In 1971 Corvette racer and race car builder John Greenwood was approached by BF Goodrich tires to campaign two Corvettes competing on the company’s new Lifesaver Radial street tires. Three BFG Corvettes, wearing numbers 48, 49 and 50, were built for the campaign in FIA-sanctioned races including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. Featuring ZL-1 racing engines and the patriotic stars & stripes livery, the BFG Corvettes were an instant hit with the fans as Greenwood’s Corvettes were the loudest and proudest at the track. One of the BFG Corvettes, the #49 car, will be one of the featured cars for sale at RM Auction’s Monterey event in mid-August.
The #49 Corvette was first built as a publicity car but was pressed into service in 1972 following the wreck of the #50 car. Factory L88 by birth, #49 was outfitted with one of Greenwood’s ZL-1 race engines and saw its first win at Watkins Glen with Greenwood and Dick Smothers driving. In 1973, the Corvette saw action at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Daytona 24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While qualifying for Le Mans, the #49 Corvette set the GT speed record of 215 mph on the Mulsanne straight.
The BFG contract ended in 1973 and the Corvette was sold. It raced in several SCCA events before blowing an engine at a Miami race in 1974 and the car was parked until 1979. Phil Curran raced the car in SCCA events from 1979 to 1989 as #99. The Corvette made its way into Chip Miller’s collection in 2000 and shortly thereafter, was restored by Kevin Mackay’s Corvette Repair shop in Valley Stream, NY. The race car has been shown at events ranging from the Corvette Racing Legends event at the Petersen Museum in LA, Bloomington Gold’s Grand Finale in 2009 and it received the Amelia Award at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Most recently, the Corvette was invited to the Corvette Legends of Le Mans celebration at the Laguna Seca ALMS race in 2010.
The #49 BFG Corvette is highly documented with complete owner history, John Greenwood’s letter of authenticity, original bill of sale, Le Mans registration and tech inspection sheets. Today the Corvette is oufitted with the last ZL-1 engine from Traco, the historic builder of race engines for Roger Penske and Jim Hall. The Corvette also comes with a vintage DVD from Le Mans and a detailed video by John and Burt Greenwood validating the car’s unique features.
The #49 BFG Stars & Stripes Corvette will be offered for sale at RM Auction’s Monterey event. The event runs August 19-20th at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California. Click here for the catalog descirption which is full of interesting facts and details of the Stars and Stripes racer.
I also recommend Wayne Elwood’s writeup on the Elusive BFG #49 which tells the tale of the Corvette after Greenwood’s BFG contract came to an end.
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