For a manufacturer, going racing makes sense on a number of levels. Marketing is
right up there, but product proving and tech development bring their rewards, too.
STILL WINNING ON SUNDAY,
SELLING ON MONDAY
Auto manufacturers, for the most part,
choose to race where they can showcase
production technology in its simplest form
or dedicate millions of dollars on marketing
and R&D budgets fielding fantasy versions
of the cars they sell. And sports car racing
provides a platform to satisfy either option.
Halo programs like Chevrolet’s multiple
Le Mans- and American Le Mans Series-winning Corvette Racing effort, or Cadillac’s
Pirelli World Challenge CTS-V operation
provide aspirational value – the thundering
V8s in both models make an indelible
impression on anyone within 100ft of the
track, and with every lap, the chance to
convert a fan into a potential buyer increases.
“First and foremost is the marketing
perspective: successful cars enthuse people
and generate sales,” says Corvette Racing
program manager Doug Fehan. “It’s a
proven fact. It’s an old adage, but the reason
economy often cited as the key lesson both
manufacturers have brought to the street.
Yet with most GT and tin-top racecars
fashioned from the very cars they sell,
Fehan says the technical cross pollination
in sports car racing can’t be matched.
“The second leg of that ‘why we race’
stool is the technology transfer we can roll
into our production vehicles,” he explains.
“Advanced fuels, materials, aerodynamics
and handling; they all come from what we
learn with Corvette Racing. At the same
time, we rely on our co-workers at
Chevrolet to help us with aspects of their
expertise to make our racecars better.”
As one of the best case studies on
racing tech transfer, Chevrolet has used its
Corvette Racing program to break barriers
and push boundaries that would have
taken years to develop away from the
track. For reasons unknown, that
it’s old is because it still holds true: win on
Sunday, sell on Monday. We have definitive
proof that works in the case of Corvette
Racing. Why does it take so long for some
manufacturers to figure that out and come
and play with the big boys? I don’t know, but
I do know everything we do with Corvette
Racing has a direct tie to selling cars.
“We wouldn’t think to sell the new
Corvette C7 without racing it and showing
our customers how their choice of car
compares to other manufacturers out
there. The value of marketing our cars
through racing cannot be questioned.”
Racing continues to provide engineering
value to factory programs in sports cars
and, to a lesser degree, in open-wheel.
Chevy and Honda use their IndyCar Series
participation to gain a better understanding
on small-displacement, turbocharged,
direct-injection engines, with improved fuel