Part 1: 1931 Through 1965
Among Corvette cognoscenti, the name Dick Guldstrand needs no formal introduction. "Mr. Corvette," as Guldstrand is admiringly known, has elevated the Corvette's image-both on the track and off-for more than five decades. After seeing Dr. Dick Thompson race and win at Pebble Beach in April and Palm Springs in November 1956, Guldstrand decided that he'd like to get into the sport. It wasn't until two years later that he bought his first Corvette, a used, one-owner '56.
Guldstrand's driver stats are superlative. He got his training racing with-and against-other Corvette driving legends such as Bob Bondurant, Dave MacDonald, Doug Hooper, and Paul Reinhart. He won consecutive SCCA Cal Club Region 19 Championships (in 1963 and 1964) as well as the Driver of the Year Award at the group's 1964 awards banquet. In February 1966 he was Roger Penske's first hired driver, ran the first 24 Hour Daytona Continental, and won in the GT Class. In March 1966, he teamed with Thompson and raced Penske's '63 Grand Sport at Sebring International Raceway. In June 1967, he, Bondurant, and Don Yenko raced the 24 Heures du Mans in the only '63-'67 Sting Ray to ever compete there-the famous '67 L88 Dana Chevrolet Corvette.
According to the National Corvette Museum, which inducted Guldstrand into its Corvette Hall of Fame in 1999, "When it comes to driving and developing high-performance vehicles, the international achievements, accolades, and reputation of Dick Guldstrand make it impossible to place him anywhere but at the very top."
To better illustrate Guldstrand's numerous contributions to Corvette history, we asked him to flip through his private photos-many of which have never before been seen by the public-and find the images that best tell the story of his life. From his earliest memories in a pedal car at age 4, to Corvette development work at his shop (first in Culver City, California, and now in Burbank) that continues to this day, you'll learn Guldstrand's tale from the man who lived it.
We'll start our photographic retrospective in 1931, with young Guldstrand's first "car," and continue through his hot-rod building of the 1940s, followed by his first Corvette, his first dealer sponsor, and a sample of his wins from 1963 through 1965.
Over the next two issues, we'll follow Guldstrand's relationship with the Corvette from 1966 to the present day, including his role at Sebring in 1966, his record-setting run and win at the 24 Heures Du Mans in 1967, his pivotal role in the development and testing of the '85 Corvette, his GS80 and GS90 C4 supercars, the Guldstrand Signature Edition 50th Anniversary model, and the modern-day Corvette projects taking place at Guldstrand Motorsports.
Special thanks to Corvette owner Dan Fastuca, who scanned the photographs from Guldstrand's private collection, and Corvette historian Jim Gessner, who helped attribute the races, dates, and locations to many of these photos.