1976 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (C3) Pilots: B. Darniche, J. Greenwood Team: IMSA Camel Race: DNF (IMSA class) at Le Mans in 1976 Spark (pw) - ? (diecast)
Born April 4th, 1945, John Greenwood grew up in Detroit and his father worked at General Motors. As a teenager, he started to build engines in his dad’s garage, to race locally at small events. From the beginning, his passion was the Corvette, and with time he progressed to professional events. A few years later, now with an actual professional racing license, he opened a business. His Auto Research Engineering (ARE) did engine building and head porting, and his good work and results became recognized. He specialized in the Stingray (C3) Corvette, and almost in parallel with engine parts and improvements, he also started to offer body kits. That success came to the attention of one Zora Arkus-Duntov. Despite GM’s corporate ban on racing, Zora Duntov had engineer Gib Hufstader offer unofficial technical backup to a few racing teams. And Greenwood’s was one of them.
By 1970 Greenwood was racing his C3 at Sebring. His good results landed him in 1971 a sponsorship with the BFGoodrich Tire Company. In 1972 he was back to Sebring and even took a two-car team to Le Mans. He continued developing his car, to a point where it became too powerful for current tires and chassis. His solution was to, from 1974 onward, make his own chassis with an extra wide body. Both Zora Duntov and Randy Wittine (from the GM design studio) participated in the project. When ready, it was one of the most radical Corvettes ever. Greenwood was so confident about the car that in 1976 he went back to La Sarthe again. The chassis (#Greenwood007) was hand-built and the car had coil-over suspension at all four corners. The engine was a 6997 cm³ monster V8, with everything covered by a fiberglass body.
Despite the expectations, and starting in ninth position, a split fuel tank early on lap 29 retired the car from the fray. Though it was the last C3 to race at La Sarthe, the Stingray #76 left its mark. With a patriotic theme, it can be considered one of the first art cars to race at La Sarthe. And just as important, the car still exists to this day.
I first bought this Stingray in early 2017, but from Altaya. Though not a thoroughly bad model, it wasn’t great. So when the opportunity arose for me to get a better version, I took it. However, even though it’s from Spark, it is diecast. Sold by Hachette, it’s a pw model that comes with those magazines. That being so, it’s definitively not the best of Sparks, though (A LOT!) better than my Altaya. And as cheery on top, it was quite cheap, so a VERY good upgrade if you ask me.