1966 Developement L88 #9 Roger Penske (Photos©Bill Erdman)
In 1966, Chevrolet Central Office authorized this C.O.P.O. (Central Office Production Order) Corvette to be built with the first factory 427 L-88 engine and the competition race package which included J-56 brakes, 36 gallon fuel tank, F-41 suspension, prototype 2:73 positraction rear axle, TI ignition, M-22 transmission, off road exhaust, radio and heater delete, teakwood steering wheel, telescopic column and a special prototype cowl induction hood.
The car was released to Roger Penske who had worked in Chevrolet’s race program since pre-Grand Sport Days. Penske wanted the racer prepared for the 24 hour Endurance Race at Daytona. He based on Zora Duntov’s recommendation, hired Dick Guldstrand to assemble a team for the Daytona race.
Guldstrand picked up the car in St. Louis assembly plant and drove it back to Pennsylvania in mid January 1966. Since the car was prepared and not equipped with a heater, Guldstrand was given a blanket to keep from freezing.
Penske’s Newtown Square Garage then prepared the car for the Daytona Race. In practice laps the Factory L-88 was one of the quickest ever recorded at Daytona. Chevrolet sent a second engine to Traco to be prepared, and just before the race the fresh 540 h.p. motor was installed in the car.
Penske assembled the experienced team of Dick Guldstand, Ben Moore and George Wintersteen for the race. During the race, Wintersteen was involved in an accident damaging the front of the car, thus requiring Guldstrand to drive his portion of the race with two flashlights taped to the fenders. The damaged radiator was replaced with one from a Corvette located in the spectator’s parking lot. One can only imagine, the flashlights provided very little help! Guldstand was able to continue the race by following the taillights of the Ferrari Team Car and by doing so broke the GT record. The L-88 finished 1st. in the GT Class and placed 11th overall in the race.
The car was raced at Daytona in its original factory red paint, after which, at the request of its sponsor it was painted Sunoco blue for the next race at Sebring. With its fresh blue paint job, the car was raced at the 12 Hours of Sebring where it finished 1st in class, and 9th overall, tying the record as the highest finish ever for a Corvette. What a history making record the car was setting for itself in only two times out!
The #9 racer has been featured on the cover of Corvette News Vol. 9 No. 5. It is nationally recognized as one of the of the most important Corvette’s ever manufactured. This car represents the first acknowledged L-88 Corvette and the only “mid-year” to win first in class consecutively at Daytona and Sebring.
Corvette Repair Inc. of Valley Stream, NY has performed a state of the art restoration and has made its debut at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in August 2002.
This car has a prototype hood. One of Three made by GM. The other two went on the Corvette Grand Sports. This one was installed at the factory.