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Racing Across the US in a Classic ’54 Corvette

by Keith Cornett on June 27, 2006

Arthur Alvis and 15 year old son Elliot are cruising across America in a 1954 Red Corvette. But the drive isn’t for pleasure. It’s a race, but one based on precision, not speed. They are competing in the Great Race, a road race featuring antique cars 45 years old or more. Drivers are awarded points on the accuracy of a driver and navigator to match a time and average speed over a predetermined course. Each day the drivers are given a new set of written directions which have instructions like “Take the first road to the right”. GPS is not allowed. Team Alvis, who hail from Wichita and call themselves the Kansas Flying Monkeys, a reference from Wizard of Oz, departed Philadelphia, the starting point of the Great Race on June 24 and as of Monday were in 27th place. There are 90 or so contestants driving originally equipped antique cars as well. Driving a classic Corvette 4,000 miles across the US does have its pitfalls. Passing through a thunderstorm in Pennsylvania, Arthur had to drive with one hand out the window, running a squeegee across the windshield. the wiper assembly came loose leaving him with only one wiper. While some of the interior got soaked, Arthur doesn’t sweat it. He says the ’54 is not a show car. “It’s plastic…it won’t rust.” Follow the Kansas Flying Monkeys in their quest to win the Great Race and take home $250,000 in prize money by visiting the Great Race website. Good luck guys…we’re all counting on you! Source: Kansas.com
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Gus Grissom’s 427 Corvette a No-Sale

by Keith Cornett on June 26, 2006

The 1967 Corvette Convertible owned by Astronaut Gus Grissom was a no sale on e-Bay today as the high bid of $310,100 failed to reach the seller’s reserve price. While we do not know what the reserve price was, we did speak with Dr. Marv Friedman to find out what his plans are for selling Grissom’s 427/435 land rocket. Marv said he has listed it twice now on eBay and that this was the second and final listing. The first was in May 2006 where the Corvette reached a high bid of $375,000 but still failed to reach reserve. If the car didn’t sell via eBay then it would tailored out to the Barrett-Jackson auction in January 2007. “I have already spoken with Craig Jackson to make plans to bring the Corvette out to Scottsdale in January for the 36th Barrett-Jackson Auction”, said Marv and continued, “We’re making plans for Jim Rathmann, the former Florida car dealer who sold the Corvette to Gus and who was good friends with him and his wife Betty, to be on the podium to introduce the Corvette.” Marv said that while he did have some offers on the Corvette, one substantial offer would have resulted in the Corvette being taken out of the United States. Marv declined the offer but acknowledged that the winner of the bidding for the Corvette at Barrett-Jackson could end up doing the same thing. Marv mentioned that he is also working on establishing a Gus Grissom Scholarship at Purdue University, where Gus attended college. 2007 will mark the 40th Anniversary of the fire that took the lives of Gus Grissom and fellow astronauts Roger Chaffee and Edward White during a launch pad test at the Kennedy Space Center. View the eBay listing which has some great stories about Gus and his Corvette as well as lots of photos and documentation.
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A One-Of-A-Kind 1967 Corvette. Really!

by Keith Cornett on June 24, 2006

A One-Of-A-Kind 1967 Corvette. Really!

The great thing about being involved in the Corvette hobby is that there is always something new to learn. For example, you may have heard of a COPO Corvette – which stands for Central Office Production Order, an ordering mechanism designed to allow certain customers (usually dealers) the ability to order non-standard components together. Usually with Corvettes, COPO orders had non-standard colors or interiors, or was ordered with some special options, or no options like radio/heater delete for racing. Another type of order was called the SO – Shop Order – which usually originated from the Chevrolet Engineering Center or the GM Styling Studio. The third and less common was a variation called the F&SO – Fleet and Special Order.

Well, that last one was news to me. Just last week at the Bloomington Gold show, there were a few examples of COPO Corvettes and styling cars that went through the auction. Today though I got a preview of the next Corvette Magazine issue and writer/photographer Richard Prince has a great article detailing a F&SO 1967 Corvette that was built for one of the great Corvette salespeople of 1950′s and ’60′s – Bob Wingate.

When you’re the top Corvette salesman in the country for 5 years running, opportunities from the manufacturer come your way. And in 1967, that opportunity came in the form of a 1967 Coupe outfitted with a 427/435 engine, 3.55:1 Positraction and a Wide-Ratio M20 Four Speed, along with American Racing’s Torq-Thrust Alloy Wheels with Blue Streak tires. The Corvette was painted in Goodwood Green with a white racing stripe and had the six taillight modification that was popular back then.

Bob drove the Corvette all over the western United States promoting Chevrolet products. He did some drag racing and autocrossing in the Corvette, and when the 1967 model year was coming to a close, Bob sold the Corvette and was allowed to keep the proceeds as his bonus.

The kid that bought Bob’s Corvette blew the original engine within a few months, and a few months later was involved in a wreck on the I-10 that totaled the car. Or so Bob thought.

Fast forward twenty-five years later. A Southern Californian named Bob Radke buys a project car and although he didn’t know it at the time, it still had the tank sticker. And unlike all other tank stickers Radke had seen, in the upper right hand site in the box marked COPO/F&SO there was a number in it.

Through diligence and hard work, Radke was able to track down Wingate (he was listed in the phone book!) and from there a bond was formed as Radke set out to restore the Corvette. After 7 years, the Corvette has been restored to its former glory. I love these kinds of stories and the article is very written with awesome photos to boot!

The full article can be found at: Corvette-Mag.com

Photo Credit: Richard Prince

 

Final LeMans Wrap-up

by Keith Cornett on June 23, 2006

We promise this will be the last post about Corvette winning the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of LeMans. It is it hard to ignore the contributions of a winning race program and the pride and prestige it brings to the enthusiast. Similar I guess to those that follow a favorite NASCAR driver, but different because the knowledge that the technology that is tested on the track and in the pits will filter down to the production cars you and I drive every day. Our final LeMans wrap-up includes comments and links to three different elements of the Corvette racing program.
Oliver Gavin – Driver of the #64 Corvette Oliver talks about how the outcome could have changed for Corvette Racing had they given up after circumstances that could have taken a lesser team out of the race. He mentions how he had a brush with an LMP car that sent the Corvette into the gravel and punctured a tire. That collision also caused body work damage to the right rear quarter panel that seemed to take some of the speed from Corvette on the straight-aways. That dropped the #64 Corvette 2-3 minutes behind the #009 Aston Martin. But Team Corvette kept pushing and pushing and started making up that deficit when mechanicals forced the Aston into the pits for an extended stop giving the #64 Corvette the class lead. Click here to read Oliver’s account of Winning at LeMans.
Tom Wallace – Corvette Chief Engineer In a Podcast from LeMans, Tom Wallace talks about his impressions from his first visit to the historic track. “With the competition of the Astons, and the back and forth battle that went down to the wire, Corvette overcame the problems that happened during the race better than the Aston team. All Corvette owners and future owners should be darn proud of Corvette and this team and what they have shown during the world’s biggest race.” Visit the GM Fast Lane Blog or Download the MP3.
Peter M. DeLorenzo – AutoExtremist.com Sweet Pete D. as he is affectionately called by the Jalopnik.com boys again focuses his weekly rant on how GM needs to leverage this historic win by Corvette Racing as a symbol of how GM is doing things right. “It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of GM challenging the world with a factory-supported racing effort would have been scoffed at and dismissed as folly internally. Fortunately, those bad old days are long gone. The powers that be at General Motors have finally – finally – come to understand that racing can be much more than just a source of company pride or another excuse to fill the France family’s over-stuffed NASCAR coffers. They’ve learned that going up against the world’s best in the most intensely competitive environment possible is an ideal way to train and develop engineers – and the engineers involved with the Corvette Racing program are indeed some of the company’s best and brightest. They’ve come to understand that technical lessons learned on the racetrack can be directly transferred into improvements on their production cars – which is why the Corvette Z06 is arguably the best all-around sports car in the world at this very moment. GM has also learned that a winning, world-class racing program is an invaluable image and marketing tool that can transform an organization and translate into a winning image both on and off the track.” Read Peter’s entire rant at AutoExtremist.com Photo Credit: Richard Prince
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FOX Reality TV Show Looking for Corvette Enthusiasts

by Keith Cornett on June 22, 2006

The NCM had this story included in their weekly newsletter. FOX’s hit show “Trading Spouses” is looking for die-hard Corvette enthusiasts and their families to participate in the show which highlights the wealth of cultures and personalities from households across the country. The show requires that each family consist of at least one child between 6-18 years of age and have two parents within the home. At the end of the seven-day shoot, each family receives $50,000! If you are interested, please contact the show’s casting associate, Jason Eskin at: 323-802-0485. Find out more about the show by visiting www.fox.com and clicking on the “Trading Spouses” icon. I visited the FOX site and looked at the Trading Spouses page, but didn’t see anything that specifically mentions Corvette or any other car for that matter. What are they planning, putting a Mustang Mom into a house with a Corvette Dad? Or maybe they take a guy who has a Corvette for a daily driver and they substitute his Corvette for a Chevette. Stay tuned!
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Gus Grissom’s 1967 Corvette Listed on eBay

by Keith Cornett on June 20, 2006

Space Pioneer Gus Grissom had the right stuff when it came to his Red 1967 Corvette Convertible. Nights were spent on the deserted tracks and back roads of Melborne, Florida racing other astronauts. The story goes fellow astronaut Alan Shepard, who fashioned a reputation for himself as “Mr. Corvette”, couldn’t beat Gus’ 427 Corvette as Gus had installed a 4:56 rear end giving him a tremendous edge in 1/4 mile racing. Grissom, the second American in space, and the first American to travel into space twice, was also one of the first to die in the U.S. space program. His Corvette went through four owners before winding up with Jim Falkowski, who purchased the Corvette in 1985 for $9,995. During Jim’s ownership, the Corvette won many awards including NCRS Top Flight, multiple Cypress Gardens, the National Corvette Homecoming in Bowling Green and has been featured in numerous magazines, news articles and calendars.

There is something about a car once owned by a national hero. When paired with a ’67 427/435 Red Convertible, the myth grows exponentially. Now the Gus Grissom Corvette is listed on eBay, giving someone a chance at owning history. Current bid as of June 20th was $178,099 with the Reserve not yet met. The auction runs through June 26th. Source: eBay, Wikipedia
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Corvette Values: 1974 Corvette

by Keith Cornett on June 19, 2006

PLE submitted the following Corvette pricing question via Yahoo! Answers and we decided to take a look at it. Two days later we received an email from Yahoo stating that our answer was his favorite. PLE’s Question: I need to sell this car very soon. Would rather use online auction other than ebay. Need help from corvette collectors out there. Matching numbers, all original 36K miles, car is sweet. Asking $23,000. Is this too much or too little? Thanks!! Our Answer: Unless your Corvette has a 454, is a convertible and is in show condition, then you are asking a a bit too much for your Corvette. 36K miles though is great for a 74 and a matching numbers to boot! eBay will give you a good idea of where your Corvette should be priced based upon demand. Our annual price guide puts the high around $19K although an average price can be half of that. If your Corvette doesn’t sell on eBay, you may also want to consider a corvette-only site like VetteFinders.com or usedcorvettesforsale.com or list it on one of the Corvette forums. Source(s): VetteFinders.com’s Corvette Price Guide
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More On Corvette’s Win at LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 18, 2006

This year’s 24-hour endurance test reprised the drama of last year’s battle. The No. 63 Corvette C6.R and the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 were in lockstep from the start, separated by less than a lap in the running order for hour after hour. The turning point came in the 22nd hour when the green Aston Martin went to the garage with a mechanical problem. At 2:09 p.m., Jan Magnussen officially took the lead – a lead that Corvette Racing would not relinquish. The winning Corvette completed 355 laps, made 25 faultless pit stops, and won by a five-lap margin of victory.

“You have a one-lap cushion, the Aston is in the garage, and you are five laps ahead of the next car,” crew chief Ray Gongla radioed Magnussen when he took the point. “Do you copy? Can you hear us?” “Yes, I can hear you,” the Dane replied, “but I just can’t believe it!”
Joining the three Corvette Racing drivers on the victory podium were Luc Alphand, Patrice Goueslard and Jerome Policand, who finished third in their independent Corvette C5-R with 346 laps completed. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Max Papis finished seventh after encountering drivetrain problems. The No. 63 Corvette’s star-crossed weekend continued when it pitted at 1:20 p.m. in a cloud of smoke from the transmission. The crews from both cars went to work, removing, rebuilding and reinstalling the overheated gearbox. One hour and nine minutes later, Johnny O’Connell rejoined the fray. “The rules don’t allow you to replace the complete transmission, but you can rebuild it,” explained team manager Gary Pratt. “We had a gearbox issue in Sebring, but we didn’t expect it here, and it might have been the result of one problem creating another problem. Corvette Racing Quotes: Olivier Beretta: “The key to our success was to never give up. Once again Le Mans proved to be race that isn’t won until the checkered flag is out. We had a difficult moment during the night when Ollie hit an LMP car and we subsequently got some vibrations. Then we had a refueling problem and all of a sudden we were almost a lap down. We decided to push and a couple of hours from the end we started biting big chunks out of their lead. Then they hit problems and the race fell back our way. ” Oliver Gavin: “As always it was a fantastic race, super hard all the way against the Aston Martins. And once again everybody dug deep. This race is a testament to everybody involved who has worked so hard. It’s been a truly remarkable result to win three in a row against a super professional team like Prodrive. There were moments when you thought, this is going to be tough, when you felt the race falling away from you, but we just hung in there until it came back to us.” Jan Magnussen: “It was a very tough race, all 24 hours of it. We pushed all the way, and after we hit problems we didn’t sit back. We didn’t want the race to run away from us. By daylight we were almost a lap down but we just kept pushing and pushing until the Astons failed, and eventually they did. We never got any presents, we earned this win!” Source: CorvetteRacing.com
Photo Credit: Philippe Chemin – ACO/Nikon
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Corvette Racing Wins The 24 Hours of LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 18, 2006

This year’s running of the 74th annual 24 Hours of LeMans featured only a few lead changes as it became a battle between the #009 Aston Martin and the #64 Corvette. The Corvette was leading after 6 hours in the race, but a slightly longer pit stop allowed Aston to get out first and take the lead of the GT1 class. The Aston then lead with a 1 lap lead for most of the night and into the day when they developed a problem with their clutch. That pit stop allowed the #64 Corvette driven by Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen to take the lead for good. The #63 Corvette ran into problems early in the race. A spinout dropped the Corvette driven by Fellows/O’Connell/Papis down to 7th place in the GT1 class where they stayed most of the race. Finishing second in the GT1 class was the #007 Aston Martin. 5 laps down from the #64 Corvette, they were never a threat to Corvette Racing’s 1st place finish. A European team racing the C5.R Corvette finished 3rd. This is Corvette Racing’s 5th GT1 class win at LeMans in 6 years. Photo Credit: Philippe Chemin – ACO/Nikon
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Podcast: Final Preparations for the 24 Hours of LeMans

by Keith Cornett on June 17, 2006

What a great weekend for Corvettes. In Illinois, the 34th Annual Bloomington Gold Corvette show and Auction is now in full swing, and for racing fans, the 24 Hours of LeMans starts today. I’ll be tuning into the Speed Channel often throughout the day and into the night for updates on Team Corvette and their quest for the 5th win in 6 years.

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