When was the last time you saw a Corvette prototype in person? Other than the prototype 1983 Corvette that's in the National Corvette Museum's collection or Vettes like the last C4 used for research and development (which we brought you several months ago)? And when was the last time that one started life as a customer's retail-purchased car, and THEN became a prototype? How about the C6 that you see here? It's the prototype for the new 2009 limited-edition RPO CSC Competition Sport package that's now on the Corvette option list.
The stripe idea didn't stop there. Tracey said Kirk had one of his own relating to them.
Tracey Richardson owned seven Corvettes before acquiring this RPO Z51-equipped C6 in 2007, and she wanted this one to have some "personality," like its predecessors. "I wanted to do something a little bit different with the car," she says from her Lexington, Kentucky home. Fortunately, she had some connections with the Corvette Team, most notably designer Kirk Bennion. "I talked to Kirk, and said, 'Is there any way to design a stripe that we can paint on? I'm not a big fan of decals,'" she recalls. "He said, 'Sure-let me think about something.' This was back when I ordered the car, in May of 2007. I wanted to have it done the next day, after the Museum delivery. I didn't want to waste any time."
In short order, Kirk came up with a stripe design that had a "C6 Flair" while harkening back to some famous racing Vettes. "He did a prototype design which was patterned after the Briggs Cunningham racing Corvettes of the early '60s," says Tracey, who explains the stripe's original design. "On the front bumper, there's about an inch width between the flags on the emblem. That width of the front bumper emblem is the width of the two stripes, and it goes all the way back to meet up with the emblem on the back bumper." Thanks to Kirk's design eye, the stripes flow from the front emblem over the roof and rear deck to the rear emblem. "That's one of Kirk's talents--seeing aspects of the car and to be able to linearly match up, emblem to emblem," says Tracey.
"People who attend the High Performance Driving Events that the National Corvette Museum hosts, they like to have a little 'flair,' a little racing touch to their car." Kirk, who is also an instructor for the Museum's high-performance driving events, got in touch with his good friend, Corvette production manager Harlan Charles. "Kirk said, 'Everybody likes the stripe that we designed for Tracey, and there are a lot of people interested in these driving schools, so maybe we can put together a package that has a lot of aesthetics!'"
On her car, the stripes were painted on in Competition Grey, which is a little different than the stripes that go on with RPO CSC. ". The '09 version of the stripe is actually a decal, and it's the same color as the Cyber Grey that they offer," says Tracey. "So, it's a little bit darker. If you get them side-by-side, you can tell mine's a lighter shade of grey."
While her C6's stripes might be lighter than the production CSC's, her car's equipment list is no lighter than the production versions. Tracey's '08 was a Z51 car from the get-go, meaning that heavy-duty springs and shocks, big stabilizer bars at each end, big cross-drilled disc brake rotors, coolers for the engine oil, transmission fluid and steering fluid, and a six-speed manual transaxle went in on the Bowling Green Assembly line. And, being an '08, the LS-series engine got a 200 cc (12 cubic inch) displacement boost to 6.2L (376 ci), plus it got the big-valve/big-port heads from the Z06, boosting its output to 430 horsepower from an even 400, creating the LS3. Tracey's Corvette currently has 436hp with the NPP (Z06) exhaust.
Those engine changes were in the works long before Tracey and Kirk brainstormed on the striping. But, once her C6 was decked out in its new colors and graphics, it wasn't long before this good idea became the visible cue for a new option package. "Once we did it, he sent me the design to send to my painter," she says. "Then, we put it on the Corvette Forum about a week after I got it painted."
A one-time moderator on the Corvette Forum's C6 General section, Tracey knows how passionate lovers of the sixth generation of America's Only True Sports Car can be. "On the Forum, we don't think that there was anybody who had anything negative to say about the stripes, which was odd for that crew," she adds. "There's always some kind of controversy, or 'keyboard warriors' saying what they want to say-and we didn't have any negative comments. People were saying, 'That's the best stripe that I've ever seen!'"
So was born the Competition Sport option package (see sidebar for package details), which features the racing stripe, along with the "Jake" C6.R logo. The speed in which this option moved from good idea to RPO almost matches the LS3-powered C6's top speed. "We came up with the idea in May of '07, and this option debuted at the Birthday Bash in April of '09," Tracey says. "This came out about the same time as the GT2 edition, which is yellow-and-black with "Jake" on the hood, and they're both considered late '09 models."
And, yes, Tracey's '08 has the heavy-duty hardware that production CSCs have. "It has the Z51 package and the 3LT interior, which is kind of a basic package," she says. "A lot of people that buy cars to race don't want navigation, heated seats or any of the other bells and whistles that add weight. That makes the car attractive to the person who does a little bit of racing--not the serious SCCA competition that totally changes the Vette-this option allows them to have the race-car look while still having a street-drivable car."
Just like her previous Corvettes, which included one show-stopper. "For my '98, I did a design for the side of the car that came from the 'gills,'" she recalls. "It had the C6 emblem and a racing flag in the background as a backdrop, and the emblem had a little bit of flame-work on it. It was a little radical, and that car was shown for two years on the International Show Car Association (ISCA) series. To beat the hot rods and the street rods, I had to come up with something that would grab attention, especially for a newer vehicle showing against older ones."
When it comes to competing on a racecourse with Corvettes, Tracey says that the Museum's high-performance driving events are one way for women to enjoy their Vettes the same way that male Corvette enthusiasts can. "I know from my experience, that they really bring to light the perspective of safety and defensiveness, and understanding the car better" She adds that there aren't enough women involved in those events. "I think that could be a really neat thing-especially the women whose husbands have Vettes, and think of them as their husband's car. "I sometimes feel like, I'm a woman in a guy's hobby," she adds. "When you pass a guy on the track, it really puts it into perspective."
And when it comes to finding that "right" Corvette, Tracey says that they're very versatile, especially C5s and C6s. "With the C6, if you're looking for something to tour around in, you have the different suspensions. If you want something a little more rigid, there's the Z51. For people that travel really far, that want a lot of luggage space, there are the coupes. And the convertible is for those that are taking the really short trips, with their hair blowing in the wind. "People can do a lot of investigative work to realize what type of Vette that they want, and that they are more affordable than what people think. People can get into C5s and the early C6s for the high $20,000s to low $30,000s. If you do a lot of homework, you can find a really nice car."
RPO CSC Competition Sport Package Includes
RPO Z51 Performance Package
Dual-mode performance exhaust
6-speed manual transmission
Red brake calipers
5-split spoke Competition Gray-painted aluminum wheels
Hood-to-roof-to-rear deck stripes
"Jake" graphics inside and out
Racing style numbers (Included in car for customer installation)
Ebony leather seating surfaces interior with Gray stitching
"Jake CSR" embroidery on seats and center console
Genuine Corvette Accessories' aluminum pedals and graphic pattern engine cover
Requires exterior color Arctic White or Blade Silver Metallic
Data File: '08 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 Coupe
Owner: Tracey Richardson, Lexington, Kentucky
Modified production 2008 Corvette coupe
Modifications: Front-to-rear racing stripe, "Jake" logos
Bodywork: GM-Bowling Green Assembly Plant
Paint: OEM; paint preparation and applied by GM-Bowling Green Assembly Plant; Stripe applied by Danny Taylor of Louisville KY
Frame: Production '08 Corvette
Suspension: Production '08 Corvette
Steering: Production '08 power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Brakes: Production '08 four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and calipers painted red
Wheels: Production '08 Corvette RPO Z51
Tires: Production '08 Corvette RPO Z51
GM Powertrain LS3 overhead-valve smallblock V8
Displacement: 376 cubic inches (6.2L)
Compression Ratio: 10.9:1
Cylinder Heads: Production LS3 cast aluminum ("borrowed" from the Z06)
Ignition: OEM coil-on-plug
Induction: GM Powertrain electronic fuel injection
Camshaft: Production LS3
Exhaust: Production '08 Corvette
Horsepower: 430 @ 5900 rpm (Advertised)
Torque: 424 ft. /lbs. @ 4600 rpm (Advertised)
Production '08 Corvette six-speed manual transaxle
Shifter: Production '08 Corvette, console-mounted
Production 2008 Corvette with RPO 3LT
Modifications: Entire interior excluding the seats has been customized by dsvettes.com
Seats: Production '08 Corvette sport seats, upholstered OEM enhanced sewn leather
Carpets: Production '08 Corvette cut-pile
Instrumentation: OEM '08 Corvette (0-200 mph speedometer, 0-7000 rpm tachometer with 6500 rpm redline, plus fuel level, oil pressure, ammeter and coolant temperature gauges)
Sound System: Production '08 Corvette Delco/Bose AM/FM Stereo/CD
HVAC: Production '08 Corvette heater/defroster/ air conditioner