Oliver Gavin is currently in his sixteenth season with the Corvette Racing team, in a career which has seen him take five class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans and five American Le Mans Series championships.
It is a glittering career that has no sign of stopping anytime soon, and the endurance star recently sat down with Mobil 1 The Grid to discuss his incredible career with Corvette Racing.
Like most, if not all racing drivers, Gavin started in karting, with his long term goal being to break into Formula 1. 1991 saw him win the McLaren Autosport BRDC award, and the youngster met the likes of Stirling Moss and Ayrton Senna, on what was an incredibly memorable day. He even received a watch from Ron Dennis and a trophy from Senna.
So not a bad day for a young and upcoming driver! But despite his obvious talent, a lack of big backing meant the journey to Formula 1 was a tricky one. A test drive for the ill fated Pacific Grand Prix team was the closest the Briton got to Grand Prix racing. But a trip across the Atlantic lead to a career defining move.
“In 2001, the great Rob Fellows, who was racing for Corvette Racing, handed me Doug Fehan’s number.
I went back to the hotel and called Doug up, we had a quick chat and we drummed out the deal there and then.
I mean again it was one of those pinch me moments where you think god am I really going to end up driving for this manufacturer, am I really going to end up driving for Corvette Racing?” – Oliver Gavin
— Oliver Gavin (@olivergavin) September 26, 2017
He certainly was! A great start to his career in the United States saw success follow him around year on year, but it was also down to the efforts of his great teammates that he has been able to win the races he has done. Gavin humbly admits how crucial role a teammate plays in any sportscar race.
2002 saw him drive with Fellows and Johnny O’Connell, and the three of them won at Le Mans, Sebring, Petit Le Mans and it was an incredible year for the three drivers. It was a launchpad to many more great years with equally brilliant drivers, and Gavin is proud to have been able to race with so many household names in racing:
“It’s grown now into having wonderful teammates, really fantastic and supremely talented teammates.
Whether I’ve driven with Jan Magnussen, Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner, Jordan Taylor, Simon Pagenaud who won the IndyCar championship last year, Robin Liddel, Richard Westbrook all these guys I’ve shared cars with and it’s amazing, it’s been such an amazing journey.” – Oliver Gavin
Such a long career has seen many standout moments for Gavin and his number four Corvette. Le Mans 2002, his first 24 hours race, being one of the standouts. Le Mans 2015 as well, with a brilliant battle with the AF Corse Ferrari’s Gavin hails as perhaps the greatest victory for Corvette as a team.
2016 also saw some brilliant races, the dramatic finish at the Daytona 24 Hours between the two Corvette’s, Sebring, Lime Rock and an astonishing finish at Road America all stand out among all the other races in which the Brit has competed in.
It is remarkable that after over fifteen years, Gavin is still racing with Corvette and still enjoying success year after year, after year. But it is a successful career that shows no signs of slowing down. Not at all. In fact, expect more of the same from Oliver Gavin and Corvette over the next years. He will surely go down as one of the best sportscar racers in the world, and a Corvette Racing legend.