Winning Streak

Also from Issue 55

  • Hennessey ZR700
  • 1965 restomod
  • Market Report: C1/C2
  • 1982 Collector Edition
  • Tech: Cross-Fire Injection
  • Dutch collection
  • 1,000-bhp C5 convertible
  • Genes Vettes twin-turbo C6
  • 1964 Fuelie convertible
  • NCM 15th anniversary gathering
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But you got everything working for the race.

DeLorenzo: When the race started, the ’67 ran like a clock, but both ’68s started eating chassis parts, including the front spindles.

Thompson: It was the outer wheel bearing on the inside tire of the cars, which was the one being drug up the banking of the track. When you were on the banking, in your peripheral vision, you’d see a great shower of orange sparks. You knew the wheel bearing had turned to vapor [laughs].

DeLorenzo: So, we were going through those [wheel bearings], going through driveshafts and I think some halfshafts. Basically, all the rotating parts in the chassis had issues.

And yet, you somehow soldiered on.

DeLorenzo: We had spare parts, and when we ran out, Dick Guldstrand—who had a three-car team sponsored by Jim Garner—lent us some parts. His cars were out by then with unrepairable problems. In the wee hours of the morning, like 4 a.m., Jim Garner came over to our pits and was looking things over. There was a rivalry between the teams, of course, so not all of our guys were happy about it, but Jim smiled and said he was only stopping by to see how his parts were doing. So, he was everybody’s new best friend after that. Of course we finished, and there’s a famous photos of the three cars from our team finishing side by side.

Why didn’t the ’67 car suffer the same wheel-bearing issues and other problems as the ’68s?

DeLorenzo: We were using narrower tires on the ’67 car and it had a narrower track. But the ’68s simply needed more development work; they needed a heavy-duty spindle, fatter halfshafts. Gib Hufstader was our savior in the long run; he kept track of what we were breaking.

Thompson: I think Zora [Arkus-Duntov] was really the savior. When we got back to Detroit [after the race], he called us in for a debriefing and, after we told him all the problems, he put out the order right away to address them: put in a stronger spindle, make the relay rod heavier, make larger halfshafts, etc. People would tell him they tested the original parts at the proving ground and he’d say, “I didn’t ask for a discussion—go do it.” His attitude was that anybody should be able to take the Corvette and do what they wanted with it—within reason—and not worry about it.

When did you acquire your ’69 L88?

DeLorenzo: At the end of the 1968 season, we sold the ’67 car and bought a ’69 L88. We also put a new frame under the ’68 car and prepped both cars for the 1969 season, which started with the 24 Hours of Daytona.

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