When was the last time you saw a Corvette prototype in person? Other than the prototype 1983 Corvette that's in the National Corvette Museum's collection or Vettes like the last C4 used for research and development (which we brought you several months ago)? And when was the last time that one started life as a customer's retail-purchased car, and THEN became a prototype? How about the C6 that you see here? It's the prototype for the new 2009 limited-edition RPO CSC Competition Sport package that's now on the Corvette option list.
Tracey Richardson owned seven Corvettes before acquiring this RPO Z51-equipped C6 in 2007, and she wanted this one to have some "personality," like its predecessors. "I wanted to do something a little bit different with the car," she says from her Lexington, Kentucky home. Fortunately, she had some connections with the Corvette Team, most notably designer Kirk Bennion. "I talked to Kirk, and said, 'Is there any way to design a stripe that we can paint on? I'm not a big fan of decals,'" she recalls. "He said, 'Sure-let me think about something.' This was back when I ordered the car, in May of 2007. I wanted to have it done the next day, after the Museum delivery. I didn't want to waste any time."
The stripe idea didn't stop there. Tracey said Kirk had one of his own relating to them.
"People who attend the High Performance Driving Events that the National Corvette Museum hosts, they like to have a little 'flair,' a little racing touch to their car." Kirk, who is also an instructor for the Museum's high-performance driving events, got in touch with his good friend, Corvette production manager Harlan Charles. "Kirk said, 'Everybody likes the stripe that we designed for Tracey, and there are a lot of people interested in these driving schools, so maybe we can put together a package that has a lot of aesthetics!'"
In short order, Kirk came up with a stripe design that had a "C6 Flair" while harkening back to some famous racing Vettes. "He did a prototype design which was patterned after the Briggs Cunningham racing Corvettes of the early '60s," says Tracey, who explains the stripe's original design. "On the front bumper, there's about an inch width between the flags on the emblem. That width of the front bumper emblem is the width of the two stripes, and it goes all the way back to meet up with the emblem on the back bumper." Thanks to Kirk's design eye, the stripes flow from the front emblem over the roof and rear deck to the rear emblem. "That's one of Kirk's talents--seeing aspects of the car and to be able to linearly match up, emblem to emblem," says Tracey.
On her car, the stripes were painted on in Competition Grey, which is a little different than the stripes that go on with RPO CSC. ". The '09 version of the stripe is actually a decal, and it's the same color as the Cyber Grey that they offer," says Tracey. "So, it's a little bit darker. If you get them side-by-side, you can tell mine's a lighter shade of grey."
Extra color and "Jake" highlight the engine bay on Tracey's '08. LS3's cylinder heads were
While her C6's stripes might be lighter than the production CSC's, her car's equipment list is no lighter than the production versions. Tracey's '08 was a Z51 car from the get-go, meaning that heavy-duty springs and shocks, big stabilizer bars at each end, big cross-drilled disc brake rotors, coolers for the engine oil, transmission fluid and steering fluid, and a six-speed manual transaxle went in on the Bowling Green Assembly line. And, being an '08, the LS-series engine got a 200 cc (12 cubic inch) displacement boost to 6.2L (376 ci), plus it got the big-valve/big-port heads from the Z06, boosting its output to 430 horsepower from an even 400, creating the LS3. Tracey's Corvette currently has 436hp with the NPP (Z06) exhaust.
Those engine changes were in the works long before Tracey and Kirk brainstormed on the striping. But, once her C6 was decked out in its new colors and graphics, it wasn't long before this good idea became the visible cue for a new option package. "Once we did it, he sent me the design to send to my painter," she says. "Then, we put it on the Corvette Forum about a week after I got it painted."
A one-time moderator on the Corvette Forum's C6 General section, Tracey knows how passionate lovers of the sixth generation of America's Only True Sports Car can be. "On the Forum, we don't think that there was anybody who had anything negative to say about the stripes, which was odd for that crew," she adds. "There's always some kind of controversy, or 'keyboard warriors' saying what they want to say-and we didn't have any negative comments. People were saying, 'That's the best stripe that I've ever seen!'"