In 1974 at the Detroit Auto Show the public got their first glimpse of the wide-body Chevrolet Corvette. It was immediately given the nickname 'Batmobile' by the press. The vehicle, based on the third-generation Corvette, had been constructed for SCCA and IMSA road racing competition.
The wide-body, also known as slab-side, was constructed in such a way to comply with racing regulations, improve aerodynamics, reduce lift, add extra down-force, and improve ventilation. The nose sat very low to the ground because the body was dropped around the frame.
The car made its racing debut at Road Atlanta after two years of development and testing. Bobby Allison's big-block Camaro provided stiff competition in the ten lap race but in the end it was the Corvette that took top honors. That was the beginning of a successful season and an impressive racing career.
In 1972 John Greenwood raced a Corvette in one of the worlds most famous, prestigious, and grueling races – the 24 Hours of LeMans. He was teamed with comedian Dick Smothers and together they qualified 38th. After 10 hours of the race the team was forced to retire, however, they had managed to last an hour longer than the team car driven by Alain Cudini and Bernard Darniche.
The following year Greenwood returned to LeMans with the famous Chevrolet dealer Don Yenko in a two-car effort. Unfortunately, both vehicles were unable to achieve the desired success.
Three years later Greenwood returned to LeMans, this time with his wide-body Corvettes. With over 700 horsepower of fuel-injected big-block muscle, the cars were reported to have a top speed of 240 mph. Adorned with an American flag paint scheme, the Greenwood Corvette qualified 9th. Unfortunately the car was DNF'd due to a failed fuel-cell after just five hours of racing.
Though the desired success was not achieved at LeMans, the car did prove its potential state-side by dominating many of the races it entered. While at LeMans it achieved 228 mph, a true testament to its potent engine and excellent aerodynamics.
The cars have been featured in magazines such as Hot Rod Magazine and Road & Track. It was even hailed by many as the 'fastest Corvette in the world.'By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2006
Little Red Corvette71-84 IMSA/SCCA Widebody AKA #821971-1972
#82 started life in 1971 as a purpose built car to IMSA/SCCA specifications and raced IMSA, SCCA and a number of other events including what was billed as the first official SCCA US street race, on the streets of Warren Michigan, by builder/driver Bob Krekel. Bob was looking to move to IMSA racing coming from the CanAm series where he raced a Lola, and a McLaren M8F. In these early years #82 wore a more standard body with wide fender flares and one piece removable front bodywork, little remains of #82 in this configuration other than the frame and engine, many of the current/original engine components including Chevrolet aluminum heads and the magnesium water pump came from the earlier CanAm cars.1973-1976
During the summer of 1973 Bob had met with Zora Arkus-Duntov to discuss Corvettes support and collaboration with IMSA racing teams, one of the outcomes was an introduction to John Greenwood. Bob visited Greenwoods shop, then housed with American Custom Industries in Sylvania Ohio. John provided the Sterling racing wheels currently on the car, pulling the 17 inch wide rears off the now famous 'Spirit of Sebring'. Greenwood also provided a number of the interior and exterior body panels and suspension parts. #82 went through major changes prior to the 1974 season, being completely rebuilt to new IMSA specifications, and raced extensively in this configuration during the 1974, 75, and 76 season by Bob and Group 7 Racing Development, near Cleveland Ohio. #82 was custom built from all new components, including Greenwood widebody, Greenwood suspension, new tubular steel alloy cage, Wilwood brakes, 32 gallon Firestone fuel cell, and Kaiser dry brake, a Muncie M-21 transmission, connected to the Hilborn/Kinsler fuel injection 460 cubic-inch 740+ horsepower big block.
Crashing at Mid Ohio early in 1977, #82 was again rebuilt to new IMSA specifications for the 1978/1979 season, including engine set back and lowering, Stahl/Greenwood headers, reengineering the rear suspension including Frankland Quick Change with 14 gear changes, Carrera coil over struts, Koni coil over front, and custom rear bodywork by American Custom. #82 was raced lightly in both IMSA and SCCA during the 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1984 seasons by Bob and co-driver Wayne Samuelson as Krekel/Samuelson Racing, painted blue and generally configured as you see the car now.
#82 was prepped and stored for the 85 race season but was never professionally raced again. Stored in a warehouse until it was purchased by Steven Rhodes as auction in 1990, who then stored it until his passing in 1998, its background had not followed its years of storage and little was known of the car or its history at this point. Steve's brother David and his wife Deaun undertook the restoration and updating to today's race/street/show configuration of #82 in 2000. In late 2000 David finally found Bob Krekel through phone calls to people listed in papers related to the cars ownership history. After speaking with Bob, he came the very next day to see the car for the first time in 15 years. Upon inspecting it, he asked why it had never been restored or raced. It was explained that when the car was purchased in 1990, several major and key systems of the car was missing, including the Frankland Quick Change and special axles, the Aviaid Dry Sump System, the Wilwood brake system, and Vertex Magneto. Bob smiled and informed the owners 'That's because 15 years later they are still in my garage.' Reuniting these original components along with the original dump fuel tanks, and an extra set of Sterling Mags, aloud #82 to be brought back to pristine but updated original conditions.
Changes made to #82 post 1984 are 4: 1) Paint and finish, 2) An additional set of 4 inch side pipes were fabricated with in line muffler for street use. 3) Brass radiator replaced with aluminum racing radiator and dual electric fans. 4) Steeroids rack and pinion with KRC racing power steering pump mounted to the dry sump pump by Aviad. All post 1984 changes are bolt on with original parts retained.
Every component or system was sent to the original manufacturer for rebuild, and all hoses and fittings were replaced with new Aeroquip. All metal parts have been powder coated in silver or clear red over silver. The body was stripped, straightened, gel coated and painted Inferno Red Pearlcoat. The original 1973, 454 was rebuilt and balanced from bar block and now displaces 468 cubic-inch, 650+ horsepower, and over 600 ft-pounds of torque across most all ranges. At 2565 pounds dry weight the car is fast and quick. #82 was shown 90 percent complete at the Racer and Race Car Reunion at Corvettes at Carlisle in 2004.