Fellows Saluted at Sebring Corvette Corral
Corvette Racing and the National Corvette Museum once again sponsored a large Corvette Corral at the Sebring 12-hour. This year's corral paid tribute to longtime Pratt & Miller driver Ron Fellows. Guests of honor included Vehicle Line Executive Tom Wallace, Corvette Plant Manager Wil Cooksey, Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles, Corvette Racing Group Marketing Manager Gary Claudio, NCM Chairman of the Board Buzz Nielsen, and legendary Corvette racer Dr. Dick Thompson.
On the Friday before the race, Charles presented Fellows with the keys to the first Ron Fellows ALMS GT1 Champion Corvette Z06. As we told you in July's "Currents," the Fellows Z is a limited-run model (399 will be built, all of which are spoken for) intended to commemorate the Canadian driver's nearly decade-long association with Corvette Racing. After the presentation, the rest of the team's drivers joined Fellows for a lengthy autograph session.
Fellows began racing in 1986, at the wheel of a showroom-stock Camaro. He went on to become one of the most successful drivers in the history of Trans Am, posting 19 wins in 95 starts before joining the Corvette Racing team in 1998. At the 2000 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, he finished 31 seconds behind the overall winning Dodge Viper-one of the closest finishes in the race's long history.
The commemorative Z06 carries...
The commemorative Z06 carries these tasteful sashes on each front fender. They include Ron's name, the years of Corvette Racing's six GT1 championships, and the Canadian maple leaf.
Ron auctioned off one of his...
Ron auctioned off one of his helmets at a corral charity event on Friday.
On Saturday morning, Ron's...
On Saturday morning, Ron's Z06 and an '07 Indy Pace Car made a lap around the 3.7-mile course. Here, Vehicle Line Executive Tom Wallace (in driver's seat) and Corvette Product Manager Harlan Charles prepare to take the Z onto the track.
Fellows fared better at Daytona the next year, winning overall with Chris Kneifel, Johnny O'Connell, and Franck Freon as co-drivers. Then, in June of 2001, a team composed of Fellows, O'Connell, and Scott Pruett drove a C5-R to a GTS-class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Corvette Racing also captured the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) manufacturer GTS title that year, a feat they would accomplish in each of the next five seasons. It was during this stage of his career that Fellows began working with performance scientist Dr. Jacques Dallare to improve his physical and mental training. A fan favorite, Fellows has been voted Most Popular Driver in ALMS for the past three years.
The six Corvette Racing drivers...
The six Corvette Racing drivers weathered a heavy rainstorm on Friday to sign autographs for the fans. Ron Fellows' son Sam is standing in the background, holding the helmet Ron would later auction off for charity.
For 2007, Fellows is back with Corvette Racing in a limited, "supporting" role. He will be the third driver for the three long-distance races and will compete at Mosport, his home track. He will sit out the other races and provide technical input from behind the pit wall.
In his off time, Ron supports a number of charity programs. Like many Canadians, he has a deep passion for hockey, namely the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is a resident of Mississauga, Ontario, where he was instrumental in setting up the Sunoco Ron Fellows Karting Championship. The series helps promising young Canadian drivers get involved in professional racing.
On Saturday, Tom Wallace drove Ron's Z06 on a parade lap around Sebring. Wil Cooksey, driving an '07 Indy Pace car, followed closely behind him. Later on, Corvette Corral participants lined the grandstands to watch the C6.Rs roar by in First and Second place in the GT1 category for the entire 12-hour race.
In the end, the Sebring weekend served as a fitting tribute to a formidable Corvette racer and an exceptional human being. We're confident Ron Fellows will continue to exert a positive influence on Corvette Racing for many years to come, whether from behind the wheel or behind the scenes.