The action has now moved on to other tracks, but let’s spend some bandwidth recognizing what was a big weekend for the Chevrolet Corvette and one of its long-time drivers, Johnny O’Connell, at the recent 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race. Both were inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame this year in conjunction with the race festivities, with the Corvette becoming the very first American entry to achieve the honor. (Oh, and Corvettes took second and third places in their class in the race itself.)
The Corvette joins the usual suspects—like Porsche and Ferrari—in the Hall, and the only real question here is “what took so long?” As one of the few cars truly worthy of the term “icon,” the Corvette has been racing at Sebring since 1956, when drivers John Fitch and Walt Hansgen teamed up for a class victory in the car’s first appearance there. That historic win was an early turning point in the history of the Corvette, providing it with instant credibility as a high-performance sports car that could run with the best the Europeans had to offer.
It also marked the beginning of a strong and successful Corvette presence in international endurance racing that has included multiple class wins at all three of the sport’s “triple crown” events: The 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona and the Sebring race. And O’Connell was a motivating force behind many of them.