If you look at the front of my house, you’ll see a steel pole that’s hoisting a valiant Corvette Racing flag with the Jake skull and large “C7.R” lettering that was purchased when I went to Le Mans in 2015. The year when Jan Magnussen binned the No. 63 car during qualifying after suffering a mechanical failure, leaving the sole American team with just the No. 64 car piloted by Ollie G., Rodney Sandstorm’s alter ego, and somebody I beat in an autocross once.
Like in the movies, the team overcame incredible attrition and adversity to win the GTLM class. As an American attending his inaugural Le Mans across the pond, this was one of the biggest memories of the trip. And there were incredible memories. Actually, the only thing more notable than the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R winning the class was the sound it made.
Unadulterated, unmistakable, unrelenting American pushrod V8 thunder. And it’s gone now.
With the debut of the Corvette Racing C8.R and its mid-engine formula with an entirely new motor rocketing the unproven race car around the road course, endurance racing fans are going to have a harder time distinguishing the new DOHC V8 powerplant from the rest of the field. In fact, I’ll say it, it sounds undistinguished, and utterly lacking in character.
It doesn’t have the revs of the Ferrari, or the piercing pitch of the Porsche. Nor does it have the turbofan whoosh of the (otherwise even worse sounding) Ford GT. It completely denies the pedigree of the American thunderbolt that was under the hood of the Corvette C7.R.
Is this good for racing? Good for the fans? Should we just take our lumps and move on, happy with the fact that we still at least get eight cylinders? Will the progress of motorsport eventually lead to its demise?
Anyway. At the end of the day, I get it. General Motors is, after all, working on a new flat-plane DOHC V8 engine family that will find itself in the C8 Chevrolet Corvette, and it needs to be vetted rigorously. And the C8.R is likely to decimate the field when it races for the first time at the 24 Hours of Daytona at the end of the month. You’ll just have a hard time remembering what it sounds like.