Chevy Christmas: Members of NASCAR's bowtie brigade honored

BY Tom Jensen • December 17, 2014

The folks at General Motors know how to throw a Christmas party.

The Detroit-based automaker celebrated one of its most successful racing seasons in history Tuesday at the General Motors Heritage Center in Sterling Heights, Mich., where it assembled an all-star cast of drivers, teams and GM employees from a variety of racing disciplines for a private event.

"This is an opportunity for us to honor our driver champions from both Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as winners of marquee races," said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, in an exclusive interview with

Campbell and his minions had good reasons to celebrate.

All told, Chevrolet won five manufacturer and six driver championships in NASCAR, IndyCar, NHRA, United SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge series. And Chevrolet drivers won numerous premier races in 2014 including the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, IndyCar Dual in Detroit, NHRA U.S. Nationals and the 24 Hours of Daytona.

So to celebrate those accomplishments, Campbell put together an A-list event for the racers and those with whom they work.

"It's really a culmination of an incredible team effort that resulted in 11 manufacturer and driver championships, plus more than six marquee, noteworthy race wins, so it's a chance for us to celebrate those wins with these incredible drivers," said Campbell. "And it's also an acknowledgement of all the teamwork that happens here at Chevrolet and Cadillac, as we help those drivers and team owners prepare to win races and bring home championships like they did. It's been a great year. It's been one of our best years ever for racing for both Chevrolet and Cadillac."

Sprint Cup Series Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Kyle Larson were among the stars of NASCAR in attendance for the Chevrolet event, where they were joined by open-wheel racers Will Power and Helio Castroneves, NHRA Pro Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens and a host of others.

Team Chevy drivers Helio Castroneves (left) and Jeff Gordon talk during a special event at the General Motors Heritage Center.

Season highlights for GM's racing operations included:

Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and helped Chevrolet take its record-extending 12th consecutive manufacturers' championship and record 38th overall. And Larson captured NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors.

In the NASCAR Nationwide Series, 18-year-old Chase Elliott of JR Motorsports became the youngest NASCAR touring series champion in history, and Chevrolet earned the manufacturers' title in that series.

Power won three races and his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship and Chevrolet's third straight manufacturers' title.

Stevens became the first woman to win the Pro Stock championship and only the third woman in NHRA history to win a series championship.

GM's Jim Campbell (left) and Kyle Larson celebrate Larson winning the Sprint Cup Series' top rookie honors.

Bruno Massel won the Stock Eliminator class at the NHRA U.S. Nationals in a fifth-generation COPO Camaro.

Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and two other races to clinch the Prototype drivers' championship in the IMSA/TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Prototype Class. Chevrolet also took the Prototype manufacturers' title.

Lawson Aschenbach drove a Camaro SS to four wins and the Pirelli GTS class drivers' championship in the Pirelli World Challenge.

Corvette road racers also added SCCA Majors championships, topping the national rankings in a number of hotly contested classes, including Simon Gregg in GT1, Randall Kinsland in GT2 and Joseph Aquilante in T1.

"When you win key races and championships, good things happen," said Campbell. "It helps lift the image and opinion of Chevrolet and customers are more likely to place our cars and trucks on their shopping list."

A special event celebrating the recent Chevrolet and Cadillac championship racing seasons was held on Tuesday.

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