Oliver Gavin said his final race weekend as a full-season Corvette Racing driver was an “emotional” experience following the outpouring of tributes from his nearly two-decade run with the brand.
From pre-race festivities to salutes on the grid and even a message displayed on the Turn 16 bridge, the Englishman’s accomplishments as Corvette’s most successful driver were honored over the course of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale.
Announced last month, Gavin will not be part of the Pratt & Miller-run squad on a full-time basis next year following a 19-year run highlighted by 51 wins, five class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as five IMSA championships.
“The weekend has been emotional, and it was always going to be,” said Gavin.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted my wife Helen here. I knew I was going to struggle somewhat with it without her being here to support.
“[Friday] was very nice… Jim Campbell, Gary Pratt, Doug Fehan and Ben Johnson said some very nice words with all the team, just to spend a moment with them and thank them for what’s been an amazing 19 years was special.
“There has been so much success, so much positivity, great feelings and friendships.
“I felt very honored that I could share that moment with them. I tried to say some words, and I was quite emotional and only got some of them out!
“But I think I got the message across, that I’m deeply appreciative of everything that everyone has done at Corvette Racing and Team Chevy collectively.
“It has been an unbelievable 19 years. I was very grateful to be able to thank the people that have done the most for me over these 19 years. It was really fantastic.”
Gavin’s final scheduled outing with the team didn’t go to plan, with a water leak followed by suspension failure resulting in significant delays to the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, which finished sixth in class.
“Almost right from the start, we weren’t quite there with the car,” he said. “The guys worked to figure some stuff out and we got better.
“It looked like we were in the hunt and had pace. When we lost all the water out of the radiator, it was a pretty big setup.
“We did what we could to get some laps back and then had the left-rear suspension problem.
“It was one of the moments that you don’t expect but you realize it’s going to happen at some point as a racing driver.
“But once again, Corvette Racing did a great job to get the car back together, everything going and us back out on the track as fast as they possibly could.
“It’s a testament to how they’re trained and how they work. It’s great to see.
“It gives me an immense amount of pride to watch them operate. Both crews had their moments of adversity, but not once did anyone complain or kick back; they all just dove straight in to get the cars back out.
“That’s what Corvette Racing is about. It’s what has won us a lot of races and championships, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
Gavin’s future with the team remains unknown as it appears both endurance seats will be filled by other drivers next year, alongside Nick Tandy, his expected replacement in the No. 4 Corvette.