The 1961 Corvette Gulf Oil race car was one of the centerpieces of Mecum’s 2012 Kissimmee auction and it drew massive attention when it hit the auction block Saturday afternoon. Bidding on the Grady Davis Gulf Oil-sponsored Corvette was fast and furious at the beginning but eventually stalled at $850,000 and the car went unsold. The reserve was undisclosed and the auctioneer only said that it would take “more”.
The 1961 Corvette Gulf Oil racer was considered the most dominant Corvette racer of its time, winning almost every race it was entered. One of two Corvettes delivered by Yenko Chevy to Grady Davis, the Gulf Corvette made its debut at the 1961 12 Hours of Sebring where it took third place in GT. During the 1961 campaign, Corvette racing specialist Dr. Dick Thompson (aka The Flying Dentist) took over for driver Don Yenko midway through the season and took home wins at Bridgehampton, Indianapolis, Thompson, Road America and Watkins Glen to bring cement the championship.
The former race car was discovered in 1990 and restored to its 1961 Sebring configuration by author and photographer Richard Prince. Since its return, the Gulf Oil Corvette was indicted into the Corvette Hall of Fame and the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame.
Saturday prior to the auction, the Corvette was on display out front of the auction hall and we caught up to the car just as a couple of the wranglers were getting ready to start it up and move it over to the staging lanes.
Early Corvette race cars seem to have their own distinct sound and as you can see, a huge crowd gathered around as the 283/315 hp fuelie was started up. Here’s a quick video from that moment:
Although its lack of sale disappointed the crowd, we know we’ll be seeing the 1961 Gulf Oil Corvette again!