Road America and Chevrolet celebrate 60 years of corvettes

Written by Staff on August 1, 2012.

ELKHART LAKE — Hundreds of dedicated Corvette racers and enthusiasts will celebrate the marque’s 60th year in production at Road America on Sunday, August 19.

The occasion is the Corvette World Tribute, a gathering of vintage and contemporary examples of America’s favorite sports car at America’s greatest road course.

Like brats and cheese, Corvettes are part of Road America’s essential character. In the early days, the track was a favorite destination for Chevrolet executives to stage sneak previews of upcoming models and to develop high-performance packages for production models. The high-speed 4-mile track in Wisconsin’s rolling Kettle Moraine has long been a battleground for generations of Corvette road racers, from the glory days of the original solid-axle Corvettes, Sting Rays, and Grand Sports to today’s championship-winning Corvette C6.Rs campaigned by Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series.

The Corvette World Tribute offers a full menu of activities for participants, enthusiasts, and spectators to experience the Corvette lifestyle. Autocross and slalom courses, a concours featuring People’s Choice awards, a road rally, Karting Challenge and track sessions for touring and race-prepared Corvettes will provide nonstop action. Road America is working with the National Council of Corvette Clubs (NCCC) and the Kettle Moraine Corvette Club to coordinate the event and will manage car owner/driver event registration.

“The relationship between Chevrolet and Road America runs deep,” said Russ Clark, Chevrolet Product Marketing Director, Midsize/Performance Cars and GM Racing. “It’s fitting that two icons of American racing, Chevrolet and Road America, have joined forces. Road America is known as ‘America’s National Park of Speed,’ and Corvette is America’s iconic sports car. We’re very proud to celebrate our mutual heritage here in the heartland of America.”

The inaugural Corvette World Tribute in 2011 saw the return of the Corvette Bridge. Standing like a sentinel at the approach to Turn 6, the Corvette Bridge has witnessed amazing feats by drivers and machines since it first carried the Corvette logo in 1963. Over the years, the Corvette branding has reflected changes in graphic design and marketing objectives. Now the Bridge is back. Chevrolet’s partnership with Road America also includes an Official Vehicle program and activities during the track’s numerous events.

Road America figures prominently in Corvette’s racing history. Bill Mitchell, GM’s vice president of design, was an avid racer who fielded the original Sting Ray racer driven by Corvette legends John Fitch and Dick Thompson at Road America. Mitchell chose Elkhart Lake as the venue to preview his stunning Mako Shark concept car in June 1961; the Shark’s sharp-edged body and hidden headlights foreshadowed key features of the production 1963 Corvette.

Wisconsin-based racers Augie Pabst and Jim Jeffords excelled in sports car racing in the early ’60s with their Chevy-powered machines. The lightweight Grand Sport Corvette created by Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov rumbled through Road America’s rolling hills with racing luminaries Roger Penske, Jim Hall and Hap Sharp sharing the driving chores. Notable Chevrolet racers who have made their mark on the legendary circuit include Tony DeLorenzo, Jerry Thompson, John Greenwood, John Heinricy, Ron Fellows and many more. In modern times, Corvette Racing has scored six victories at Road America in ALMS competition.

“We’re honored that Road America has played a key role in Corvette’s racing heritage from the track’s opening in 1955 to today,” said George Bruggenthies, Road America president and general manager. “We’re excited to celebrate this longstanding association at the second annual Corvette World Tribute and equally excited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Corvette Corral.”

Road America is also proud to welcome AE Jewelers as a presenting sponsor and the official jeweler of the Corvette World Tribute. Headquartered in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, AE Jewelers’ president and owner Rich Meyer is an avid corvette enthusiast and will also be participating at the special event.

“AE Jewelers is very proud to be associated with Road America and the Corvette World Tribute,” said Meyer. “It’s a perfect fit for a jeweler such as AE to help usher in the diamond jubilee celebration of the Corvette because AE loves engineering those wonderful moments in many of our customers lives. To put it in racing terms, our people specialize in relationship maintenance and we hope to see many of our happy customers around the Corvette Corral this weekend.”

Leading into the Corvette World Tribute is Road America’s annual American Le Mans Series event, August 16-18. Corvette enthusiasts can also enjoy Corvette Racing’s GT Production Class entries, and participation in the Corvette Corral, tech talks, autograph sessions and fan forums.

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