Mike Brockman has been a driver of note for many years. He's piloted just about every form of car and truck fast through the curves of Watkins Glen to the wild of Baja, and even spent some time as the chief test driver for Motor Trend magazine. He's lived in the fast lane for most of his life.
Currently, Brockman resides in Connecticut, running a car dealership for longtime friend and fellow racer Paul Newman. Brockman remembers fondly the days driving for John Greenwood and the successes they shared codriving Team Greenwood Corvettes. But it wasn't Greenwood who would give him his first stint behind the wheel of his first Greenwood car; that honor fell to longtime friend and Trans-Am star driver, Ron Grable.
"Ron and I had had some great success driving Formula 5000 cars in the early '70s," says Michael Brockman. "So when Ron had the chance to select his codriver for the '73 Sebring race, I was the guy he called. I remember I hitchhiked, my normal mode of transportation at that time, from Orlando to Sebring for the race. I was going to school at the University of Central Florida, and Orlando to Sebring just wasn't that far.
"Greenwood was running three cars that year, all '73 big-block cars. Grable picked the 427ci-powered car for our team. The other Greenwood Corvettes had bigger engines, as big as 501ci, I think. Grable figured we had the best chance of winning with that 427 car, and he proved right."
At the time, there had been a slight rift between Greenwood and Grable prior to the race, and Grable ended up running the 427 Corvette somewhat separately from Greenwood's other team cars. In fact, Grable used his own mechanic, who went by the nickname "Root Beer." For Sebring that year, all of the celebrity Corvette folks were also in attendance or running cars, including Zora Arkus-Duntov, Bob Reilly, and Don Yenko. The most interesting thing about the entry wasn't the huge big-block engine or the Greenwood preparation of the car, but that it was running on BFGoodrich Goodrich T/A radial street-treaded tires.
"As fate would have it, Grable and Greenwood would get together on the first lap of the race, which probably didn't make things between them any better," Brockman continues. "Grable came out of the bump better, he was one hell of a driver, and Greenwood, I think, ended up off course. By the end of the race, Grable and I were running First in class and Fourth or Fifth overall.
"Greenwood talked to Grable and wanted to drive the car at the next break. As it turned out, he did take a turn and the car finished Third overall, the highest street-tired finish ever for a car at Sebring. The record shows that all three of us were responsible for the effort," said Brockman.
Brockman got a call in 1975 to race again, this time directly from Greenwood. Their efforts that year proved successful as they overcame a number of mechanical problems and race challenges. After qualifying seventh at the Daytona 24-hour race in 1976 on seven cylinders, Brockman raced to the lead on the third lap, overtaking legendary racer Peter Gregg. For 13 hours, they held the lead in the "Super Corvette," but high engine compression caused detonation, and ultimately, a broken connecting rod put them out of the race, according to Brockman.
Says Brockman, "I had a great time running with Greenwood during that time. He was really good to me. In that Daytona, we ended up setting the course record for the back straight at 221 mph; that was prior to them putting that kink in the course it has today."
John Greenwood would set many records during his career, on and off the course. His legend lives on today.