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1968 L88 Chevrolet Corvette FAST Racing Class & Other News- Inside Track

Brad Ocock Jan 1, 2006
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'69 L88 cuts 10.99 on FAST Times Terror
One of the generally accepted facts of our hobby is cars just don't run fast on bias-ply tires. They also don't like breathing through cast-iron exhaust manifolds, stock intake manifolds, or factory air-cleaner assemblies. Everyone knows the first step to make your car faster is installing headers, adding a performance intake and carb, and mounting wider tires.

Apparently Wayne Nelson and his friends running the FAST class didn't get the memo.

FAST (Factory Appearing Stock Tire) is a racing class that grew out of the Pure Stock drags. The name says it all-the cars must look concours-correct right down to the casting numbers, full exhaust, factory-size tires, and have to sound stock at idle-otherwise, anything goes.

Four years ago when the class was started, the limiting factor was thought to be bias-ply tires-700 hp doesn't matter if you can't get it to the ground. Everyone figured the tires would limit e.t.'s to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) 11.99 rollbar requirements. Initially, the cars were running low 12s and 11.99 was a big deal. Eventually they started creeping into the 11s, then lower. Most tracks looked the other way on the rollbar issue until NHRA re-wrote the rule requiring rollbars in cars running 11.50 plus. The revision accommodated new Mustangs, Vipers and Corvettes, but FAST cars also benefitted.

Jump ahead a few years and these "restored" cars are running low 11s with air cleaner assemblies and full exhaust. Year One was instrumental in starting the class and last year offered a $1,000 bounty to the first car running in the 10s.

At the June 17 race held in Martin, Michigan, everyone anticipated fast times with the unseasonably cool air-barely above 60 degrees-since the entire class was already running in the 11.20s and 11.10s. A few cars dipped into the 11.00s but the cool temperatures didn't seem to affect the times.

Then Wayne Nelson posted a 10.99 at 127.85 mph in his '69 L88 Corvette and Year One had to pay up. Like most cars in this class, Nelson's Corvette will hold its own on any concours judging field. While Nelson's 10.99 was the fastest of the race, he fell to Terry Pennington's '69 ZL-1 clone in the final round, running a 11.58 at 127.05 mph to Pennington's winning 11.35 at 126.14 mph.

To put this in a little perspective, prior to the advent of Pro Stock at the end of the '60s, Top Stock and Super Stock cars were running in the mid-11s, with aftermarket intakes, open headers, ram air or hood scoops, no air cleaners, slicks and traction bars.

Nelson also made an appearance at this year's Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. Lining up against one of the reigning Mopars, a '69 Hemi Plymouth GTX, the blue Stingray received boos and sneers from the Mopar crowd. With the flash of the green light, the L88 launched down the 1320 while the 3,900-lb-plus Hemi GTX groaned under its own weight and struggled to catch up. The spectators fell silent as the lightweight L88 Corvette cruised down the shut off lane, ripping off a 10.93 at 128 mph to win the event.

Nelson idled back to his trailer, locked up, and waited for the next day's awards ceremony. The Shark ultimately walked away with first place, having made an indelible mark on the Mopar crowd who thought the mighty Elephant was unstoppable.

Corvette Enthusiast Receives Pennzoil Platinum Prize
Marion Galloway (left) of Lafayette, Indiana, re-ceived the Platinum Prize at the 21st Annual Midwest Corvette and Chevy Show in Valparaiso, Indiana, from George Kiser of Pennzoil. The award honors auto enthusiasts nationwide who have made the ultimate commitment to protect their custom and classic vehicles. Galloway will also receive a lifetime supply of the new full-synthetic Pennzoil Platinum motor oil and will be inducted into the Platinum Hall of Fame on

Galloway's '78 Indy 500 Corvette pace-car replica was the featured attraction at the Penn-zoil Platinum Garage during the show. The garage travels to auto events nationwide and includes an interactive display trailer with synthetic oil displays, video, and a cut-away engine.

Galloway owns more than 30 Corvettes from all six generations dating back to the '50s. His collection includes replicas of all Corvette Indianapolis 500 pace cars. He also is a member of the Cross Flag Corvette Club, numerous Corvette registries, and he owns Harley Davidson of Crete, Illinois.

Corvette Racing Wins GT1 Manufacturers Championship at Road America
On a picturesque day at Road America, Corvette Racing clinched the GT1 Manufacturers Championship for Chevrolet and the team championship for Corvette Racing when Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, and the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6-R beat teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell with a 132-second victory.

This victory was the fourth win in five races for Gavin and Beretta, including a victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With three races remaining, the two "Ollies" moved within three points of Fellows and O'Connell (127-130) in the race for the GT1 Drivers Championship.

"Chevrolet races to win in every series," said Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan. "It's a great day when Chevy wraps up its fifth consecutive ALMS Manufacturers Championship. There was some intense, exciting racing on the track today. If the race had gone one more lap, the outcome might have been different."

An unscheduled pit stop proved to be the decisive moment for the No. 4 Corvette C6-R. Gavin started on the pole for the two-hour, 45-minute race, and led the GT1 class through the first hour and 13 minutes.

On a restart following the first caution period, Gavin had to battle the Saleen S7R of Johnny Mowlem, with unexpected results.

"The Saleen made a banzai run past me on the restart, and as he came by, he gave me a smack on the side," Gavin recalled. "He left the door open going into Turn 1 and I dove up the inside and took the position. Unfortunately, I locked the brakes and flat-spotted the left front tire with that pass. I continued to race, but the performance was definitely down and we had to change the tire. I was fortunate when the next caution came out; it was an opportune time for us to pit."

Beretta replaced Gavin and the team changed four tires and refueled the car, knocking the No. 4 Corvette out of sequence with its sister car and dropped Beretta to fourth in the class standings. Nineteen minutes later, he was back in second.

The No. 3 Corvette C6-R pitted for a green-flag stop at the one-hour, 53-minute mark. O'Connell replaced Fellows and the team changed four tires and refueled.

Three minutes later, the No. 4 was in the pits for a third stop; a quick 18-seconds for gas gave Beretta a commanding lead.

"We only had to fill half a tank, and that's faster than doing a full stop with a change of tires," explained crew chief Ray Gongla. "That's where we gained position, and that made the difference. It just happened that the pit stops benefited the No. 4 Corvette today."

Racing nose-to-tail with his teammate in the closing laps, O'Connell cut Beretta's margin from 15 seconds to a heartbeat in the final 45 minutes. "I think the No. 3 car was the stronger of the two today, but sometimes things don't go your way," O'Connell conceded. "The fact that we could come back strong at the finish shows we had a great race car today. Anytime it's a 1-2 Corvette finish, it's a good result."

Fellows agrees. "We were running race laps only a second off our qualifying times, and that's just outstanding," said the Canadian. "The car was working really well after we made a tire pressure adjustment on the first pit stop. The C6-R is an absolute treat to drive around a race track like Road America. When you have a good car, there aren't many tracks that are as much fun as this one."

"Everybody at Corvette Racing has done a fantastic job with the new C6-R to win the Manufacturers Championship with three races to go," said Gavin. "Things have fallen into place for Olivier and me over the last few races, and we just want to keep that momentum going. It's going to be really close through the end of the year."

With the manufacturer and team championships now decided, the race for the GT1 Drivers Championship will be in the spotlight in the final three rounds of the 10-race series.

New Corvette Six-Speed Automatic Available for '06 Coupe and Convertible
The '06 Corvette coupe and convertible models are available with a new electronically-controlled six-speed paddle-shift transmission with automatic modes. The transmission has three driving modes-drive, sport, and paddle shift-and a wide, 6.04:1 overall ratio that enables a balance of stirring acceleration and excellent fuel economy.

The new electronically-controlled six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission is one of the most technologically advanced transmissions in the industry, featuring clutch-to-clutch operation, manual control shift operation, and an integrated 32-bit electronic controller. The six forward gears have smaller "steps" between them to enhance the feeling of performance and smoothness. The smaller steps also enable a steep 4.02:1 First gear, which provides an improved-performance launch when compared with the previous four-speed automatic 3.06:1 First gear. There are two Overdrive gears: a 0.85:1 ratio in fifth gear and a 0.67:1 ratio in sixth. The final drive ratio of Corvette models equipped with the new transmission is 2.56:1.

Technological sophistication is exemplified by two electronically controlled automatic modes, drive and sport, in addition to manual paddle shift. The drive mode optimizes shifts for smoothness and the sport mode enables firmer shifts for better performance. With the paddle shift mode, gear changes are made with manual control paddles located on the steering wheel.

The performance and functions of the six-speed paddle shift transmission with automatic modes are guided by an integrated controller. The controller is inside the transmission, reducing complexity. A 300mm torque converter, rear bellhousing, driveline support, and revised-length driveshaft also support the transmission's integration into the Corvette.

Royal Purple-Corvette fever Trivia Quiz
This month, Corvette Fever is continuing the new Royal Purple-Corvette Fever Trivia Quiz. The Royal Purple Trivia question will be featured in each issue of Corvette Fever and at Readers can answer via e-mail or regular mail. Those who answer correctly will be part of a drawing for a $200 gift certificate from Royal Purple. The winner of the contest will be featured in the next issue of Corvette Fever.

Enter the Royal Purple Trivia Quiz by answering the question and filling out the required information online, or by sending the answer on a 3x5 card with your name, address, phone number, and date of birth. See Rules on page 89.

This month's Royal Purple-Corvette Fever Trivia Quiz question is:

What was the first model year the AM/FM radio became standard equipment in the Corvette?

Send your written entry form to:Royal Purple Trivia QuizCorvette Fever Magazine9036 Brittany WayTampa, FL 33619Or answer online at:

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