At speed in 1962: The Grady...
At speed in 1962: The Grady Davis-owned, Gulf Oil-sponsored No. 2 Corvette was a rolling lab for Gulf's lubricant research.
After its racing heyday with Davis and Denman, it became just another used car, spending the next 16 years as a daily driver. In the late '70s, close examination revealed some filled-in holes that weren't original equipment, and a search began to document the car's history. That search turned up Tony Denman, who not only verified the '62's racing history, but also had its original engine (which he'd acquired when he bought it), big fuel tank, original hood, and other race-specific parts that he'd taken off the car following the 1963 racing season.
Fast forward several more years, when the car-and its original parts-were brought to Kevin Mackay's shop. "When we got the car, it actually had all of the original body panels on it," Mackay says. "It had been hit in the front one time, and they spliced a piece into the front nose area. But from the middle of the wheelwell back, it was all original." With all of the No. 2's original components present and accounted for, it was time for a frame-off restoration. "We did the undercarriage; all the bodywork, paint, graphics, and striping; and got it really dialed in to the way it's supposed to be." Mackay says that the resto at Corvette Repair followed earlier work on the car in a shop in California, and the now-repaired OEM fuel-injected 327 that was installed at St. Louis Assembly (and removed years before) is now back in the car. He also adds that this is one of only a handful of vintage Corvette race cars he's aware of that still has its original engine.
The 37-gallon fuel tank meant...
The 37-gallon fuel tank meant a special Plexiglas rear window was needed to clear the filler and cap.
Once restored, the No. 2 '62 Corvette proceeded to make history again, much as it did when it owned the road courses of America. At the Goodings collector-car auction held during the Monterey Historics/Pebble Beach Concours weekend in 2008, it sold for a world-record price for straight-axle Vette race cars. Then, when it was shown at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2009, it won the David E. Davis Jr. Award as the most outstanding postwar American car. Soon after, it graced Bloomington Gold's special collection of historic racing Corvettes.
Nowadays, this history maker shares a garage with other significant race cars in Chris Andrews' collection. "I've also got an old Sprint Car, an old [Watson roadster] Indy car, this Corvette, and I have one of the first racing Shelbys," says Andrews. "I'm focused on getting one of each significant car in racing history."
Andrews is a long-time student of automotive racing history, and it was that interest that led him to this car. "I read about it for years," he says. "It's been one of my favorites, both visually and performance-wise, and I was quite surprised to see it come to auction."
The FIA rules specified that...
The FIA rules specified that this blinking blue light had to go on No. 2's roof for nighttime racing at Sebring.
Andrews does take No. 2 out once in a while. "We drive it around our parking lot, and I drive it home every now and then," he says. There's a reason why he doesn't run it in any historic racing events. Actually, there are four reasons. "The tires are next to impossible to find," he says about the long-out-of-production Goodyear Blue Streak Sports Car Special biasplies. He'd asked one reproduction tire maker if it was ever going to make them. What did it tell him? "They said it was only $35,000 to build the molds-if I was willing to chip in, they'd be more than willing to do it!"
Soon, the car will have company-a track-ready '62 that Corvette Repair is building for Andrews. "They're doing it in black with white stripes, instead of white with blue stripes," he says. "I don't want to confuse the history of the car. We're putting an Art Morrison chassis under it instead of a stock chassis, to make it kind of a fun car versus a historic race car."
If you're looking for that special Vette, Chris has some easy-to-remember advice. "I would talk to Kevin Mackay," he says. "He certainly keeps more tabs on the Corvette race cars, and the Corvette world, than I do." That includes the rare Vettes Mackay says are now in his shop, or are scheduled to go in before long. "We have the class-winner Penske Corvette and the class-winner that also won Sebring and Daytona back-to-back the same year," he says. "A C1, a C2, and a C3, all Sebring and Daytona class winners, all significant pieces of Corvette history, and all restored by Corvette Repair in Valley Stream."
Though the Gulf Oil team ran its last race in 1963, as long as the cars that it raced-and won with-are still around, Corvette lovers will remember just how excellent these machines really were. And, thanks to Chris Andrews and Kevin Mackay, they can see why this '62 deserves that place in the dictionary next to the word "excellence."