Ask the average fan what a Corvette race car looks like, and chances are he'll describe the Pratt & Miller-built C6.R entries that have dominated ALMS GT1 competition since 2005. But on any given weekend, from the end of January through December, it's possible to find scores of Vettes competing in vintage-class races all over the United States. Have you ever wanted to see a big-block Sting Ray go head-to-head against a 427 Cobra, or a '63 Z06 battle it out with a Shelby GT350 Mustang? Thanks to vintage racing, legendary match-ups like these are still very much alive.
There are currently around 50 different sanctioning organizations that hold races throughout the country. One of the larger groups is the Sports Car Club of America, or SCCA, which runs vintage races during regional event weekends. To be considered for one of these races, a car must be a '72 model or older. In an SCCA vintage competition, there are no class breakdowns. So if you have a big-block Corvette, you could potentially find yourself running against a four-cylinder Austin Healey "Bug-eye" Sprite or a Porsche 356. As a result, the speed differences between entries are often vast.
Within other vintage organizations, such as Historic Sports Racing (HSR), there are several different classes in which a vintage Corvette can compete. Typically, C1 Corvettes run against Porsche 356s, Lotus Elans, MGAs, BMW 2002s, and Triumph Spitfires, while C2s might encounter Cobras, Jaguar XKEs, Sunbeam Tigers, Porsche 911s, Z-28 Camaros, Shelby Mustangs, and BMW CSLs. There are still other classes for IMSA Greenwood wide-body C3s, Corvette GTP prototypes, and even C5-Rs. Because of their formidable performance capabilities, these entries are allowed to run on racing slicks. All other vintage-race classes require the use of treaded tires.
Various other components must also be installed on the car, including a safety harness, a rollcage, a fuel cell, and a fire-suppression system. A mandatory log book provides tech inspectors with vital information such as the thickness of the rollbar, when the car last competed, and whether it suffered any damage that required repair.
Drivers, meanwhile, must wear a driving suit, gloves, and shoes, along with a suitable helmet. There are dated tags on all of these items, ensuring that they are in compliance with the latest safety standards. New drivers have to pass an accredited racing school and compete in at least two races per year to keep their license current. Mandatory annual physicals are also the norm for vintage-race competitors.
Regardless of where you live, chances are good you can find a vintage race within a few hours' driving time. For example, the southern region is home to Daytona International Speedway, Sebring International Raceway, Road Atlanta, Roebling Road, Moroso, and Homestead. Northern race fans, meanwhile, can check out the action at Watkins-Glen, Lime Rock, Pocono, Virginia International Raceway, New Jersey Motorsports Park, and Summit Point.
The Midwest boasts Road America, Blackhawk Farms, Mid-Ohio, Gingerman Raceway, and Pueblo Motorsports, while the West Coast is home to Laguna Seca, Infineon Raceway, Portland International, Thunderhill Park, and Miller Motorsports Park. Even Canadian racers and fans can get in on the excitement at tracks such as Mosport and Mont-Tremblant.
Tickets are available for a single day or a whole weekend, and prices are typically a fraction of what they might be for a pro event like ALMS. And thanks to the legions of fans and drivers who support it, Corvette vintage racing packs more than enough thrills to justify the admission fee.