04 | 1969 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 11.89 @ 121.55

Owner: Jim Johnston
Engine/HP: L88 427/430
Transmission: Four-speed
Axle: 4.56:1
Weight: 3,468 lbs

It would be hard to overstate the driving skills of Jim “JJ” Johnston. He holds the record for lowest-ever e.t. at the Pure Stock Drags (11.43 @ 125.50), set last year in his Cortez Silver ’69 L88-spec Corvette. He’s up against another ace: Jim Spetzman and his ’69½ 440 Six Pack Super Bee.

Round 1: Johnston redlights, a rare foul for the Corvette pilot.

Round 2: Spetzman launches first and wheels the Bee through the 60-foot beams with a 1.97, putting the Vette in an early hole. Johnston, nursing a weak clutch, can’t reel in the Mopar fast enough, and Spetzman emerges victorious.

’69 Corvette 427/430 vs. ’691⁄2 Super Bee 440/390

Round 1 Round 2
Corvette 15.79 @ 68.25* 12.35 @ 118.18
Super Bee 12.58 @ 90.98 12.19 @ 114.69
*Redlight


05 | 1969 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 11.80 @ 117.37

Owner: Ed Keim
Engine/HP: L88 427/430
Transmission: Automatic
Axle: 4.56:1
Weight: 3,450 lbs

Keim, the No. 6 qualifier, pulls his sweet L88-spec ’69 Vette to the line against Jim Keyes, original owner of a clean and exceptionally strong Hemi Coronet R/T. Both cars are automatics with 4.56 gears. The Corvette is 366 pounds lighter, but as we’ve seen, that can work against you.

Round 1: It’s a clean start, and they’re dead even at the 1-2 shift. The crowd reacts as the win light goes on for the Hemi Dodge, which appears to have somehow out-muscled the L88.

Round 2: A pair of excellent reaction times—an 0.042 for the Corvette, and an 0.063 for the Dodge. These guys can drive! It’s another nail-biter as they streak toward the big end, but it proves to be a replay of Round 1: Keyes’ Dodge edges Keim’s Vette by a fender.

’69 Corvette 427/430 vs. ’67 Dodge Coronet R/T 426/425

Round 1 Round 2
Corvette 11.92 @ 116.12 11.88 @ 116.92
Coronet R/T 11.79 @ 120.41 11.79 @ 121.40


06 | 1969 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 11.60 @ 119.66

Owner: Larry Kirkum
Engine/HP: L71 427/435
Transmission: Automatic
Axle: 4.56:1
Weight: 3,422 lbs

Infiltrating the ranks of the L88s is Larry Kirkum’s extra-stout triple-carb 427. He’ll need everything the Corvette can muster to fend off Rick Mahoney’s ’68 Hemi Road Runner, a purpose-built racer with a Ray Barton engine.

Round 1: Scott Tiemann drives the Road Runner, cutting a smokin’ 0.007 light to put half a car length on Kirkum’s Corvette. They’re both under the 2-second mark through the 60-foot beams, but the Hemi stays ahead and takes the win.

Up in the tower, Kirkum gets DQ’d: His 11.60 e.t.—his quickest of the event—violates the rulebook’s anti-sandbagging provision, which prohibits racers from running more than 0.3 second quicker than their qualifying time. Kirkum qualified at 11.92, so he’s out.

Round 2: This shootout is already in the books as a win for the Road Runner, but these guys came to race, so they line up again. Kirkum redlights, but both racers stay in it all the way down track. The Road Runner’s got the Corvette’s number today, though, and gets there first.

’69 Corvette 427/435 vs. ’68 Road Runner 426/425

Round 1 Round 2
Corvette 11.60 @ 119.60* 12.35 @ 118.18
Road Runner 11.54 @ 123.88 11.63 @ 106.18
*Disqualified


07 | 1969 Corvette—Best 2012 Event E.T.: 11.53 @ 121.88

Owner: Julie Pennington
Engine/HP: L88 427/430
Transmission: Automatic
Axle: 4.56:1
Weight: 3,414 lbs

Julie Pennington is about as far from the high-strung, type-A racer as you can get. But don’t underestimate her: Husband Terry built and tunes this Monaco Orange ’69 L88-spec Corvette, which has proved virtually invulnerable in competition. Julie held the event’s low e.t. record here for years, and she’s the number one qualifier this time around. Her opponent is Jim Jarrett in a fine-looking ’69 427 COPO Camaro.

Round 1: Jarrett comes off the line hard, but Pennington cuts an excellent 0.021 light and rips through the first 60 feet in 1.85 seconds. The Camaro’s got a good run going, but this one’s all Corvette, as Pennington backs off and coasts to an 11.64.

Round 2: Jarrett improves his reaction time, but Pennington’s already well out front and opening up a lead. Again, she’s got the Camaro covered, coasting through the beams for the win to become this year’s “Top Gun.”

’69 Corvette 427/430 vs. ’69 COPO Camaro 427/430

Round 1 Round 2
Corvette 11.64 @ 105.16 11.63 @ 106.42
COPO Camaro 11.69 @ 119.14 11.76 @ 118.28