Corvette Escapades Part I

At 50 +/- MPH, it had to appear that we were hurtling straight for the telephone pole...then at what must have seemed like the absolute last possible moment - as the tires chirped on the hard dirt in a full panic stop - she was thrown forward, her knuckles white against the black "chicken bar." Suddenly realizing we weren't going to hit the pole, the pony-tailed blond surely believed we were going to roll. Now, she was slammed against the passenger door as the open roadster made a very hard left while the rear end swung out and the engine roared. Surviving all that, as we headed down the straight-a-way, she was now pinned to the seatback - a prisoner of acceleration

After three times around, I pulled into the infield and grinned at my passenger, a 16 year old honey. She was wide-eyed and as white as my Ermine White Vette. "I, I, I...was never so scared. I thought we were going to hit that pole...and roll over...lets do it again," she stammered. Stop watches in hand, my buddy and the 5/8 mile dirt track owner were striding over excitedly proclaiming that I had broken the track record.

This was spring, 1960, and I was just getting the feel of my combination 18th birthday gift and high school graduation present, a new 230 HP, 3-speed (close-ratio) Corvette (with options of AM Push-Button radio, White-wall tires and heater, the cost was $3433.01). The track, laid out in some farmer's field, was near Middletown, about an hour north of Cincinnati. It was the only place around that allowed anyone with a driver's license to race. Passengers were also allowed - this, in the days long before the proliferation of lawyers got into everything. I loved road racing, but being only 18, SCCA was out of the question for three more years.

Post-graduation, and against my parent's wishes, I took a job instead of going to college. I needed money to build my Vette - I mean what's more important, playing Joe College with a stocker or having a fast machine?

During the rest of the summer, as funds permitted, I added: Marchal headlamps, quick steering adapter, HD shocks, metallic brake linings, 4-speed transmission, HD clutch, three two-barrel carburetors on an Offenhauser manifold, Duntov 097 cam with solid lifters, dual points and a Mallory 50K volt coil. The last item was one of the most significant improvements - in relation to other hi-performance 283 Chevys. When I first installed the coil, the engine developed a miss. I figured the coil was bad, but before taking it back, for some reason, I thought to turn the lights out in the garage and watch the engine run with the hood up. There were sparks all over the place.

Though I had replaced the factory graphite spark plug wires with stranded type wires, voltage was leaking everywhere. I took some neoprene fuel, slit pieces to match each plug wire and then sealed the wires in the neoprene with electrician's tape. Now, there was no leakage and performance was significantly enhanced.

Source: Chuck Klein, Chuck Klein

Submitted by Phil Ellison