Corvette Racing Driver Profile: Johnny O'Connell

Johnny O'Connell Birthdate: July 24, 1962

Birthplace: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Residence: Flowery Branch, Ga.

Family: Son Canaan, daughter Kelly

Notable: Three-time ALMS GT1 champion, 38 career ALMS wins, record eight Sebring 12-hour class victories, holds ALMS records for most starts (102), most podium finishes (80), most top-five finishes (93) and most top-10 finishes (100); first American driver to win 24 Hours of Le Mans four times

Web site: www.johnnyoconnell.com

 

American Le Mans Series Career Record

Year

Starts

Wins

Fast Qualifier

Notes

1999

7

1

0

Panoz LMP1

2000

11

0

0

Panoz LMP1

2001

7

5

0

First season with Corvette Racing, won Daytona and Le Mans 24-hour races

2002

10

7

0

 

2003

9

3

0

ALMS GTS co-champion (with Fellows)

2004

9

5

0

ALM S GTS co-champion (with Fellows)

2005

10

3

1

Second in GT1 championship

2006

10

1

1

Fourth in GT1 championship

2007

11

3

0

Second in GT1 championship

2008

11

8

3

ALMS GT1 co-champion (with Magnussen)

2009

7

2

0

Ran GT1 (2 races) and GT2 (5 races)

Total

102*

38

5

*ALMS record for career starts

 

24 Hours of Le Mans Record

Year

Finish

Class

Car

Co-drivers

1994

1st

GTS

Nissan 300ZX

Morton, Miller

1998

Rtd.

GT1

Panoz

Bernard, Tinseau

1999

11th

LMP900

Panoz

Magnussen, Angelelli

2000

5th

LMP900

Panoz

Kato, Raphanel

2001

1st

GTS

Corvette C5-R

Fellows, Pruett

2002

1st

GTS

Corvette C5-R

Fellows, Gavin

2003

3rd

GTS

Corvette C5-R

Fellows, Freon

2004

2nd

GTS

Corvette C5-R

Fellows, Papis

2005

2nd

GT1

Corvette C6.R

Fellows, Papis

2006

7th

GT1

Corvette C6.R

Fellows, Papis

2007

2nd

GT1

Corvette C6.R

Fellows, Magnussen

2008

2nd

GT1

Corvette C6.R

Fellows, Magnussen

2009

1st

GT1

Corvette C6.R

Magnussen, Garcia

 

Career Highlights

  • 1984-85: Jim< Russell School< champion

  • 1987: Formula Atlantic West champion and Rookie of the Year (five wins)

  • 1988: Formula Atlantic West (one win)

  • 1989: American Racing Series (one win)

  • 1991-1993: Two wins in IMSA GTO (Nissan)

  • 1993: GTS class winner in 12 Hours of Sebring (Nissan)

  • 1994: Two wins in IMSA GTS, overall win in 12 Hours of Sebring (Nissan)

  • 1995: GT1 class winner in 12 Hours of Sebring (Nissan)

  • 1996: Indy Racing League (Reynard)

  • 1997-98: One win in PSCR World Sports Car Championship (Hawk, Panoz)

  • 1999-2000: One win in American Le Mans Series (Panoz)

  • 2001: Overall winner in 24 Hours of Daytona, five ALMS wins (Corvette)

  • 2002: Seven ALMS wins (Corvette)

  • 2003: American Le Mans Series GTS co-champion, three ALMS wins (Corvette)

  • 2004: American Le Mans Series GTS co-champion, five ALMS wins (Corvette)

  • 2005: Runner-up in ALMS GT1 championship, three ALMS wins (Corvette), first ALMS pole

  • 2006: Fourth in ALMS GT1 championship, one ALMS win, one ALMS pole (Corvette)

  • 2007: Runner-up in ALMS GT1 championship, three ALMS wins, second in GT1 at 24 Hours of Le Mans (Corvette)

  • 2008: Won ALMS GT1 championship (with Magnussen) for third time; eight ALMS victories (including Sebring 12-hour and 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance races) and career-high three fast qualifiers; runner-up in GT1 class at 24 Hours of Le Mans for second consecutive year (Corvette)

  • 2009: Won class in Sebring 12-hour race for record eighth time; won GT1 in 24 Hours of Le Mans, the first American driver to score four Le Mans victories; finished second at Mid-Ohio in competition debut for GT2 Corvette C6.R; scored first victory for Corvette Racing in GT2 at Mosport in his record 100th career ALMS start

 

Fast, funny and fearless, red-haired Johnny O'Connell is as quick with a quip as he is with a race car. Born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., this transplanted Yankee now lives in Flowery Branch, Ga. He began his racing career in open-wheel cars, but found a home at Corvette Racing. He shared the ALMS GT1 drivers championship with Ron Fellows in 2003-04, and was on board for Corvette Racing's historic overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona and its first Le Mans class victory in 2001.

O'Connell is recognized as one of North America's most talented and versatile racing drivers. His racing career began in single-seaters. Competing professionally for the first time in the Formula Atlantic series in 1987, he won five races en route to the championship and Rookie of the Year honors. Success followed in the road racing arena, where O'Connell scored a class victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1993, an overall win in 1994 and another class victory in 1995. He also won his class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994 in his first outing in the prestigious endurance race.

O'Connell subsequently ran a season of Indy Cars and then returned to sports car racing with Panoz in the late '90s. He joined the factory Corvette effort in 2001, scoring an overall victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona in his first race behind the wheel of the Corvette C5-R, followed by Corvette Racing's first class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He helped GM's factory team capture eight straight manufacturers titles and shared the drivers championship for the GTS class with teammate Fellows in 2003-04. In 2008, O'Connell and teammate Jan Magnussen dominated the GT1 class, scoring eight wins en route to the class championship. O'Connell became the all-time leader in Sebring victories with his seventh career win on the historic circuit.

O'Connell notched his record-setting eighth Sebring win in the season-opening race in 2009, and then became the first American to score four class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He made a seamless transition to the GT2 class, finishing as runner-up in the competition debut of the GT2 Corvette C6.R at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August. He was third in the next round at Road America, and then scored Corvette Racing's first GT2 win at Mosport in his record-setting 100th career ALMS start.

At the conclusion of the 2009 season, O'Connell held numerous ALMS records, including the most career starts (102), most podium finishes (80), most top-five finishes (93) and most top-10 finishes (100).

O'Connell conducts an annual charity auction at Road Atlanta to benefit senior citizens and research on Alzheimer's disease. A black belt in karate, O'Connell practices martial arts as part of his fitness training regimen. He appeared as a rapper in a Chevy commercial that was first televised during the 2007 Super Bowl, and threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers baseball game before the inaugural ALMS Detroit Sports Car Challenge.