Gavin Races from the Streets of London to the Streets of Long Beach
Defending GT1 Champion Oliver Gavin Warms Up for Long Beach Sprint with 26-Mile Marathon
LONG BEACH, Calif. – The question has endured for decades: Are race car drivers athletes? If the driver is Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin, the answer is an emphatic yes. On Sunday, April 13, Gavin ran the 26-mile, 385-yard London Marathon in three hours, nine minutes and 31 seconds. On Saturday, April 19, he’ll compete in a street race of another type: a 100-minute sprint on the boulevards of Long Beach, Calif.
Gavin had only his own willpower to keep him going in the London Marathon, but he’ll have 590 horsepower on hand when he drives the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R in the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series on the Long Beach street circuit. He’ll also have the support of his teammate, Olivier Beretta, and the backing of the championship-winning Corvette Racing crew. Gavin and Beretta won the inaugural ALMS race in Long Beach last year, completing 71 laps on the 1.968-mile course and finishing .349 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Jan Magnussen and Johnny O’Connell.
“We had very changeable weather conditions during the London Marathon,” Gavin said. “It was sunny at the start, then it began to rain heavily at about the 13th mile. The sky cleared, but then we had rain and hail at the end. The showers were actually a relief because they cooled down the runners.”
Gavin was among the 35,000 runners who participated in the marathon on the streets of the historic city. More than 250,000 spectators lined the route that included famous British landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. Although Gavin didn’t hit his three-hour target time, he did exceed his charity fundraising goal as friends and supporters donated more than $3,400 to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
“Realistically, it was going to be very difficult to finish in under three hours after I had a slight injury in the weeks before the race and had to curtail my training schedule,” Gavin said. “Nevertheless, my time was five minutes faster than I ran in the Paris Marathon in 2005.”
“I figuratively hit the wall at about 24 miles, and my tank was running dry,” he explained. “I was trying to refuel myself with energy drinks, but my legs were lacking that bit of extra training. Next year I’ll push hard to beat the three-hour mark, and I’ll have another marathon under my belt by then.”
Corvette Racing used cellulosic E85R ethanol racing fuel for the first time in the preceding ALMS race in St. Petersburg, Fla. The cellulosic ethanol used by Corvette Racing is made from waste wood – dead trees, undergrowth, broken branches, and bark – collected in South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest to reduce the risk of wildfire. The waste wood is converted to cellulosic ethanol at a pilot plant in Upton, Wyo., and supplied to Corvette Racing by the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC).
“From a performance standpoint, the data we collected on the track in St. Petersburg matched up perfectly with our dynamometer tests,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “So there were no surprises in the performance of the cellulosic ethanol racing fuel.”
“After the St. Petersburg race, the crew completely disassembled the race cars and closely inspected their fuel systems,” Fehan explained. “The fuel cells were in perfect condition. Working with the sanctioning body, the fuel cell manufacturers, and General Motors, we believe we’ve developed a long-term solution for ethanol/gasoline blends in racing.”
Fehan will participate in a special promotion sponsored by EPIC on Wednesday, April 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT. Motorists will be able to buy E85 for their flex-fuel vehicles for 85 cents per gallon at the Conserv Fuel station at 11699 San Vicente Blvd. in Los Angeles.
“Any time you sell a gallon of anything for 85 cents, there is going to be a crowd, let alone something you can use to power your car,” Fehan said with a laugh. “It will be a fun promotion.”
“California is a state that often leads the way on environmental issues, so the Long Beach event is a great venue for Corvette Racing to introduce the racing version of E85 to Southern California fans. Californians in general and automotive enthusiasts in particular are very aware of alternative fuels, so this will be a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate that a renewable fuel like ethanol is part of the solution for America’s energy needs.”
For Corvette Racing driver Johnny O’Connell, the Long Beach race is a homecoming. He first raced there in 1986 as an up-and-coming driver in the open-wheel ranks, and he’s spent time behind the wheel of a Trans-Am car on the Southern California circuit.
“Although the circuit had changed since the last time I raced there, the aura and atmosphere of the place was as grand as ever,” said O’Connell. “The Long Beach race is one of motorsports’ showcase events of the year. With the ALMS going back for a second year, I think the fans can expect even bigger and better things. It’s a circuit where I’ve never notched a win, so hopefully I can remedy that this year!”
“With only 100 minutes of racing, you have to be perfect because there is no time to recover from a mistake,” he explained. “Jan (Magnussen) will qualify our car this weekend, and he’s pretty darn quick. He ran the fastest lap of the race last year in our class, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to start in front and then stay there.”
Corvette Racing Supports Autism Speaks
Corvette Racing’s twin C6.R race cars will be carrying “Help Chevy Help Autism” logos on their rear fenders in Long Beach. Chevy’s factory team is supporting a month-long promotion by Autism Speaks and Chevrolet to help generate up to $1 million for the non-profit organization and to create greater awareness of autism, a disorder that is now diagnosed in one in every 150 children.
During April – Autism Awareness Month – people who go to the Autism Speaks website (www.autismspeaks.org), can click on the “Help Chevy Help Autism” icon and take a free virtual test drive of the 2008 North American Car of the Year – the all-new Chevy Malibu. Chevrolet has committed to a minimum contribution of $500,000, but every virtual test drive taken gets Chevrolet closer to its goal of donating up to $1 million to Autism Speaks to support its mission of increasing awareness of autism and raising money to fund autism research. Those who participate in the virtual test drive will be offered a free 30-day online trial of XM Satellite Radio.
“The Chevrolet and General Motors families have a long history of giving back to the communities in which we live and work,” said Mark LaNeve, North America vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing. “We are proud to join with Autism Speaks, the largest national organization dedicated to awareness, advocacy and finding effective treatments for autism. This is a great opportunity for us to provide consumers the opportunity to engage in the Chevy Malibu, and at the same time, help Chevy help autism.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series on the temporary street circuit in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday, April 19, at 4:10 p.m. PT. ABC will broadcast the race tape-delayed from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 20.
Release Date: April 16, 2008