The Drivers of the Iconic GTLM Cars Are Eager to Race Again in the Motor City
By Jeff Olson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Look out, Detroit. Corvette is coming back to its hometown race.
While Corvette Racing’s appearance next week in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic won’t count toward points, it will be the first time the iconic Chevrolet Corvette has appeared in its Grand Touring (GT) form at the Detroit race since 2008.
The addition of Corvette’s stalwart two-car GT Le Mans (GTLM) team in the annual Belle Isle street race in the shadow of General Motors headquarters is a nod to the manufacturer that has its name on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event, which shares the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear weekend with the IndyCar Series.
Racing in front of the hometown crowd is a thrill for the team’s drivers, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner.
“At any racetrack where you’ve had success, you’re excited to go back and enjoy being there,” said Taylor, a five-time winner at Detroit who co-drives the No. 3 Corvette C8.R with Garcia. “For me, I’ve been with GM for so many years. I won there in 2012 in a Camaro, three times in a Corvette Daytona Prototype, and then 2017 in a Cadillac (prototype). To be there always in a GM vehicle with the (GM headquarters) Renaissance Center nearby and all the big bosses coming to the race, it always adds a lot of pressure but always means so much more when the race goes well.”
General Motors played a crucial role in the revival of the Detroit Grand Prix in 2012 after a three-year hiatus. GM was founded in Detroit in 1908 and ranks 18th in the Fortune 500 of U.S. companies by total revenue in sales of vehicles from its four U.S.-based brands – Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC.
Showing the hometown crowd and GM executives the famous Corvette GTLM entry up close and in action is a dream for drivers.
“Even though this isn’t a points race, I’m glad we are back at Belle Isle,” Garcia said. “It’s the first time for me racing in Detroit. Knowing we are racing with one of the most iconic cars around there is pretty cool.”
The Detroit Grand Prix began in 1982 as a Formula One race on downtown city streets, with the late Ayrton Senna winning in 1986, ’87 and ’88. In 1989, the race became an IndyCar event under CART sanction, moving to Belle Isle in 1992, where it was held annually until 2001.
The race was revived in 2007 as an IndyCar series event. After three idle years, it was revived again in 2012, where it remained an annual part of the schedule until last year’s race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sports cars have been part of the Detroit lineup for 10 years (2007-08, 2012-19).
In addition to being the home of Corvette, the event takes place in the backyard of Pratt Miller Engineering, which has designed, developed and constructed the Corvette GTs that have competed in IMSA for more than two decades. Pratt Miller is based in New Hudson, a Detroit suburb.
“This is something that I’m looking forward to – meeting some of the team members who have designed and worked on this car and seeing the people of Detroit who want to come and see us,” said Tandy, who co-drives the No. 4 Corvette C8.R with Milner. “It’s my first time at Belle Isle. From a competition standpoint, I’m looking forward to getting onto a brand new circuit. It’s not often that we go to a new track so it’s something that is exciting for me personally.”
WeatherTech Championship practice and qualifying will take place Friday, June 11, with the 100-minute race starting at 5:10 p.m. ET Saturday, June 12, airing live on NBCSN and IMSA Radio (Sirius 219, XM 202, SiriusXM Online 992). In addition to the Corvettes, the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes will be racing.