Dateline: 8.12.17 / Photos: WikiCommons, Illustrations by K. Scott Teeters – When I was a wee lad and would see the term, “For Off Road Use Only” I used to think, “Well who drives these cars in the dirt and grass?” What I didn’t understand was that the term is code for “RACING”! Beginning in 1957, Chevrolet’s new general manager, Ed Cole, made the command decision that he would let “customers” carry the Corvette racing mantle by offering Chevrolet-engineered parts, specifically designed for racing, available through the Chevrolet Parts Department.
For decades, Zora Arkus-Duntov has been credited for the implementation of the Corvette “Racer Kits” through the RPO (Regular Production Option) system. Zora was the face of the unofficial Corvette racing effort, but while researching C1 Corvette chassis design, I came across some interesting information in Karl Ludvigsen’s 2014 book, “CORVETTE: America’s Star Spangled Sports Car”. While Duntov was definitely the front man, Ed Cole also charged three-time Indy 500 winner and engineer, Mauri Rose with the development of the Corvette’s RPO parts program. So, the Corvette “Off Road” RPO effort guided by Le Mans racer and class winner, Duntov, AND Mauri Rose, the second man to win the Indy 500 three times (1941, 1947, and 1948)! Pretty cool, huh?
The Racer Kits weren’t a “secret” but unless customers were tuned into racing, most weren’t aware of this special program. In truth, since improvements in suspension and brakes were for racing, customers rarely used them for their street Corvettes. And typically racers used the expensive dual quad or Fuel Injection performance engines. The Racer Kit RPO option program enabled Corvette racers to be seriously competitive in SCCA racing such that by the end of the 1950s, Corvettes were a force to be reckoned with.
Engineer Maurice Olley designed the chassis and suspension of the first Corvette in 1952 and was considered to be the best suspension and chassis engineer in Detroit. It is essential to remember that the Corvette was NOT designed to be a racecar. Continue reading
Dateline: 7.6.17 (VIDEOS AT THE BOTTOM!) (This story was first published in the January 2016 issue of Vette Vues Magazine).
To understand the importance and uniqueness of George Haddad’s 1969 ZL-1 Corvette, we have to get into the “Vette Vues Time Machine” and go back to late 1968. The December 1968 issue of Hot Rod Magazine hit the newsstands like a thunder clap, with an obviously all-aluminum big-block 427 Corvette engine wearing bright yellow tube headers. It looked like Chevrolet finally had an ace trump card. The 427 ZL-1 was the ultimate “pie-in-the-sky” Corvette setup – big-block horsepower and torque – with the weight of an iron small-block! Duntov was a happy man because his dream of an all-aluminum engine for the Corvette went all the way back to the 1957 Q-Corvette concept that not only called for a fuel-injected all-aluminum small-block engine, but a trans-axle! (Sounds like a C5, doesn’t it?)
Duntov and his team tried casting SBC engines in aluminum, but there was a serious “strength of materials” issue that was never successfully worked out. The SBC was simply not strong enough when made in aluminum. A small batch of all-aluminum 377 engines were developed for the Grand Sport project that were powerful and light, but just wouldn’t hold together in competition. The prospect of an engine lighter than a regular SBC was deliciously tantalizing. So when the replacement for the 348/409/427 W-series (truck) engine, (the Mark IV) was being designed, an aluminum version was an obvious next step because the Mark IV was inherently a more stout structure.
The story of the production ZL-1 Corvettes is a long and complex one that we won’t try unraveling here, except to say that a batch of seven cars were built in early September 1969. The cars that “rolled off the St. Louis assembly line” were full-out RPO-L88 cars. The RPO-ZL-1 aluminum block was an option that was only available on an L88 engine. In other words, the ZL-1 was identical to the L88, except it had an aluminum block – making it 100-pounds lighter than the L88 Corvette, something that only racers would even notice. Continue reading
Race-prepared, stock 1990 ZR-1 Shatters a 50 Year 24-Hour Speed Record
Dateline: 5.22.17 (This story first appeared in the May 2017 issue of “Vette Vues”) – Racing Corvettes used to have a long history of durability issues. There are many reasons why Corvette racecars had durability issues, but one of the biggest is easy horsepower. It’s always been relatively easy to get a lot of power out of a small-block or big-block Chevrolet engine. If a builder is more oriented towards drag racing, the temptation for an extra 50-horsepower is just too tempting for many builders. That’s fine for drag racing where a car is stressed to the max for a matter a seconds. But in endurance racing, you have to finish to win.
From the perspective of the mid-1980s, the new C4 Corvette was light years ahead of the previous two-generation Corvettes. In the mid-1980s Corvettes were so fierce in SCCA Showroom Stock racing that after two years they were kicked out for being too fast! So, the factory-built Corvette racecars duked it out in their own series, The Corvette Challenge. Breakage with the C4 cars wasn’t much of an issue thanks to the much-improved structure and suspension, plus the cars weren’t powered by massive, torque-monster big-blocks. Continue reading
by Jamie Klein as republished from MotorSport.com
Corvette Racing has confirmed its driver line-ups for next June’s Le Mans 24 Hours
Dateline 11.22.16: Ricky Taylor joins the American team for the 2016 edition of the French endurance classic. Taylor makes his return to Le Mans after a year’s absence alongside Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, effectively replacing Ford-bound Ryan Briscoe. Continue reading
by Corvette Racing (source) as republished from racer.com
More Corvette Racing Talent
Dateline 11.18.15: Already one of endurance sports car racing’s most prominent teams, Corvette Racing is adding even more championship-winning talent to its roster for the first two rounds of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Marcel Fassler and Mike Rockenfeller will complete the team’s lineup for the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.R racecars. Continue reading
by Sean Szymkowsi as republished from GMAuthority
Pro Line Racing’s Eric Dillard walked away from a crash during a private practice session, according to DragZine.
The accident occurred at Virginia Motorsports Park in General Racing’s latest “El General” C7 Corvette dragster. Earlier in the day, Dillard managed to wrestle out a 3.56-second pass at 224 mph in the C7 Corvette dragster. According to the report, that time makes for one of the fastest times ever posted by a door slammer. Continue reading
01 – Corvette announces Dale Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt Jr to co-drive the Number 3 GM Goodwrench Corvette C5-R at Daytona
by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Vues
“The Intimidator” and “The Intimidator Jr.” selected to drive for the Corvette Racing Team
Dateline October 2015: Dale Earnhardt was 49-years-old and arguably at the top of his game when it was announced that “The Intimidator” and his son, Dale Jr. would co-drive the Number 3 C5-R Corvette at the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona race on February 3 and 4, 2001. Continue reading
Words and Art by Scott Teeters as originally written for Vette Vues.
The $2.85 Million Dollar L88 Corvette Racecar!
Dateline: 10.15.15: This a Corvette racecar story with a happy ending and a big, “Cha-KING!” Racecars are a lot like racehorses, most live hard lives and tend to get used up and discarded. Some cars are saved and later surface as “survivor” cars (the horses go to stud farms). What happens to most is that after the cars no longer competitive; they’re sold off, often for not much money. The next owner applies a new livery and makes modifications that take it farther away from the original configuration. A few accidents or a fire later, and the cars are scrap. Continue reading
by Scott Teeters as originally published in Vette Vues
A tribute to John Greenwood’s groundbreaking C3 Corvette racecars
Dateline: 10.15.15: In the entertainment industry, there are a handful of one-name legends that include; “Elvis,” “Cher,” “Ringo,” “Liberace” and a few others. In the Corvette community we have; “Duntov,” “Shinoda,” “Callaway,” “Yenko” and a few more. The name, “Greenwood” is definitely in that short list. Just say, “Greenwood suspension,” or “Greenwood body-kit,” or “Greenwood racecar” and a huge bundle of understanding comes to mind. Continue reading
On July 7, 2015, the Corvette community lost another legend; John Greenwood passed.
Words and Art by K. Scott Teeters as written for Vette Magazine, republished from SuperChevy.com
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 223
On July 7, 2015, the Corvette community lost another legend; John Greenwood passed. He was 70 years old. John was a member of a very small club of legendary Corvette figures that only needed one name, such that when you said that one name, it spoke volumes. Just a few others are: Shinoda, Lingenfelter, Callaway, Yenko, Guldstrand, and of course, Duntov. Engage any serious Corvette person in some bench racing, drop the name Greenwood and instantaneously all manner of mental images come to mind: suspension packages, C4 body kits, BFGoodrich Stars and Stripes, 427 ZL1 racers, and the most outrageous Corvette racers ever, the C3 widebody “Batmobile” Greenwood IMSA cars. Continue reading
A Tribute to John Greenwood’s Groundbreaking C3 Corvette Race Cars
Poster design by Scott Teeters, main photo by Bill Oursler
To celebrate John Greenwood’s racing and street Corvette achievements, Jan Hyde of Registry of Corvette Race Cars has organized a special “John Greenwood Tribute Event” for November 12-to-15, 2015 at Daytona International Speedway.
In the entertainment industry, there are a handful of one-name legends that include; “Elvis,” “Cher,” “Ringo,” “Liberace” and a few others. In the Corvette community we have; “Duntov,” “Shinoda,” “Callaway,” “Yenko” and a few more. The name, “Greenwood” is definitely in that short list. Just say, “Greenwood suspension,” or “Greenwood body-kit,” or “Greenwood racecar” and a huge bundle of understanding comes to mind. Continue reading
The Illustrated Corvette Designer Series No. 211
by Scott Teeters as written for Vette Magazine and republished from SuperChevy.com
John And Burt Take The “Racer Kit” Off-Planet
The L88 “racer kit” package was huge success for the Corvette and brought racing glory through the late ’60s and into the ’70s. Winning L88s included the “Owens Corning,” “Rebel,” and the Greenwoods’ “BFGoodrich Stars & Stripes” cars. After the Greenwoods’ sponsorship expired, John and Burt Greenwood took their Corvettes to a new level. Making power was easy but tires were so wide that the L88 factory flares weren’t big enough. Enter the final “racer kit,” the widebody. Continue reading
Dick Guldstrand’s Third “Package” Specialty Corvette
Dateline September 2015. Mr Corvette, the famous Dick Guldstrand recently passed in September of 2015. We look back at the life and times of this Corvette legend. In 2003 Dick produced his version of a 50th Anniversary Corvette. Dick’s nickname was of course, “Guldie” and since the Corvette’s 50th anniversary would be its “golden” anniversary, Dick’s 50th Anniversary Corvette was bright gold with blue accents. And of course a “special” Corvette should be the toughest available version, which in 2003 was the Z06. And to top it all off, the Z06’s LS6 was opened up to the magical “426 CID.” As it should be!
This was Dick’s third specialty “package” Corvette. The GS80 came out in 1986 that was more or less a Showroom Stock-prepared black beauty with very trendy lace wheels. The 1994 GS90 was a full-out re-body of the awesome ZR-1. The Guldstrand 50th Anniversary 427 retained all of the Z06’s body parts except for the hood and rear bumper cover that had a subtle lip spoiler. Continue reading
Corvettes on Netflix Watch Instantly!!!
Dateline: 9.5.15 – If you are a Netflix subscriber, you’re in for a treat! Corvette Nation aired for two seasons with the third season bogged down in a law suit. Well, it you missed the series as it rolled out on the cable network, Velocity, seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix in their Watch Instantly library.
Corvette Nation is fun with great visuals and if you’re already a Netflix subscriber, you can’t beat the price. Concerning the lawsuit, Continue reading
A Chat With National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame Inductee, Dick Guldstrand
Dateline September 2015. From ALMSOfficialVideos on YouTube about 5 years ago- Interview with Dick Guldstrand. Dick Guldstrand commemorates 50 years at Le Mans for Corvette. He even shares the secret for the Mulsanne Stain!
September 2015 -“The Corvette world has lost an influential figure within the community with the news of Dick Guldstrand, nicknamed “Mr. Corvette”, passing away at the age of 88 years old.” Continue reading