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Published 4/15/24

Antonio Garcia is a Constant at Corvette Racing

WORDS: DAN HODGDON

PHOTOS: NATE LIGHT

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Since 2009, Antonio Garcia has been synonymous with the Corvette Racing program. In that time, the soft-spoken and unassuming Spaniard has developed into one of sports car racing’s all-time great drivers, with multiple championships and race wins in the discipline’s crown jewels.

Antonio Garcia has been a part of Corvette Racing for 15 years. He has won an impressive number of races and championships in that time.

He feels at home with the team today known as Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports, which competes in the GTD PRO class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Garcia and the organization have helped lift each other to massive success in the sport.  “I’ve always been super happy in the team and they seem happy with me,” says the driver of the No. 3 Corvette Z06 GT3.R as he stands inside the team transporter at Sebring International Raceway. 

It’s the Thursday before the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, shortly before a practice session, and Garcia is brewing coffee while he talks. 
 
At age 43, he’s become the elder statesman of the team and a de facto leader in the paddock, having earned massive respect from his peers over the years. When he speaks, they listen.  
 
Garcia, however, humbly downplays his role, explaining that he is simply doing the same for the Corvette program as others who came before him.  
 
“I was also new to the team at one point,” he says. “When I joined Johnny O’Connell was there, Jan [Magnussen] was there. The first years of my career in Corvette Racing, I was also learning from them. There’s a time where I became kind of the senior member of the team, so I’m the one that new guys coming in are learning from. That’s the way it is. I’m getting older for sure, but I’m glad that new members, new really good drivers are coming along and supporting the whole Corvette Racing project.”

This season, Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports is fielding both the No. 3 and No. 4 Z06 GT3.R race cars. They were wrapped in gold at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to celebrate Mobil 1’s 50th anniversary. 

For years, Garcia has been a mainstay in the No. 3 car in IMSA competition. 

Garcia has carved out a place in a long line of Corvette Racing legends and has driven multiple generations of the Corvette race car, dating back to the C6.R. This year he is paired with Alexander Sims to chase the class title in the new-for-2024 Z06 GT3.R. Daniel Juncadella is serving as the third driver for the series’ races of 10 hours or more.  
 
Garcia hails from Madrid – where he lives with his family today – and grew up karting and racing single-seaters before switching to sports cars in his early twenties. 
 
He made his first start in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006 and joined Corvette Racing as an endurance driver in the Corvette C6.R three years later. He held that role from 2009-2011 and in that time was a part of two Le Mans class victories. 
 
In 2012, Garcia undertook his first full campaign with Corvette Racing and has been a full-season driver with the team ever since. Along the way, he’s scored five driver championships in GT classes and has won close to 30 events with the team alongside a variety of co-drivers.
 
Additionally, he piloted a Corvette Daytona Prototype in the old Rolex GRAND-AM Sports Car Series in the early 2010s. He took two victories with Spirit of Daytona Racing in that time. For a decade-and-a-half, if there has been a Corvette on the track, Garcia has been a part of it. 

Garcia is among the most talented competitors in the GTD PRO ranks of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

He is noted for his diverse and adaptable driving style; sometimes his raw speed behind the wheel means he qualifies and starts the race, other times his speed combined with craftiness makes him best suited to finish. In endurance races, he might do both.  
Garcia’s versatility has also served him well as he’s steered various versions of Corvette race cars, seamlessly adapting to changes in driving and performance characteristics. Most notably was when the C7 Corvette gave way to the current mid-engine C8 (or eighth-generation) model, putting both the street and race versions in the supercar realm. 
 
This season is also the first year Garcia has competed for the team when it hasn’t technically been a factory-backed organization, with the outfit’s famed No. 3 and No. 4 cars now fielded by Pratt Miller Motorsports. General Motors has shifted its focus to customer racing with the Z06 GT3.R, but its flagship team still falls under the Corvette Racing umbrella providing technical support. 
 
Despite the changes, Garcia says the way the team is structured and run is nearly identical to the way it has been for years. Now there are just other organizations also running the car, such as AWA competing in the GTD class in IMSA and TF Sport in the LMGT3 class in FIA WEC competition.

Consistency in the program is important to Garcia, which he credits for much of its ongoing success.  
 
“It’s great to see the team developing and evolving and improving the whole time,” he says. “You see the team getting better and better over the years, and I think consistency with team members helps. Whenever new people come in they get up to speed way quicker in every aspect of the team. In a way that’s part of the success I think, just to keep everything pretty much the same through the years. That’s why you don’t really feel any difference from year to year, it’s just a constant.”

Garcia credits the team’s consistency from year to year for many of its accomplishments.

Another constant for many years has been the extensive technology transfer between the Corvette race cars and its roadgoing counterparts. The current Z06 GT3.R is no exception. 
 
Garcia, who owns a mid-engine C8 Corvette himself, explains that there is a continual back and forth between the racing program and the production team to build the best cars for each use. The production team develops each generation of car knowing it will also be raced, and the race team helps provide direction and input for each version of the road car.  
 
Although there are obviously some race-specific upgrades to the Z06 GT3.R race car, Garcia notes the street version of the Z06 is even more closely related to what he currently races than other C8 models were to the recently retired C8.R racer.  
 
However, the racing pedigree of every eighth-generation Corvette is readily apparent. 
 
“You can easily go do a track day with a C8 even if it’s a road car and I think you can have a lot of fun,” he says. “You see all the customers now with the C8, I’ve never seen one unhappy with it.” 

Garcia and his teammates are popular in every paddock.

Although Corvette is an iconic American brand, it is “America’s Sports Car” after all, the vehicle also has an impressive following across Europe. That’s something Garcia has witnessed firsthand, in particular as right-hand drive models are now bringing the car to an even larger global audience. 
 
Garcia is a singular talent behind the wheel and has extensive knowledge of the Corvette program, but he also works hard to maintain his status as an elite athlete. That is most apparent in his workout regimen. A look at his Instagram account reveals many posts highlighting running or cycling, and despite recently undergoing knee surgery, he remains as focused as ever. He believes it’s all another way he can provide a benefit to the team.
 
“You have to be fit, just for those moments where it’s two hours and a half, three hours, at times it’s three hours and a half to go and you need to jump in the car and go to the end,” he says. “You have to do it and you need to be as sharp as possible and as fit as possible in order to perform and think and [make sure] your skills stay up there. So that’s why I do it, not only because I’m getting old, but also because I always like to be as fit as possible.” 
 
For many years, Garcia and Corvette have also been a perfect fit. 

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R is an impressive sight – day or night.

Keep watching The BLOCK for much more on Team Chevy, Chevrolet Performance and all motorsports disciplines.

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