Another significant milestone in the ongoing court battle over a historic 1960 Corvette that competed in the Le Mans race 58 years ago appears to have been reached recently.
Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer has ordered that the car – one of three that were the first Corvettes to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France in 1960 – be placed in the care of and then sold by an Indianapolis-based receiver appointed by the court.
Of course, the sale of the same car was also ordered some 3½ years ago.
Clymer said he issued the most recent order to make sure the Corvette doesn’t leave Porter County as part of another legal proceeding pending in Hamilton County, where he feared the court there might name its own receiver for the vehicle at a hearing set for this Friday.
Legendary Corvette restorer Kevin Mackay owns 30 percent of the Corvette, with the remaining 70 percent owned by Chevrolet dealer Gino Burelli.
Insured for $2.5 million, the Corvette is one of three identical 1960 Corvettes bought by American racer Briggs Cunningham, who took them to France to become the first Corvettes to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
One of the racers – the #1 car – was discovered in 2012 in a St. Petersburg, Florida warehouse and was soon acquired by Lance Miller, of Corvettes at Carlisle fame, from the family who owned the warehouse. Miller immediately sold the car for $75,000 to Mackay, owner of Corvette Repair, Inc., in Valley Stream, N.Y.
Initially, the car was going to be shown at the 2012 Corvettes at Carlisle, but that’s when things got interesting. Enter Dan Mathis, Jr. of Florida who claimed the Corvette was stolen from his father’s driveway in Tampa nearly 40 years earlier. The car was reportedly purchased for $700 by his father who converted it into a drag racer.
Once the discovery of the car became known, another actor in the lawsuit, Domenico Idoni, told Mathis Jr. that the car had been located and was now owned by Mackay. Mathis called the cops and produced a new title to the car that was dated a couple weeks after Miller’s purchase. Soon after the 2012 Corvettes at Carlisle show, Mathis Jr. filed a federal lawsuit in 2012 to fight for the ownership of the car and the judge ruled later that indeed his suit did have merit which allowed the ownership fight to continue.
It was a few months later after the lawsuit was filed that Mathis Jr. filed for bankruptcy in Florida and so he sold his claims to the car to Idoni and another partner named Gino Burelli. Burelli was aligned with Idoni during the legal fight for the 1960 Cunningham Corvette.
Three years of legal wrangling ended in 2015 when US Middle District Judge John E. Jones III agreed to a three-way partnership crafted by lawyers representing Burelli and Mackay that was supposed to end the ownership dispute of the car. In that agreement, Mackay’s partners would have to pay him $750,000 to buy out his 30% interest in the car.
The latest legal battle has been fueled by the November 2018 closing of Harbor Buick GMC in Portage, which is owned by Burelli. Citing the changing market for new cars thanks to the Internet, Burelli consolidated that dealership with another he owns in Michigan City.
Lost in the shuffle was the 1960 Corvette, which had been stored at the Harbor dealership. Now Mackay says he doesn’t know where the car is and isn’t even sure if it is still insured. Mackay asked for the emergency hearing with Clymer because he is worried that creditors may try to take the car because of the dealership’s closing and also because of debt up to $500,000 owed by a former owner of the car who sold his share to Burelli, Mackay’s lawyer, Ryan Schoffelmeer, told nwitimes.com.
“We’re trying to protect the car,” Schoffelmeer said.
According to court documents: “Mackay does not know where the vehicle is located, if it is being kept in a safe location, or if it is still insured. The vehicle may well be outside of the state of Indiana.”
Former 1960 Le Mans Racer Back in Legal Limbo Following Closure of Dealership
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No. 1 Briggs Cunningham 1960 Le Mans Corvette Racer Found