I was lucky enough to go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year and root for the Corvettes to win the GT1 class again.
I've attended a lot of races over the years, but Le Mans always seemed to escape my schedule. It's quite an event, and a very long race. To race 24 hours without stopping is remarkable. The fellows at Pratt & Miller Engineering have built some magnificent Corvette race cars, and they do a heck of a job campaigning them around the world.
It seemed natural to see Corvettes racing at Le Mans. It must be in their DNA. And it seemed perfectly normal to see them racing alongside other American race cars such as the Saleen and the Panoz.
"Race on Sunday, sell on Monday," Lee Iacocca used to say. I'm not sure that still works, but certain auto brands have racing in their blood, and it's essential to race them.
It doesn't matter whether you're talking about NASCAR or drag racing or open wheel racing -- it's part of being in the car business. Competition is part of the breed.
It may or may not improve the breed, but everyone who markets a car brand would like to see that brand's vehicles do well in open competition.
For Corvettes, it's a part of history. Corvettes have been racing for as long as there have been Corvettes, so customers expect and look forward to the competition. Plenty of U.S. brands and models race, but the Corvette is one that demands the competition.
Make no mistake, when you are racing for 24 Hours at Le Mans, you're right up there with the cream of the global competition. It was fun to see the Porsches and Aston Martins and even the diesel-powered Audis, which ran away from everyone and stole the show.
In this country we have NASCAR and NHRA and a million little tracks with cars sponsored by local automobile dealers.
It doesn't matter what energy source will power the vehicles of tomorrow. Someone will always boast that his or her vehicle is faster - and then the racing begins.
It has been that way for a century and probably will be that way for at least another century. And before too long at Le Mans, they'll be changing battery packs for electric race cars.