It takes some impressive driving and an equally impressive machine to win an autocross event three out of four years, but that is what Danny Popp of Columbus, Ohio has accomplished this weekend at the 2016 Goodguys Duel in the Dessert. Goodguys have been putting on the autocross competition here for the last four years and Danny has taken home the win every year but one.
The car he uses to get the job done is a 1972 Corvette—an original LT1 car modified for the track. Noticing that Corvettes were starting to go downhill in 1973, Danny’s father bought this ’72 model Vette when it was 10 months old instead of purchasing a new car. Now, in 2016, the same car has been in the same family and raced by Danny and both his parents for 43 years and counting.
The car has diverged a bit from its original state, but everything Danny has done to the car is bolt-on. The Vette retains its original frame, four-speed M21 Muncie gearbox, and even the original IRS rearend.
Three years ago, Danny dropped some serious power into his Corvette in the form of an LS7 built by Lingenfelter. The engine now displaces 388 ci after being modified with a shortened crankshaft from a base LS engine which decreased the stroke to 3.625-inches. The heads were ported by Lingenfelter to match the Lingenfelter camshaft. Sitting between the cylinder heads is a single-plane intake manifold like you would find on a carbureted engine but instead of a carb, Danny’s LS7 sports sequential port injection and Holley EFI.
Danny needed to take his ’72 to the next level in order to be competitive on the autocross, so he went to Vansteel for a coilover conversion kit. The damping is handled by double-adjustable shocks from JRI which are paired with springs from Hypercoils. Keeping the unsprung weight low and capabilities high, he used Wilwood disk brakes behind Forgeline wheels wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber.
The exterior of the Corvette is classic yet aggressive with L88 Corvette fender flares. All the bodywork and paint was done by Corvette TLC in Columbus, Ohio back in 1999.
The newest edition to the outside of the Corvette is a number 63 decal in the top driver’s side corner of the windshield—the number of his good friend Todd who passed away from cancer in September this year. Danny plans to carry on his friend’s legacy by finishing Corvette he was working on before passing away. “Next year you guys will want to see the Corvette he was building that I’ll be running,” Danny says, “It’s a mid-year corvette that’s gonna be otherworldly.”
Until then, Danny and his ’72 will just have to enjoy their place in the Goodguys Top 12 after winning the Autocrosser of the Year award.