USA Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View

Hendrick Motorsports Garage 56 Chevy Outpaces Ferrari’s Le Mans Hypercar to Win Illustrious Award

The award recognizes the ground-breaking innovation between collaborators Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet, Goodyear and NASCAR.   

By Andrew Woodin
The NASCAR Garage 56 Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on display

While Hendrick Motorsports is a known juggernaut within the high-octane world of the NASCAR Cup Series here in the U.S., across the pond, the championship-winning team is quietly turning heads as it impresses in another way.

Last week, during the Race Tech World Motorsport Symposium at the Embassy of Switzerland, the NASCAR engineers behind the Garage 56 project took home the prestigious Dino Toso Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year award. Recognized for their remarkable achievements in the field of motorsports, the group pioneered the Next Gen-based Chevrolet Camaro stock car that competed in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

RELATED: Who Does Ryan Blaney See as His Chief NASCAR Rival?

According to the league, Dr. Eric Jacuzzi, NASCAR VP of Vehicle Performance, and Brandon Thomas, NASCAR VP of Vehicle Design, accepted the accolade on behalf of the group at the annual European conference. First presented in 2005, the award is named after the late Dino Toso, who was honored twice for his expansive contributions to the Renault F1 team. Combining the collaborative brain trusts that power Chevy, Goodyear, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR in the 75thyear of the stock car racing league’s existence, the Garage 56 initiative successfully competed in the 100th anniversary of the legendary 24-hour summer racing event in France.

Engineers were tasked with the challenge of modifying Chevrolet’s Camaro ZL1 Cup Series car so it could not only endure the grueling event, but also excel on the 8.467-mile Circuit de la Sarthe against a global roster of sports cars. In the end — along with reducing the vehicle’s weight and adding headlights and tail lights, dive planes and paddle shifters, to be competitive against a stacked field of GT’s — special attention was paid to redesigning specific aerodynamic components. The result of the engineers’ efforts ultimately helped produce more downforce to keep the HMS team competitive in the exhaustive race.

When such significant weight is applied to the science of aerodynamics, it’s impossible to minimize just how impactful this honor is for the folks who engineered the marvel of American muscle. After a global panel of industry experts judged the NASCAR team to be worthy of the high honor, Hendrick Motorsports now possesses the ultimate motorsports bragging rights after beating out fellow heavyweight frontrunners like the Formula 1 championship-winning team, Oracle Red Bull Racing, and the Le Mans-winning Scuderia Ferrari Hypercar.

RELATED: Martin Truex Jr. Taps Into His Culinary Side During NASCAR Offseason

“It was a huge initiative to get over there,” said Chad Knaus, Vice President of Competition at Hendrick Motorsports, according to Racing America. “It was a big tasking with everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and all of our partners with Chevrolet, Goodyear, NASCAR and IMSA to get that car over there and in a situation where it could compete.”

Though the Garage 56 Chevy was ineligible for a class or overall victory in the single-entry “Innovative Car” classification, the HMS entry finished all 2,413 miles of the race, led by a motorsports dream team that included British F1 world champion Jenson Button, 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champ and Legacy Motor Club co-owner, Jimmie “Superman” Johnson, who hailed the experience as a dream come true.

What did Jimmie Johnson say of the Hendrick Motorsports Garage 56 Chevy's success?

“My heart is full,” noted Johnson after completing the race, according to Forbes. “For all the reasons we know — coming here with NASCAR, Hendrick, Chevrolet, Goodyear. Many of the people here working were on different teams that I won races and championships with. There were so many familiar faces, to have this experience was just off the charts. My bucket is full. I’m really happy.”

RELATED: Does Newly Crowned NASCAR Champ Ryan Blaney Have His Eyes on Indy 500?

Affectionately nicknamed “The Beast,” the car itself, according to the NASCAR-focused Jayski's Silly Season Site, surpassed most expectations as it ran near the front of the pack for more than 20 hours until trouble surfaced, and the team lost more than an hour, due to a drive line issue. Despite ultimately succumbing to an issue that relegated them to 39th-place finish out of the 62 entries, Aiden Read, a Garage 56 engineer, like Johnson, couldn’t have been happier with the car and the innovative program in general.

“It's a hell of a car,” gushed Read, according to Road & Track. “I love it. Everyone loves it. This whole program has been really special for me.”

Read more about: