Chevrolet's factory Corvette team carried out an intense off-season development effort that yielded substantial performance gains for the 2004 season. Powertrain advances, improved aerodynamics, a new gearbox and, of course, the switch to Michelin tires all contribute to a package that's much faster and more reliable than last season's.
Armed with renewed confidence, the Corvette squad ventured to Sebring ready for battle but found no worthy opponents. A pair of factory-built 575 Ferraris, brought to the fray by newly formed Barron Connor Racing, looked menacing on paper, but in reality posed no credible threat. The 575s are reportedly faster, all else being equal, than the Prodrive-built 550s from 2004, but the new cars had not yet been sorted out and their drivers were no match for Corvette Racing's all-pro lineup.
The same could not be said for team ACEMCO's factory supported Saleen S7R, which was piloted by three of today's top drivers in the sport, Terry Borcheller, David Brabham, and Johnny Mowlem. Despite their talent, however, the team had various teething troubles and their brand new car finished a distant third in GTS, 72 laps behind the winning Corvette.
The real racing, at least in the early going, was between the two C5-Rs. Oliver Gavin edged out Ron Fellows in the final lap of qualifying to take the GTS pole position with a blistering 1:56.858 time, more than two seconds faster than the Sebring track record. But the Gavin/Jan Magnussen/Olivier Beretta No. 4 Corvette was subsequently relegated to start from the back of the field because the end plates on its rear wing were slightly out of conformance with the rules. The Fellows/Johnny O'Connell/Max Papis No. 3 car, which tripped the qualifying lights a scant 0.194 second behind No. 4, moved into pole position.
Once the green flag dropped, Gavin showed just what he's capable of by storming through the field, passing 18 cars on the opening lap. Twelve laps later, he nudged past Fellows to take over the GTS lead, which he held until getting hit with a stop-and-go penalty for driving over an air hose during a pit stop on Lap 27. Corvette No. 4 fought its way back to the front, but all hopes for victory were lost on Lap 87 when its clutch came apart, leaving a miserably disappointed Gavin stranded on course. Making the failure even more stinging was that Gavin suffered the same fate while leading the GTS Class at Sebring last year when his driveshaft failed near the end of the race.
With their teammates out of the contest, and the Ferraris, Saleen, and a lone Viper entry well back, Fellows, O'Connell, and Papis marched forward unimpeded. Their car's performance was the finest a C5-R has turned in thus far at Sebring, and perhaps the best of any Corvette in the race's 52-year history. The car ran perfectly for the entire 12 hours, and their outstanding 4th Overall finish speaks volumes, as the only cars in the race to finish ahead of them were the three awe-inspiring, factory-assisted Audi R8 prototypes.
The shape of the season to come? We'll let you know at the end of the ALMS season.
On The BlockCorvettes Shine at Mecum Corvette ExpoThe Mecum Auction at Spring Corvette Expo in Knoxville, Tennessee, was a great place to review current Corvette pricing; 22 Corvettes found new owners that weekend. The majority of Corvettes were in good to excellent restored condition.
The high sale of the auction went to a Silver Pearl '67 Corvette convertible equipped with the 427ci/435hp engine, which sold for $93,500. Another mid-year, a '64 Tuxedo Black coupe with the optional 327ci/360hp fuel-injected engine, sold for $65,000.
Another interesting sale went to a Silver Blue '63 convertible with an optional 327ci/340hp matching-numbers engine, which sold for $35,200. At the low end of the mid-year scale was a '66 coupe with a 327ci/350hp engine, four-speed, power steering, power brakes, air conditioning, and moderately flared wheelwells, which was a good buy at $21,000.
In the early Corvette department, a '57 Cascade Green convertible, 283ci/283hp, with a missing fuel-injection unit drew a final sale bid of $53,000. A '61 fuel-injected convertible with an older body restoration and in need of complete mechanical restoration sold for $37,500. Ready to be driven was a restored '62 Roman Red convertible with the base 327ci/350hp original engine that found a new home for $54,000.
Two '72 T-top coupes drew a considerable amount of attention. The first one, Sunflower Yellow, had the optional high-performance 454ci/270hp matching-numbers engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Factory air conditioning added to its value and it sold for $32,750. The other coupe had the base 350ci/200hp engine, automatic transmission, power steering, power brakes, Bloomington Survivor documentation, and 24,000 original documented miles. Sale price: $19,000. Also noteworthy was a restored '70 convertible with a 350ci/350hp engine, a four-speed manual transmission and factory air, which sold for $32,750.
Complete sale results follow.
|Year/Style ||Sale Price |
|'57R ||$53,000 |
|'60R ||50,000 |
|'61R ||37,500 |
|'62R ||54,000 |
|'63R ||35,200 |
|'64C ||29,250 |
|'64C ||65,000 |
|'64R ||33,000 |
|'65R ||28,000 |
|'65R ||29,000 |
|'66C ||21,000 |
|'66R ||37,000 |
|'66R ||42,750 |
|'67R ||44,000 |
|'67R ||93,500 |
|'68T ||19,250 |
|'70R ||32,750 |
|'70T ||26,750 |
|'72T ||19,000 |
|'72T ||34,500 |
|'77T ||5,500 |
|'79T ||5,900 |
Legend: R=Convertible, C=Coupe, T=T-top.Source: A&B Investments, Ltd publishers of the Vette-N-Vestments Corvette Price Guide and monthly Corvette Market Letter.
To get pricing information on your Corvette, simply head to www.corvettefever.com. Once there, click on "What's It Worth?" and you'll find additional information and instructions on securing a personal response from Bob Kroupa regarding your Corvette's value. You can also send your letter to: Bob Kroupa, Corvette Fever, On The Block, P.O. Box 77764, Greensboro, NC 27417-7764.
Summit Racing Equipment To Honor John LingenfelterSummit To Honor Lingenfelter With Endowment FundJohn Lingenfelter was known for his legendary work with small-block Chevy engines and his success on the dragstrip, but Cindy Lingenfelter fondly remembers another side of her husband. "He was very supportive of young people that were starting out their careers," Cindy said. "He was just a very positive and encouraging person."
To honor John Lingenfelter's support of young automotive and racing enthusiasts, Summit Racing Equipment has created the Summit Racing Equipment-John Lingenfelter Memorial Fund for Engineering Excellence at Penn State University. Lingenfelter passed away December 25, 2003. He built a reputation for his work on small-block Chevy engines and his success in NHRA drag racing, and was a member of the Summit Racing drag-racing team from 1997 to 2003.
The new endowment fund will support the Society of Automotive Engineers Formula Racing Team within the College of Engineering at John's alma mater, Penn State. Summit has made an initial contribution to help provide critical resources for the team, including tools, equipment, and vehicle materials. Over the next several years, the company hopes to obtain additional contributions to help support the program.
"John Lingenfelter was a true pioneer in the racing and high-performance automotive industry," said Ray Tatko, Summit Racing Equipment president. "We are pleased to team up with Penn State University to help preserve his legacy and support the next generation of automotive and racing pioneers."
The SAE Formula Racing Team is a hands-on program in which students design and build small Formula-style racing cars as part of a national engineering competition. "The creation of this endowment will not only be a lasting tribute to Mr. Lingenfelter's lifelong passion for high-performance engineering, it will also inspire and encourage Penn State students to be innovative and test their limits and skills in automotive engineering," said John Lamancusa, professor of mechanical engineering and SAE faculty advisor at Penn State.
Those wishing to make a contribution to the Summit Racing Equipment John Lingenfelter Memorial Fund may send a check payable to Penn State to: Marc McMullin, Director of Major Gifts, Penn State College of Engineering, 101 Hammond Building, University Park, PA 16802. For more information about donations, log on to www.summitracing.com/LingenfelterFund, or contact Marc McMullin at (814) 863-3674.
Crane Cams And B&M Racing Join ForcesCrane Cams and B&M Racing Tech Service Departments have joined forces to match the correct Crane cam and valvetrain with the right B&M torque converter and transmission package. These two highly respected, "cornerstone" performance-industry firms are working together to make it easy for any enthusiast (or retail salesperson) to match both product lines for maximum performance in any U.S. vehicle applications for cars or trucks.
Application information will be offered in simple chart form that covers cam grinds, engine cubic inches, vehicle weight and use, transmission, and correct torque-converter stall speed, all arranged with appropriate part numbers for easy ordering. For additional details, contact Crane Cams (386/258-6174, www.cranecams.com) or B&M Racing (818/882-6422, www.bmracing.com).
Coming EventsJune 18-20, Carlisle, PA. Carlisle All-GM Nationals at Carlisle Fairgrounds. Info: (717) 243-7855; www.carsatcarlisle.com.
June 19, Harrisburg, PA. 18th Central Pennsylvania Corvette Club Concours & Fun event at Forbes Chevrolet, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. NCCC Corvette concours, Fun concours, and People's Choice concours judging categories. Info: (717) 787-2799.
June 26, Englishtown, NJ. 2004 East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge Series. The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Quarter-mile bracket-style and heads-up all-Corvette drag racing. All race vehicles must be street muffled. Gates open 9 a.m. Info: (732) 446-7800; www.racewaypark.com or www.corvettechallenge.info.
June 27, Pittsburgh, PA. North Pittsburgh Corvette Club's 2nd Annual All-Corvette charity cruise at Baierl Chevrolet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (rain or shine). No admission fee. Free dash plaques for the first 125 Corvettes, People's Choice Awards, Chinese auction, door prizes, goodie bags, 50/50, food, music and much more. Info: Brenda Edwards firstname.lastname@example.org; www.npcorvetteclub.org.
July 16-17, Bowling Green, KY. National Corvette Homecoming at Southern Kentucky Fairgrounds at Lampkin Park. Admission $8 for adults, children under 12 free. Gates open Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. Two-day Corvette/GM car auction. Swap meet, car corral, seminars, women's retreat and fashion show, and free all-Corvette parade. Info: (270) 746-0306; www.nationalcorvettehomecoming.com.
July 25-29, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The National Corvette Restorers Society's National Convention. Info: Scott Sinclair (905) 857-1463 (evenings); Gary Mortimer (513) 385-8526 or (513) 385-6367 (days).