Terry Michaelis’, number 27 1953 NASCAR Corvette has won again, though this time not on the race track but on the show field at the 36th Annual Concours d’Elegnace of America at the Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth, Michigan. After winning two awards at Cincinnati’s Ault Park Concours, a 1st in Class in the Racing Division and the Bill Rudd “Best Vette” Trophy, the Michigan concours added another ribbon in the “Racing Through the Ages” category. Michaelis, president of ProTeam Corvette, has been campaigning the historic blue-ribbon 1953 Corvette race car at concours and shows throughout the country since ProTeam completed the restoration late last year.
On Sunday, July 27th, more than 250 important vehicles and thousands of enthusiasts gathered on the immaculate grounds at the Inn at St. Johns for the esteemed Concours d’Elegance of America formerly known as Meadow Brook. As with all major concours the cars were being shown by invitation only and the historically important 1953 NASCAR Corvette was one of just two Corvettes invited to this year’s event, the other was a 1963 Sting Ray.
This year’s event featured such diverse groups as Jet-Age pickups, vintage drag bikes, and the work of designer Virgil Exner along with American and European Classics and historically important racing vehicles. A unique feature at the Concours d’Elegance of America is the presentation of two Best of Show Awards, one to the best domestic vehicle and one to the best foreign vehicle. The Best in Show – American went to a 1932 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Victoria by Murphy. Best in Show – Foreign went to a 1939 Bugatti T57C Cabriolet from the Patterson Collection.
Michaelis was obviously pleased with his award and in a short interview after receiving the ribbon, he explained that there are some exhibitors that are only concerned about winning awards but the mere fact of being invited to a concours d’elegance as important as the St. Johns event is just as important and satisfying as taking home an award. That outlook is understandable looking back at all the awards and ribbons the lifelong Corvette enthusiast has collected at the most important shows throughout the country during his forty years in the hobby. After over four decades, the love of the Corvette and the hobby still burns brightly and it shows in his energy, enthusiasm and willingness to share his valuable time, experience and expertise as he tells his story about the Corvette countless times to interested spectators, many who had no idea that a Corvette ever participated in a sanctioned NASCAR race.
And the story of this one long-forgotten and buried Corvette, recently rediscovered and restored by Terry’s Pro Team Corvette, is a fascinating tale that is yet to be finished. Though he has researched and documented much of the car’s provenance and history, including photos and documents, there are still parts of the car’s storied past that are yet to be uncovered. Michaelis has asked that if anyone has any actual additional information or original pictures on this car’s history to please contact him via email: [email protected].
On Michaelis’ Corvette Perspective website, he gives a concise summary of the history of this car which played a part in helping to sustain the Corvette brand when it was in jeopardy of being discontinued.
“The Daytona Beach NASCAR 1953 Corvette Convertible, VIN #E53F001211, Chevrolet Engineering #3950, Race #27 is one of two, a 1953 and a 1955, that were reclaimed from the depths of Chevrolet Engineering. Work was done by Chevrolet Experimental Shop and Garage, subject title: “Rebuilding of NASCAR Corvettes for Stock Car Racing.” Delivered to NASCAR/Daytona Beach in time for the 7th Annual NASCAR Sanctioned Performance Trials and The Flying Mile competition in 1956. After Daytona Speed Week, the car raced at NASCAR’s Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. This Dual Branding NASCAR/Chevrolet Engineering effort involved Briggs Cunningham, John Fitch, Z.A. Duntov, Ed Cole, and over 125 engineers and several 1953 to 1955 Corvettes that culminated with a win at Sebring in 1956 with John Fitch driving a 1955 Chevrolet Engineering Corvette VIN #1194 of which spared the Corvette from extinction. This is the earliest known Corvette to run NASCAR’s sanctioned events… and maybe the earliest Corvette (VIN) to ever race thus ‘A Pioneer of Speed’.”
In addition to campaigning his latest Corvette restoration at Amelia Island, Ault Park and St. Johns, in June Michaelis was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Great Hall. The Great Hall was established in 2010 by Bloomington Gold as a five-year project to honor the 50 most influential people, cars and organizations that have had a pioneering influence on the Corvette world.
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can see his website at Corvetted.
Terry Michaelis Perspective
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