A Race Series Like No Other
For over 50 years, the Corvette has represented all that is great in the arenas of speed and technological innovation. Wouldn't it be nice if you could take this performance icon to a dragstrip and compete against other Corvette enthusiasts-even if you've never raced before?
As a matter of fact, you can.
Seven years ago, Brian Miller had a novel idea. His vision was to provide a setting in which Corvette owners-and only Corvette owners-could compete with each other at the dragstrip. Soon after, he reached out to other enthusiasts and negotiated a deal with officials at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, in Englishtown, New Jersey, to do just that. The Corvette Challenge started in 1999 as a small, Friday-night event and has since grown into a coast-to-coast sensation-with races held in New Jersey, California, Nevada, South Carolina, and at two different tracks in Florida. In addition to the bracket-racing competitions held at every Challenge venue, the Jersey race includes a heads-up class called "The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout." Incredibly, this class currently features several street-driven Corvettes capable of running 8-second quarter-miles.
Along with the competitive thrill that accompanies any racing event, the Corvette Challenge provides Vette owners with a mechanism for sharing performance tips, driving advice, and input on vehicle modifications. This atmosphere creates a camaraderie not seen in many forms of racing, as drivers are always willing to help a newcomer, making the learning curve much less steep. When I first entered the Challenge in 2000, participants Frank Schear, John Mackey, John Panuzzo, and Dennis Kazimir immediately took me under their wings and taught me all I needed to know about the intricacies of driving, shifting, launching, and-most important-having a great time. I loved the sport so much that I soon got involved in promoting the Challenge and convincing other Corvette owners to give it a try. Oftentimes an owner comes to an event just to see how it works, make a few passes, then becomes hooked.
Today, the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge Drag Racing Series rivals the biggest classes at Raceway Park and boasts a single-event record of 101 Corvettes, with all six generations represented. The series boasts drivers from all over the 13 colonies, and spectators have traveled from as far away as Florida.
Since its inception, the Challenge has spawned a number of regional "partner" series, including the West Coast Corvette Challenge, which now runs at Los Angeles County Raceway and includes dates at The Strip in Las Vegas and Famoso Raceway in McFarland, California. Other events include the RevXtreme Corvette Challenge at Bradenton Motorsports Park, in Bradenton, Florida; the Exedy Clutch Corvette Challenge, which takes place at Carolina Dragway in Aiken, South Carolina; and the Horse Power Sales Corvette Challenge at Moroso Dragway in Jupiter, Florida.
You can jump directly to each series' Web site by visiting the "National Schedule" page at www.corvettechallenge.info/national. Information is also available on the Corvette Forum (www.corvetteforum.com), which features a "Drag Racing" section frequented by Challenge competitors and fans.
Each of the Corvette Challenges is run as a separate series, but participants can choose to compete in any number of races at any of the locations. Each series crowns its own Corvette Drag Racing Champion and has its own points-tracking system for racers who choose to vie for the title. Drivers are rewarded with trophies for their accomplishments, and some series even offer a cash payout.
Sound like fun? All you have to do to get involved is show up at the track, pay your entry fee, and look for all the Corvettes. Race coordinators are always on hand to answer questions and help guide newcomers through every step of the event. So what are you waiting for? Check out the Series schedule for the race nearest you.
'05 Season Recap
In 2005, the East Coast Supercharging Corvette Challenge (www.corvettechallenge.info) celebrated its sixth season, hosting an average of 61 cars per event. Highlights from the 10-race schedule included crowning the series' first two-time champion, Ralph Savarese. Chris Young finished Second, in spite of having to use three different Corvettes to do it. Two-time event runner-up Bob Korreck managed to win the Silly Goose Racing Stables Rookie of the Year award, despite having attended only 7 of the 10 points races. The Corvette Club of Delaware Valley won its third straight Corvette Challenge Club Challenge Cup, a competition within the series that allocates points based on the aggregated performance of each club's members. Paul Ziajski, meanwhile, took The Vette Doctors Pro 8 Shootout heads-up title, ripping off consistent 8-second passes in his 346-cube twin-turbo Z06.
The Horse Power Sales Corvette Challenge (www.corvettechallengemmp.com) boasted the second-highest number of racers per event, at just over 35 during its 10-race schedule. Being in Florida, the series suffered the wrath of two hurricanes, losing two scheduled events as a result. Dino Ramirez went into December's season-ending race with a lead over John Perez and Richard Mortell in the battle for the championship title. For final results, visit the series Web site.
Top spot in the West Coast Corvette Challenge (www.corvette-challenge.com) has traditionally come down to a unique intra-family battle. Event coordinator David Dowdell won the championship this year and in 2003, while wife Rochelle reigned supreme in 2004. Gary Combs took Second in 2005, winning two events during the course of the year.
The RevXtreme Corvette Challenge (www.flacorvettechallenge.com) also suffered the effects of a particularly nasty 2005 hurricane season. Only one event was canceled, but the constant threat of inclement weather put a damper on participation. Marc Fischer got out to an early lead with two event wins, but last year's champion, Larry Beutlich, had worked his way back to the top of the standings with one event remaining at the time of this writing.
The newest series, the Exedy Clutch Carolina Corvette Challenge (www.carolinacorvettechallenge.com), featured six race dates in its inaugural season. Event coordinator Joe Gabella won the points championship on the strength of three event wins, while Danny Moore used consistency to finish Second.