Mike and Deborah Peede's '66 Rally Red Sting Ray can eat up the quarter-mile in 12.02 seconds at 119 mph, but Mike swears he's got solid 11-second passes hidden deep within the car, except it is limited by its factory rear suspension.
What distinguishes the midyear Corvette from its domestic brethren is the independent rear suspension-standard on every vehicle. it would be this innovative platform that would hinder the Corvette's drag-racing prowess in its early stages. Desirable because of their lightweight fiberglass bodies and large powerplants between the fenders, the Sting Rays could easily compete in Super Stock NHRA classes once the IRS was removed and replaced with a stout 12-bolt solid axle. Limited by its antiquated geometry, the factory IRS for the midyear Corvettes proved to be unsuitable for aggressive driving and competitive drag racing, though quite brilliant on the road course.
Mike's got a thing for horsepower and it doesn't matter what badge it wears, just as long as it's fast. Transcending brand affiliation, Mike is the proud owner of a bevy of Mopars and Bow Ties: second-generation Dodge Charger R/Ts, a '70 Challenger SE, a '71 GTX, a '68 Road Runner, a Hemi-powered '66 Satellite, an original 18,500-mile '70 Hemi Cuda, a pair of Z28s from 1969 and 1973, and even a '70 Boss Mustang accompany the big-block 427 Sting Ray featured here.
Mike and Deborah wanted their Vette, rebuilt from a turnkey driver, to distinguish itself from the crowd of trailer queens and six-figure restorations. modified Vettes may be one thing, but super-fast Vettes are another. Built to be driven (and hard), the three-year project proved to be well worth the effort since it has taken several first place titles at a handful of car shows, as well as gracing the celluloid screen on Speed Channel's Horse-power TV.
While at the Beech Bend Dragstrip in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Mike was initially looking to build a '62 "fuelie" project before stumbling across this red hardtop roadster. Enticed by its then-owner Jim to take the '66 Sting Ray out for a spin, the temptation was too much for Mike to resist and plans for a '62 were quickly forgotten. Jim, who wanted to sell the Sting Ray because he needed the garage space, and Mike exchanged currency and car keys.
In a feat of pure Corvette enthusiast euphoria or maybe plain insanity, Mike and Deb jumped in the roadster and headed to their Atlanta, Georgia, home to begin the three-year project. It's not often that someone gets the chance to skate a classic Corvette through the hills and mountain roads of the American Southeast, and they jumped at the opportunity.