Oliver Gavin’s Twitter bio describes him as, “Tall British Racing Driver,” all of which is true. It doesn’t mention that he lives in a 400-year-old farm house, has pet sheep–“They are more like lawnmowers,” and drives a 2015 Z51 Stingray around the tiny English town where he lives.
Gavin is a professional racecar driver. He’s been running sportscar races for Corvette Racing since 2002, has five class wins at Le Mans, five at Sebring, and five at Petit Le Mans. I have zero wins everywhere, so it seemed perfectly reasonable to compare my lap around Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville, Georgia with Ollie’s. End result? He’s at least 30 mph faster than me pretty much everywhere. See for yourself.
Once you’re done laughing at me—go ahead, I deserve it, keep reading for more about Ollie G.
“Little kids in Europe want to be F1 drivers, like kids in the states maybe want to drive NASCAR,” Gavin said, describing his early years in open wheel karts and single-seater Formula 3 cars. He was good, but came to a realization that he could have a steadier career in sportscar racing. “If you want to be a racecar driver, of course you dream of those very highest classes and championships. Who wouldn’t want that? But there are very few seats available, and you need to be both very lucky and very good to get there.” Rather than depend on luck to land him in an F1 car, Gavin took his talent to Corvette where he won races in every iteration from the C5.R to the current C7.R.
“It’s been incredible to see the cars develop. The C5.R was a very good racecar, but the C7.R is so much more comfortable, there’s so much more driver support. To have a car that does what you ask, when you ask it, that’s what the Corvette engineers have done with both the racecar and the production car.”
Our conversation about driving eventually came round to teaching driving, as Gavin’s daughter will be getting her learner’s permit this year. Will she think it’s cool to have a racing driver teach her to drive? “No, I don’t think so,” Gavin said. “I don’t think she’s very impressed.” His kids aren’t impressed by a dad who drives racing Corvettes? “One of my younger boys brought me to school for show and tell once, which I thought was pretty neat, but then the next day he came home and said that one of the other kids’ dads built bridges, and that was much cooler.”
Poor Oliver Gavin. Well, at least he’s faster than me. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.