Air 1968 Corvettes L88 - Hollywood Blockbuster: The AIR Corvettes

The story behind the No. 44 James Garner/AIR Vette

Bob Dunsmore Jan 23, 2006 0 Comment(s)
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James Garner stops by AIR headquarters in Culver City, California (December 1967).

The No. 44 Car Hits the Track...Again
Shortly after acquiring the No. 44 AIR car, Jim landed Coca-Cola as asponsor, forcing a color change from blue to red and the addition of the"Enjoy Coca Cola" logo in white letters. Being new to big-blocks, Jimand Dave knew little about setup procedures on the originalTraco-prepared L88 motor. Obviously, they needed to find out more abouthow the car had been delivered and set up for the AIR team. Dave startedcalling around GM. He didn't exactly know whom to phone, so he startedwith a couple of numbers and talked to whomever he could get. Finally,he contacted a lady who had once been Duntov's secretary. When Daveasked about Gib Hufstader, she knew who he was and how to get in touchwith him. The next morning Gib called Dave to discuss the car.

Jim entered the season running SCCA A-Production West Coast "national"events at Portland, Seattle, Sears Point, Willow Springs, and LagunaSeca. The first race for the ex-No. 44 car was at Willow Springs inSouthern California. Incredibly, Jim put the car on the pole, set a newcourse record for A/P, and won the race on Sunday.

Laguna Seca was the next race, two weeks later. Jim again took the poleand won his class. He almost won the race outright, but spun out whilein the lead and was ultimately beaten by Walt Maas in a 150ci Datsun. Itwas a fluke, but Jim still placed Second overall and First in class. Thecar was raced for the rest of the year and into 1974 before again beingsold.

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All three cars take shape in AIR's Quonset-hut shop (December 1967)

Jim sold the car to Gregg Peterson, on the condition that he be allowedto codrive at some of the upcoming year's events. Peterson drove solo atWillow Springs, placing Second in A/P. Then, at the first joint race ofthe season at Laguna Seca, Jim blew up the original Traco motor and spunthe car. Peterson went on to run two more SCCA races at Sears Point andOntario (minus the Coca-Cola sponsorship), and finished the IMSA seriesin Second place in the West Coast division.

From here the car went to David Magaw, of Tucson, Arizona, who ranmostly regional SCCA events in 1975 and entered several National SCCAA/P events in 1976. Partway through the year, the Vette was sold to MikeAlles, of Grand Haven, Michigan, who raced it during the '77 SCCAseason. The car resurfaced when "Corvette Sleuth" Dave Reisner trackedit down for Jim Herlinger.

Since acquiring the No. 44 car for the second time, Dave hasorchestrated a complete restoration. The restored car made its firstappearance at an all-Corvette night at the Candy Store in the fall of1998, and its first race was at the Wine Country Classics at Sears Pointin June 1999. Guldstrand drove the car at the Monterey Historics inAugust 1999 and again for the 50th Anniversary of Corvette event (alsoat Monterey) in 2002. The car has also taken several concours awards atthe Palo Alto, Hillsborough, and Monterey events.

Look for more information on the other two AIR cars in future issues of VETTE and on




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