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.
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 “Corvette Legends: The Great, Dave MacDonald, Part 2”→
Watch “The Master of Oversteer” Enjoying a Day’s Work!
It’s been a pleasure to get to know the family of Corvette racer Dave MacDonald. The April 2012 issue of VETTE Magazine has part 1 of my story about the career of MacDonald and the May 2012 has part 2, the conclusion. While pictures and words are great, video just adds some dimension. So, I thought some vintage MacDonald videos were in order.
MacDonald’s racing career path was similar to John Greenwood’s, in that like Greenwood, MacDonald started out in drag racing. But like many guys that like to drive Corvettes in, shall we say, a “spirited” way, it didn’t take MacDonald long to get used to not only thundering down the straight-aways, but sliding the back end around the corners. MacDonald was known as “the master of the oversteer” and his tail-out driving style was very popular with the spectators.
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 “Corvette Legends – The Great, Dave MacDonald – Part 1”→