When Editor Bob ran into my office and asked "Hey kid, remember you said you liked to read and were willing to review books for VETTE?" I certainly got anxious to see what book he had in store. Of course, I was awaiting the latest mid-year Corvette restoration manual or something that would relate to my 'Lazarus Project.' Then, good ol' Editor Bob presented me with a beautiful hardcover book entitled Corvette GTP. While my first reaction, even before I opened the book, was less than enthusiastic, I was simply amazed at how interesting and factual the book is.
Being a Corvette enthusiast and restorer for years, my interests ranged mainly in the straight-line form of racing, the simple beauty, and the appearance of Corvettes. I never personally had much interest in any twisty-turning type of racing other than maybe some SCCA-style, production-based, stock-bodied class. After just a few minutes of looking through the photos in the book and reading some of the incredible history of IMSA (the now-defunct International MotorSports Association) GTP racing, it was apparent that this book could make a GTP (it stood for GT Prototype) racing enthusiast out of anyone.
In the beginning of the book, the author shows the different types of early racers ranging from Devins and Cheetahs to Lolas and Scarabs. These cars were the basis for forming GTP racing and most of these sports racers were being powered by the heart of a Corvette. The shock to me was how wild and exotic the fuel injection and suspensions were so early on.
Cars of the IMSA GTP class raced before larger audiences than in any previous American-road racing series. The author moves you on through the years of GTP racing starting with the first GTP car-the bright yellow number 7-Cooke Woods Racing entry. Thinking that this was just a book on Corvettes, I was intrigued to find that the author chose to include some of the competitors' cars, including Porsches and Jaguar. It was refreshing to see and helped me to get a good feel for the class. The stories included the victories for each team, and the ups and downs the teams faced through the years, including personal stories from the drivers.
Being that the main focus of the book is centered on the Corvette GTP cars, the author drives you through the development of the Corvette GTP legacy, starting with the Lee racing car that was fitted with a 6-liter, fuel-injected V-8. While this car showed promise for the team, body mounting problems and body mount breakage plagued the team. These problems led to the rear wing breaking off at a speed of over 200 mph! This incident happened at Daytona, and the team repaired the car and continued to race successfully at Sebring and Charlotte.
The book ends with the last of the Corvette GTP racers and their tales of the ups and downs along with the accidents and the earnings that the drivers won for the year, showing how expensive racing can be sometimes. In the back of the book, there are complete racing statistics including production numbers for the Lola sports/prototype racers (upon which the Corvette GTP was based), and the teams that the cars went to.
While the main focus of the book relies on GTP racing and the related history, it was hard for me to believe that a drag racing and show-car guy like myself would have taken such an interest in a different form of racing. The author is able to provide the highlights of GTP racing so any automotive enthusiast can enjoy and appreciate a form of racing that seemingly isn't as popular or as well known as NASCAR, but thanks to cable television and news media, is gaining acceptance and interest.
While the cover image is stunning, it didn't do justice to all of the history inside of the book. Quite honestly, I never would have expected to find so much history and so many great stories just looking at the cover of the book. Luckily for me, I thoroughly examined this book, enjoyed and learned from every page and story, so now I can thank ol' Editor Bob for this reading assignment. It just goes to show the old adage is true, you can't judge a book by its cover.