Corvette Racing Legend, Dave MacDonald Inducted Into National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame
Dateline: 9-27-14 Auto racing legend Dave MacDonald was inducted into The National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame on August 28, 2014, in Bowling Green, Kentucky. MacDonald’s induction took place 50 years after the extremely talented young driver was tragically killed in his rookie race at the 1964 Indy 500 that also claimed the life of driver Eddie Sachs. After the race, an investigation determined that there was, “No driver error.”
MacDonald learned his driving skills in Southern California behind the wheel of several championship-winning first generation Corvettes. A gentle, quiet family man off the track, MacDonald was known as “The Master of Oversteer” and a fierce competitor. His driving skills were such that they attracted the attention of two other legends in auto racing of that time, Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and Carroll Shelby. MacDonald drove prototype test cars for Duntov and was eventually hired by Shelby to drive Cobras professionally.
His induction into The National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame was well deserved and more than a little overdue. Regardless, Dave MacDonald now has a prominent and permanent place in Corvette history.
I have written extensively about the life and times of Dave MacDonald and have had the pleasure of getting to know the MacDonald family. I have Dave MacDonald’s younger brother Doug to thank. Many years ago I created a piece of line art for VETTE Magazine as a column filler “spot art” illustration. Later I included the illustration as an art print on my IllustratedCorvetteSeries.com website and mistakenly titled the print, “Dave MacDonald’s 1961 Corvette Racer.”
Baldwin Motion Phase III GT Corvette Survivor!!!
Date: 5.2.14 – Time has been kind to the Baldwin Motion Supercars. Today, complete and restored Motion cars are very valuable. Yenko cars have the pedigree of being COPO cars, but unlike the Phase III cars, they could not be personalized. Enter Joel Rosen, Marty Schorr, and the Baldwin Motion experience.
Rosen was the owner of Motion Performance in Baldwin, New York and Schorr was the editor of CARS Magazine (and founder of VETTE). The young men conceived of offering custom-built supercars through local dealer, Baldwin Chevrolet. Rosen knew how to build a Chevy muscle car into a dependable, supercar, with performance over-and-above the factory level. Joel spun the wrenches and Marty spun the spin. Schorr kept the sizzle hot with CARS Magazine “special road tests,” in-your-face ads, special features, and catalogs. A Motion supercar was guaranteed to run the quarter-mile in 11.5-seconds with a qualified driver. When a customer took delivery of their Phase III supercar, they were driving a custom-made supercar. It was all very heady stuff.
Rosen’s higher vision was to offer an American GT machine based on the big-block Corvette. Joel started with his basic 500-plus horsepower Phase III Corvette and added custom bodywork that included a fastback rear window that opened up the rear cargo area of the C3 Corvette. The car was christened the “Phase III GT.” A “regular” Phase III Corvette was already a beast, but if you wanted the next level, the Phase III GT offered all the performance hardware, plus unique, head-turning custom bodywork. The Phase III GT Corvette was Rosen’s vision of the ultimate Motion car for customers with deep pockets. Rosen expected to produce 10-to-12 Phase III GT Corvettes a year, but only made 12 cars from ‘69 to ‘71. Continue reading
Listen to Archived Show – Click Here
It’s a Friday Night Car Show at Far Out Radio! Our guests are Marty Schorr and Joel Rosen. Marty is the former editor of CARS Magazine, founder of VETTE Magazine, editor and chief of CarGuychronicles.com, and owns PMPR, an automotive public relations business. Joel Rosen is the former owner of Motion Performance and currently owns and runs Motion Models, a world renown scale military model company.
Back in the ‘60s, Marty Schorr was the editor of CARS Magazine and Joel Rosen was the owner of Motion Performance. Schorr and Rosen became friends and Motion Performance was CARS Magazine’s “special projects” shop. The two creative guys came up with a Chevy supercar concept, not unlike Carroll Shelby’s Ford Shelby Mustangs, only at a local level.
Baldwin Chevrolet was a local Mom & Pop Chevy dealership on Long Island. Schorr and Rosen pitched the concept of offering supercar versions of new Chevy muscle cars purchased through Baldwin Chevrolet. Rosen designed a near-bullet-proof parts package and took care of the assembly. The team created the Baldwin Motion “look” and Schorr took care of the branding, advertising, catalogs, and PR.
Rosen spun the wrenches and Schorr spun the spin. The cars had drop-dead, in-your-face aggressive good looks to go with their ground-pounding performance – all with a 100% Chevy warrantee!
The guys created a legend that still being talked about 45 years later! Survivor Baldwin Motion Supercars are today VERY valuable.
Scott talks with CorvetteBlogger.com and VetteFinders.com owner, Keith Cornett about how to create your own online magazine in the world of blogging.
Our guest is Keith Cornett, a modern Corvette guy. He has a deep appreciation for the car’s long and rich past and even owns his Dad’s tuxedo black 1966 Corvette 327 small-block Roadster. And he knows his way around modern Corvettes too and has blended his passion for Corvettes with his passion for the internet and the blogosphere.
Keith is the owner of one of the most successful Corvette blogs in the Corvette community. CorvetteBlogger.com is updated several times a day with varied, interesting, feature-filled posts that are always fun to check out. You never know what you’ll find when you go to CorvetteBlogger.com – videos, slide shows from car shows, interviews, sales stats for Corvettes, Chevrolet press releases, auction results, quirky Corvette items, unusual Corvettes on eBay, Vettes in the news, personality features, and on and on. Continue reading
Master model builder Don Theune shares his touching encounter with Corvette maestro, Zora Arkus-Duntov
When you are a kid and your birthday is on Christmas you tend to not get double gifts. But Duntov made up for any toy deficiency as a child after he took over the Corvette program. Arguably, no one had more fun playing with Corvettes inside Chevrolet than Duntov.
Not only did he design and develop the go-fast parts we all came to know and love, but he usually did his own track testing. What’a lucky guy! Here’s our Happy Birthday tribute to Zora Arkus-Duntov and a big THANKS to Don Theune. Continue reading
Dave MacDonald: Corvette Racer… Corvette Man… Family Man
You can catch Part 1 of this story HERE.
Being hired by Shelby made the MacDonald’s life almost as fast as the cars he drove. In the 17 months between the beginning of ‘63 through to the ‘64 Indy race, MacDonald raced in 44 events. The ‘64 Indy crash was the first time the 500 had ever been stopped because of an accident. The media at the time, would regularly make big headlines over any auto racing mishap, and were all over the crash. While Indy officials quickly concluded that there was no driver error, the race was hotly debated for decades.
“After Indy, I was hurting so, I needed to change my life, so I moved a few miles away, but stayed close to my in-laws. From Indy on, I didn’t follow racing. My interest in racing was basically ONE RACE DRIVER.” It wouldn’t be until the early ‘90s when Corvette fans started recovering and restoring old Corvette race cars that MacDonald’s all too short racing career began to get attention. “It is so gratifying and nice to meet people that raced with Dave and hear how much they admired him, not only for his skill as a driver, but for being a really nice guy.” Today Sherry MacDonald is retired and as busy as ever with volunteer projects and her large family. Continue reading
Vette Videos: Larry Shinoda and Peter M. De Lorenzo Talk About Corvette Design Legend, Bill Mitchell
Shinoda shares his Mitchell “fish story” and De Lorenzo shares his “”neighborhood kid on a bike” Mitchell story!
Here’s one for the Kawinkydink Department. I thought we were all done with our look back and the life and career of Larry Shinoda – wrong! This morning while surfing around the net, I found a video about Bill Mitchell. Before I knew it, there’s Larry Shinoda telling stories about his former boss, Bill Mitchell!
Most of us in the Corvette community are very familiar with the unique “shark” paint style used on the Mako Shark-I, Mako Shark-II, and the Manta Ray concept/show cars. Larry shared a wonderful story about how the guys in the painting department perfected that distinctive paint scheme.
Also interviewed in the video is the late David E. Davis, former Campbell-Ewald Advertising man, former editor of Car and Driver, and founder and former editor of Automobile Magazine. Here’s the video…
A brief overview of six racing cars and three experimental Corvairs Larry Shinoda designed.
Check out our awesome slide show tribute to Larry Shinoda’s designs at the bottom of this post.
Larry Shinoda’s designs were so strong that when his name comes up, it’s almost always first associated with Corvettes. But Larry’s talent for designing fast-looking cars wasn’t limited to Corvettes. I suppose that when you are the go-to-stylist for a legend the likes of Bill Mitchell, you get a few peach projects. In retrospect, what helped make Shinoda’s design work so edgy was his passion for racing. In a sense, Larry’s NHRA Nationals win in ‘55 put him in the same category as 1954 Le Mans racer Zora Arkus-Duntov. As Bill Mitchell used to say, both men had, “gasoline in their veins.”
Shinoda’s race car design credits include: Pat Flaherty’s 1956 Indy 500-winning John Zink Special, Bill Mitchell’s 1959 Stingray Racer, Zora Arkus-Duntov’s CERV I and CERV II, the GS-II (Grand Sport II), Jim Hall’s Chaparral-2, and Peter Weismann’s 1963 rear-engine Indy car.
Although the Corvair never really caught on as a performance car or a sports car, designers such as Shinoda had some jaw-dropping ideas for Chevy’s rear-engine car. The 1962 Monza GT Coupe was in direct competition with Ford’s mid-engine 4-banger Mustang I concept car. What an interesting Chevy vs Ford battle that would have been! When you work in an R&D department often many “variations on a theme” are explored.
The Monza SS was an open cockpit-type design with a racer-like cut-down windshield. Another version was explored with a more traditional type of windshield. And in the same way that other GM divisions glommed on to Harley Earl’s Corvette concept in ‘53 and came up with their own “Corvette” concept cars for the ‘54 GM Motorama (the ‘54 Pontiac Bonneville, Buick Wildcat, and Olds F88). We have an example of a Monza variation that looks a lot like a roadster version of the 1964 XP-833 Pontiac Banshee. It was very common back then for designs to get tossed about within GMs divisions.
One Shinoda design that was not shared by any of GM’s other divisions was the 1967 Astro I. Corvair production peeked in ‘65 for approximately 235,000 Corvairs built. By ‘67 the number went to just over 27,000! The Corvair-based Astro I concept/show car arrived in 1967 and was probably started around ‘65 – ‘66, before the car started to tank. Unlike the Monza GT that eventually became the ‘67 Opel GT, the Astro I was so over the top, none of its design elements were used in any serious fashion. Instead, Chevrolet used the “Astro” name on one of their full-size vans and there was nothing “Astro” about it. Continue reading
Hot rodder Shinoda teams up with Bill Mitchell and defined the “Corvette look.”
Perhaps it was “in the stars” that Larry Shinoda was in the right place at the right time. If you strictly look at Shinoda’s resume in 1956, you might ask, “How did this guy get in the front door?” As a young man, the only thing Larry ever graduated from was high school, Army boot camp, and the School of Hard Knocks. Twelve-year-old Larry had his life turned inside out when along with thousands of Japanese-Americans, he and his family were sent to interment camps for the duration of WW II. The experience had a profound effect on his personality. A self-professed “malcontent” Shinoda could be a little difficult to work with.
After his Army tour of duty in Korea, Shinoda attended Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, but truly hated being there. He could see no purpose in taking the classes in design and the various art mediums, such as watercolor painting. He was a car guy/hot rodder and he wanted to draw and design cars! So he left Art Center without graduating and based strictly on his car illustrations, landed a job at Ford, then Studebaker/Packard. Just a year after starting his career, he landed a job as a designer at General Motors.
The rest is the stuff of legend. Street racing and blowing the doors off of Bill Mitchell’s souped up Buick and quickly being taken under Mitchell’s wing. Things like that happens, but rarely. There was obviously some chemistry between the two men, perhaps it was because both men could be brash and had strong opinions.
Shinoda got his first big break when Mitchell tapped the 28-year-old to translate the body design of the ‘57 Q-Corvette on to the mule chassis from Duntov’s aborted Corvette SS project. The finished car became Mitchell’s 1959 Stingray Racer, which formed the styling theme for the ‘63 Corvette. From there, Shinoda got one peach project after another. It’s worth noting that the design of the Stingray Racer is held in such high esteem that current Corvette chief designer, Tom Peters (C6 Corvette and late model Camaro designer) is on record stating that his ‘09 Corvette Stingray Concept (aka Transformers Corvette) was influenced by the ‘59 Stingray. Continue reading
Tom Benford’s Summer 1997 candid dinner interview with car design legend, Larry Shinoda.
Our celebration of the life and career of car design legend Larry Shinoda continues with this delightful interview that was originally published in the December 1997 issue of VETTE Magazine. Tom Benford and his wife Liz connected with Shinoda in August of ‘97 at the Corvettes At Carlisle Show, in Carlisle, Pa. This may well have been Larry’s last interview, as he died just 2-1/2 months later. Larry’s kidney disease had progressed to the point where he was on the list waiting for a donor kidney.
According to the Pasadena City College Celebrated Alumni Larry Shinoda page , “In poor health, Larry Shinoda remained active to the end. Larry passed away at his home in Michigan of heart failure on November 13, 1997, while working at his design desk with a phone in his hand. Larry had just passed the final tissue-match test for his kidney transplant the day before he died. Though Larry is gone, his legacy lives on.” Continue reading
The next time you see a mid-year Sting Ray or Shark Corvette, think of Larry Shinoda.
He was born “Lawrence Kiyoshi Shinoda” but the automotive and Corvette world knew him as Larry Shinoda – Corvette designer and all-around carguy! Growing up in Southern California, Larry was steeped in the car culture and like many SoCal young men, was into the burgeoning sport of drag racing. In addition to his Corvette accomplishments, Larry also participated in an won his class at the very first NHRA national event in Great Bend, Kansas in 1955.
Larry was only 25-years old when after not completing his studies at Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles, he landed his first job with Ford in 1955. A year later, he briefly went to work at Studebaker/Packard, then went to General Motors late in 1956. Larry not only had an impressive portfolio, he had an intuitive sense of styling. If didn’t take long before his talent caught the keen eye of GM’s Bill Mitchell. But it wasn’t just Larry’s skill at wielding a pen and airbrush that helped acquaint him with Mitchell – it was drag racing.
The story goes that one day Shinoda and Mitchell had a chance encounter at a traffic light. Since both men had what Mitchell called, “gasoline in their veins,” neither man needed much goading to initiate a little stoplight grand prix. The light turned green and Larry put a whoop’n Bill, which may have been one of his best career moves. Mitchell drafted Shinoda into his special forces of car design, headquartered deep inside GM’s guarded facilities in a place called, “Studio X.” (sounds like a ‘50s sci-fi b-grade movie, doesn’t it”?) Continue reading
Dave MacDonald: Corvette Racer… Corvette Man… Family Man
Could there have been a more exciting time and place to be into cars than Southern California in the 1950s? Probably not. It was postwar America, California only had about 1/3 its current population, Rock’n Roll was in its infancy, and the car culture was revving up. El Monte was just a semi-rural community in Los Angeles County, the perfect place for young Dave MacDonald and legions of other guys to pour their hearts and souls into cars. What’a time!
MacDonald’s Professional Racing Career
Dave’s first car was a fast 1953 Cadillac. But when Chevy put the small-block 265 into the ‘55 Corvette, 19-year old MacDonald had to have one. He saved his money and a year later, bought his first Corvette, a Gypsy Red ‘55 Corvette. The Caddy was fast and Dave did some street racing with the car, but it was the Corvette that got him into drag racing and eventually road racing. In February 1960, MacDonald had his first official “ride” as team driver for Don Steves Chevrolet at Willow Springs Raceway, and won the Sunday main event. In his first year, Dave entered 15 regional races, taking 1st place in three events, three second place wins, and 4 third place wins. Very impressive for his rookie year.
1961, was even better. MacDonald entered 20 races, won 13 victories, and three second place finishes. Dave’s last win of the year was in his purpose-built, tube frame, lightweight Corvette Special. This car is a story unto itself. 1962 was the year the spotlight really shown on MacDonald. While he didn’t totally dominate the year, he did finish on the podium in 16 races, including 10 victories. It’s also worth noting that MacDonald won every race entered from early February to June – seven wins in a row. The first three wins were with the lightweight Corvette Special. After that, the lightweight car only raced two more times. MacDonald had one race behind the wheel of another lightweight tube frame car, a Devin Corvette that provided Dave with a second place win. Continue reading