These are happy days for vintage-Corvette fans, as Chevrolet’s flagship two-seater currently holds the top spot in a very competitive field: the Pure Stock Drags. This race is for American performance cars that are as close to stock as possible, while remaining driveable. The event takes place each year on the second weekend after Labor Day in the boonies of central Michigan, and it draws muscle cars of all kinds: 442 W-30s, SS454s, Hemi Mopars, Cobra Jets, GS455 Stage Is, GTOs, 440 Six Packs, Boss Mustangs—you name it. All the heavy-hitters are there.
The lower ranks are casual. Everyone is invited to come out, have fun, and run their best time, whether fast or slow. But the upper echelons are loaded with experienced racers who take their fun seriously. Every year they get faster, and every year they’re out to knock off the top dog. And in recent years, a Corvette has held a mortal lock on the top spot they’re all gunning for.
The format of the Pure Stock Drags is unique. Cars must be in factory trim with OEM engines. Modifications for service—reasonable overbores, turned cranks, and so on—are OK, but the cams, valves, valvetrain, carbs, exhaust manifolds, drivelines, and even the wheels and tires have to be stock. No DOT sticky tires, porting or port matching, stroker cranks, or oversize valves are allowed. Each car gets an exam at registration, and a few of the eyebrow raisers get a closer inspection at the Heavy Tech tent. Any car can be P&G’d at any time if monkey business is suspected.
Other than that, Friday is open track. All runs are recorded, and each car is paired with the one running nearest its e.t.’s for a best-two-out-of-three shootout Saturday afternoon. It’s a fun weekend, and you’ve never seen so many great muscle cars running in one place.
We’ll note right up front that this story has a happy ending, but let’s not get too hasty: There’s a lot of good racing to cover before we reach the finals. We’re going to cover the seven Corvettes that raced at the 2012 Pure Stock Drags, taking a look at each one’s configuration, performance, and how it did against the competition.
For more information on the 2013 event, visit www.purestockdrags.com.
01 | 1969 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 13.15 @ 106.50Owner: Devin Conlee
Engine/HP: L71 Tri-power 427/435
Weight: 3,538 lbs
You know it’s a good day for Corvettes when the slowest one on hand is an L71 Tri-power running very low 13s. Devin Conlee and his 427 “triple deuce” square off against Bob Witt in his ’69 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler, a potent muscle car that actually qualified a tick quicker.
Round 1: Both cut excellent lights, but Conlee’s Corvette has the traction and uses it to step out front with a healthy lead. That’s the way they go through the traps: the Corvette by an easy car length.
Round 2: They swap lanes. Both come off the line hard, but again, the Corvette strides through the first 60 feet and opens up a lead. The SC/Rambler comes on strong, but Conlee hits all his shifts clean, and there’s just no catching that 427. Corvette sweeps this one in two straight.
1969 Corvette 427/435 vs. 1969 AMC SC/Rambler 390/315
|Round 1||Round 2|
|Corvette||13.25 @ 104.65||13.22 @ 105.34|
|SC/Rambler||13.48 @ 104.65||13.37 @ 105.39|
02 | 1966 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 13.04 @ 105.34
Owner: Donny Brass
Engine/HP: L79 327/350
Weight: 3,272 lbs
This super-sharp Milano Maroon ’66 coupe is the lightest Corvette at the party, and thanks to owner Brass’ driving skills, the svelte midyear can really fly. He’s up against Steve Rehberg’s ’70 Ram Air IV GTO Judge. Both cars are four-speeds, but the Pontiac is a lot heavier. In the traction-limited world of stock racing, that can actually be an advantage at the critical launch.
Round 1: Rehberg is an experienced GTO pilot, but he gets a little trigger-happy and redlights Round 1 away. Brass has already won, but he pours on the coal anyway, rocketing to a 13.12.
Round 2: Rehberg cuts a quick light, but by the time they pass the tree, Brass has got a fender on him. The Corvette’s well ahead at mid-track, but the Goat is coming on strong. It’s not to be, as the Vette flashes through the traps first, despite the Poncho’s higher mph. This one’s through in two.
1966 Corvette 327/350 vs. 1969 GTO Judge Ram Air III 400/370
|Round 1||Round 2|
|Corvette||13.12 @ 104.78||13.28 @ 103.15|
|GTO||14.17 @ 103.16*||13.59 @ 104.95|
03 | 1971 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 12.20 @ 117.11
Owner: Jeff Morgan
Engine/HP: LS6 454/425
Weight: 3,644 lbs
Here’s one for ages. Is the LS6 faster in the Corvette, down-rated to 425hp, or in the heavier SS454 Chevelle with its huge 450hp rating? Qualifying times are nearly identical: 12.58 (Corvette) and 12.56 (Chevelle). Jeff Morgan’s got short 4.30 gears in the Corvette, while Dale Waligora’s got nearly-as-steep 4.10s in the Chevelle. This should be good.
Round 1: Waligora kicks things off with a redlight. Both drivers abort.
Round 2: Waligora cuts the better light, but Morgan is battling back as they clear the tree. The Chevelle’s a beast in the first half, but the Corvette has a powerful top-end charge. At the traps, it’s the Chevelle first, despite Morgan’s quicker and faster numbers. Time for a tie-breaker.
Round 3: The Chevelle is again off the line first, thanks to Waligora’s superb 0.097 reaction time, and this time he’s quicker through the first 60 feet. Morgan uncorks his best run of the meet, but it’s not enough to run down the fleeing SS454.
’71 Corvette 454/425 vs. ’70 Chevelle SS454/450
|Round 1||Round 2||Round 3|
|Corvette||16.40 @ 69.95||12.47 @ 115.56||12.49 @ 115.69|
|Chevelle SS||14.44 @ 69.47*||12.66 @ 110.67||12.37 @ 111.75|