The C5 racing programs started several years ago, but most folks only found out about it last year. Even now, very few people realize how big the Corvette racing programs really are, and how much bigger GM hopes they will become. GM Racing knew they had a new beginning with the introduction of the C5 Corvette in 1997. They also knew that they needed more than just a couple of factory-backed Chevy Corvette C5-R race cars on the track. The Corvette needed a comprehensive racing program.
The best racing program over the past few decades has been Porsche's. Year after year, Porsche has always had a host of private teams carrying the Porsche banner in the "lower" classes. The best part was that these private teams actually purchased their cars and spare parts from Porsche. Not only were there a bunch of Porsches on the race track, but the customer cars created profits that could be used to finance the factory race team.
GM Racing liked this model. They decided to provide private race teams around the country with C5s at a rock bottom price. These Corvettes were offered as a kit, not a complete car. The average race team would only take a fully assembled Corvette apart to go racing anyway, so why assemble a complete car in the first place?
Early in 1999 the Corvette plant in Bowling Green assembled 20 sets of "components" that they would sell internally to GM Performance Parts. Remember, GM does not build race cars. These "components" were then sold by GM Performance Parts to a select group of private individuals around the country. The idea was, and still is, that race teams would take all these parts and turn them into Corvette race cars.
What you see here is an example of those parts coming together. Danny Kellermeyer is a former GM Field Engineer, working with all the service problems that dealers struggle with when a new model hits the pavement.
In February 1999, DJ Race Enterprises, Danny's race team, picked up two of the Corvette "kits," chassis numbers 002 and 006, and began the process of turning them into real race cars. If you think making a race car from a kit is like assembling a Revell model, consider that it took DJ Race Enterprises five months to build the two cars. Part of the reason was that everything was done in-house. This team even builds their own engines.
Danny Kellermeyer's guiding force was to create the ultimate production Corvette race cars. All those years in the field taught him that GM builds a pretty good product. Take the brakes for instance. Danny decided to use the stock calipers and brake rotors, along with Hawk brake pads. This meant that he could keep the stock C5 ABS system intact. Most other teams were sending large checks to Brembo and Alcon for the latest Euro calipers.
Now in their second year of racing C5s in World Challenge racing, a lot of the new teams are leaving the Brembo and Alcon calipers on the shelf and retaining the stock Corvette system. The stock C5 braking system is one great braking system.
The same thing is true with the chassis. While other teams discarded the front and real leaf spring system, DJ Racing called the folks at Vette Brakes and Products. They developed a set of leaf springs that have proven superior to all the fancy coilover packages.
When it was time to put wheels and tires on the Corvette, Kellermeyer went back to the old C4 Corvette. Everyone in the World Challenge runs a spec BFGoodrich tire. In the case of the Aristeo Construction Corvette, the sizes are 275/40-17s on the front wheels and 315/35-17 on the rear, mounted on late ZR-1-size wheels.