Fehan explains why Corvette Racing competed in 2007
After watching Corvette Racing finish off a sweep of the American Le Mans Series' GT1 class on Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, GM Racing Program Doug Fehan explained the reasoning for fielding a two-car team in a class that more often than not provided no other competition. Needless to say, it was eye-opening and showed the passion GM has for the Corvette brand and the legions of its followers.
"When the season began, we weren't the only ones to realize that we could possibly go all season long without serious competition. You guys (the media) had a lot of questions about would we continue. Why were we doing this? How long can you last? What's management saying? Are you out of your mind? You're spending all this money racing yourselves. And most of those questions I got myself every time I walked into the RenCen (GM Renaissance Center). So I was pretty much the Lone Ranger there and was approached on a regular basis by upper management with those very questions. And I had a simple answer because I was confident in what would happen.
"At the end of the day, the object is to sell vehicles. And do that, you have to capture customers. I told them at the beginning of the season that if we went forward with this program - as we had laid it out and with no competition - and we saw a drop in sales, or a lack of enthusiasm or participation by our customers at any point during the year, then we could call it quits.
"You only have to look at the turnout we got each and every event this year. Our car count was up every place in our Corvette Corrals. Autograph lines were longer than they had ever been. Demand for the model cars, demand for posters, for clothing - everrything increased this year. And it opened some eyes and began to shed some light on the fact that at the end of the day, this is a marketing exercise. We bring these Corvettes to the race track for Corvette lovers to see, touch, smell, hear and be a part of this team. They love just seeing these cars. Would they love to have more competition? Absolutely. And do we hope it comes? Yes we do.
"But I can tell you what, as far as Corvette customers are concerned, they had one hell of a show this year and they were very, very pleased with it. And in turn, management saw the light and said, 'You know what, there is some truth to this.' People who buy Corvettes expect a couple of bucks out of each one of those sales to fund racing. They like seeing these cars and being a part of this team. So do I wish there competition? Hell yeah, I do. But at the end of the day, this is a hell of a marketing effort we've put together and we are going to continue with it." ALMS