|Chassis: OCF/T.P.I. 002-68|
This 1968 L-88 Corvette was campaigned as one of two Owens Corning Fiberglass cars during the 1970/71 racing season. Driven by Tony Delorenzo, Jerry Thompson, Don Yenko and Jerry Maher.
- 1970 Daytona 24 Hours - 1st place GT: 6th overall, finished ahead of 250LM Ferrari in 7th and Ford GT40 in 8th (Thompson & Maher).
- 1969 Sebring 12 Hour - finished 2nd place GT (Delorenzo & Thompson).
- SCCA National Champ 'A Production' 1969 (Thompson).
- SCCA National Champ 'A Production' 1972 (Jerry Hansen).
Campaigned as Sunray DX #4 at Daytona 24 Hours and #30 at Sebring 12 Hour in 1968 (Delorenzo and Thompson).
This car never lost to a Cobra or Ford GT40 during the 1970/71 racing season when it won 22 of 22 national SCCA/FIA events.
Combining an estimated 685 bhp big block Chevrolet racing engine with a Muncie M-22 'Rockcrusher' transmission and front and rear independent suspension and the result would be nothing short of spectacular. Put it all under a Corvette body and the result would be what is widely regarded as the most successful Corvette in Corvette racing history.
When it came to sportscars in America there really was only one name—Corvette. Decades would pass and the American built Corvette would be a regular sight at such famed venues as Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. And though it had to go it alone, it would often prove to be every bit the equal of its more refined European sportscar brethren. Amongst the lower ranks of SCCA 'A Production' and 'B Production', the Corvette would be indomitable.
Year after year, the Corvette would remain a force to be reckon with in sportscar racing. Then came the Stingray. Birthed in 1968, and inspired by the 1967 Mako Shark Show Car, the Corvette Stingray, with its 'Coke bottle' styling would feature fully-independent front and rear suspension and would be completed with four-wheel disc brakes. The beautifully flowing lines of the car seemed the perfect host for one massive, bruising engine. This made for one incredible pairing. However, it wasn't the ultimate.
There were a select number of Stingrays that would be dubbed, famously, 'The Fast and the Few'. These cars represented the absolute cream in Corvette sportscar racing. Sporting fiberglass bodies and the romping L-88 big block Chevrolet racing engine, these were considered the privileged few, and they were also the most dominant.
There were only a handful of teams that rose to the top because of their exclusive use of the L-88 Corvette. One of those would be John Greenwood and his 'Stars & Stripes' cars. Dave Heinz would be another of the successful teams. Driving the 'Rebel Flag' cars, Heinz would often beat Greenwood as a result of superior race strategy and reliability.
However, there would be another team that would enter L-88 that would be considered the most successful. Competing in SCCA events, as well as, all U.S.-based FIA distance races, the Tony DeLorenzo/Jerry Thompson Corvette Team would have to be considered the cream that rose to the very top.
DeLorenzo would come out of the automotive industry being the son of General Motors executive John DeLorenzo. However, Tony's real passion just happened to be motor racing. His career in business administration and public relations would come in handy though when he came to know and respect the other half of the successful partnership.
Jerry Thompson graduated from Iowa State as an automotive engineer but would go on to win a number of SCCA National and Divisional titles. A mechanical engineer, Thompson understood well the inner-workings of a race car and could get the maximum from any car.
Combining Thompson's driving and engineering skills with DeLorenzo's driving and public relations talents meant the pair would secure sponsorship from Owens Corning Fiberglas Corporation. Having a nice large budget to work with, Thompson could set about extracting the very limits out of the L-88 Corvettes. The results would be astounding.
The results would include 1969 and 1972 SCCA National 'A' Production Championships, 1968 and 1970 SCCA National 'A' Production Runner-Up, 2nd place in GT at the 1969 12 Hours of Sebring and GT Class victories in the 1969 and 1970 24 Hours of Daytona. Perhaps most impressive is the performance in the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona where it finished 6th overall behind two Porsche 917s, a Ferrari 512 and two Ferrari 312s. Amazingly, the team would manage to finish ahead of even a Ford GT40. In a period between 1969 to 1971 the team would go on to score 22 victories out of 22 SCCA/FIA National Events. One of those cars, 002/68 would score half of those victories all by itself.
Chassis OCF/T.P.I.-002/68, however, would be lost to memory after the car was sold to Jerry Hansen at the end of the 1971 season. A previous owner of chassis 003/69 would then hire Corvette historian David Reisner to locate the lost Owens Corning L-88 car. One of Reisner's contacts would then happen upon a conversation in which a gentleman would be overheard claiming his Corvette was a former Hansen and Owens Corning car. He would even go so far as to claim that Hansen's 1972 SCCA number was still stamped on the roll-over bar. Reisner knew he had found 002/68. A deal would be struck and the car would be sold.
Chassis 002/68 would be purchased in 1990. However, it would remain in its state at that time for no less than a decade. However, with some motivation coming in the form of the 2002 Corvette Feature Marque in the Monterey Historics, the previous owner would commission a restoration of the L-88 Corvette back to original specifications when it was an Owens Corning Fiberglas race car.
Often entered and driven by Jerry Thompson, 002/68 would have a competition record that would be the envy of just about class of car. However, when the restoration was finished, the car would find about as much success in concours and vintage motorsports events.
The restored L-88 would first make its appearance in the 2002 Pebble Beach Concours during the 50th anniversary celebration for the Corvette. As a result of that appearance the car would be invited to appear at 'Chip's Choice' at the 2007 Corvettes at Carlisle and would also take part in the 2008 Amelia Island Concours and Quail Motorsports event in Monterey.
Chassis 002/68 would go on to earn the American Heritage Award in 2007 and would be featured in a number of publications, including Corvette News, Vintage Motorsports, Corvette Magazine and Peter Gimenez's definitive book on the L-88 Corvettes. In the case of Gimenez's book, 002/68 would actually serve as the book's cover photo.
The car displayed prominently in 2008 when it shared center stage at the Petersen Automotive Museum Corvette Racing Tribute and would also enjoy a spell in the Corvette Hall of Fame at the National Corvette Museum in 2009.
Presented in its 1971 24 Hours of Daytona livery and sporting a treasure-trove of documentation, pictures, publications, race results and other intrinsic information, 002/68 is more than a car. A car with a provenance that would be the envy of the Corvette community, the car is as much myth and legend as it is real and tangible—a priceless piece of Corvette racing history.
Sold to its current owner in 2006, chassis 002/68 would be made available at the 2012 RM Auctions event held at Monterey. Estimates prior to auction ranged from $950,000 to $1,350,000.
'Lot No. 141: 1968 Chevrolet L-88 Corvette Owens/Corning FIA/SCCA Racing Car', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MO12&CarID=r217). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MO12&CarID=r217. Retrieved 2 January 2013.By Jeremy McMullen