Le Mans 2020. 13/14 June



Hello and Happy New Year to all Corvette fans !

And won’t this year start like a whirlwind on a Florida beach this coming weekend? We are all holding our breath!

There is an extraordinary buzz around the new Corvette. Some are indeed sad to see the traditional architecture and silhouette disappear, but most are thrilled to see GM’s audacity in switching to the more balanced mid-engine configuration, offering so much value and innovation while staying affordable. And staying -at least for now- true to pushrods. This being said, don’t know if your ear hears the same as mine but this howling sounds more like an OHC multivalve than the old central camshaft and its cavalry of pushrods and rockers:

[VIDEO] Corvette Racing's C8.R Revs Mystery Engine During Reveal - Corvette: Sales, News & Lifestyle

Anyways… you are two to three times more than usual this year to enquire about the Corvette Corral at the Le Mans 24 Hours 2020, the European first for C8R. The NCM is coming again and more than another dozen US Corvette owners have indicated that they will come. All this is great, but puts a hell of a pressure on me to prepare and deliver an event at the level of the new car!

You know I’ve been working since the beginning (more than 20 years) with GM (Europe), Chevrolet, GM Racing and GP Johnson, their excellent event management firm, represented at Le Mans by the very friendly, efficient and faithful Nancy Van Den Steen. On site, it is Acropolis, outfit of superheroes Dom and Anastasia, who organize our piece of land and accompany us since years. Then, there are Olivier, Martine and their team who feed us delightful meals: without all these friends, there would only be TV at home to watch the race! I take the opportunity of this mail to thank them all with all my heart, and I know you join me for that too!

I’ll mention again so that there is no confusion: I do this to support my favorite car since birth and a company I worked for passionately during 27 years, but most importantly for the enjoyment of the Corral participants! While helped by GM, I still do it at my own financial risk and -in best years- come out even.

OK, now let’s get to work, because you need info and I need feedback.

First, remember Zora Arkus-Duntov : big companies are large ships, slow and difficult to maneuver; international competition is fierce, technology investments are gigantic and margins are getting pretty thin. Zora’s successors who internally push for Corvette are enthusiastic free spirits who have to continuously convince finance and management to spend sizeable monies for a small sales volume. All this to explain why I do not yet have a word on any additional budget from GM for a “very special part” of our Corvette experience in Le Mans.

Nevertheless, let me propose two scenarios as I see them today and ask you to respond to them as soon as possible through the attached, non-binding questionnaire.

1) Without additional funds from GM, I plan a similar scheme to last years’, i.e. an enclosed and secured piece of land where cars can be parked safely and participants can take advantage of optional meals and usual activities (Show ‘n Shine, raffle/auction, games, TV, etc.). But better than in the past: larger, grassy and partly shaded, much nicer and easier to plant a tent!

2) With (substantial!) help from GM and sponsors and at additional cost for participants, we could benefit from an exceptional terrace on the track at the Raccordement, with reception tent and all meals served throughout the weekend by ACO caterers (see attm.). There is a small parking where a dozen selected Corvette could be exhibited and, if available (80% chance!) a proto C8 or even a C8R could be shown.

3) And the dream option: a track lap…

You realize of course that, whatever the configuration, we’ll need the Corral place to at least park, camp and shower.

Finally, I am contacting potential sponsors and encourage you to do the same: any and every contribution will be welcome (club, employer, business contacts…) and I will ensure that those contributors be rewarded with as much visibility as possible (totally free in configuration #1, but within ACO rules in configuration #2).

So I have designed a slightly different questionnaire , which responses I am excited to compile and share with GM to see what’s feasible.

You may know that I am far from a top notch social networker (my kids would probably use the term “invisible”….) and not linked to any particular Corvette Club so as to remain perfectly neutral. But I immensely respect those of you who give time and energy gathering Corvette fans, exchanging with them and organize events: I very well know the time it takes! I would therefore be very thankful to forward this mail to your Corvette contacts -or at least the questionnaire with your own introduction words. Ideally, for speed and process simplicity, the questionnaire in Excel format should be returned to me directly. You know I use my Corvette mailing list only for the organization of the Corral and potentially transmit email addresses to GM only with your individual authorization.

Thanks for your help! I am thrilled to meet (again) many of you in June at Le Mans for an event which I expect to be extraordinary!

Gérard Planche