Pratt Miller Takes Center Stage with the New Corvette Z06 GT3.R

Pratt & Miller

Just about everybody knows that the Chevrolet Corvette has been the most successful American sports car in road-racing history, with a trophy case featuring hardware from 125 top-tier race wins—nine of them at Le Mans—since 2000. But most people don’t realize that the factory Corvette Racing program was largely run by an outside vendor.

Not that General Motors was trying to keep a secret. Clued-in fans and members of the media knew the score. But to the general public, Pratt & Miller sounded more like an accounting firm than a race car engineering powerhouse.

Later this month, the company will move out of the shadows to center stage of the motorsports world at the Rolex 24. There and then, Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports—yes, the official name is a mouthful—rather than General Motors will enter a pair of all-new Corvette Z06 GT3.Rs built in-house to chase a title in the GT Daytona (GTD) Pro category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“It’s the next chapter for us. It’s the first time in our history in the 25-year-plus history of Corvette Racing that Pratt & Miller’s name will be in the title,” says vice president Brandon Widmer. “I wouldn’t say that it bothered us [to be behind the scenes for so many years], and we still have a very strong relationship with GM. But I will say there’s a lot of excitement around the company about having the name front and center in the name and on the car.”

In addition to the two bright-yellow Vettes being fielded at Daytona with GM backing, Pratt Miller is building at least 18 more GT3.Rs for customers. At the moment, three privateer teams are committed to racing six customer Corvettes in 2024. You, too, can join the list for a mere $735,000 per car—plus spares and optional upgrades. Hey, at least batteries are included!

Pratt & Miller racing corvette z06 rear
Pratt & Miller

In recent years, Pratt Miller—which was bought by Oshkosh Corporation in 2021 for $115 million—has diversified into high-tech electrification, autonomy and mobility projects for customers ranging from OEMs to the Department of Defense. The company has come a long way since it was founded in 1989 by Jim Miller, a gentleman racer and travel agency mogul, and Gary Pratt, a mechanic and fabricator at the Protofab race car shop.

After competing in Trans-Am, Miller wanted to move up to IMSA’s premier GTP series. So he and Pratt hired America’s premier race car designer, Bob Riley, to build a blue-sky prototype. Riley’s Intrepid debuted in 1991. With an 800-horsepower Chevy V-8 mated to the highest-downforce chassis the world had ever seen, the Intrepid was wicked-fast but snake-bit. Wayne Taylor posted the team’s only win, while Tommy Kendall’s career was derailed by a gruesome crash at Watkins Glen, and the program was shelved before the car realized its potential.

Andy Pilgrim 2005 Speed World Challenge GT Drivers Champion races 2007 Team Cadillac CTS-V race car
Mark Elias/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Still, the Intrepid cemented Pratt & Miller’s relationship with GM. In years to come, the company would build Oldsmobile Auroras, Cadillac CTS-Vs, Pontiac GTOs and Chevrolet Camaros that competed in various series. But the company’s future was assured in 1997, when it was hired by GM to develop a full-race version of the C5 iteration of the Corvette.

The car debuted in 1999—and was trounced by the Dodge Viper. But Pratt & Miller quickly turned the tables on the Mopar gang, and in 2001, the team’s bright-yellow Corvettes scored a remarkable overall win in the Rolex 24 and a storybook class win at Le Mans.

Andy Pilgrim pulls his Corvette out of the pit lane during the 39th Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona
Jonathan Ferrey/Allsport/Getty Images

“Winning Le Mans was hugely emotional,” former Corvette Racing team manager Doug Fehan recalls. “You stand up there on this giant elevated podium cantilevered out over the pit lane, and as far as you can see down the straightaway is a sea of fans. You’re standing on that top step holding the trophy with a wreath of flowers around your neck, and they play the national anthem of the United States of America. Dude—Olympic frigging moment. Tears were running down everybody’s face, and you’re thinking, ‘How the hell did I ever get here?’”

The next two decades brought plenty of laurels as four generations of Corvettes rubbed fenders with factory-backed cars from Dodge, Ford, Porsche, BMW and Ferrari at the most exalted levels of production-based sports car racing. In recent years, though, OEM interest in this hideously expensive class of racing dwindled to the point that the category was discontinued. Starting in 2022, a new era dawned as sports car series around the globe adopted regulations based on more affordable and user-friendly GT3 cars.

The GT3 class was invented by Stéphane Ratel in 2006 to create a formula that would attract both manufacturers and gentleman drivers—the yin and the yang of sport car racing. GT3 regulations reined in costs by spec-ing race cars that didn’t deviate radically from the street cars on which they’re based, which meant manufacturers could theoretically make money on their customer-racing programs. Meanwhile, driver aids such a traction-control and anti-lock brakes made the cars easier to handle and, therefore, more attractive to gentlemen drivers.

To homologate cars for racing, manufacturers must build at least 20 cars. Pratt Miller gets ZO6 bodies-in-white from the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and transforms them into race cars at their shop in New Hudson, Michigan. The new GT3 cars aren’t as sophisticated or expensive as the GTLM cars they replace. But they’re designed for different end-users—privateer teams and, in many cases, amateur drivers.

Pratt & Miller racing corvette z06 rear three quarter
Pratt & Miller

“We need to make sure that the cars are very easy to maintain and easy to set up and race successfully with a wide variety of drivers and a wide range of driver capability,” Widmer explains. “Those things were new to us and a bit unique from what we’ve done in the past.”

The GT3 formula has been an enormous success, generating large fields and nail-biting competition. For example, this year’s entry list for the Rolex 24 features 37 GT3 cars from 11 manufacturers—Chevrolet, BMW, McLaren, Lexus, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Acura, Aston Martin and Ford, which will be unveiling its dramatic, brand-new Mustang.

Pratt & Miller racing corvette z06 rear three quarter
Pratt & Miller

Pratt Miller will be racing two cars in GTD Pro, which, as the name implies, is meant for top-rank professional drivers. Two more Z06 GT3.Rs campaigned by AWA will be competing at Daytona in the GTD class, which is open to lower-level pros and amateurs who are typically paying for their seats. Also, TF Sport will be running a pair of Corvettes in the FIA World Endurance Championship in Europe, Asia and North and South America, while DXDT Racing has ordered two more Z06s for the World Challenge America series.

So 2024 will bring plenty of international exposure to a company that’s long stayed out of the limelight. That could be a problem if the new Corvette doesn’t measure up. But Widmer isn’t worried. “We’re looking forward to high car counts this year,” he says. “That’s a big deal for us. A lot of competition is a good thing.”




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    Pratt and Miller was never really unknow or hidden. They and GM both were well know partners on the Corvette and a number of other racing projects.

    Think of Pratt and Miller as GM’s version of Roush Racing back in their prime.

    They should pick up and build on last year the GTLM cars converted to the GT3 class were at a big disadvantage due to the moving and changing of weight. They were built to have weight in specific places and larger custom tires and were forced to move the weight to places not wanting it and also tires that were smaller and harder than it was designed to use.

    The adding of customer cars should accelerate the learning curve.

    I just have one concern. The car is missing one important Member Jake. I hope they add him to the car before Daytona. .

    Take No Prisoners.

    I was a veinder for Pratt & Miller for eighteen years, what wonderful experience that was.The highest quality was reflected through out the whole operation. What honor it was for me to work with such amazing people. Lee Marvin

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