Pratt & Miller Co-Founder Reflects on Stellar Racing Career
Initially expected to last three years, Gary Pratt’s Corvette Racing program will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019.
Way back in 1999, while little red Corvettes were playing Prince’s ode to the year from their stereos, a pair of yellow Corvette C5-Rs set out from New Hudson, Michigan (around 40 minutes up the road from Detroit) to take on the world.
Thus began the legendary Corvette Racing program, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019. Mobil 1 The Grid sat down with one of the chiefs behind the program, Pratt & Miller co-founder Gary Pratt, to talk about his storied career, and the twist of fate that thrusted his work into the spotlight.
“When I was younger, I was into athletics a lot. I really had a competitive mindset,” said Pratt. “But I liked to build things, build my own go-karts, that kinda thing. I was fortunate to meet a lot of good people at the right time, and I was fortunate to build A.J. Foyt’s IndyCar, a couple of those. I think it was more of that philosophy of wanting to build something better than everybody else, and everything we ever raced, we always built.”
A decade following the founding of Pratt & Miller with driver Jim Miller, Pratt and Miller were approached by General Motors to build and campaign the race-ready version of the C5-era Corvette, kicking off what would come to be known around the world as Corvette Racing.
“When the program first started, we were hoping it would last three years,” Pratt said. “I know that when Doug [Fehan] came to us with the proposal, it was more or less, ‘Well, we want you to do a car. We really don’t know where we’re gonna race it yet.’ That’s really how the program got started. That’s how wide open it was.”
For Pratt and his team, “continuity is [the] number one thing for success,” a virtue that has led his Corvette Racing team to victory after victory, including three consecutive IMSA team and driver’s championships among the many trophies and accolades earned over the two decades. It also helps that everyone, from the driver to the tire changer to the executive, is on the same level with the same goal in mind.
“My role has changed over the years,” said Pratt, “from literally hands-on building the cars, to manager, to now helping foster some of the younger guys to try to pass on some of the experiences you’ve had over the years of doing this to help bring them up to speed quicker.”
Pratt adds that he and his crew are enjoying their time at the top, and hope to continue the success Corvette Racing and Pratt & Miller for a long time to come.