The Lone Star Classic 500

500 Corvettes and Thousands of Fans Flock to the Texas Motor Speedway

Rob Wallace III Sep 19, 2003 0 Comment(s)

The Texas sun is hot, and the humidity is getting oppressive with summer just around the corner. But, nobody seems to pay any mind to these trivial discomforts while blasting around the big Texas Motor Speedway oval or taking hot laps around the infield road course. There's way too much fun to be had to let a little sunburn slow you down!

From Friday, May 16th through Sunday the 18th, hundreds of Vettes and their fans converged around the Texas Motor Speedway for a weekend packed with excitement and fun. At TMS--quickly becoming renowned for intense NASCAR racing, not to mention being the venue for the C5R's first GTS win in September 2000--there was something for everybody, whether for one day or the entire weekend. This year's event, the 14th Annual Classic put on by the Lone Star Corvette Club, was by far the largest one yet--drawing over 500 cars from all over Texas and the surrounding states. Corvetters all but took over the new Doral Tesoro Hotel, the official headquarters for the Classic, conveniently located just across Highway 114 from the Speedway.

An action-packed Friday lit things off in grand-Texan style. There was 1/8-mile drag racing all afternoon at the Denton Dragway, as well as a 50-50 Poker Run that originated from the Marriott Solana just down the road and a golf tournament at the Trophy Club Country Club.

Also going on all-day Friday, 61 racers (broken into three almost-equal heats) ran laps on the Khana Cross course designed by special guest Nick Cole in the Speedway's parking lot. Dale Pontius, took first in the C1-2 class while posting a 1.05.169 lap. John Slaughter was top of the C3 heap with his 55.672 time; Gary Swan bested the C4s in 51.418 seconds; and Gary Ellsworth won the C5 class with a 53.600 pass. In Z06s, Chip Rogan bested the field with 51.498 seconds.

As the sun settled and evening temperatures cooled down, the fun was still just warming up. Everyone was invited to the welcome party at the Doral, which included a down-home Texas barbecue and a fully pre-planned and approved "Wheels 'n' Pipes Challenge" (read burnout contest) right there in the hotel's parking lot! A C4 nitro funny car took the laurels, hands down.

Saturday's Show 'n' Shine was set underneath the Speedway bleachers, providing some much-appreciated shelter from the sun, and it had an aisle of Vettes and vendors wrapping around almost the entire length of the Tri-oval's front chute. The "car corral" was organized into a myriad of categories that included a wide range of vintages and styles for both concourse-judged and people's-choice voting, in addition to offering a swap meet and special guest speaking and signing sessions.

Back at the Doral on Saturday evening, the banquet dinner was accompanied by keynote addresses from notable guests Dick Guldstrand and Dollie Cole, a live auction run by tuxedoed, yet jovial professional auctioneers peddling all sorts of goodies, and then, of course, the awards. A wide variety of items were also up for grabs in a silent auction that ran until the very end of the night, all to benefit the Speedway Children's Charities, the National Corvette Museum, and Gilda's House.

Sunday proved to be another warm and sunny day as scores of Vettes gathered in the infield of the Speedway. The entire day was loaded with adrenaline-laden hot laps on both the 1 1/2-mile banked oval and the infield road course. The track belonged to the Lone Star Corvettes from morning 'til early evening, except for a few designated breaks in the oval action for participants to buy rides in the Team Texas Driving School NASCARs. That meant plenty of hot action to satiate drivers, passengers, and spectators alike. Thanks goes to Susan Rudman for generously sharing her '97 six-speed coupe so that the lunatic magazine guy could enjoy the road course, too!

The Lone Star Corvette Classic 500 kicked off the 2003 summer season off in grand fashion. After three full days of fun, sun, and all-out action, it was enough to squeeze a contented sigh out of even the most diehard enthusiasts!

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Al Hanna, running his '02 Z06 on racing tires in the Modified class, had the fastest time of the day--running 47.929 seconds in Friday's Khana.

Officer Rusty Taylor is quite the showman, racing the Khana with lights flashing and siren blaring.

Nick Cole, gifted driver and son of the late Ed Cole (former GM President) and Dollie Cole (former chairlady of the National Corvette Museum), designed the Khana Cross circuit. Monsieur Cole reportedly ran a best unofficial 50.462-second time in Greg Hester's stock Z06.

Victor Bretting's mighty supercharged custom '01 coupe stood out in Saturday's Show 'n' Shine.

The vibrant '62 owned and built by David Nelson rides on a Paul Newman/Car Creations chassis with '96 C4 suspension and is powered by 450+hp LS1. Sweet!

Johnny Downs' '67 is not only a rare 427/400hp drop top with air conditioning and a four-speed, it's also looks immaculate!

It's not every day that you see a tri-powered 427 in a '57 Solid-Axle roadster! This nostalgia dragster is cool!

Special guests like legendary racer Dick Guldstrand were on hand to offer special speaking and signing sessions. Dick gave a couple seminars about his upcoming book, 50 Years of Corvette Thunder.

Dollie Cole celebrated her 39th, umm, we mean 73rd, birthday on May 13--just before arriving for the Classic. The Lone Star crew surprised her with a cake at the awards banquet Saturday night.

As you can see, only a few people were interested in running hot laps on the Texas oval.

A TMS pace car led the Vettes--about 10 cars at a time--in lead-follow laps around the 1 1/2-mile Tri-oval at triple-digit speeds.

Sunday's fun 'n' games weren't just for Corvette owners. Five-year-old Trenton Tidwell, who is battling Burkitt's Leukemia at Children's Medical Center of Dallas and is a major Corvette fan, was treated to several hot laps around the oval in a '96 Grand Sport--with an entourage that included Rusty Taylor's C4 police Vette in hot pursuit. As a bonus, he and his parents were also given a ride in a brand-new American Eurocopter over the Speedway.

Parents Lisa and Dean were almost as thrilled as Trenton himself...

...Little Trenton might consider a future in drag racing if and when he conquers his cancer. See www.helptrenton.com for more information on this tough little guy.

Action was hot on the infield road course.

Lou Gigliotti and his LG Motorsports C5 Trans-Am team joined Sunday's excitement. The big-bore, high-compression thunder singing from this C5-based rocket ship was sweet music, especially listening to it in living stereo as the rumble reverberated off the grandstands! Photo courtesy of Al Hanna, Lone Star Corvette Club.

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