The 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary witnessed an extraordinary spectacle as the #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, a modified NASCAR Cup car, roared through the iconic Circuit des 24 Heures. With drivers Mike Rockenfeller, Jimmie Johnson, and Jenson Button at the helm, this powerhouse not only captured the hearts of racing enthusiasts but also showcased its incredible speed and distinctive sound. Let’s delve into the thrilling story of the #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s historic participation in the renowned race.
A NASCAR Cup Car meets Le Mans
The #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was purpose-built for the 24 Hours of Le Mans’ “Garage 56” Innovative Car class, drawing inspiration from the NextGen model that competes in the NASCAR Cup. Its entrance into the race was met with widespread excitement, as fans eagerly anticipated witnessing the fusion of NASCAR power with the challenges posed by the Le Mans circuit.
Conquering the Circuit
As the #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 roared to life, it quickly proved its mettle among the Hypercar and LMP2 prototypes, as well as the LMGTEs. The car’s distinctive sound and unique appearance turned heads as it maneuvered through the famous turns and raced down the iconic Mulsanne Straight. Over the course of 24 hours, the ZL1 covered an impressive distance of 3,883.50 km, leaving an indelible mark on the history of Le Mans.
Speed and Skill on Display
The trio of drivers, Rockenfeller, Johnson, and Button, showcased their exceptional skill and determination, propelling the #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 ahead of the LMGTE Am field in qualifying. While some GT cars may have been challenged by the presence of a Cup car in their midst, the team’s focus was clear – they were here to race. Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports Vice President of Competition, proudly stated, “We were over here to race, and that’s what we did.”
For the drivers, Mike Rockenfeller, Jimmie Johnson, and Jenson Button, the experience of racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans will forever be etched in their minds. Each of them brought their own unique expertise and passion to the track, leaving an indelible mark on this historic event. Despite a late-race gearbox issue that prevented them from finishing ahead of Corvette Racing’s LMGTE Am-winning #33 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, the memories created during this extraordinary race will last a lifetime.
Beyond Le Mans
The #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s journey doesn’t end with Le Mans. After captivating the crowds at the iconic race, it will make its way across the English Channel to make a special appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed next month. This remarkable car will then find its rightful place in Rick Hendrick’s extensive collection of historic vehicles, a testament to its significance in the world of motorsports.
The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary was nothing short of extraordinary. From its awe-inspiring speed and distinctive sound to the skill and determination of its drivers, this NASCAR Cup car left an indelible mark on the hearts of racing fans worldwide. While their journey at Le Mans may have come to an end, the legacy of the #24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will live on, forever etched in the annals of motorsports history.