We asked regular historic-Corvette racing front-runner Eric Dolson what his advice would be to an enthusiast thinking about going vintage or historic racing with a Corvette. His anwer, "Don't!" He then went on to explain, "a period Corvette is a handful at the best of times, and is way too powerful and way too fast to be anyone's first race car. At 160 mph, a lot can happen very quickly. The way to approach vintage or historic racing would be to start off with an MG Midget or something similar with no real power at all, and to learn to race before going anywhere near a track with a Corvette." He has a very good point.
Watching Eric driving Yellow Jacket-his black-and-yellow '69-is a useful lesson in itself. For a start, it's easy to watch him because he's about five hundred yards out in front of anybody else. He's smooth, and you can hear his throttle opening progressively as he comes past the apex of a corner and boots it for the next straight. When the next few Corvettes come along, they look OK going into the corner, but then you just hear a "blap roar" as they floor it and watch the rear ends wriggle as the tires scrabble for grip, and then the visceral thunder as a dozen full-race V-8s open up and hurtle past you down the next straight. That's why Eric is five hundred yards in front and cruising; having 550 bhp under the hood helps too, of course.
If you start racing with a Midget, you have perhaps 95 hp to play with, and you have to learn how to make the most of it. You have to judge how late you dare brake into a corner, and you have to keep it silky smooth, as you're balancing on the edge of grip all the time. If you don't keep it smooth and retain as much momentum as possible, you're going to have to recover all that lost speed by pushing the little engine flat out and waiting for the speed to build up again while everybody else overtakes you. So Eric's advice is sound: budget some time and money to learn to race before you learn to race a Corvette. It's possible to muddle through and to go quite fast by using a Corvette's power just to point and shoot, but that way you'll be in the middle of the pack at best and in the barrier at worst.
Can you afford to race a Corvette? If you stick to vintage racing, there's more of a possibility than with racing any modern Corvettes. Ken Petersen races the red C2 pictured, and candidly says it costs him about two grand for every weekend's racing, provided that nothing goes wrong with the car. Ken also keeps a few spare engines on hand, which is quite a commitment. however, he maintains that racing a historic Corvette is better than drinking or chasing women, and that he can always go out to his garage and just look at something gorgeous.