Legendary Corvette Race Driver John Fitch Remembered
John Fitch, who piloted some of the marque’s earliest factory racers, including the Corvette SS and the Sting Ray Racer, passed away on October 31, 2012.
In 1956, Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole chose Fitch to be the manager of Corvette’s first racing team. Fitch led the team to a class land-speed record for production cars of 145.543 mph at Daytona Beach in February 1956, and won First Place in the 12 Hours of Sebring one month later. In 1960, he co-drove the Briggs-Cunningham No. 3 Corvette to a First-in-class finish and Eighth overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Fitch was one of the driving forces behind the development of Lime Rock Park Raceway in Lakeville, Connecticut, and was its first general manager.
He also invented numerous highway-safety devices, including the ubiquitous yellow, sand-filled, crash-cushion barrels commonly seen in front of bridge abutments and other potential roadside hazards. They are known as “Fitch Barriers.”
Lance Miller of Carlisle Productions had this to say about Fitch’s passing: “It’s never easy having a friend or family member pass away. When I received word that racing legend, dear friend, mentor, and so much more, Mr. John Fitch, passed away, my reaction was unique. I felt hurt that he’s no longer there to talk to, however I was content he wasn’t suffering. I also felt happy knowing how much he accomplished throughout his life. Heck, if I could accomplish one-quarter of what John Fitch did throughout his lifetime, I’d be honored!
“I don’t take a second of our journey over to Le Mans for granted, and I realize how fortunate I was to really get to know him. From that trip came the film The Quest, produced by Michael Brown. It captures Fitch’s legacy, which will carry on forever.
[Fitch] passed away peacefully with his family by his side; that alone brings me joy. I know my father, Chip Miller, and he are in a better place sharing stories. I’m confident that when they reunited, they gave each other a big hug. My hugs will come—it’s inevitable—but I’m going to enjoy every second I have while I’m here. RIP, Mr. John Fitch, you will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”
VETTE extends its condolences to Fitch’s family, friends, and fans affected by his passing.
Petersen Museum Reveals More Details on 60th Anniversary Gala
In the December edition of “Currents,” we reported that the Petersen Automotive Museum would hold a Corvette 60th anniversary celebration on March 1-2, 2013.
Since then, the museum has released more details on the two-day event:
“The Petersen will be filled with fabulous Corvette race cars, historic concept cars, and rare production models, along with experts and icons from Corvette’s 60-year history,” said event spokesman Chris Brown.
Event highlights include:
- Corvette Racing Panel Discussion: Several legendary figures from Corvette racing history will talk about the car’s illustrious racing heritage.
- Corvette Values Seminar: What’s your Corvette worth in today’s market, and how will it perform as an investment in the future?
- Corvette 60th Anniversary Gala: Start the Corvette weekend off early with a Friday-evening event featuring dinner, a memorabilia auction, and a panel discussion with some of the biggest names in Corvette history.
- Corvette Day Car Show: See 500 Corvettes of all years in the Petersen parking structure from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Registered participants will receive a limited-edition commemorative medallion made especially for this event by Mid America Motorworks.
- Corvette Restoration Seminar: Learn restoration tips and techniques from the pros.
- Rare-Corvette Exhibit: The museum will showcase a special selection of rare Corvettes, never seen before in the same location. These will include the ’53 EX-122, the ’59 Corvette Italia by Scaglietti, the ’60 CERV I, a ’63 Grand Sport, the ’64 “World’s Fair” Corvette, and the ’68 “Sundowner” Bonneville racer, among others.
For more information, visit the Petersen Automotive Museum at www.petersen.org.
NCM Offering Corvette Dealer-Brochure Sets
For a limited time, the National Corvette Museum (NCM) is offering Corvette dealer-brochure sets. Each set includes a total of 30 brochures, ranging from 1983 through 2012, including special-edition and Z06 “minis.” (Note: Dealer brochures for model years 1989, 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2009 are not included with this offer.) Even better, the NCM has drastically slashed the price of the set, from $394.60 to $69.99 (while supplied last).
“This collection [comprises] actual unused brochures provided to the National Corvette Museum by GM,” NCM spokesman Bob Bubnis says. “Many are still sealed in their original packaging, helping to preserve them as they were when they were new. As these brochures were meant to sell Corvettes, they are often elaborately designed and expertly printed productions containing stunning photography, great ad copy, and detailed descriptions of the advancements made in each model year. Together, they document the history of Corvette in a unique and nostalgic way that will make them a beautiful addition to the library of any Corvette hobbyist.”
All proceeds from these sales will benefit the NCM. For more information, point your browser to www.corvettemuseum.org. vette