While it is America’s sports car, the Corvette’s reputation stretches across the globe. It’s a universally recognized symbol of American performance, extolled for a multitude of things ranging from its handling capabilities to its bulletproof reliability.
However, if there’s any one thing that has made the Corvette so outstanding, it’s the car’s attainability – the fact that it offers so much performance for so little money. It’s a car that competes on a level with Porsches and Ferraris, but at a fraction of the cost; it’s the American Dream on wheels.
However, what if you were to take a C5 – originally base-priced at $40,000 dollars – and throw several hundred-thousand more dollars at it? As a Dutch race team found out – you get one hell of a race car.
Team RaceArt And Their C5.Rs
Specifically, that racecar is the number 006 chassis C5.R, rebuilt and raced by Team RaceArt. We got a hold of team-member Marwin Moonen and he told us all about their strict racing heritage with the machine.
Marwin began by stating, “We always had a thing with American cars. We previously had a couple of SRT Vipers – first a competition coupe, then the GT3 version, and later a special GT2 version. At the moment, we actually own the first and only European SRT Viper GT3-R, chassis number 2.
“Our love for Corvettes,” Marwin continued, “started towards the end of 2010 when we purchased our first one: the C5.R, chassis number 011. In our eyes, it was one of the best GT race cars – definitely good for racing, but also for collector value.
“We found this C5.R when we got a tip that there was one up for sale in Sweden. We jumped in the plane to hunt it down, found it, made the deal, and that was it. We raced it until the end of 2011, then performed a necessary rebuild.”
Marwin went on, “We got a chance at the end of 2011 to buy another C5.R, the number 006 chassis. This one we raced in 2012 and 2013, then started the necessary rebuild work on that. We did a technical shakedown race on it at the end of 2014 (to feel out the state of all the mechanicals), and then started the bodywork rebuild.”
Our love for Corvettes started towards the end of 2010 when we purchased our first one… In our eyes, it was one of the best GT race cars. – Marwin Moonen, Team RaceArt
According to Marwin, the number 011 C5.R is presumably the most intensely raced car of the 11 built, with most of its racing done by private teams in Europe.
Marwin also mentioned that he thinks it’s one of the last truly-raced C5.Rs to compete in a championship. He said that, in this championship, “It had competed against new style cars – such as the McLaren MP12 GT3 car, the Ferrari 458 GT2 and Dodge Vipers – and it has remained highly competitive after all these years.”
Built Like A Champion
Chevrolet debuted the Pratt & Miller-built C5.R at the 1999 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The car was destined to compete in GT2 sprint and endurances races against other factory race cars from around the world – including those from Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari.
Pratt & Miller built the C5.R from a completely stock C5 Corvette, stripping it down and building it back up as the most powerful Corvette yet seen. The original C5’s wheelbase was stretched by less than half an inch, the length was stretched by just over three inches, the height was reduced two inches, and the width grew by almost three full inches.
The C5.R’s powerplant is a specially built 7-liter big-block V8, ditching the factory Corvette’s 345 horsepower, 10.5:1 compression, aluminum small-block. The C5.R’s engine instead uses extensively-altered cylinder heads, with a 12.5:1 compression ratio. Other differences over the factory C5’s motor include larger water passages, a Moldex billet crank, Carillo connecting rods, JE forged racing pistons, a Competition Cams grind on a Chevrolet camshaft blank, Iskenderian valve lifters, Fox pushrods and Jesel 1.9:1 rocker arms. All things added, the C5.R’s mill puts down at least 600 horsepower at 6,200 RPM.
The C5.R also uses a Kinsler racing fuel-injection system, breathes through the cross-ram air horns and ducting signature to high-performance GT cars, and utilizes an external mechanical three-stage dry-sump oiling system. A complete Bosch Motorsports data acquisition system and two engine-computer and ignition systems do all the thinking.
Further emphasizing the fact that the Corvette is practically a competition-level platform from the factory, the C5.R is based on the stock C5’s skeleton – using the factory hydroformed frame rails, stock front and rear aluminum subframes, stock front upper and lower control arms, and stock rear lower control arms. The only change is the Pratt & Miller-fabricated rear upper control arms, designed to accommodate the massive aluminum racing brakes.
We asked Marwin what exactly they did in their rebuild on the number 006 C5.R, and he started by first and foremost giving a heartfelt thanks to the RaceArt crew, “For putting in their blood, sweat, and tears.” He then began to list all the extensive work the team did on the Corvette, stating that they “first stripped it down to the bare chassis in order to get a clear picture of the wear.”
As anyone familiar with Corvettes knows, the C5 platform is seemingly indestructible; the car is renowned for its ability to withstand the abuse it often receives (after all, it’s almost impossible to refrain from a little spirited driving here and there). However, when you strip the C5 down to only 2,511 pounds and build its naturally-aspirated V8 to over 600 horsepower, you subject the car to more than just ‘spirited driving’.
Therefore, all this rebuilding was necessary thanks to the car’s punishing career. As Marwin put it, “It had been raced seriously from 2002 to 2013. After 11 years, the metal was starting to wear out – the chassis (let alone other things) needed some serious work.”
Marwin told us that the team performed all the necessary chassis repair, fitted all new interior panels (which they fabricated themselves) and supplied the car with all new oil- and brake-lines. They removed, tested, repaired and returned all the car’s electronics, put in a new gearbox casing, and checked all the transmission’s internals – renewing all the bearings and replacing the clutch in the process.
For the motor and drivetrain, the RaceArt team put in new axles and a new driveshaft, and had a total engine rebuild done by Katech USA – including replacement of the engine-block casing, pistons and rods, and all bearings.
Marwin stated that, following all of this, the final touches were put on the mechanical aspects. The suspension was stress-checked and given an updated paint job, and a new radiator and fresh oil coolers were installed. The old bodywork was then thrown back on, the car was taken for a shakedown, and the last technical modifications were made.
With all the go-fast parts squared away, the RaceArt team then took off the complete body and started sanding everything down. Parts that had seen too much repair over the years were deemed compromised and swapped out for new ones. The team also converted back to the C5.R’s original aero package (with the rear wing, rear frame, front bonnet and fascia, and front splitter all how they came from Pratt & Miller), and gave the car a fresh paint job and all new decals.
A car like this deserves to be treated correctly, and to remain in top shape. This is not an everyday, run-of-the-mill racer – it is a piece of motorsport history. – Marwin Moonen, Team RaceArt
Marwin mentioned that, in converting back to the original body trim, they ran into some complications. He said, “There were actually no moulds anymore for the original hood; Pratt & Miller only had a new hood on stock, but this was from chassis 001 to 004 (they were small-bodies).
“We had to find an old used hood, make moulds of the sides of it, and then use them to widen the new hood. This was the same story for the front splitter. Both items were quite the task… But the engine cover and front splitter are my favorite parts on the car because of it.”
From the way Marwin talks about their work on the C5.R, it sounds like he thoroughly enjoyed it. He told us, “One of the most interesting parts was meeting a lot of fellow enthusiasts throughout the build, in order to get all the correct pictures as reference for the decals and to get the necessary parts.
“What motivated us,” he continued, “was that a car like this deserves to be treated correctly, and to remain in top shape. This is not an everyday, run-of-the-mill racer – it is a piece of motorsport history. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work on.”