Tommy Milner the new American hope for Corvette

March 17, 2011

Tommy Milner the new American hope for Corvette

March 17, 2011

Tommy Milner, No. 03 Corvette Racing Corvette ZR1. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

The new season brings new opportunity for a wealth of teams and drivers in the American Le Mans Series. For Tommy Milner, it’s the chance to capture an elusive first win in the incredibly deep and competitive GT field, aboard one of the American icons of the series.

Milner, a BMW pilot the last two years, replaces Johnny O’Connell in the No. 3 (03 this week) Corvette Racing Corvette ZR1. This is his fourth different manufacturer to be driving for in what will be his sixth season in ALMS. Milner joins Corvette Racing in a year when Chevrolet celebrates its centennial.

Immediately, the Lake Mary, Fla. resident got adjusted to his new surroundings on his first day testing. Milner explained how the opportunity arose.

“I talked with BMW about this year, then (Corvette program manager) Doug (Fehan) called and asked my status,” Milner said. “The BMW contract was only for one year. (Corvette) was very enticing and it doesn’t come along often.

“I tested in November for the first time,” he continued. “Early on it was really nice and the crew was joking around — I felt at home right away. There were no issues and I got to know everyone well early on.”

A veteran after driving several other front-engine cars, including a Panoz Esperante, BMW M3 and now the Corvette, Milner said the Corvette felt the most different but still a thrilling car to drive.

He’s back with a Michelin technical partner team for the first time since 2007, as well.

“In 2007, it was one of those, ‘You didn’t know you were lacking something until you tried it’ moments,” he said. “We worked very hard last year, but it’s nice to come back to Michelin. They have huge amounts of experience and history.”

Milner finished second at Sebring in 2010 driving with Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. The keys to success this year, he said, are a combination of working through traffic (56 cars are entered for this year’s race) and not making any mistakes.

Replacing O’Connell is a tall task, but a manageable one, Milner said. Milner said “Johnny O” left a lasting imprint as both a driver and Corvette brand ambassador.

But 2011 is the year when Milner hopes to make his mark as the new full-time American driver at Corvette.

“It’s a new opportunity and it’s something different,” he said. “We should have more chances this year. I’m glad we have such great competition because when the first win does come, it will feel that much better.”

Latest Photos

Latest Video

A memorable IMSA season ended with the excitement of Motul Petit Le Mans

Wednesday October 18, 2023