Two friends ordered a pair of fuel-injected 1965 Corvettes straight from the dealership with only one intention: to autocross them. Imagine bringing home the newest Corvette not to show off to your friends and family, but to immediately start prepping to race. Ron Christianson, the original owner of this particular Vette, took a cutoff wheel to each fender to make room for wider tires the first week home. Those rough edges would be covered with handmade fender flares the next year, as no one had a form or kit for this car yet. Christianson did some light modifications and started racing it right away, and it never served as a street slave.
Around the time Christianson rallied the Corvette around the autocross circuit, Brian Hobaugh and his father, Steve, watched the autocross events that were held where the current Goodguys Swap Meet is in Pleasanton, California. Living nearby, the pair walked up to the chain-link fence and drooled at the nice rides ripping around the course. They kept fence-distance until Dad got the nerve to try it for himself. He took the car he just bought his wife, Gloria, to his first event. It was a gold 1974 base-model bone-stock Camaro. The two-barreled V-8 struggled around the course even as stiffer shocks and a larger exhaust were installed. The Camaro wasn't so smooth-riding anymore. As a consolation, his father bought his mom a Vista Cruiser that he vowed not to modify in any way.
The 1974 ended up going up for sale to fund the purchase of a 1972 Z28. Gloria was mystified and furious to hear he sold a car that was only 2 years old at the time to buy an even older car that cost more money. The concept of paying more for something older was foreign to her. The 1972 became Dad's weekend racer and daily driver until 1983 when he came across a 1965 Vette already dressed up in flares and ready to run.
The owner at the time was Larry Park; enthusiasts and racers will already know this name. Park owned a Corvette shop in Milpitas, California, where he built and modified mostly Corvettes from the 1970s until he died in 1994. Aside from building cars, he was a multinational SCCA autocross champion and even raced in the Trans-Am series. He put larger rear flares to fit more tire and gave it a shiny red, white, and blue paintjob to match his shop logo. Again, Gloria could not believe Steve would sell his now 10-year-old car for less than the cost of the Vette that was twice as old! Gloria let the boys do their thing despite her disapproval.
People didn't trailer their cars to the autocross those days; the only trailer involved was the one attached to the vehicle to be raced to carry wheels, tires, and gas. Steve didn't really like the overstated paint scheme with a big and fat diagonal racing stripe across the whole thing on the street, so he did a charcoal gray scuff after the purchase; they took turns driving, paying for parts, and wrenching on the car since then.
Two years after Steve brought the 1965 home, Brian got his driver's license on his 16th birthday. Getting a driver's license is an important accomplishment in any teenager's life, but even more important to Brian since he was scheduled to race the Corvette on the upcoming Sunday. It took a couple years, but before too long, Brian started to outdrive his father and did so 90 percent of the time. Steve was proud, not bummed, of his son's ability to smoke him. Brian took home many SCCA, American Autocross, and other championships with this car.
The rest of the 1980s would retire the subdued charcoal paint and be replaced with Porsche Red as a result of a frontend conversation with a no parking sign at a local on-street autocross. Other 1980s modifications were a set of custom-made 17x11 French Etoile wheels. Having a 17-inch wheel was not only rare on a midyear Corvette, but really on any car. This "cool before it was cool" did come with a hefty price of $3,000. Even so, the high premium proved to be worth the cash as they remained on the car until 2013.
The C2 didn't go through as many changes as you might expect with a car that was born into racing. Notably, the factory fuelie 327ci didn't get the boot until 1991, when Steve and Brian's friend Paul Caselas built them an updated 327ci that served them well for seven years. During that time, Caselas put together a 355ci that lasted until recently. It didn't come out due to failure; they just were ready for something new. That Caselas small-block earned them a lot of success over the years, including a place in the Goodguys autocross finals last November after the SEMA show. The competition was fierce with plenty of cars packing serious heat, but even so, Brian's little Gen 1 small-block was able to keep up with little trouble.
This year brought about a fresh look, sporting a new darker red paintjob, an updated brake system, and a reworked engine. This was all in hopes to earn a spot in the coveted OUSCI (Optima Ultimate Street Car Innovational) event in the fall. The last three decades of every fair weather weekend has been spent with his dad at the track, and we have no doubt that he'll meet his goal this year.
Engine & Drivetrain
This Vette started life as a small-block fuel-injected car and always will be. The factory manifold was replaced with an Arizona Speed & Marine fuel injection, a custom TPIS manifold, and World Sportsman IIs with 200cc intake runners. Beneath the heavy iron are Wiseco pistons, Crower 5.85-inch rods, and a 3.555-inch stroke crankshaft. These parts ultimately yield 364ci and 12.25:1 compression. That compression requires a 50/50 mix of 91- and 110-octane fuel and the Canton road race pan keeps the oil under control. The valvetrain is comprised of a Crane solid-roller cam with 0.550 inch of lift, Crane Lifters, and Crane Gold Race 1.5:1 ratio roller rockers. Spark is delivered by an all-MSD system, including the Pro-Billet distributor, Super Conductor wires, Blaster 2 coil, and 6AL control box. This combination, built by S&S Machine of San Leandro, California, cranks out well over 500 hp to the flywheel. Steve put together the exhaust system that starts with Hooker 13/4-inch primary Super Comp headers that flows into a custom 3-inch stainless steel exhaust with an X-pipe and Edelbrock stainless steel mufflers. The tailpipes exit in the center behind the differential.
Power continues through a McLeod Magnum Force twin-disc clutch to the bulletproof Muncie close-ratio M21 four-speed manual, where the original shifter commands the gears. Out back is a 4.11:1 Auburn ring gear and Positraction differential.
Back in the day, Steve wanted a Corvette for a class called Modern Street Prepared. Its chassis was superior to the Camaro's and would outperform them, namely because of the suspension package and weight advantage. The front suspension is simple with JRI shocks tied together with a strut bar, stiffer springs, and Borgeson 600 steering box upgrade. The rear has a pair of JRI shocks and a custom rear leaf. It's nothing fancy, but a proven winning combination.
The handmade fender flares created in 1966 still remain untouched on the front, while the rear flares were massaged to make them a little wider. The rest of the body is stock with the exception to the black treatment to all of the trim. The body has worn a couple different paintjobs over the decades, but currently wears a bright red PPG hue—a color code Brian didn't want to reveal.
Wheels & Brakes
Only recently have the factory four-wheel disc setup been replaced by finer Wilwood units. Even now, they are factory replacement bolt-in four-piston calipers up front with 12.25-inch factory-sized rotors. The discs may be drilled, slotted, and vented, but nothing more extravagant or enlarged. The rear four-piston Wilwood calipers replaced the stockers as well. After 25 years on the same Frenchie 17-inch hoops, Brian made the switch to 18x12 black Aristo wheels wrapped in extra wide 315/30R18 Falken Azenis RT615K front and rear.
The interior has been largely untouched with only a few race necessities present. The stock buckets got the boot early in life and in their place is a set of cloth-covered Kirkey racing seats. A smaller-diameter 1980 Corvette steering wheel also improves the car's on-track agility.