The First Independent Purpose-Built Corvette Race Car
The Corvette Racing Team has proven that the Corvette is more than a match for any sports car on the planet. But in the early days, racing a production Corvette would only get you so far. To get to the next level, “purpose-built” race cars were the order of the day. Tube frames (aka “bird cages”) with a thin fiberglass or aluminum body were super lightweight and the low power-to-weight ratio made for a race car that was a handful.
Dave MacDonald was one of the young lions of Southern California sports car racing. He was a natural and quickly earned the nickname, “Master of the Oversteer.” Dave and his racing partner Jim Simpson started racing in 1960 and in their first year won 3 out of 15 races and never finished lower than 4th. In his second year Dave racked up 15 wins and three 2nd place finishes in 24 races and was on his way to being a dominant force. But like all racers, Dave and Jim wanted to move up into something faster. It was Carroll Shelby who suggested the guys get a Max Balchowsky chassis and build a purpose-built car. (Be sure to check out the video of this car. Click the “Continue reading” link)
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.”
The 2014 National Corvette Museum’s Hall of Fame inductees included, left-to-right: Automotive Journalist and Author Jerry Burton, Corvette Engineer and Race Car Driver John Heinricy, and Race Car Driver Dave MacDonald.
A BIG weekend for Corvettes on the block!
It’s turning out to be a very interesting weekend for Corvettes at the high-end car auctions, with two big-time events going off at about the same time and area. I checked the RM Auctions website and saw that they have updated their home page and added a “VIEW AUCTION LIVE” link at the top of their homepage. So, they made it easy for us. Auction action starts at 6:60 PM Pacific time (9:30 Eastern Time). If you click the page link before the scheduled start time, all you’ll see is a black box where the streaming video will be. This won’t change until the event starts. After the feed begins, look for the button to Fill Screen, kick back, and enjoy!
If you’re mainly interested in the Owens-Corning 1968 L88 racer, the lot number is 141. The numbering begins with #101, a 1953 Hudson Hornet. So with 40 cars before the Owens-Corning car, it’ll be a few hours before the old war horse Corvette comes thundering upon the stage.
But if you love old cars and racing machines, the auction is a treat. Not only do you get to see the numbers ring up, but before the bidding begins, they describe the car, show photos and videos, as well as letting you get a good look at the car on the turntable. Most of the cars at the RM event are really special and have been lovingly restored and cared for. The marque almost doesn’t matter, they’re just wonderful machines. Continue reading
Subtitle: A Piece of Corvette racing history could be yours! How deep are YOUR pockets?
Sometimes you get a little “I wonder” thought. Yesterday I realized that the RM Auctions Monterey event would be coming up soon and wondered if there might be any interesting Corvettes going on the block. Last year there were five interesting Corvettes that were up for auction – four race cars and one one street Corvette. But the big splash was the auction of the John Greenwood Stars and Strips BF Goodrich 427 ZL-1-powered Corvette racer that went for $580,000. What’a show!
Usually, the cars are carefully pushed on the revolving stage, but for the Greenwood Corvette, the big ZL-1 was fired up off stage, sounding like an approaching thunder storm, and driven on stage. “Seven hundred horsepower, ladies and gentlemen!” said the auctioneer. And the crowd went wild! Yea, it was FUN.
So I checked in with the RM Auctions Monterey website to see if any Vettes were going on the block. But alas, I only found one (as of this date), but what’a beauty. Here’s your chance to buy one of the all-time great Corvette race cars, the ‘68 Owens-Corning Fiberglass L88 A/Production Corvette. This car won 22 consecutive races, qualified on the pole in most of its races, and scooped up the A/Production Championship two times!
The car is currently owned by John Thompson (no relation to race car driver, Jerry Thompson). In ‘07 Thompson sent the car to Corvette Repair for a restoration back to its Daytona ‘71 configuration. Kevin Mackay and his expert team completed the work in ‘08. In ‘09 the car won the NCRS American Heritage Award and was later one of the Chip’s Choice cars on display at the Corvettes at Carlisle Show. 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
“Corvettes and Racing” A Wonderful Marriage!
“Corvettes and racing” have been perfect together since 1956. Without the influence of racing, I’m sure that the Corvette would have morphed into something else and been gone long ago. The other day CorvetteBlogger.com posted a story about a 2011 C6.R Le Mans Winning tribute Corvette that’s For Sale. The car looks as if it was just rolled out of the transport and is ready for a few hot laps, but this is a street machine sporting a brand new LS7 crate engine and a host of delicious racing goodies. The car has 52,000 miles on the odometer and the asking price is just $55,000. Almost begs the question, “So what’s wrong with the car???”
Seeing the car got me to thinking about earlier Corvette street machines with a powerful visual racing reference. Arguably the most over-the-top race track-influenced Corvettes were the ‘70s wide-body IMSA Corvettes. The wide body design was the last of Zora Arkus-Duntov’s “racer kit” Corvette parts program and first showed up on John Greenwood’s Corvettes around 1974-1975.
Previous Corvette racer body parts were limited to the functional L88 hood and fender flares. The fender flares were pretty big, but as tires got wider and wider, something else had to be done. Corvette stylists came up with a wild-looking and functionally aerodynamic full body kit that not only cover up the Can-Am-size racing tires, but improved the car’s aerodynamics. In full battle regalia, Greenwood’s IMSA Corvette looked like “the future” and was quickly nick named, “The Batmobile.” Continue reading
The second time was the charm as the Corvette Daytona prototype STOMPS the competition in Hotlanta!
Congrats, Kudos, and Three Cheers to the Corvette Daytona prototype team’s first win! When the flag came down it was the electric blue Spirit of Daytona Corvette prototype to took the checkered flag at the Porsche 250 race at the Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama. Richard Westbrook and Antonio Garcia drove the car 103 laps with a best time of 1:22.245.
The next race will be the Grand Am Rolex Series Grand Prix in Miami on April 27-29. For more info about the team’s first big win, CLICK HERE.
And for AutoWeek’s coverage of the race, CLICK HERE.
NOW Feast your eyes on this beauty!