After all the IMSA teams rolled out following the conclusion of this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Hendrick Motorsports and the Garage 56 crew moved in for a two-day test session with the modified NASCAR Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 scheduled to make the trip to Le Mans this June.
The team’s new roster of drivers was on hand. 7-time NASCAR cup champion Jimmie Johnson, and former Formula 1 champion Jenson Button joined Mike Rockenfeller who has been with the program since testing began. Also on hand was Corvette Racing factory man Jordan Taylor, lending his endurance racing expertise to the program as a coach and reserve driver.
According to NASCAR.com, the modified Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Cup Car was sent out for successive long runs of 25-30 laps, making short stops for adjustments, data downloads, and driver change practice. Special note on the driver swaps, the car will not feature a traditional door as used in sports-car racing, all three drivers will enter and exit the car through the window. It’s still NASCAR after all.
The pit stops will also retain a distinctive NASCAR flavor, while endurance racing sports cars use inboard air jacks to lift the car for a routine tire change, the Garage 56 Camaro ZL1 will stay true to its NASCAR roots with a jackman raising each side of the car.
One of the unique additions to the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup Car is a lighting system to help illuminate the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in the dead of night. Hendrick Motorsports worked closely with NASCAR chassis manufacturer, Dallara, to develop the LED lighting system. Dallara has plenty of experience developing the lighting system for both the Cadillac and BMW GTP cars, along with the Cadillac DPi and numerous other race cars.
Garage 56 crew chief Greg Ives said the test car racked up some 1,500 miles during the two days, running for a solid 9.5 hours of the scheduled 12-hour test time on Wednesday. Anecdotally, the Camaro ZL1 was moving fast enough on the Daytona infield course to have caught and passed the 2024 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R it was sharing the track with during the two-day test session. The team plans to show up later this month for another extended test session at Sebring International Raceway.