So began the search through old photos, magazines, and any place they could look to uncover the car's history. That included magazines with coverage of the '62 Sebring 12 Hours, and it's A/Production-winning, Gulf Oil-backed No. 2 Corvette. Vic picks up the story. "They started stripping the paint off, and they found numerous indications such as holes on top of the fender where the air scoops were mounted and also where a fender had minor damage during one of the races. So, they figured out-based on all the data-that this was the car." On top of that, Vic adds, Ernst did an owner search, through which he located Tony Denman. He told Ernst that he'd put the as-removed original engine, the original big fuel tank, original hood and a lot of the other race parts in his father's garage. Vic adds, "Of course, eventually, Mike ended up buying all those parts, reuniting them with the car and doing the first restoration." When Vic acquired it, he rebuilt the original 327, porting and polishing the heads, as well as balancing and blueprinting it, resulting in an estimated 400 horsepower on tap.
A second restoration was called for when a big scratch appeared in the side of the '62, following its showing in the Special Collection at Bloomington Gold. "My friend, Kevin McKay (at Corvette Repair in Valley Stream, New York) volunteered to paint the car and fix it properly," says Vic. "That ended up being a full-blown, fix-the-body-up-from-all-those-old-race-injuries restoration."
Last August, Vic took this car to the Goodings & Company auction, held during the Rolex Monterey Historic Races/Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance fortnight, where it set a record in selling for well over a million dollars. The No. 2 car's new owner, whose collection includes many other high-dollar and interesting-history rides, has recently sent this C1 to Kevin's shop once again, for an undercarriage redo.
One question remains for the No. 2 Gulf Oil '62 Vette: Would it have won its class at LeMans in 1962? It's possible, though the car was never raced outside the U.S. that year. "Gulf could afford it, and they later did it with the Ford GT-40s of the late '60s," says Vic, about Gulf's car sponsorships at LeMans, which also included the Porsche 917s of the early '70s.
What's it like to drive the restored No. 2? "The car is FAST!," says Vic, who adds that it occupies a place at the top of the list of vintage Corvettes with Sebring and Daytona winning race history. "I would say this car, the '66 Penske L88 car, and a couple of the '67 to '69 L88s are probably some of the top echelon of Corvette race cars, other than the C5s and the C6.Rs." If you're one who's hoping to find some yet-to-be-rediscovered Corvette racing history, you're not alone. "There's a group of us that are always looking around for old race cars," says Vic. "The key to those is being able to prove their originality and history."
As the No. 2 Gulf Oil '62 C1 has now moved out of Vic's garage, that doesn't mean that it's empty. He's got the 2000 ALMS and LeMans-winning factory Dodge Viper, plus several historic Vettes. "I own the '60 Sebring class-winning race car, which we recently finished," says Vic. "It's going up to San Jose this year for the NCRS National Convention, and it's already been accepted for the NCRS' American Heritage Award judging for racing Corvettes. I definitely like race cars!"