Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing, talked like an evangelist for endurance racing Tuesday evening at Lanier Technical College’s motorsports vehicle technology class.
Fehan, who is here for the Petit Le Mans that will be run at Road Atlanta Saturday, encouraged the class members to seek racing careers — if they have the work ethic and passion for it.
He talked about Le Mans, the 24-hour endurance race in France as the pinnacle of racing. He said the Corvette Racing team has been in the race 17 consecutive years and has won it eight times.
“You only have to be there once to know how big a deal this is,” Fehan said. “To win the event — there’s nothing better.”
He emphasized the work that goes into a racing crew and the sense of family. The group travels together and works together, he said.
Fehan told the class operating the car involves several hundred people and “goes well beyond the race track.”
Aspects of the car are developed for multiple uses in road cars and even military uses, he said.
Fehan said the Lanier Tech program is important to Corvette Racing. Four graduates of the course work for the company — Mackenzie O’Brien, Brandon Wolff, Alex Stephens and Jeremy Santana.
He praised the program as “pretty much the only place in America that you can go to school” to train for racing.
O’Brien, who has been with the company about nine months, echoed that sentiment.
He is from Canada and was doing landscaping when he met a client with a racing car. That encouraged him to look around for training in the area.
He said he Googled “race schools” and found Lanier Tech.
O’Brien started classes in December 2014 and immediately began haunting race tracks and racing events, he said. His first race was in Sebring, Fla., in January 2015, he said, with Tatzlaff and a classmate.
He worked MX5 Cup series and Continental series racing and was giving a tryout by Corvette in November.
He graduated in mid-December 2015 and moved to Michigan for the job the next day.
O’Brien went to the Le Mans with the team in June. It was everything Fehan said, O’Brien reported.
Fehan told the class stories about items that were developed or modified for race cars that eventually became part of road cars. He talked about military applications, told about Chevrolet’s switch to Michelin tires and explained composites have created a whole new type of race car.
“It’s way more than a checkered flag and a trophy, guys,” Fehan said. “We’re always changing things.”
He said every time a crew prepares a car “you’re writing a book. You’re entering more data.”
By the time a crew works with a car two or three years, it is getting near optimum racing form, Fehan said.
O’Brien said he is a convert and expects to remain in racing as a career. “I caught the bug,” he said.
Fehan reminded the class, “You guys are the foundation to what we build.”