Harry Fedoryk, a retired steamfitter from Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, says his fondest memories of his teenage years are of racing solid-axle Corvettes on Saturday nights. Now, 50-plus years later, he’s retired his trophy-magnet 1961 Chevy Corvette from the show-car circuit and transformed it into a subsonic land missile that puts many newer Corvettes to the test, thanks to a series of potent performance mods that plant it firmly in the 11s.

“I wanted to show my son what racing was like when I was in high school,” he says.

In 1962, then-17-year-old Fedoryk bought his first Corvette, a ’56. Soon the car had sacrificed its 265/210hp stock mill for a punched-out 283/292 with headers and slicks, priming it for the role of weekend warrior at West Hampton Drag Strip in West Hampton, New York.

Two years later, Fedoryk bought his brother Ron’s ’59, which was already set up with a 327 small-block, Carter AFB 2x4 induction, Bellinger Brothers headers, a Vertex magneto, 4.88 gears, and M&H slicks. His best pass in the car was a 12.90 at 110 mph.

“My brother’s Corvette left a lifelong impression on me,” Harry says.

In 1988, Fedoryk located a ’61 Corvette in a local auto-classifieds magazine. It featured a desirable list of options, including a Roman Red exterior, black interior, hardtop, heater delete, and a four-speed.

“It was dilapidated and abused,” he remembers. “The padded dash was missing, and the hood, decklid, carb, radiator, and radiator support were stowed in a storage shed about 100 yards away. Regardless, I was looking to have some fun putting a Corvette back together, [so I] bought it.” Within a year, he had the car running and driving.

In the mid-’90s, Fedoryk treated the feisty first-gen to a frame-on restoration at E-Z Body in Hamlin, Pennsylvania. The results were remarkable, and over the course of the next decade, the restored rod racked up more than 130 trophies, including six Best in Shows, one Best Paint, and six Best in Divisions. “I drove the car to shows in seven different states—New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. I’m especially proud that it went up against trailer queens and beat them,” he says.

In 2005, Fedoryk decided his Corvette needed to do some more “beating.” He explains:

“From the first day I bought the car, my son Craig [then 11 years old] asked me, ‘When are you going to race it, Dad?’ For 17 years, my answer was, ‘No, it needs too much work.’ Then one day he asked me the question again, and I replied, ‘Today!’ All of the memories of racing my brother’s ’59 came rushing back.”

His first step was to install an Edelbrock Limited Edition Signature Series 383, a 460hp small-block crate engine limited to 250 numbered units. “I asked Edelbrock if No. 61 was sold. It wasn’t, so I specifically requested it,” he says.

The Signature Series 383 starts life as a GM Performance Parts ZZ383 stroker short-block, stuffed with a forged steel crank, powdered-metal rods, and hypereutectic pistons. Edelbrock adds its E-Tec 200 heads, which feature 64cc combustion chambers, 200/80cc intake/exhaust runners, and 2.06-/1.60-inch stainless- steel valves; a hydraulic roller cam; and an Air-Gap manifold. (Though the engine ships with one of Edelbrock’s Thunder Series AVS 800-cfm carbs, Fedoryk swapped it out for a traditional Holley 750-cfm double pumper.)

“I pulled the tired 350, and it didn’t have enough breath left to complain,” he laughs. “I installed the 383, then Patriot Block Hugger Headers, an electric exhaust-cutout system, side pipes, a Ford 9-inch rear, and an electric fuel pump.”

Concerned that the ancient stock four-speed wasn’t fit for track duty, Fedoryk’s next mod was a beefed-up Turbo-350 automatic. The unit was built by Ernie’s Transmissions, also in Lake Ariel, and installed with a B&M Pro Ratchet shifter, a 2,800-stall torque converter, an external cooler, and a custom steel driveshaft. Before his first test run down the asphalt, Fedoryk added an Autogage Monster Shift-Lite tach to the dash where the ’61’s rearview mirror was originally mounted.

“I missed the adrenaline high of the four-speed, but I knew the automatic would be easier on the car as a whole and give me more consistent e.t.’s,” he says. Reduced adrenaline flow notwithstanding, Fedoryk’s first pass with the new powertrain combo put him through the traps in a scant 11.75 seconds at 116.24 mph.

“I knew I was close to the track shutting me down if the car got any faster…and it would,” he says. “That led to safety mods: a custom rollbar, G-Force Pro Series five-point racing harnesses, a driveshaft loop, a scattershield, an emergency fuel cutoff, and a power-kill switch. I also added a line lock for better launches.”

Most recently, he’s added an in-cabin switch box to control the electric fuel pump, engine fan, and exhaust cutouts.

“Despite all the trophies I’ve won with my Corvette, my proudest moment with it was when my son Craig clicked off an 11.54- second e.t. at 117.19 mph.”

That’s more than a second quicker than his ’59 Corvette was when it was a consistent class winner at West Hampton Drag Strip all those years ago.

“I guess you can say time really flies,” he says.

SPEC SHEET
1961 Chevy Corvette
Owner Harry Fedoryk; Lake Ariel, PA
Block GMPP ZZ383 iron
Displacement 383 ci
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Heads Edelbrock E-Tec 200
Valves Stainless steel 2.02/1.60
Camshaft Edelbrock hydraulic roller (242-/240-deg duration, 0.594-/0.594-in lift)
Rocker Arms Aluminum roller, 1.5:1 ratio
Pistons Hypereutectic aluminum
Crankshaft Forged steel
Rods Powdered-metal steel
Intake Manifold Polished aluminum Edelbrock Air-Gap
Carburetor Holley 750-cfm
Fuel Pump Electric (brand unknown)
Ignition MSD Pro-Billet distributor, Blaster 3 coil, and 8.5mm wires; Champion RC12YC plugs
Exhaust System Patriot Block Hugger Headers with 1.625-in primaries, electric header “dumps,” side pipes
Transmission Turbo-350, built by Ernie’s Transmissions
Torque Converter Custom 2,800-rpm stall
Driveshaft Custom steel
Front Suspension Stock
Rear Suspension Stock leaf springs, QA1 adjustable shocks set two clicks from soft
Rearend Ford 9-in Detroit Locker with Richmond 4.11 gears
Front Brakes Disc
Rear Brakes Stock drum
Wheels Cragar SS 15x7 (street), Weld 15x4/15x9 (track)
Front Tires Uniroyal Tiger Paw CTS 255/60R15 (street), Mickey Thompson ET Front 27.5x4.5x15 (track)
Rear Tires Uniroyal Tiger Paw CTS 255/60R15 (street), Mickey Thompson ET Drag 28x9x15 (track)
Fuel Octane 93
Weight 3,270 lbs
Best E.T./MPH 11.54/117.19
Best 60-ft. Time 1.64
Current Mileage 140,000
Miles Driven Weekly Less than 50

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