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!
The Civilized Grand Sport Corvette Replica – Sort of…
Today you can go to your local Chevrolet dealer today and buy a Grand Sport Corvette to your liking. Almost 50 years ago, there were only five Grand Sport Corvettes in existence and they were NOT for sale. “Unrealized potential,” “the ultimate could’a been Corvette” and many other expressions tell the original Grand Sport Corvette story. Unlike today’s C6 Grand Sports, the originals were all-out racing Corvettes, designed to give the Cobras a good run for it.
But GM had a completely different attitude about racing back then that can be nicely described as “backward.” Fortunately, all five original Grand Sports are still around. Along the way, there have been numerous companies that offered Grand Sport replicas – some, better than others. But today there is only one “officially licensed” by GM, Grand Sport replica, and that is the Duntov Motors Grand Sports.
It’s too bad Chevy didn’t do this 50 years ago!
The very cool “Chevy Runs Deep” video featuring the C6.R Corvette racers is at the bottom of this post.
Wouldn’t it have been awesome if General Motors had told the AMA to “stuff it” back in 1957? Why should Ford and Chrysler get all the racing glory? Just before the GM enforced the 1957 AMA ban on racing, paperwork had been submitted to take Duntov’s Corvette SS race car to Le Mans. And what might have happened if Zora had been allowed to fully develop the ‘63 Grand Sport. Ah, the stuff of bench racing.
In the early years of the Corvette, Chevrolet and General Motors seemed to almost be shy about their involvement in Corvette racing. While the infamous 1957 AMA ban on corporate involvement in racing was for a very long time, their excuse for not being upfront about racing, there was PLENTY of back door parts and engineering “field testing” going on. Select individuals received special assistance that always kept things a little murky. Names such as Smokey Yunick, Roger Penske, Bill Jenkins, Jim Hall, John Greenwood, and others were often gifted with development parts (at no, or little charge) in exchange for feedback from the race track.
And for the regular customers, there were plenty of go-fast parts that were unofficially referred to as Duntov’s “racer kits.” Not that the parts came in a special box, like an AMT model kit, but they did give a wanna-be Corvette racer the benefit of solid Chevrolet engineered parts for their racing efforts.
Fortunately for every Corvette owner for the last several decades, many race developed parts slowly and subtly made their way into production Corvettes. The tide didn’t really turn in the corporate attitude towards racing until the mid-’80s when Chevrolet began to build specially prepared cars for the Corvette Challenge Series. Plus, there was a lot of help given to the C4 Corvette racers in the Showroom Stock Series. Then there was the GTP Lola/Corvettes and the Morrison Motorsports speed demon C4 ZR1 Corvette that shattered speed records. Continue reading
Hemmings Motor News old sister publication takes a look back at the first special-built Corvette race car, the SS Corvette
(Be sure to check out the SS Corvette video at the bottom of this post!)
Back in the early ‘80s there was a new trend in the car magazine biz – specialty publications. Marty Schorr’s VETTE Magazine was ahead of the curve when it came out in ‘76. VETTE was the first “Corvette-only” news stand magazine ever published. By the early ‘80s there was a specialty publication for most brand cars. Hemmings Motor News branched out with a unique magazine called, “SIA – Special Interest Automobiles.” While I remember seeing the magazine on the news stands it wasn’t something I was interested in back then, as it featured many pre-WW II “classic” cars, and I was interested in other things at the time.
Fast forward to today and the wonderful world of blogging, Hemmings has one of my favorite car blogs. It’s the preverbal “box of chocolates” because “you never know what you’re going to get.” (thank you Forrest Gump!) Recently at http://blog.hemmings.com/ they posted an interesting and detailed story about the 1957 SS Corvette race car from the October 1988 issue of SIA magazine.
Don’t let the rather scathing introduction put you off, “…the SS was little more than a poorly executed and slapdash affair, deserving of its failure at Sebring and merely spared the pain of further embarrassment… “ The actual article from SIA is very good with lots of pictures, statistics, and some nice technical illustrations of the SS Corvette.
This is just my opinion, but I think that the introduction was a little unjust for the following reasons. While it is true that Duntov and his team copied the Mercedes 300SL race car’s birdcage frame and chassis, so did many other cars. The design was the standard road racing layout of the day. General Motors of the mid-’50s was arguably the least prepared auto company to even take on such a project, as they had NO experience what-so-ever in building race cars. The only part of the car Chevrolet engineers were familiar with was the 283 Fuelie engine. Plus, the small-block was only in its third year of production and F.I. unit was brand new. Continue reading
Here’s the latest installment from the Illustrated Corvette Series VETTE Magazine Column
It was early last July that Kevin Mackay of Corvette Repair sent me a link to the RM Auctions online version of their Monterey Auction Catalog. Kevin and I have had many conversations about early Corvette race cars, so he knows that I’m a big fan. Any time a Greenwood Corvette goes on the block it’s big news, so I posted a story about the auction right away. For the next 6 weeks or so, the car magazine and Corvette blogs were on fire in anticipation of the auction. RM Auctions broadcasts their auctions online, so I stayed up and watched the coverage and sale of the Greenwood ZL-1. I have to admit, it was a lot of fun. Here’s the post of the auction coverage.
Since the car has so much historical importance, I decided to cover the car in my VETTE Magazine monthly column, “The Illustrated Corvette Series.” The January 2012 issue of VETTE just came out, so I’m sharing the story and art with you below. Enjoy! – Scott
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 175: #49 Greenwood ‘69 427 ZL-1 Racer
“Stars and Stripes On The Block!”
Expectations were high when it was announced that the No. 49 Greenwood BF Goodrich “Stars and Stripes” Corvette was going on the block at the 2011 RM Auction Monterey event. Some estimated that the car would sell for $750,000 to $950,000. In ‘09 the Gulf One ‘63 Z06 Corvette racer went for an astonishing $1.113 Million! So there was quite a buzz in the Corvette community.
John and Burt Greenwood knew all about Duntov’s “racer kits” and like many others, took maximum advantage of the special hardware. The Greenwood boys had another advantage. Sr. Greenwood had been a WW II fighter pilot and worked at the GM Tech Center. Their Dad would sometimes take young John and Burt to work on Saturdays, to let the lads see the experimentals and prototypes. It was better than an invitation to Elvis’ house! Continue reading
Come on! Let’s take a HOT LAP around Le Mans in a C5-R Corvette!
After decades of “why can’t we have a factory Corvette racing team?” Chevrolet and GM finally got behind a racing Corvette in ‘97, the way they did with NASCAR Chevrolets. With the vastly superior C5 platform, Chevrolet and Pratt & Miller engineers took their time developing all aspects of the C5-R. The results were SPECTACULAR!
The C5-Rs raced for 5-1/2 seasons, with the half season being ‘99 with only 5 races entered and one 2nd place finish. For the 2000 season the team entered eight races, taking one 1st place win at the Texas Motor Speedway. But it was 2001 that the Corvette Racing team hit their stride. In the 10 races for the season, the two-car team took eight 1st place wins and six 2nd place wins, PLUS, they won their class at Le Mans. In international sports car racing, the saying is that if you win at Daytona, a lot of people will notice. But if you win at Le Mans, EVERYONE will know!
Take a trip in the CorvetteReport.com Video Time Machine to 1957!
Many times, a bold project must have a bold leader. Zora Arkus-Duntov was one of the all-time great corporate outsider misfits. Not only was he the only executive at GM that had actually raced cars, he had raced at Le Mans! Plus, he was constantly wandering off the reservation!
After Sebring in ‘57, it was obvious that modified stock Corvettes would never be competitive against the Jaguars and Ferraris. GM’s chief designer, Harley Earl proposed building a “Corvette” based on a D-Type Jaguar with a Corvette engine and a modified body. When Zora heard about the proposal and looked into what would be needed to create such a car, red flags popped up all over the place for the wild Russian. But Earl was no fool, he was a master tactician, and may well have made such an outrageous proposal as a way of pushing Chevrolet towards building their own purpose-built Corvette racer.
Obviously, because of Duntov’s background, he was the only man to lead the project. After he put together his team of designers, draftsman, and fabricators, the chassis of a Mercedes-Benz 300SL was used as a model for how to construct a tube space frame. Continue reading
Here’s the latest episode of “Track to Street: Corvette Racing Series.” PLUS!!! All 11 previous episodes. Time to catch up!
According to Chronology of Chevrolet Corvette website, it was sometime in 1997 that the Corvette Racing Team began developing the C5-R race car, based on a production C5 Corvette. C5-R chassis testing began in November ‘97 with the first completed C5-R race car ready in early ‘98. After nearly a year of testing and development, the C5-R’s first competition was at Daytona International Speedway on January 10, 1999. After 24 hours of competition, the C5-Rs came in 2nd and 12th in the GT2 class. Not too shabby for an all-new race car and team.
1999 was a tough year with the C5-R always contenders but not taking a first place win. The best finishes were 2nd place at the Daytona 24 hours race in January and the Laguna Seca 2 hour and 45-minute race in October. The team scooped up their first 1st place win on September 2, 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway in the ALMS series GTS class. Later that month, the team scored their second 1st place win at the 10 hours at Road Atlanta.
In the world of sports car racing, if you win at Daytona, a lot of people will notice. But if you win at Le Mans, EVERYONE sees and remembers! 2001 was the C5-R team’s break out year. Not only did they take 1st place in 8 out of 10 races, but they won 1st AND second place at Le Mans. Since 2001 the C5-R and C6.R Corvette teams have won 1st place in their class at Le Mans seven times and 2nd place at Le Mans seven times.
While that’s not “domination” (something you really DON’T want, because the sanctioning body will put heavy restrictions on your car) it does mean that Corvettes are ALWAYS a force to be reckoned with. The old days of Corvettes being considered as just unsophisticated “fast trucks” are OVER! But how did we get here? It’s the result of a factory-backed, long range R&D group team effort. This is what Chevrolet and GM should have done from the beginning, instead of cow tailing to the 1957 AMA ban on American auto manufacturer’s participation in auto racing.
So, what’s it like inside the C6.R Corvette Racing team? The series “Track to Street: Corvette Racing Series” regularly serves up short, tasty video dishes of behind the scenes action in the C6.R Corvette camp. The latest, “Episode 12” is at the top of this post. If you missed the previous 11 episodes, we’ve included 1 through 11 below for your enjoyment. Continue reading
Passion and love bring a famous old Briggs “Swift” Cunningham 1960 Fuel Injected Corvette war horse back to life and into the lead roll in a movie!
Restored old race cars has become an exciting aspect of the Corvette hobby. If you have ever wondered if master craftsmen are still working today, I suggest checking out the work of Kevin MacKay, at Corvette Repair. Kevin and his crew have brought back to life famous Corvette race cars, including the Roger Penske ‘66 L88 Corvette, several of John Greenwood’s Corvettes, and Briggs “Swift” Cunningham’s 1960 Fuel Injected Le Mans class-winning 1960 Corvette, the star of the new documentary film, “The Quest.”
Here’s the official movie preview…
Here’s what I find to be so cool about these kinds of cars. The men that build or buy race cars do it to win races. Some cars become champions, others just competitors. But what usually happens is that this year’s used up race car is sold off and the team owner buys a new fresh car. The new owner of the used racer usually repaints the machine, Continue reading
John Greenwood’s 427 ZL-1 BF Goodrich Corvette Race Car
Aluminum engines are so common today that no one even notices. But back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, aluminum engine components were considered trick hardware. All-aluminum high-performance engines were only found in exotic European cars. Having learned his engineering and racing craft in Europe, Zora Arkus Duntov first proposed an all-aluminum engine as part of the 1957 Q-Corvette proposal. Also included in the proposal was an aluminum transaxle. This was actually part of a larger plan called the Q-Chevrolets for 1960. Chevrolet chief engineer, Ed Cole, envisioned the entire line of Chevrolet cars equipped with the transmission mated to the rear axle as a way of vastly improving the interior space of every Chevy.
The plan was eventually scrapped for cost reasons, but Duntov was definitely keyed in on the idea of adding aluminum engine and drive train components into his Corvettes as a way to lighten the car. Through the ‘60s, aluminum parts slowly crept into the Corvette. But it wasn’t until the introduction of the ‘67 L-88 that the automotive press and fans really took notice of the lightweight hardware.
But when Zora and his team unleashed the all-aluminum ZL-1, jaws dropped and eyes popped! The thought of a solid-lifter, 12.5:1 compression, big carb 427 that weighed as much as a small-block was just OUT’A SIGHT! FAR-OUT! GROOVY, MAN!
Hot Rod Magazine splashed the all-aluminum ZL-1 on the cover and caught a lot of heat for spinning the fan on an engine that was obviously not running or attached to anything. The yellow headers or ANY headers for that matter were NOT part of the ZL-1 package. Unfortunately for fans of lightweight Corvettes, the ZL-1 was for all intent and purposes a teaser option. Yes, the ZL-1 was an official option costing $4,718, PLUS $1,032 for the L-88, on top of the $4,781 base price of the ‘69 Vette. Only three ZL-1’s were “officially” built and all are accounted for. However, there may have been 10 or so ZL-1 Corvettes built as demo cars. CARS Magazine editor, Marty Schorr was one of the fortunate few that got to drive a ZL-1 ‘69 Corvette and it was NOT one of the three surviving ZL-1 Corvettes.
Special thanks to http://www.rmauctions.com/
Fortunately, for racers, such as John Greenwood, ZL-1 engines could be purchased as crate engines. While Greenwood wasn’t the only Corvette racer to use a ZL-1, his stars and stripes, BF Goodrich-sponsored Corvette became a legend. One ZL-1 engine even made its way into Jim Butcher’s Top Fuel dragster and actually held the NHRA elapsed-time national record for a few week in 1973. The all-aluminum ZL-1 gave Butcher a 500-pound advantage over the cast iron Hemi dragsters of the day!
It’s too bad that it would take 28-years before a production Corvette would finally be powered by an all-aluminum engine. The LS1 engine powered the ‘01 C5-R Corvette to Corvette’s first big class win at le Mans. Today’s all-aluminum, 638-horsepower LS9 engine is the most powerful production car engine ever produced in Detroit’s history and is ONLY available in a Corvette!
Would a Fuelie ZL-1 work for ya? YIKES!!!
NHRA Gatornationals – Hemi fans COULD NOT BELIEVE that Jim Bucher’s little Chevy Top Fueler set the NHRA Top Fuel ET National Record with a 6.09 ET! Too bad the car didn’t dip into the 5′s!
I covered the 1969 ZL-1 Corvette in VETTE Magazine in July ’09 in ICS No. 149
1963 Gulf One Z06 Corvette – “The $1.113 Million Sting Ray”
Million Dollar Classic Corvette Racers – Intro to Part Two.
By the end of the first generation of live-axle Corvettes, Chevrolet’s fiberglass sports car had become a solid competitor in sports car racing. Race cars, for all their glory, often times are quickly forgotten as a result of faster, more modern, more outrageous race cars. Corvettes are just the same. When the C2 ‘63 Z06 Corvette Sting Ray racers were unleashed, there was a mad dash to the new independent suspension car. The Fuelie Sting Rays yielded to the big-block Vettes, and the adventure just rolled on.
62 and 63 Gulf One Racers
Two of the winningest Corvette racers faded into racing history in the process – the ‘62 Gulf One Corvette and the ‘63 Gulf One Z06 Sting Ray. Continue reading