Before Chevrolet finally went all-in on GT Racing with the debut of the C5.R in 1999, there was Doug Rippie, a Minnesotan with a Corvette obsession and a passion for road racing (supplemental material: read the great Larry Webster’s in-depth account of Rippie’s early years and his awesome C5-based DRM C500/RSR).
When Chevrolet brought the high-performance ZR-1 and its impressive slate of long-distance speed records to the market in 1990, Rippie looked across the pond at Le Mans’ budding GT1 class, and a vision was born. His Doug Rippie Motorsports (DRM) purchased a stock ZR-1, tore it down, and threw the entire rulebook at it to create the only C4 ever officially to lay a tire on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Unfortunately, Doug’s privateer effort didn’t culminate in a Ford v Ferrari-style triumph for the Stars and Stripes. During qualifying, the ZR-1 blew a head gasket, resulting in a sub-par time of 4:24.8. A head gasket encore sent the car home early during the race, and the beautiful sound of American thunder was, once again, absent in northwest France.
The Doug Rippie ZR-1 only ran twice before being sent to its second owner. Now, through Switzerland’s Total Performance Car, comes the $380,000 opportunity to write the next chapter in the book of this fascinating piece of Corvette racing history. While you are browsing, check out the pair of C3 racers that TPC is offering alongside the storied C4, here and here, and be sure to give the episode of Corvette Today Podcast that features our friend and former Corvette ride and handling engineer, Jim Mero, recounting his experience as one of the Le Mans drivers of the Rippie ZR-1 a listen!
[PODCAST] Jim Mero on Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the Corvette Today Podcast
Corvettes on Craigslist: Saddle Tan 1963 Corvette Split Window
Corvettes on eBay: 1968 Corvette 427 Barn Find