Part 2-Million Dollar Gulf One Corvette Racers

1963 Gulf One Z06 Corvette – “The $1.113 Million Sting Ray”


Click here for Part One on the 1962 Gulf One

Million Dollar Classic Corvette Racers – Intro to Part Two.

Corvette 1963 Gulf One Z06 Racer
ICS 152 by K. Scott Teeters

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. In August ‘08 and January ‘09 when both cars were auctioned off for well over $1 Million dollars at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Mecum Muscle Cars & More auctions,their racing glory came thundering back into the limelight. Sure, there have been lots of cars to sell for much more than a million dollars at auction.Anytime a car goes for over the magical $1 Million mark, it’s an event.

Where did the Old War Horses go?

When we look at race cars from the early ‘60s, they are amazingly stock. Racers bought new Corvettes optioned out with all of the racer goodies Zora Arkus-Duntov offered, took their new cars back to their shops, and added racing safety gear, and some minor performance enhancements. After the teams finished the season, many were sold off as used up, old racers, or converted back to street Corvettes and sold. Who knew that two used racers, would someday sell for over a million dollars. Many a race car owner from those early years wish they had held on to their old war horses.

Gulf One Racers Part Two

The Gulf Oil ‘62 and ‘63 Corvettes are arguably two of the winningest Corvette racers of all time. In Part 1 we looked back at the Gulf One Grady Davis ‘62 Fuelie Corvette. In Part II we have a look back at the Davis ‘63 Z06 Sting Ray. In their day, these cars had first-class racing preparation. Today they have been beautifully restored. Driver Dick “The Flying Dentist” commented at the auction of the ‘63 car, “It sure looks a lot better than when I was racing.”

Lets take a blast into Corvette racing past…

Part Two

Here’s the story:
Illustrated Corvette Series No. 152 1963 Gulf One Z06 Corvette –
“‘The $1.113 Million Sting Ray”

It’s an Exciting Thing
If you’re ever in the mood for some cheap fun, go to an automotive auction. The auctioneer’s sing-song delivery is designed to get the audience excited, and it works. At these events, it’s not the cars that get revved up; it’s the crowd. In January 2009, attendees of the Mecum Muscle Cars & More Auction got to witness the historic ‘63 “Gulf One” racing Z06 Corvette sell for $1.113 million. While that’s not the highest price ever paid for a Corvette at auction, it was more than enough to drive the audience wild. After all, any time a 46-year-old car that cost approximately $5,975 new sells for over a million dollars, it’s an exciting thing. (You can watch an 8-minute video of the auction on YouTube).

In addition to the sale, there were three surprises that came out of the auction itself.
The first came in the form of the man who probably spent more time behind the wheel of the car than any other driver, 88-year-old Dr. Dick “The Flying Dentist” Thompson. Thompson is a man of few words, and when asked about his time with Gulf One, he simply said, “I enjoyed driving this car very much. It sure looks a lot better now than when I was racing. A little work’s been done on it. I had hoped to drive this car at Le Mans, but it didn’t work out that way. It would have done real well, I think. It was a great car to drive.”

Pardon us, Dr. Thompson, but did you say, “Le Mans”? That was the second big surprise. Z06 authority Eric Gill presented a newly discovered internal Chevrolet document indicating that the Gulf One Z06 was slated to be raced at the French event in 1963. In the end GM decided to enforce its ban on racing, killing the trip.


ICS II 152 63 Gulf One Racer

The last surprise was the car’s selling price. While the reserve was met, the owners were hoping for much more. After all, in August 2008 the Gulf One No. 2 ’62 racer sold at auction for a whopping $1.485 million. Still, the ‘63 Gulf One car was the first ’63 Z06 to sell for over $1 million. And considering that the seller bought the car in August ‘04 for $467,000, I’d say he made out okay.

‘63 Z06 option was a “racer kit”

Let’s have a look at what made this car so special. The ‘63 Z06 option was a “racer kit” and was never intended to be used on the street. But like the L88 kits from 1967 to 1969, I’m sure a few of these cars were used mainly as street drivers. Of the 199 Z06s built in 1963, only 124 had the radio/defroster delete option, and only 63 had the oversized 36-gallon fuel tank. Then there was the issue of price. The base price of a ‘63 coupe was $4,257. The Z06 option added $1,818, bringing the total to $6, 075. By comparison a ’63 SS Impala could be purchased for around $3,200. Later in 1963, it was discovered that the Z06’s new cast-aluminum knockoff wheels were having problems holding tire pressure. They were removed from the package, lowering the option’s price to $1,293.

Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov designed the Z06 package to take advantage of the Sting Ray’s new chassis and four-wheel independent suspension. The option provided a platform upon which a racer could, with good preparation, have a competitive Corvette race car. It included the 360hp L84 “Fuelie” 327 engine, an M-20 four-speed transmission, higher-rate front and rear springs, heavy-duty shocks and stabilizer bars, a 36-gallon fuel tank, and finned aluminum knock-off wheels. Most elaborate was the braking system, which included finned aluminum drums, internal cooling fans, vented back plates, cerametallic linings, and a dual-circuit master cylinder.

The new Sting Ray with its racer kit was supposed to keep the Corvette in the winner’s circle the way it had been for the three previous years. But there was a problem in the form of the Shelby Cobras. In retrospect, the two cars should never have been in the same class, given the Cobra’s 1,000-pound weight advantage.

Despite creditable performances in SCCA A/Production racing by the Grady Davis–campaigned Gulf One Corvette and others, the Cobras stole the Sting Rays’ thunder. But Duntov knew how to take care of his best racers. Of the 14 Z06 cars assigned by Duntov to be loaned to select teams, Davis received two.

Thompson went on to score wins

The Gulf One car illustrated here saw more track action than any of the other “assigned” Z06s. The car’s first outing was at the 1963 Puerto Rico Grand Prix, where Thompson drove it to its first class win. In January 1963 it won at the Refrigerator Bowl in Marlboro, Maryland. The car was then prepared for FIA rules, to race at the Daytona Continental and Sebring. Thompson drove it to Third overall and First in GT3 at Daytona, but the transmission broke at the Sebring race in March. Thompson went on to score wins at the SCCA’s President’s Cup race in Marlboro; in the A/Production class at Danville, Virginia; and at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Like most race cars, the Gulf One ’63 was bought and sold many times. Interest in the ‘63 Z06s was pretty much gone until the moniker came back in 2001. Today, the Gulf One ‘63 takes its place in the survivors’ club of Corvette-racing history. – KST

Make Sure you check out Part One:

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 153 – Gulf Oil ‘62 Corvette Racer “The Most Successful C1 Racer?”



If you had the opportunity to buy an old used up, successful Corvette race car, would you and what you do with it ? Money no object.

What is your favorite old Corvette racer? Take a look at my Corvette Racer Pages listed below to go down Corvette Racer memory lane.

Save The Wave,

Scott Teeters

Scott Teeters AKA The Dude




If you have been reading my Illustrated Corvette Series column in Vette magazine since 1997, you may or may not know that the prints of the series are available for sale on my website, The actual version that is printed in the magazine is the basic ICS series, while the version with just the artwork is known as the ICS 2 series. Visit my 1963 Illustrated Corvette Series page to check out the specifics on purchasing these 11 x 17 Pen and Ink Parchment Paper prints. Perfect for framing in a 16 x 20 frame or since it arrives ready to display, simply pushpin the flat shrinkwrapped-to-cardboard print to your garage wall, mancave, garage mahal, or car room!


Related Links:

Illustrated Corvette Series Racer Prints

Corvette Fever 63 Gulf One Article


1963 Corvette Gulf One Racer
1963 Corvette Gulf One Racer


Make Sure you check out Part One:

Illustrated Corvette Series No. 153 – Gulf Oil ‘62 Corvette Racer “The Most Successful C1 Racer?”

1962 Gulf One Racer Corvette

1962 Corvette Gulf One Racer by K. Scott Teeters