johnny_oconnellFull Name: Johnny O’Connell
Birthdate:
July 24, 1962
Birthplace: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Residence: Flowery Branch, Ga.
Marital Status: Divorced
Children:
Son Canaan, daughter Kelly
Corvette Racing: 2001 -2010
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

Johnny O’Connell – Corvette Racing

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.


 

Johnny started his professional racing career in 1987 in the Formula Atlantic series, he won five races en route to the championship and was awarded the Rookie of the Year title.

Success followed in the road racing arena, where Johnny scored a class victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1993, an overall win in 1994 and another class victory in 1995 all driving a Nissan 300ZX Turbo for Clayton Cunningham Racing. He also won the IMSA GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994 in his first outing in the prestigious endurance race in a Nissan 300ZX Turbo for Clayton Cunningham Racing. Johnny partnered the American John Morton and the New Zealander Steve Millen at Le Mans in 1994. Steve Millen retired from racing after a serious accident at Road Atlanta in 1995 and went on to form the Stillen Motorsports company that curiously produce and sell products for Corvettes amongst other marques.

Johnny competed in 4 races during the 1996 Indy Car series including the Indianapolis 500. In 1997 Johnny raced a Panoz GTR-1 Ford in the IMSA GT race at Pike’s Peak finishing 3rd behind a victorious Andy Pilgrim in a Porsche 911 GT1. Johnny also competed in five races in a Hawk C-8 Chevrolet in the IMSA championship for the Mandeville Auto Tech team before returned to full time sports car racing with Panoz in 1998 including competing at Le Mans.

The Panos LMP-1 Roadster (nicknamed the battleship) was the best sounding car at Le Mans bar none you could always tell when one was passing as the sound is so distinctive. The second best sounding car was the C5R Corvette! He is also an expert summariser on the Speed Channel for the Star Mazda Series and he was heard singing on the 2007 GM Superbowl advert. At the end of the 2010 season Johnny was moved from Corvette Racing to Cadillac Racing from 2011 until the end of the 2015 season he raced alongside Andy Pilgrim and won 5 consecutive drivers titles in the Pirelli World Challenge series. He also took on a role working as a TV summariser for the Speed Channel doing the ALMS coverage.

Johnny O’Connell is not to be messed with as he is a black belt at Karate, he is known as Johnny “Red” because of his flaming red hair courtesy of his Irish roots, given his rapidly receding hairline this nickname may have to change.

Johnny O’Connell 24 Hours of Le Mans Race History

Year Position Drivers Car Team Class Position in Class
1994 5th Steve Millen / NZ

Johnny O’Connell / USA

John Morton /USA

#75 Nissan 300ZX Turbo Clayton Cunningham Racing International IMSA GTS 1st
1998 DNF (oil pump) Eric Bernard / F

Christophe Tinseau / F

Johnny O’Connell / USA

#44 Panoz GT-R1 Panoz Motorsports Inc. GT1 Not classified
1999 11th Jan Magnussen / DK

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Max Angelelli / I

#11 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster Panoz Motorsports Inc. LMP900 8th
2000 5th Hiroki Katoh / J

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Pierre-Henri Raphanel / F

#12 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster Panoz Motorsports Inc. LMP900 5th
2001 8th Ron Fellows / CAN

Scott Pruett / USA

Johnny O’Connell / USA

#63 Corvette C5R Corvette Racing LM GTS 1st
2002 11th Ron Fellows / CAN

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Oliver Gavin / GB

#63 Corvette C5R Corvette Racing LM GTS 1st
2003 12th Ron Fellows / CAN

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Franck Fréon/ F

#53 Corvette C5R Corvette Racing LM GTS 3rd
2004 8th Ron Fellows / CAN

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Max Papis / I

#63 Corvette C5R Corvette Racing LM GTS 2nd
2005 6th Ron Fellows / CAN

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Max Papis / I

#63 Corvette C6R Corvette Racing LM GT1 2nd
2006 12th Ron Fellows / CAN

Johnny O’Connell / USA

Max Papis / I

#63 Corvette C6R Corvette Racing LM GT1 7th
2007 6th Johnny O’Connell / USA

Jan Magnussen / DK

Ron Fellows / CAN

#63 Corvette C6R Corvette Racing LM GT1 2nd
2008 14th Johnny O’Connell / USA

Jan Magnussen / DK

Ron Fellows / CAN

#63 Corvette C6R Corvette Racing LM GT1 2nd
2009 15th Johnny O’Connell / USA

Jan Magnussen / DK

Antonio Garcia / ESP

#63 Corvette C6R Corvette Racing LM GT1 1st
2010 DNF Johnny O’Connell / USA

Jan Magnussen / DK

Antonio Garcia / ESP

#63 Corvette C6R Corvette Racing LM GT1 DNF

Courtesy of Nigel S. Dobbie, Author of Corvette Racing: The GT1 Years