GALLERY: Behind The Scenes On Our Le Mans-Winning Corvette Film Shoot
For the first Made to Drive installment in 2018, we got back together with our good friend and all-around good guy Bruce Meyer and a pair of American heroes from his impressive collection. We met up with him and his ‘Vettes at Thermal Club for some track time in these iconic endurance racers—specifically, the Briggs-Cunningham-prepared C1 that brought the Corvette name to Le Mans for the first time in 1960, along with the indomitable force of red-blooded horsepower that won its class in 2009, known simply as the C6.R.
The duo is the perhaps the perfect summation of Bruce’s collection, which features a number of noteworthy American hot rods alongside Le Mans champions like the 1979-race-winning Porsche 935. The Corvettes he brought out for our cameras occupy both of those worlds, and as he puts it, “I’ve always been a hot-rodder, a bit of a patriot and I love to see the American dominance in sports, and in motorsports. I love the American effort at Le Mans, and I decided to go see if I could find one of the original Le Mans Corvettes. So my first entry was with the C1 Corvette, and this was the very first Corvette to ever run Le Mans.”
That car was part of a three-car team entered by the Cunningham team, and though two of the cars—including this one—failed to finish the race, the third managed to complete the full day of racing and claim the class victory. Briggs Cunningham wasn’t too happy with the overall effort though, and scrapped the project, selling the engines and cars. Bruce’s car, the #2, was passed around for a while before reportedly ending up in a racing junkyard of sorts in California, where it was then rescued and restored to its original state. The car is certainly the most original and finest example of that early endurance effort, and Bruce loves to share it with his fellow American racing enthusiasts, regularly driving it on the street to shows and events, as well as giving it some track time at events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed and more low-key affairs like our jaunt at Thermal.
The perfect complement, the other bookend to the Corvette legacy at Le Mans, is of course the C6.R. It’s come a long way from the first overseas Corvettes surely, but among the chassis refinements and aerodynamic advances that took place over the half-century following the C1’s debut, the tried-and-true formula of “big motor, big power” remained. And it won. Handily. This car, chassis 007, in addition to being a class-winner in a very competitive field at Le Mans, just plain worked.
“This car has an extraordinary race record. Never having been destroyed, and having won an incredible number of races. In its career, it raced 15 races, and of those 15 it finished 1st in 10 of them, and when it didn’t finish first, in four of them it finished 2nd, and one time it DNF’d. So it’s come through unscathed, and as you see it today, is exactly how it finished Le Mans in 2009.”
In other words, it has the bite to back up the bark. And it certainly barks: “If you’re not prepared when they turn that car on, you know it’s gonna give someone a heart attack. It’s 7 liters of just ‘let me go’ racing horsepower.”