A high-lift mechanical camshaft...
A high-lift mechanical camshaft and stout 11:1 compression helped the 327 fuel-injected engine deliver 360 hp.
Just as he did in 1961, Delmo again raced 50 weekends out of the year, including appearances at Daytona, Sebring, El Paso, Corpus Christi, Shreveport, Mansfield, and the Nassau Speed Weeks in the Bahamas. "If somebody had put an event together for Christmas and Easter I would have raced those too," he says with a broad smile. By the end of '62 he'd added a couple of dozen more class or overall wins to his resume, and chalked up another SCCA Southwest Division championship.
As with most of his production racers, Delmo normally drove his '62 Corvette to the track, competed, and then drove it home again. And on more than one occasion he even used the Corvette to trailer another racecar to the event! Usually it was a formula junior that either he or his usual co-driver David Morgan would run the same weekend.
This '62's original owner,...
This '62's original owner, Delmo Johnson, and regular co-driver Dave Morgan drove this car to a 3rd-in-class finish at the 1962 12 Hours of Sebring race, behind a pair of Gulf Oil-sponsored Corvettes. The unusual racing stripes were instrumental in discovering this Corvette's magnificent competition history. Although the car's appearance changed over time, its unique stripes remained intact beneath the license plate area.
"Pulling a trailer with the race car was a lot of fun," explains Delmo, "because it really pissed everybody off! Since Dave and I usually won, and because I was a Chevy dealer, the locals thought we were getting factory help and they couldn't compete. That's when we started driving the race car to the races instead of trailering it. And using it as a tow vehicle just rubbed it in their faces!"
Aggravating the competition was always part of the fun for Delmo, and he constantly found new methods for doing it. "We brought a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, two quarts of oil, and a case of beer," he remembers. "That would also really piss them off! On those few occasions when we'd break down at the track we would borrow or buy enough parts to get home. I was always a fair mechanic, so I could fix whatever happened."
As was his habit, Delmo sold the '62 at the beginning of 1963 to make way for a new Corvette racer. The old car went to Jeff Sandlin, who raced it off and on over the next 12 years. By the time Sandlin parted with the car in 1975, it looked like a typical tired old Corvette. It changed hands a couple of more times until coming into the possession of one Michael DuPre in 1976. By that time the car's important early history had faded away and nobody suspected there was anything special about it.
After doing some work on the car himself, DuPre brought the deteriorated '62 to brothers Ken and Gary Naber, noted Corvette restorers with a shop in Houston. The Nabers were contracted to paint the car Honduras Maroon, and in the course of doing so they noticed a number of competition-inspired modifications. Of course, there's nothing particularly unusual about, that since many Corvettes of the era saw occasional track duty and were fitted with rollbars and the like. But still, the car and its modifications stuck in their memory.
The Johnson/Morgan Sebring...
The Johnson/Morgan Sebring Corvette's interior is almost completely original. It shows minor wear here and there, but retains a beautiful patina that speaks proudly of its competition heritage.
Some time after completing their work on the '62 the Nabers were perusing Karl Ludvigsen's excellent book Corvette, America's Star Spangled Sports Car, when a photo taken at Sebring in 1962 caught their attention. Most Corvettes competing in the '50s and into the '60s were painted in America's international racing colors, white overall with full-length blue stripes. One of the cars seen at Sebring in '62, which raced as #4 that year, had the typical paint scheme but with an unusual variation. A relatively broad blue stripe was in the middle with a narrower blue stripe on either side. Immediately adjacent to the two narrower stripes were two very narrow red stripes, for a total of five stripes.
The Nabers immediately recalled that the remnants of the very same arrangement was beneath the rear license plate bezel on the car they painted for Michael DuPre. Could DuPre's car be the Johnson/Morgan Sebring competitor? A call to DuPre and some diligent research into the car's past revealed that indeed it was.
Secure in the knowledge that he had a rare piece of Corvette history, DuPre continued to enjoy the car for several more years. Then in 1981 he mentioned to the Naber brothers that he would like to sell it.