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National Corvette Museum Recognizes Don and Allan Barker - Hall of Fame Inductees

Don And Allan Barker, A Pair Of Aces

Walt Thurn May 1, 2009
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(From left) Don and Allan Barker are presented their award by fellow NCM Hall of Fame member Randy Wittine.

Don and Allan Barker recently became the first team to be inducted into the National Corvette Museum's Hall of Fame. The two earned the honor by compiling one of the greatest winning streaks in Corvette-racing history. Interestingly, Allan worked for Ford and successfully raced Austin Healeys in his early years before changing to Corvettes. The change happened when V.V. Cook Jr., a Louisville Chevrolet dealer, formed the V.V. Cook Racing Team. The team purchased a fuel-injected '63 Z06 roadster, and Cook hired the Barkers to drive and maintain it.

Brother Don was the team engineer responsible for preparing the car, which Allan drove. Don was an introvert but a brilliant engineer, while Allan was an extrovert and practical joker who perfectly fit the mold of a racing driver. Allan won 28 straight races, including four national SCCA B Production championships (1969, 1970, 1971, and 1972). The team captured its first two championships in the '63 and the final two in a '69 roadster.

The Barkers' move to the '69 was filled with drama and intrigue. The car was a very rare, special-order L88 roadster that was delivered by Williamson Chevrolet to the original owner, Doug Bergen, in Marietta, Ohio. In 1970, it ran in the 24-hour Daytona race and in the 12 Hours of Sebring, where it placed Second in the GT class. The team's next event was at Watkins Glen in New York.

At the time, V.V. Cook was looking for a new car to replace the '63 the Barkerswere racing. Bergen's Vette seemed like a perfect candidate, so at Watkins Glen, Cook approached him to make an offer. Negotiations continued through qualifying, during which the '69 set the fastest time and captured the pole.

With the car sitting on the pre-grid, Bergen set a price of $8,000. Cook said he'd pay $8,500, but only if the car was sold on the spot. Bergen said yes and asked the driver to pull the car off the grid and get out. After some heated debate, he agreed, and the car was Cook's. The L88-powered Vette ran two more races Daytona and Sebring-and that ended its endurance career.

When Cook brought the car back to Louisville, there was no doubt that the team was going to convert the L88 to a 350/350 small-block. The Barker brothers were experts in B Production racing and knew they could win more championships in this configuration. In addition to the engine swap, the crew removed the windshield and the chrome bumpers and repainted the car with the V.V. Cook paint scheme. The converted car secured the '71 and '72 B Production championships and never lost a race. At the end of the '72 season, Cook sold the '69 to Bill Jobe in Dallas. Jobe continued the car's winning ways, securing the '73 and '74 B Production championships with it.

The '69 changed hands several times over the years before finally ending up in the collection of Californian Larry Bowman. In 2002, Bowman tapped Allan Barker to drive the car at the Monterey Historic races at Laguna Seca. It was the first time Allan had driven the car in 32 years. Fittingly, it was brother Don who oversaw the Corvette's mechanical needs, giving the pair a rare opportunity to relive their past at full speed.



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