I never owned a Chevrolet Corvette but always wished that I had. The first Corvette that I didn’t own was in 1969 when a friend decided to sell me his 1966 coupe. It was stunning example and I can still see it in my mind’s eye: all slick and silver with knock off alloys and outside exhaust. I couldn’t quite meet his $2500 asking price so it slipped though my fingers. Over the years there have been other brief flirtations including a black Greenwood C4 that was too expensive for its poor condition. Then there was the red ZR-1 that I really loved but was treated so shabby by the dealer that I walked away. That’s another car that’s stuck in my mind. It’s been a while since I’ve gone Vette shopping but David Kimble’s new book—Corvette Racing—is giving me the itch again.
Corvette Racing is a lushly produced 256-page coffee table book from Motorbooks that is chock full of 155 and 95 beautiful photos including Kimble’s own beautifully executed and informative cutaway artwork. Starting with a fascinating look at the early days of racing a car whose six-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and weak brakes were clearly that was not ready for a race track, the first chapter details the efforts of Zora Arkus-Duntov and the “Real McCoy,” a special that was raced at Sebring in 1956, to make the Corvette a true sports car.
The book shows the history of factory-sponsored and private racing efforts, chronicling the history of the various Vettes that have been put to the test on the track. While I’ve seen and photographed Corvettes on the track I was much more familiar with all of the street variants that have been available since 1953, so Corvette Racing was an eye opener for me. The quality of printing on high quality paper, especially for some of the early images, is incredible and there are lots of surprising entries, such as a portrait of Betty Skelton who ran the flying mile at 137.773 mph in an early Corvette. Because I never got over that silver ’66 I really enjoyed reading the chapter entitled “A Second Generation Fights back” showing the racing accomplishments of the mid-year cars but there also more her for fans of C3’s and C4’s including that ZR-1 (of mine) that got away. This is a fun and informative book written for Corvette lovers of all levels, including wannabes like me.
The last entry in the book marks the Corvette entry at Petit leMans in October 10, 2010 and now with the recent launch of the C7 Stingray, the latest generation racing Corvettes are ready to start breaking records and winning anew. Corvette Racing is loving depiction and tale of all that went before and is the perfect gift for the Corvette enthusiast in your life—even if it’s yourself.