Historic racing is coming on strong these days, and Corvettes comprise a large part of the field at many races. The reason is self-evident: It's the sound, the fury, and the extraordinary performance potential of the cars' big-block engines. Almost every Corvetter wants to have at least one road-race car in his or her collection. Roger Abshire bought his in 2001.
As a collector, Roger pursues cars that are unique. This Dennis Schneider SCCA B/Prepared car fits the bill perfectly, and, as a bonus, it doesn't dwell in the mega-buck territory associated with Trans-Am and IMSA cars. Even better, it comes with one of the winningest histories extant. In fact, this car is better known to Corvette fans in the NCCC and SCCA than just about any other Vette since the mid-'70s.
Dennis Schneider started out in drag racing in the mid-'60s. He made quite a reputation for himself at the drags before an unplanned encounter with a legendary IMSA car convinced him to switch professions. In 1975, while working as a gofer on the Al Holbert Monza team, Dennis went to a race at Road Atlanta. There, he first saw the Greenwood "Spirit of Sebring" car and met John Greenwood. Instantly, Dennis knew he was going road racing.
Using early series Greenwood flares, he built himself a racer that would be eligible for a wide range of events, including SCCA B/Prepared, NCCC Pro-Solo, and Pro-Solo2. The difference in SCCA's A/Prepared and B/Prepared classes was quite interesting, and Dennis quickly spotted the advantages of competing in the latter class. In B/Prepared the cars carried a full interior and window glass, but were effectively allowed more engine set-back and all the same mechanical modifications as the A/Prepared tube-frame cars.
By exploiting this rules disparity, Dennis' B/Prepared car, which first hit the track in 1978, actually ended up being faster than many of the A/Prepared competitors. Dennis soon began racking up trophies. Amazingly, the car still holds the track record at Roebling Road.
In the early '80s the car was restructured with new bodywork based on a later-generation Greenwood Daytona design. The change wasn't voluntary but rather resulted from a crash. At one of the NCCC events, a lady running for the national championship had some trouble with her car and asked to borrow Dennis'. But his Vette was unfamiliar to her, and with all the extra power at her disposal, she ran off the track and into the wall on the first turn. Suddenly, the car was up for a new look.
It was at this point the car also received its final mechanical updates. The suspension for the Schneider Corvette was based on the Vette Brakes heavy-duty springs in front, along with a Vette Brakes fiberglass rear spring.
Aftermarket heavy-duty antisway bars with Heim-joint links were added at both ends. The shocks are from Carrera, while the wheels are BBS modular units measuring 15x10-inch front and 15x11-inch rear. The brakes are Corvette J-56 heavy-duty four-pin calipers with racing pads.
Dennis' Vette uses a 468ci big-block with GM open-chamber aluminum heads, a Tarantula intake manifold, and a GM 0.600-inch/0.600-inch-lift injection cam. A Holley 850-cfm carburetor distributes air and fuel to the hungry race motor, and the whole package is backed up by a triple-disc Quartermaster clutch.
The car made its first appearance with the new bodywork at Daytona the following year. But Dennis' enthusiasm was short-lived, as the car displayed a newfound tendency to wash out in the corners. To figure out what was happening, the team videotaped it on the track. The problem was quickly diagnosed: The huge rear wing was so effective, it was lifting the front of the car nearly off the ground. So, by trial and error, the team cut out the wing until the desired balance was achieved. That's the way the car now appears, and, by virtue of this custom work, it is utterly unique. But if its one-of-a-kind bodywork is damaged, it could never be exactly duplicated.
Dennis raced the car until the '98 season, at which time he switched to Camaros. The car was advertised on eBay in 2001 but did not sell immediately. Roger had been watching the auction, though, and he approached Dennis after the sale period ended. A deal was struck, and Roger got his race car.
A couple of years after buying the car, Roger decided it was time to take it to the track. He obtained his racing license from the SCCA and SVRA and his high-speed permit from the NCCC, based on his prior experience as a high-speed driving instructor. Roger's first time out with the car was at an SVRA race at Summit Raceway. He showed up with one set of dry-weather wheels and tires, but unfortunately the weather changed, and slicks didn't look to be a viable option. Still, he went out and followed the pace car around for the familiarization laps.
The tires heated up after a few laps, and the track started to dry enough for the car to get some grip. It responded well, so Roger decided to run in the actual race. Although about 60 cars were entered (in all classes), he managed to turn the fifth-fastest time. That he had never driven the car before or even seen the track speaks well for how the car was engineered and built.
It was at this event that several other competitors recognized Roger's car from previous race activity in the Midwest. After one of them suggested to him the bodywork was essentially irreplaceable, Roger took the advice to heart and spent the rest of the weekend tiptoeing around the track. The car is now retired from racing and sees more-limited use.
Because Roger is interested in the history of his cars, he also wanted to acquire Dennis' trophies. A few months after the initial purchase, he negotiated a good price for the trophies and the original set of wheels.
The move proved prescient when the building that had housed much of the Schneider Motorsports Shop and its race paraphernalia burned in a fire shortly after the trophies were delivered to him. The room in which the trophies had been displayed was completely destroyed. Some other pieces, including the original BBS brake fans, were lost.