Book: Corvette Racing: The Complete Competition History from Sebring to Le Mans
Author: David Kimble
Review 5 Stars
While the Corvette hasn’t always been intrinsically tied to motorsports, one could perhaps be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Indeed, a quick review of the history reveals that factory-sponsored teams, privateers, and even amateur motorsports enthusiasts have been piloting Chevy’s redoubtable two-seater to checkered-flag glory for more than 57 of the marque’s 60 years in existence.
Corvette Racing: The Complete Competition History from Sebring to Le Mans, by author/illustrator David Kimble, celebrates these heroes of Corvette speed, while also examining the six generations of engineering developments that have made the Corvette a winner on racetracks and in dealer showrooms alike.
Kimble, as VETTE readers may recall, serves as General Motors’ outside source for cutaway-style technical illustrations of Chevrolet small-block engines. He even contributed some of them to our feature series, "10 to the 8th Power: An Illustrated Look at 10 of Chevy’s Most Significant Corvette Small-Blocks" (VETTE, May and June ’12).
"I grew up around auto racing," Kimble tells VETTE in an exclusive interview. "I was an amateur racer in the ’60s, and my first of many Corvettes was a 427/435hp ’67 coupe. After writing an extensive development history of the marque for Road & Track magazine [in 2003] to accompany my C6 illustrations, I decided to extend that work by scripting a book dedicated to the men and women behind the scenes and behind the wheel of Corvette competition."
That was no easy task. Kimble clocked thousands of hours researching and verifying the details of the Corvette’s amazing racing story, some of which go back more than five decades. He also spent two-and-a-half months poring over tens of thousands of Corvette photos in the GM Media archives, ensuring that his book would include period photography exclusively.
The results are well worth the effort. The book leads with the debut of the Corvette EX-122 prototype and the first documented sanctioned Corvette race at March Air Force Base near Riverside, California, in 1953. Continuing all the way through the 2010 production models and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season finale, Kimble tracks the Corvette’s developmental and competition histories, and examines the parallels between the two.
All of the big names in Corvette-racing history are accounted for—legends like Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, Betty Skelton, Dr. Dick Thompson, John Fitch, Bob Bondurant, Dave McDonald, Delmo Johnson, Mickey Thompson, Don Yenko, Dick Guldstrand, John Greenwood, and many more. Champions of the modern era are covered as well, including ALMS standouts Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell.
"My objective was to follow the production car’s development and the ways in which that related to the performance on the track, and vice versa," Kimble says. "Covering all six decades [of Corvette racing], I could only mention the most notable drivers and cars."
Minor omissions aside, Kimble’s is likely the most thorough book on Corvette racing ever published, and we commend him for his extraordinary efforts. Corvette lovers, racing fans, and even seasoned marquee historians should seriously consider adding this superlative book to their permanent collections.
Corvette Racing: The Complete Competition History from Sebring to Le Mans is 256 pages long, including 155 color and 95 black-and-white photos, as well as 33 illustrations by the author. It’s published in hardcover, retails for $60, and is available online from Motorbooks (www.motorbooks.com) or by calling (800) 458-0454.