At last weekend’s American Le Mans Series at Monterey, Chevy and Corvette Racing took the time to honor the men and their Corvettes who were the trailblazers for today’s Corvette racing program. On hand for the celebration was Dr. Dick Thompson (aka The Flying Dentist) who drove the #2 Corvette at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans and Dick Guldstrand who raced with Bob Bondurant in 1967. These two legends told some incredible stories of their exploits and you can watch the videos after the jump.
Corvette Racing Ambassador Ron Fellows and current Corvette Racing driver Johnny O’Connell had a chance to drive these incredible and historic race cars around Monterey’s Laguna Seca raceway for a photo shoot.
Fellows drove the #2 1960 Cunningham Corvette and said this about the experience:
“The first thing that struck me when I fired it up was a familiar sound – after 50 years, the cars look different, but there is still that awesome Chevy V-8 sound. I was surprised by how nice it was to drive – it starts and stops fine, and has good power. But high-speed cornering must have been interesting back then. The Kink at the end of the Mulsanne Straight must have been a real thrill for these guys back in 1960!”
Johnny O’Connell drove the 1967 Guldstrand/Bondurant Stingray and the experience left an indelible impression on him, not just the car, but those who would drive it in a 24 hour race:
“You can’t drive a car like that without realizing that what those guys did was amazing,” said O’Connell, the only American driver to score four class wins at Le Mans. “That car is all beast, and the strength needed to turn that thing was incredible. It really made me appreciate those guys as race car drivers and athletes. That was state-of-the-art technology in 1967, and driving a Corvette C6.R gives me an appreciation for how far Corvette has come over the years. Drivers back then were a different breed. I can’t even imagine how difficult and challenging it was.”
These privateering efforts of the Briggs Cunningham’s 1960 entries and the Dana Chevrolet entry in 1967 both had unofficial support from another Corvette legend – Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov. For the 1960 campaign, Zora was on-hand as a consultant to the Briggs Cunningham teams and was even listed as a reserve driver. Duntov was also instrumental in the 1967 effort. Working with a Los Angeles Chevrolet dealer, Zora secured a 1967 Sting Ray Coupe which was powered by a 427 cubic inch 560-hp v8 engine.
The celebration of Corvette’s 50th Anniversary is actually just getting started. Lance Miller of Corvettes at Carlisle is the owner of the #3 1960 Corvette that finished 8th overall and first in class at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans. That Corvette has already started its return journey to France where it will be reunited with 90 year old driver John Fitch for a variety of special events.
Corvette Racing’s next event is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 24-hour race will start at 3:00 p.m. CET on Saturday, June 12. Portions of the classic endurance contest will be televised live on SPEED.
Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
[VIDEO] Historic Le Mans Corvette Racers at Laguna Seca
Chevrolet to Salute Corvette Legends of Le Mans at Monterey This Weekend
Very First 2011 Corvette is a Tribute to 50th Anniversary of First Le Mans Win