder it we would ever get another win in the #3 car…and boy was this sweet.   Finally luck went our way.   For both Ron and I this was a great win, and thanks to all of you that sent e-mails as it means a lot knowing that you all have our back.  Very cool.

In qualifying Ron put in the most amazing lap, but just got pipped by one of the Astons so we started second and the #4 car started 4th.   Our engineer Joe Keifer gave us an amazingly speedy hot rod, so we were looking forward to the race.  It was very cool to watch as all four cars were nose to tail until the #007 Aston dropped two wheels exiting the kink and Ron slipped by.   A few laps later, the lead Aston got punted my an Audi and ended up stuck in the sand, so it became a 3 car race.

Ron was leading for the first stop, but a hung up wheel nut put us back in third…a few seconds back.   Ron was totally on fire, and caught up to the Aston and Ollie, when another caution flew and I got back in.   I was about 3 seconds back watching Ollie work over the Aston, and though I didn’t see the pass he made, I did see that he was leading, but had smoke coming off his right front tire.   So I figured there must have been contact.

He pitted which gave the 007 Aston the lead again, and bad luck for me in that I had the 009 Aston in front of me.   We both were catching the 007 car, but then the garbage started.  Pedro Lamy in the 009 car started doing everything he could to slow us down and catch the 007 car.   He would completely get out of the gas in corners where I would not have room to go by…and we lost a ton of time.    Many times I thought about turning him backwards, but then I risked damaging my car as well, so I just kept the pressure on and was hoping that back in the pits someone was letting the officials know.

Finally an opportunity came up when an Audi passed us both and opened the door for me.   I went with the Audi, but Pedro came down and there was some hard contact.   Luckily Pratt builds a pretty stout piece and as we went up the front straight Pedro finally came to his senses and I was able to run free.

I was worried about us pitting again, but luckily a caution came out near the end so it was a non issue.   The team did an amazing job, and man…pretty darn emotional on the cool off lap.   In 20 years I had never won at Road America, and to finally do so was great.   Both my kids were there, and seeing them smiling after the race, and sharing the celebration was great.  

Mosport is next, then Petit.   For those of you going to Petit I will again have tickets and passes to the Corvette Corral.   I’ll get something up about it here next week before I leave for Mosport.   I’ll be doing the auction again of course.    Thanks to everyone for cheering us one…lots more racing still to come !!!

 

 


Road America
Added 08/15/06

Road America is coming up and I’m really looking forward to it.   Those who know me know I’ve always run pretty good there, having finished second like a million times, but never won.   But hey with each race there I’m one closer to getting a win and maybe the monkey will jump off our back this week-end.   It should be extra special in that I’m bringing the kids with me.   We stay at the Ostoff and it’s great as most of the guys on the team bring their families and it’s a great atmosphere.  

I’m not certain but I think restrictions have been put back on us that will make a win there difficult.   The Astons have such good top end, and at that track it is key.   Still we are up for the challenge and I know that we’ll have a good car.   Ron should be very good having just come off a busy week-end at Watkins Glen in the Cup car, and he always does a good job qualifying there.

In other news, I am getting ready for my auction at Petit Le Mans and hopefully it will again be a success.  Once again we will have lots of cool Corvette stuff but also things from other teams and drivers as well.  The proceeds will go the the Alzheimers association as well as a local senior citizen day care center here in Gainesville.   I will also be selling tickets for Petit that will include passes to the Corvette Corral.  SO if you are interested you can email me at JohnnyORacing@aol.com.

Finally, I now have t-shirts and stuff that were done in association with the Corvette Museum.   If you’re interested in those and other items with my helmet logo on them you can go to the corvette museum website.

Keep your fingers crossed for a good week end….and hope to see you there !

Johnny O

 


Portland Race
Added 07/28/06

I’m sorry I wasn’t exactly speedy getting this up so sorry.   Portland was an unreal battle, mostly because of the heat.   Each day temperatures were in the hundreds, and in the car it was brutal.   We had been given some of our restrictions back, so that we were a bit stronger than we were the previous two rounds.   Really, our biggest advantage over the Astons is our Michelin tires, but it does seem that Pirelli are doing better as the season goes on at giving them good tires.

     In qualifying Olivier was fastest just beating me by a tic over one tenth of a second.   I knew that I had left a little bit on the table in the very fast entry to turn 9.   It is very bumpy and was hard for me to enter the corner balanced.   Up until there we were dead nuts, but that was where the difference was.   I kind of felt that we had been missing something all week long, and I’ll address that at the end.

     Race day it looked like we were totally going to luck out with weather as clouds were there all day keeping things cool.   But about half an hour before our race, the clouds disappeared and it was like being in a microwave.  Ron started the race and unfortunately got bottled up by some of the p-2 cars in front of him and lost position to both Astons.   Once going he was faster, but with the straight line speed they have on us, was unable to get by.   He was totally doing a great job and it was fun watching on the monitors.

     At our driver change which was done during a caution, we were able to come out in second place, but down to the 4 car around 14 seconds.   Initially I could gain just a tic on them, but as the stint went on we just didn’t have the set-up to keep the pace we needed.   Also, our air conditioning had totally failed.   So to say it was hot would be an understatement.   To give you and idea how hot it was, both Ollies thought that there system had failed as well, but after the race it showed that it was working.   Anyway, I also ran out of water with about 20 minutes to go and was looking forward to getting back in the pits and giving the car to Ron.  We had about 20 some odd seconds over the 3rd place Aston so I thought we were good.

     It is very rare for us to have a problem on a stop, but this time we did.   One of the lap belts had fallen under Ron, so our stop took a long time and we lost 2nd place due to it.   Ron drove the wheels off the thing, but there was no way he could make up the difference no matter how speedy he was.

     Upon the cars getting back to the shop, one of the first things the crew does is roll them onto a set-up pad and see what the set-up was for after the race.   Usually, they are spot on.   For us though, one of the settings was quite off.   The thinking is that perhaps the set-up pad we used at the track was a tic off, and that is why we never got the handle on things like we normally do.   I know our engineer Joe Kiefer was scratching his head, but I’m thinking that was what was up.   We have a few weeks finally to recharge our batteries, and then we’re going to Road America.   I’ve finished second there like a gazillion times, so hopefully we can break that run of bad luck and finally  smile on the podium again.   Thanks to all of you that read this for being such good friends to all of us on the Corvette Team.  

Johnny O

 


Portland
Added 07/21/06

I’m now in Portland and once again it looks like we will be battling the heat along with the race track.   It looks like race day will again be in the hundreds, so we’ll be drinking lots of water and if needed taking an IV before the race.   I totally love this track and over the years have had lots of good results.   As I write this I’m not certain what restrictions that are going to be placed on us for the race, but I’m hopeful that it won’t be that bad and we’ll be able to be more competitive than at Salt Lake.

Over the years we’ve had really good Corvettes here and I’m certain our engineer Joe Keifer and Dan Binks and the guys will once again give us a speedy car.   Tire will be a challenge as always as the track temps here go through the roof.   Luckily Michelin always comes through for us, but based on what we saw from the Astons last week I think they might also have a good tire for here.   We’ll just have to wait and see.

I know that lots of people have been making a big deal out of the restrictions placed on us, but I understand the need to make the racing more competitive.   We’ve had several good close races, and all of us like those best.    We did get some bad news upon getting here that one of the Aston Martin drivers,  Thomas Enge, unfortunately broke his arm on a bicycle.   It’s a shame in that Thomas is a great guy and very gifted driver.   One of my favorite guys to race as he is very clean but totally gets everything he can out of the car.   I’m not sure what their plans are going to be, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that he has a speedy recovery 

Keep your fingers crossed that we have a good run, and I’ll keep you posted on what we are up to here.   My apologies for all the spam in the guest book.   We are doing our best  to get that sorted out, so thanks for being patient on that.   You’d think folks would have better things to do with their time than sending that junk out.  

Johnny O

 


Salt Lake City
Added 07/19/06

Where to begin .   Right now I’m sitting in the airport having gotten up at 4:30 to catch my flight, and after totally giving everything we have, am thinking that I should have gone for a later flight so that I could sleep !

Totally tired and sore but I’m sure I’ll get some sleep on the flight.

From my point of view Corvette Racing has so much to be proud of.    Sure we were never on the pace of the Aston Martins, but man did we push as hard as we could every lap.   Our engineer Joe Keifer gave us such a great car, and as I love this circuit so much,  I really enjoyed driving hard the entire time.

We knew coming here that we were most likely going to get spanked by the Astons and qualifying showed what a difference there was.   Ollie and I limited ourselves to just two hard laps, and I just beat him out, which is something that doesn’t happen often as he is killer in qualifying.   So I was pleased with that, but we were still over 2 seconds back of the Astons, who were flying.   Our only hope was that their tires would go off, and that they would come back to us.

At the start of the race it was quickly evident that on pace there was no way we could match them, and hoped that they would come back to us.    At around lap 25 the lead Aston ripped off a lap faster than we qualified, so we knew that tires would not be a problem for them.   Major bummer !

For my run, once I got in the car I knew that I would have to run every lap right on the edge.   There was a lot of ground to make up to the 4 car, and as the stint went on was able to whittle that down.   I was getting good breaks in traffic, and like I mentioned the car was just so nice to drive.   Near the end there was a caution that got us on the back of the 4 car, and I think our tires were a touch better as Olivier was sliding a bit more than I was.   He was doing a great job but slid wide in corner 14 on the exit and I was able to slip by.    I continued to push hard, but there was little I could do with the Astons.    We finished third, proud of how we worked hard as a team with both cars , but disappointed that we weren’t able to ever really be in this one.

Finally a word on the circuit here.   I so loved driving here.   It is one of the most demanding circuits athletically, and especially with the heat was an amazing challenge.    It has such good rhythm to it, and each corner really makes sense and allows for good racing with good passing zones.   I know that as the years go by, and they tune it more, it will become one of the premier tracks in America.   So all you Corvette owners, if you ever get the chance to run your car here, jump at it.   It’s mega fast and mega safe.     Portland is next and know we’ll be pushing hard.

Johnny O

 


Salt Lake City
Added 07/14/06

Looking at track maps, and then walking around the outside of the circuit here, I was saying to myself that there are just way to many corners and the track is way to busy.    I really didn’t expect to like it.   But then after about my 7th or 8th lap was just grinning in the car as it is so fun to drive.   Very cool.  

We didn’t go as quick as the Astons as the restrictions they put on us are quite a challenge.   Our top speed is not much better than a GT-2 car, and well there is nothing more frustrating than barely being quicker than a Porsche !!!   The race will for sure be a challenge due to us being down on top speed.   But hopefully the Michelins will give us and edge towards the end of a stint.

I am wondering if the Aston Martin boys are really showing all that they have.   I would think that with our restrictions off we would be sooo much faster.   Hopefully someone is out there with a radar gun showing the difference and we can get a little help back.

No matter though, we’ll be pushing hard, and really enjoying a great track.    After Lime Rock this place is heaven !!!

Johnny

 


Lime Rock
Added 07/05/06

Sorry about the delay getting this up.   Rats.   Second again !!!   Ron and I certainly pushed as hard as we could, and though pleased with our performance, well I guess it was finally Aston Martins turn.

We showed up and I was for the first time really looking forward to racing at Lime Rock.   Now I know all you know I hate the place as it’s so small and dangerous, but after le mans really wanted to get back out and push the car hard.   We were very good in the first 2 sessions on Friday, and Ron did an excellent job in qualifying getting us in second place.   He really has been driving well this season and it was fun to see him get everything out of the car.

At the start Ron made a great move and was leading for awhile until he got pushed off line by a p car going into turn 7.   The same thing happened last year and he got pushed off the track.  This time was not as bad, but he did lose enough momentum that one of the Astons got by him.   For the rest of his stint, which with cautions was about an hour and 45 minutes, he beat on them and raced them so hard.  But also so clean.   It was fun to watch.    It’s just that passing at Lime Rock is next to impossible, and the one time he did get by he slid just a tic wide and the Aston got back under him.

Now while we were having a good run, the #4 car was running out of luck.   Olivier had a great start but got stuck on the outside of turn one and that totally killed him.   He lost lots of positions and was fighting back when he got together with the 009 car.   Both spun but Olivier got going first so was in third.   Then about 10 laps later he had a coming together with one of the Dyson cars that ended up costing them about 25 laps.   It was a shame in that their car was quite good.

Once I got in there was a caution straight away and I was behind the 009 car.   My plan was to stay there for about 30 minutes of so until his tires went off then have a go at him.   The other Aston was behind me so it was going to be a great battle.   Bad luck hit me as it did Ron when one of the Dyson cars made a very late move on me going into turn 7.    I almost lost it, and in correcting lost all of my momentum and the other Aston got by.   Then with all the junk on the tires I slide wide in turn one and got nailed by one of the Penske cars, and when it was all said and done I’d lost about 10 seconds.   Totally pissed off I was.

Anyway, I put my head down and just tried to be consistent.   Luckily I caught the one Aston with about 10 minutes left but it took me a few laps to get by.   When I did I was 4 seconds down to the lead Aston and it didn’t look good as I think there were only like 3 minutes left.   I pushed as hard as I could , and man if I didn’t get to the bumper of the Aston going into turn one.   I tried taking a look going into turn 3 that he blocked, and then got a great run going on him into the chicane.   He blocked the inside and as I moved to the outside thought I might have a chance, but then he drifted up a bit and I had to plan for the last corner.

Johnny O

 


Sear Point
Added 06/20/06

I was  back in the Caddy this past week-end at Sears Point and had a really good time.   We were using the Nascar circuit and though not as fun as the full track was still good to race on.   Also being there with the Nascar folks and seeing how they do things was neat and it’s amazing the number of fans that they have.    Unreal so.

Now running in that series is hard.   I very much enjoy it, and the competition is good.   But the bad thing is that they are always changing the rules for each manufacturer, and so it’s not really a level playing field.   The Caddy is like 250 pounds heavier than a Porsche and about 100 pounds heavier than the Viper.   Weight means a lot in racing and on a twisty circuit like Sears it was just too much for the tires.

I qualified 5th  after getting traffic on my good lap, but thought we might have a good race car.   Andy Pilgrim in the other car was 3rd.   I got a good start and held position and for the first part of the race the top 5 of us were very close.   They Mike McCann in the Viper had a huge moment that allowed Andy to get by him and then I followed at the next corner.   Neither of us had anything for the Viper in front of us who in turn had nothing for the Porsche leading the race.

We did have one caution, and on the re-start I was able to get by Andy.   Now this was my last race in the Caddy so unless it looked like I could move up then I planned on giving the position back.   I pushed hard on the viper for the first two laps after we went green, but with their horsepower and weight advantage there was little I could do.   Long story short the first 4 of us were very close with no one being able to get by.   Coming off the last corner before the checkered I eased up and let Andy by so that he would be better off in the championship.   My decision.

Hopefully the SCCA will look at their data and realize that the Caddy needs a break.   Yes Ron got a win at Long Beach and I should have had one at St. Pete, but both of those were also the result of other guys falling out and making mistakes.   We’ve run perfect races driving wise, and still not been able to lead.   Come to think of it even with professional drivers I bet that Caddy has led fewer laps this year than any other brand.   Hmmmm something to think about.

On Sunday I spotted for Ron during the Nextel Cup race.   He had rotten luck with the car, but drove really well.   Sure would be nice to one day at least do a test in one of those cars as they look fun to drive.    And being honest, I think that for a road course I could do pretty well.   So who knows, maybe someday.

Lime Rock is next and for the first time in my life I’m looking forward to going there.   Lots to prove.   And eager to get started..

Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/20/06

True story.   My next door neighbor at the lake ran over his kids dog.   Honest.   It was game over for the dog and as a father I can only imagine how painful that was.   I couldn’t think of anything worse.   Well that was until this years Le Mans.   Honestly I don’t know how that car got away from me as it was working really well, and in that part of the circuit entering the Porsche corners there had been no problems.   I didn’t see anything on the circuit as I turned in for the corner, a very fast 5th gear right hander, but then the rear slowly started moving around on me and I fought it as long as I thought wise and then went into Spin control once I knew it was gone.   The biggest problem was that it began around 150mph and I knew that I just didn’t have to room there to maneuver the car and not hit anything.   Luckily the hit didn’t seem that hard, but enough to tear off a wing end plate and break a toe link in the rear.  

Once I was stopped, well the car wouldn’t turn how I wanted due to the toe link and it took all I could do to get it turned in the right direction as cars were coming at me at full chat.   Not a good feeling.   The damage was not as bad as it could have been, but still was bad enough that we lost 3 laps fixing her.   Then with the other problems we had down the road, well it’s entirely possible that the crash weakened those bits that later failed.   Like they always do, the guys on the 63 car did a great job getting her back together, and we could still run very good lap times.   The problem was  the laps that we lost, and we put on another wing that had a bit more drag in it so that we lost about 2 mph down the straights.  

Personally, I think I would rather have run over my dog.   At least with that the world wouldn’t have been watching nor would there have been cameras all over you and everyone asking what happened.   That’s the first time in ages I’ve fallen off…and well is a hard pill to swallow.   Once the car was going again I tried to think back to a few years back when McNish fell off at the same place in the Audi, and after they fixed the car they were still able to get back to the podium.   Such was not the case for us.

Ron, Max and I pushed as hard as we could, and it looked for awhile there like we might be able to get to third place, and then once the Aston had it’s problem, well it would have been second.   But the other problems, the clutch…then the gearbox, well just way too much time in the pits.   I’ll be angry about this one for the rest of the season, and for sure be doing my best to make it back up to the team.   Like always they rose to the challenge, but then it was a challenge they shouldn’t have had to face.

Man.   But for that one moment I feel really good about how I drove.   My stints were fast, and consistent.   My out laps and in laps were what we needed, but non of that mattered.   Everyone on the team was totally cool about it, they know how hard we are pushing, but still, I feel really bad about it.

Luckily the guys in the 64 car again did an amazing job.   It was a great battle between them and the Aston and once again with them leading, and Ollie, Oliver and Jan pushing them hard, they broke.   They have to be wondering what they have to do to get a break.   Kind of like me !   Anyway hats off to the guys on the 64 car.   Getting three wins in a row at Le Mans is a significant achievement.

Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/16/06

Grrrrrrrr  !!!    Well make that Grrrr.   Right now a bit frustrated in that at the end of the run last night I was on a good set of tires, not qualifiers, but at least stickers, and twice had laps going that would have placed us second in qualifying.   But then every, and I do mean every time I would get to the Porsche corners there would be a slow Porsche or prototype not watching their mirrors and the lap would be wasted.   And really in that situation there is nothing you can do but cuss a bit and hope you get another chance.   We didn’t and so for the race we are starting in 6th with the other Corvette in starting third.

Ollie, like he always does here, put in a very good lap.   I’m pretty sure that but for the traffic we would have been ahead…but as we’re in France, c’est la vie.   Now so that you know, on our dash we have a pretty serious computer that lets us know if we are going faster or slower than a lap that we have done previously.   This allows us to judge if we’re doing better, or worse.   And it can be a great motivator when you start seeing numbers you like…and numbers you don’t !!!   It’s just one of many tools that the engineers give us to improve ourselves when we are out on the track.

So that said, I think we should be in good shape for the race.   We had made some changes to the car before I got in based on what Max had been feeling.   He had been dealing with some understeer, but with the changes made to the car we went a little bit too far and for me that car was very much on the nervous side.   OK to drive for a few laps, but not for a whole stint much less a double.  So a few changes to the car will be made today and then tried out in morning warm-up tomorrow.

Today, Friday, it’s a mad house here.   So many fans you would not believe.   It’s a crack up as Jan Magnussen is like a superstar here, all the Danish fans going wild each time they see him.   And everyone of them with a beer in their hand !!!   Nah...just kidding about that…but I’m sure that doing the parade later this afternoon we’ll see lots of guys toasting him !!

Speaking of the parade, it is a huge event here.  Basically they close the roads downtown and hundreds of thousands of fans line the streets.  All of the drivers are then driven through the crowds in antique cars that are beyond cool.   Sometimes they break down and people end up having to push them the rest of the way.   Then once all the drivers go through they have bands and dancers cruising the same route so is very fun for all the fans.

After that is over, around 7, we have an appearance to make for Compuware, and then it’s back to the track to have dinner and then hopefully a good night sleep.   Now the race always starts at 4 PM, but this year due to World Cup Soccer it is starting at 5 PM.   And that in itself is one of the hardest things about Le Mans.   By the time the race starts you’ve already been up a long time.   You try and sneak in a nap here and there before the race, but that’s always hard to do.

I once was told that the reason that the race starts so late is that for the very first 24 hour race, the night before everyone partied way too hard and it took until 4 PM to get everything organized !!!   And thus a tradition was born.   Sure would be nice if they changed it and started the race early, but I doubt that will ever happen.

I’m going to be focusing now on the race, so won’t get anything up here until I get back in the states.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed these little tid bits of what we’re doing over here.   This is our biggest race of the year, and I guarantee you that all of us are going to be giving 100 % to bring back another win to the USA.   Speaking of which, one final cool thing to share with you. 

Speed TV was doing a thing on the team this morning with hundreds of fans looking on as they interviewed Dan Binks about all the prep work the team does getting race ready.  At  the end, Mike West ripped out his guitar and totally rocked the Star Spangled Banner Jimmie Hendrix style.   The crowd went nuts and made us all feel really good about our team, and the way we are treated over here.   Over the years we as a team have been solid ambassadors not only for General Motors, but also our country.   And that along with the success we’ve enjoyed on the track here, well as Kelly Collins used to say, is rocking chair equity.   Fingers crossed for us,  63 is due !!!

Over and out…Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/15/06

Doesn’t it figure that after waiting to finally get things going here it rains ?!!  We generally have a policy that if it doesn’t look like it is going to rain in the race, we don’t go out for practice as it’s just too big a risk, and nothing is gained.   That was the case tonight as we skipped the first session from 7 to 9.  For the second session which goes from 10 to midnight each driver did one timed lap in the rain.   There is a rule that says each driver has to do a lap at night to be qualified for the race…so we got that done which is good.

The bad part about it is that we really didn’t get to run hard in the conditions that we expect for the race.   The engineers came back from a week at the shop with a lot of great ideas, and now tomorrow will be interesting and a challenge to see what they come up with.   I’m not really worried as they always get us close.  But with time now at a minimum…it will be more difficult.

The Astons spent almost all the time running, which surprised me.  I expected them to do what we did, but then maybe they saw a different weather report then what we did.  They ended up being quickest over us by a lot but then really it doesn’t mean anything.   None of us as drivers did anything other than what Doug Fehan told us which was to get the lap in, and park the car.

As a result of not running the crew has a much easier time getting things ready for Thursday.   Several teams including Audi had crashes, and so there day will be spent fixing wrecked cars.   Our guys will be doing little things here and there to make the cars nicer, and doing prep work for the race.

Hopefully the next report I’ll be able to tell you more about the cars and how we are running, and less about the weather !!!   Thanks for checking in.

Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/13/06

Well back in Le Mans and scrutineering went well for us with both cars getting through with no problems.   It was an unreal hot day downtown where it is held, and being in driver suits made it even more so.   But still it was a lot of fun meeting all the fans and beginning the festivities that lead up to the race.   After getting the cars back to the track the team had a nice dinner at the hotel where everyone stays, and it was made more enjoyable when Mike West, one of the guys on our car, broke out his guitar and started playing Jimmy Hendrix and other window shattering music.   I was hoping that he was going to get into some Alan Jackson or Clint Black stuff but I guess he’s still working on that.

Today is a day with nothing going on other than basic car prep and relaxing.   Ron and I are going to walk the circuit some and check out a few corners, maybe go over car set-up, get thinking about the race.   Then later I’m off to the drug store to stock up on allergy medicine as man…the amount of pollen in the air out here is unreal.   I feel like I need a chisel to crack open my eyes in the morning.   You always get that here, the allergies, but this year seems exceptionally bad.

The engineers all returned to the circuit yesterday after being back at the shop for all last week.  They burned through like a million different things and seem very confident about where to have the cars for beginning practice tomorrow night.   A little different then what we finished with at pre qualifying, but I’m sure in the right direction.

Tomorrow night we finally get to run again…and I’ll be sure to give you the inside scoop on all that is going on with Corvette Racing.   Thanks for all the notes in the guestbook.   I’d answer them from here but it’s kind of hard on the computer I’m working off of but I’ll make sure that I do it when I get home.

Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/06/06

So what goes on after testing ?  Well the guys have been here early each day taking the car apart and going through everything.   Putting in all the new bits for the race week to start, and generally checking to see how things are performing.

Now one of the really cool things about hanging with the team is seeing how smart they all are, and how they all work together so well.    Gary Pratt is totally a hands on guy, and when it comes to race cars, well no one knows there stuff so well.   A quick story about how things work.

Yesterday I’m in the trailer when one of the guys brings in a part that is showing signs of being close to failing.  Both he and Gary closely examine the part, then go into the design and building of the part, to understand why the part is looking like it does, then immediately seek finding a better way.   Now that was the readers digest version of course, but it is a great example of how this team works and why we have the success that we do.   No part, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is overlooked.   The engineering staff I know is on top of all parts, and it’s the attention given to every small piece that is the reason for Corvette Racings record.

So anyway back to some of  the mundane things I’ve been doing.  Yesterday I spent a lot of time tuning my seat insert, making it stronger and better fitting.   The guys always laugh at me when I work on it, as to them it seems I spend way too much time on it, but it is a critical part of my equipment and the last thing I want in a 24 hour race is to not be comfortable.   An insert takes a ton of abuse during a driver change being ripped out of the seat and all, so I make sure that it’s not going to fail.

Today I’ve been working on my helmets.  We have a cool air system that blows into our helmets, but sometimes there are restrictions in the helmet when it gets put together so that the air flow is not as clean as it could be.   So I’ve been pulling the fabric away, cutting away some of the plastic that is restricting the flow of air, then gluing it all back.   Once done with that…well I guess my work is done.

Later today when all is done, I’m heading down to Spain with all the guys for a few days relaxing in Barcelona.   I’m totally looking forward to it as I’ve always wanted to see the circuit there, and maybe check out a bullfight.   It’s funny as most people think that when you are racing, and traveling, you get to see the sights.   I laugh cause that is never the case.   A normal race week-end is spent waking up, spending the day at the track, leaving around dinner time, making an appearance if scheduled, then back to the hotel my 9 or so.   You never get to check anything out !!!   So this will be fun hanging with the guys and seeing another country.

I’ll get my next report back up on Sunday or Monday.   Monday is scrutineering day for us in down town Le Mans.  It’s a lot of fun, as tons of people show up to see the cars and meet the drivers.   I’ll tell you about it all next time.

Fingers crossed for a successful Le Mans this year, and hey, when you hit your knees at night, tell the big guy to do his best and let the 63 car win !!!  Grrr…it’s been too long !!!

Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/04/06

We are about 2 hours now since pre-qualifying ended and honestly it was a pretty good day.   Both Aston Martins are fastest followed by both Corvettes.   A few other cars are pretty close but it really appears as if it will once again be a battle of Corvette Racing versus Pro-Drive.

I was first out in the morning and that’s always an interesting time as the track is so dusty and dirty.   Kind of cool in that as you run down Mulsanne the car in front of you is throwing up incredible amounts of dust and it really shows just how these cars use the air to stick to the ground.  They have changed the first few corners of the circuit for this year, and I like what they have done.   It makes for another decent passing area, and has very nice rhythm.   It’s just before the Dunlop tire, and if you watch Speed TV’s coverage I’m sure they will point in it out.

The only problem with the change to the circuit is that they have made pit out very very long and made us join the circuit at a very dangerous location.   During our drivers meeting some noise was made about it…that it is so dangerous, and it will be interesting to see what the ACO does.   There is a pretty easy fix to the problem, but they never seem to like change very much, so I’m not keeping my fingers crossed about it.

Anyway the first half of the day was more or less spent cleaning the circuit and laying down rubber.  In the afternoon I started again and did what for that moment was a good time.   I came in and gave the car to Ron, he did well, then we made some big changes to the car and Max went out.   The changes were obviously good in that we went a lot quicker and with much more comfort in the car.   We had been fighting a bit of an oversteering car, but in speaking with Max after he got out, well it seems we are pretty darn close to having a good race car.

That in itself is a really cool thing in that in all the years I’ve been coming here with Corvette it seems we always leave pre-qualifying scratching our heads and not confident with the cars.   Then the engineers would go back…pour over all the data…and come race time we would get pretty close.   As we are so much better than ever at the end of today, I know that come two weeks from now we will be very strong.   For sure I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll write more tomorrow….and hope that you all are enjoying the inside scoop of what we’re doing.

Johnny O

 


Le Mans
Added 06/03/06

Without a doubt the biggest event for us every year is the 24 hours of Le Mans.   It is an event that every sports car fan should attend once in their lifetime, and is for me the most amazing event in the world.   It’s 24 hours of pretty much qualifying type laps, against the best competition from around the world.   This year again will be a challenge for us as the Aston Martins will again be pushing us as well as the Saleen.   Over the years we as a team have pretty much set the standard by which all teams will be measured, and as such we go into the event motivated to keep our record at Le Mans continuing.

It was a brutal trip for me getting over here as I missed my connecting flight and ended up having to spend an extra day in a hotel in Chicago.   But once here found everything set up and the team anxious to get going.   GM does a really cool thing for us drivers here in that they build kind of a mini hotel for the drivers so that during the race we have our own room where we can escape, grab a shower, and some sleep.   A few years back I decided to just take up lodging there as there was not much point in going back to a hotel every night, only to return again first thing in the morning.  Since then a couple of the other guys have seen the brilliance of my strategy and now are doing the same thing.   So at night after everyone has left we hang out, share racing stories, and get on the internet and stay in touch.   It’s really quite peaceful and quiet once everyone is gone, and is a nice place to relax.

Tomorrow is pre-qualifying and it’s our first chance to get on the circuit before the race week truly begins.  They once again have changed the circuit a little, making turn one a bit more of a sharp corner, so Ron and I are headed up there in a bit to take a look at it and get a visual on what we will have to drive through.    We’ll also have a look at the gravel traps, checking out the gravel and hoping that they have changed it from previous years where the gravel has been extremely sharp and has caused a lot of problems.

Once on the track the first hour or two is really worthless as far as learning anything about the track.   This is because the circuit will be so dirty and no rubber will have been laid down.   But as the day goes on more and more rubber is laid down and we’ll be able to get down to working on set-up.   Corvette Racing has always been very good at getting us close to where we want to race set-up wise thanks to the engineering staff, and I’m confident that once again we will have good race cars.

I’ll try and keep getting things up on the site so that you can see what is going on behind the scenes here, and let you share in the excitement and challenges that we get presented with during our time here.   It’s a special thing representing the Corvette over here, as the fans really love our car.  And for those of us that drive it, well we love it even more.

Johnny O

 


Corvette Camp Update
Added 05/30/06

As lots of you know last year I ran a driving school event….called Corvette Camp, in South Carolina at the race track in Kershaw. It was a lot of fun…and I know that all who attended learned a lot, had a great time, and left with newfound respect for what both they and their Corvette could do. The program more or less was based on teaching what I had learned working as an Instructor at the Bondurant School, Jim Russell, and Skip Barber, and taking what I felt were the best elements of each and stressing these to the students. And yes I did draw a lot on what I’ve learned racing professionally over the past 24 years.

So that you are kept up to date, I want you to be aware that I am currently working on an enhanced program to be held in Texas in either late October or early November. The format will be similar to the first program, but with some extra goodies to make it even better. I will be posting here in the very near future and on the Corvette Camp link details of this upcoming event. Be sure to keep visiting these sites periodically so that you do not miss the opportunity to join me at this exciting event. In the meantime, feel free to checkout the Corvette Camp link and read the write-up on the highly successfully inaugural, fast-paced Corvette Camp conducted last year. Stay tuned ........

Johnny O

 


Mid Ohio
Added 05/22/06

I just got back from Mid-Ohio, and once again Ron and I finished second.   Being honest, it’s getting really old.  Once again the guys in the 4 car did a great job, and had no mistakes.   Ollie got a great break at the start when he got in front of the Astons, whereas I was held up by one of them.   It was fun racing and very hard.   We were better under braking and in the corners…but man did they have top end on us and getting by was next to impossible without risking contact, and this close to leaving for Le Mans…wasn’t about to do that.

But before the Corvette on Sunday I got to race the Cadillac in world Challenge on Saturday.   They have totally crippled that car with all the weight that we carry, but it makes for a really great challenge.  We had qualified 5th and made a good start not losing any positions, but then once headed down the back straight was passed easily by a Porsche who must have used nitrous as he went by us so fast under acceleration.   But then again it was probably the weight!  

Anyway, it was a great battle with us stuck in 6th with the plan of waiting until the final ten laps to really get aggressive.  Unfortunately we never got there as while in a tight group one of the back markers decided to race the two guys in front of me rather than let them pass.   He had contact with both of them causing them both to spin, and then he wound up right in front of me.  I had no where to go and  it was hard contact, and then to make things worse I ended up getting smashed into before I could get out of the way.   I totally felt bad as the guys really work hard to give us a good car whenever we race, but sometimes it happens.   Luckily I wasn’t hurt bad, and went to bed looking forward to having a better day in the Vette.

Anyway back to the Corvette race.   We lost a lot of time to Oliver being stuck behind the Aston, but after we changed over to Ron there was a caution that got both cars together again.   I had been pretty confident that our car was as good as the 4 car and it was as Ron was able to stick with Olivier.   The race really was decided under a caution when both cars pitted together.  We had been getting better mileage so we needed less fuel and I was hoping that we could beat the 4 car out of the pits.  Once again bad luck hit us as we pitted just short of where the fuel rig would reach, and the car had to be pushed forward to get the fuel in.  The 4 car was able to get out first, and that was how the cars finished.

It was a shame the way things turned out with the Astons getting caught by the pace car as Mid-Ohio was a track that they could have totally given us fits with.   They made mistakes though like sleeping at the start, which really cost them.   It’s our hope that they do the rest of the ALMS season, but even if they don’t, I know that Le Mans will again be an epic battle.   Thanks to all the fans for supporting us, and hope to see you at a race soon.

 


Houston Race
Added 05/14/06

Note to self.   Get rabbits foot.   Well once again lady luck wasn’t on our side.   The race at Houston was really close, both Corvettes running so strong, and one of the Aston Martins pushing us really hard.   It was a good race.   The 4 car won and we were second.  But darn if we didn’t come close.

Ron had done a really nice job putting the car on pole and I think both of us were feeling good about the race.  Ron had a very good sting with Olivier right there with him, and when we did our first stop I came out just in front of Ollie in the 4 car.  We ran about 2 seconds apart the entire time, both of pushing so hard.   Traffic was the difference for the most part to the gap between us as on clear laps we were dead even.

The race was decided when the 4 car pitted first and had a good stop.  When I got called into the pits I came up on 3 cars going very slowly and also a local yellow flag in one of the corners.  That slowed my in lap down just enough that when I left the pits the 4 car was in front of us.   Game over end of story.

Still a better result than Sebring and I feel good about our next race at Mid-Ohio.   We will again really be pushed hard by the Aston boys…and I’m sure will be another epic battle.   Thanks for cheering us on !

Johnny O

 


Pre Houston Thoughts
Added 05/08/06

Finally we are about to go racing again !   It’s been a long time since Sebring and I’m really excited about getting back in the car.   I have heard that the circuit at Houston is a very cool layout, but also one with a few really huge bumps in it.   I’m hoping that what I’ve heard is wrong as no one really likes flying in the air when you are so close to the barriers.   But we’ll find out in a few days and regardless of whether the track is smooth or not it will be great getting behind the wheel again.

After Houston it’s a few days home then back at it at Mid-Ohio.   The track has recently been resurfaced and I’ve heard that they did a really good job.  It will be great fun to get back there and for me a busy week-end as I’ll also be driving the Cadillac.   Mid-Ohio is a track that has always been good to Ron and I, so hopefully our string of good runs there will continue.

Our competition in the Aston Martins will be unreal hard to beat these next two races.   We now will weigh almost 170 pounds more and if that’s not bad enough they also get to run a bigger restrictor than us now.   So winning at these next two races will certainly be a challenge.

The Cadillac should be fun to race as well, but since the team has had good luck in all the races so far this year the car will be at a big disadvantage to the competitors.   More weight, less revs….it seems like every week I’ve been getting e-mails saying what breaks have been given to the porsches, the vipers….heck everyone but the Cadillacs.   So I’ve got the feeling that Andy Pilgrim and I are going to have to push really hard just to get in the top five.   No matter, it should be fun and I’m looking forward to it.

Wish us luck, and if you go to one of the races be sure and stop by to say hello.

Johnny O

 


Corvette Museum Report
Added 04/26/06

I last week-end went up to the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky. Every year they have what is called the Birthday Bash, and Corvette owners visit the Museum from all over to share in their love for the Corvette. Well over a thousand Corvettes show up for it, and it is always fun seeing the kinds of things that people do to customize their cars.

There were two special dinners that I attended. The first was to honor Dave Hill, who is going to be inducted into the Museums Hall of Fame. Dave is a great guy, who under his leadership is mostly responsible for making the current Corvette the amazing car it is. They roasted him a little bit which was funny, I never knew that he was the first one to crash both a C-5 and C-6 ! It was definitely a fun night.

The second dinner was to honor the race team and its accomplishments last year. Most of the key personnel for Corvette Racing attended. Doug Fehan, Steve Wesoloski, Gary and Robin Pratt, and then Ron and I were there as well. We all said a few words, and it truly is an amazing thing how kind everyone is towards us and how excited they all are that Corvette is competing on the world stage. We certainly take great pride in what we do, and it’s flattering that they also take great pride in Corvette Racing.

Now I know that many of you have bugged me about getting new merchandise. I’m pleased to let you know that the Corvette Museum is going to be handling that for me and is in the process of designing clothing and hats with my helmet logo and signature on it. Hopefully they will get things up soon, and you’ll be able to get whatever it is you like via a link on my site to the Museum, or by just going straight to the Museums website. That link will be up shortly.

Thanks again to all that support us in what we do. It’s going to be getting busy soon, and I know that all of us in Corvette Racing are eager to once again show what an amazing car the C6-R is.

Johnny O
 


St. Petersburg Grand Prix
Added 04/07/06

Sorry about getting this up late, but after the race in St. Pete my son and I visited an old friend that lives in Fort Lauderdale and  we went fishing for 3 days in Bimini.   Totally had the best time, and my son is now officially the best barracuda fisherman in the world !    I had some luck as well, catching a Wahoo and snapper…and a few sharks that though fun to fight weren’t what I had been hoping for.   Anyway, back to the race.

The Pratt and Miller Cadillacs were good right from the start.   We made very few changes to them during our runs and I was pleased with how they handled.  Right now it is very hard competing in the series as our car carries so much weight.   That makes both braking and acceleration a challenge…and compared to most cars I think the Caddy is at the biggest disadvantage.    We have to be so perfect with our driving.   One mistake that another driver might make will cost them very little time whereas with us if we make a mistake it’s like throwing out an anchor !!   Both Andy and I had good qualifying runs with me slotting in 4th and him in 6th.   He was carrying a bit more weight than I based on his run at Sebring which for him was a disadvantage.

The race itself was very challenging.   I had battery problems on the parade lap, and as we were waiting for the lights to go on for the standing start my dash went dead and the engine started sputtering.   I shut off what I could, but getting off the line was miserable and I got freight trained going into the first corner !!   Once my speed got over 35 MPH the alternator came in and the engine was fine, but I lost a lot of positions.   On I think the second lap chaos ensued with lots of guys tangling up and I took advantage of it and picked up a few spots.   Slowly making my way past guys I got into 3rd and slowly ran down the guys in front of me.   The kid in the Porsche made a move on Gilottis Corvette for the lead, slide wide and I was able to get by him.   Andy was right on my tail and I think he got position as well.

I then went to work on really just trying to get Gilotti to use up his car and make mistakes.   It all was going to plan, and then all of a sudden my car just died.   I tried to get out of the way as quickly as possible…trying to throw switches at the same time…and avoid getting hit.    The engine finally came back but I had lost a lot of positions.   I think at that point Andy in second made a move for the lead.   So though things stunk for me…well at least a Caddy was leading.

I put my head down and got back some positions…but really passing was hard due to all the weight.  Again, coming off any corner the other guys would just pull us, and open too big a gap before the braking zone.   I was running 5th with Andy leading when I learned he also had a problem.   So running 4th was where I thought I would end up, but then traffic came up and figured I might have a chance.   No doubt the time in the ALMS helped as I judged traffic well and was able to get by both cars in front of me and pick up second place.    Too far behind to catch the leader, but pleased with how I drove.

Points wise it was good for Cadillac and my thanks to them for letting me drive for them.   I had a blast and get to do it again at Mid-Ohio.   Hope to see you all there !

Johnny O
 


St. Petersburg Grand Prix
Added 03/28/2006

This week-end I’ll be racing the Cadillac in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. I did the TV commentary for the race last year, and for sure it was one of the most exciting races I’ve called for Speed. The track is one of the best street courses I’ve seen and I’m really looking forward to it.

The World Challenge GT Series is very competitive. From what I saw at Sebring it looked like the Corvette is the car to beat this year although the Vipers looked strong as they always do. Of course the guys at Pratt and Miller really now how to make those Cadillac’s fly and I’m certain they will give us very good cars.

It will definitely be fun working with my good friend Andy Pilgrim again. He won the drivers championship last year, and whether in the Cadillac of the Corvette is a very fast and smart driver. We both tested the cars about a month ago and I’m hoping I don’t embarrass myself too much !

It’s weird driving the car after so much time in the Corvette. You have to use the clutch for all gear changes (something we don’t do in the Vette) and being on street tires is way different then the Michelin tires I’m used to. Also doing a standing start is totally cool. I’ve been practicing a lot in my street Corvette, so hopefully I do a decent job of getting off the line.

It’s been a long string of bad luck that has kept me out of the winners circle. Keep your fingers crossed that we can put an end to it this week-end.

Johnny O

 


Sebring

Well not the result I had hoped for, but all things considered we did come away with points that might make the difference for the championship.    But for the problem with the gearbox it would have been an amazing battle with the #4 car.   They had luck on their side this time, and ran a perfect race with no mistakes.   That’s what it takes to win, and with the gearbox change we had to do, well it took us out of the running.

The week for the most part went really well for us.   I think all of us were surprised at how well the Aston Martin team qualified, they were so fast.   All of us thought that the must have used a soft tire to get that time, but even if they did they ran well for most of the first stint before their tires gave up.   With us being on Michelin it is an advantage, and for about the last 10 laps of a stint we were stronger than them.  Still they did give us fits and I’m hoping they decide to run the entire year as they are a team on  the same level as Pratt and Miller and we love the competition.

The guys working on the # 3 car did their usual amazing job giving us a good car.   We have a new engineer this season, Joe Keifer who is very good to work with.   He totally nailed the set up and we did have a car that but for the gearbox could have won the race.   It was good working with him for the first time, and I look forward to the rest of the year as I know he’ll be making our car really fast.    He is as hungry for winning as all of us, and hopefully the gearbox was the last of our bad luck.

On the drive home after the race, I was thinking about that.   Bad luck.   We’ve had more than our fair share on the 3 car…and now are one race closer to getting that next win.   Congrats to everyone at Pratt and Miller and Corvette Racing for a good start to the season, and hope that you’re as excited about the rest of the year as I am.

Johnny O


 






POWERED BY SYCLONE.net