Behold Corvette’s new racing car, now with its engine in the middle

BRASELTON, Georgia—When Chevrolet unveiled its new “C8” generation Corvette Stingray in July, the headline was that after more than 50 years, the engine in this new car had been moved from ahead of the cockpit to just behind it. At the end of that reveal, we then got a very brief glimpse of a heavily camouflaged racing derivative.

On Thursday, ahead of this year’s season finale to IMSA’s WeatherTech Sportscar Championship at Road Atlanta in Georgia, Corvette Racing gave us a proper look at that new race car, which is scheduled to start racing next year here in the US and also over in France at Le Mans.

Why did they move the engine?

If you look at a race car from Formula 1, IndyCar, or the prototypes that race in IMSA and Le Mans’ top class, you’ll find their engines located behind, not ahead, of the driver. The mid-engined layout really came to the fore in the early 1960s, when John Cooper’s eponymous F1 team proved that the layout conferred some significant handling advantages. With the engine fully ahead of the rear axle, most of the car’s weight is between the wheels, which makes for a much lower polar moment of inertia. And as the majority of the mass is toward the rear, there are traction advantages for the driven rear wheels.

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