As he did with the No. 48 car, Mueller tasked Mackay with overseeing No. 49's transformation from rode-hard racer to automotive objet d'art. The two men traveled to Sanford, Florida, together to meet John Greenwood and his brother Burt in person, and to extract their full knowledge of the car's technical specifications. They also obtained copies of the surviving historical documents and photographs in the Greenwoods' possession, which Mackay would use as references to accurately reconstruct No. 49.
"For the project, I bought a pickup truck full of vintage Greenwood racing components, including Minilite wheels, brake rotors, rearends, spindles, control arms, and trailing arms," Mackay says.
To recreate how Greenwood campaigned No. 49 back in the '70s, Mackay sourced a ZL1 block, a Holley 4296 carb, a "198" intake, and Cal Custom valve covers. While Greenwood always built his own motors for his Corvettes, Mueller hired famed Chevy race-engine builder Traco Engines to assemble a new ZL1 for the car.
No. 49 traded ownership from Mueller to notable Corvette collector Chip Miller in 2000. Mackay stayed on as the restorer, later debuting the car's meticulously refurbished rolling chassis at the Greenwood Reunion tent as part of the 2004 Corvettes at Carlisle show. (Since Miller had passed away months prior to the show, his widow, Judy, authorized Mackay to showcase the work-in-progress at the event.)
Miller's son, Lance, authorized the sale of No. 49 to John Thompson in 2007, on the condition that Mackay be kept on to complete the restoration.
"Some Corvettes take six months, but this one took 12 years," Mackay says. "I tallied 3,400 hours of labor in this project, and that's not including the thousands of hours of research to make sure my final results were as accurate as any Corvette race-car restoration in the world."
No. 49 debuted at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in 2008 and earned Best in Class, beating out a strong contingent of Sebring race cars. That same year, it was the center display car for the Corvette Racing Legends special event at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.
In 2009, it took the Best Paint by Design award at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, was selected for the Bloomington Gold Grand Finale Collection, and was awarded the American Heritage Award, which is the highest award given to non-street Corvettes by the National Corvette Restorers Society. It was also a feature display at the National Corvette Museum's Hall of Fame.
In August 2011, Thompson sold No. 49 at RM Auctions' Monterey, California, event, where a high bid of $638,000 brought down the hammer.
Corvette collector Chuck Ungurean of Columbus, Ohio, currently owns No. 49. "I feel very honored to have it," he says. "I have a nice collection of Corvette race cars, and I can't say enough about this one's magnificent restoration. I'm looking forward to sharing it with the public. It's been accepted by the Concours d'Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, where it will be in the Jaguar vs. Corvette exhibition. I'm going to keep No. 49 and help preserve its heritage for generations to come."
VETTE thanks Wayne Ellwood for his assistance in researching this story.
BFG/Greenwood "Stars and Stripes" No. 49
- 468ci ZL1 engine, rated at 750 hp
- M22 "Rock Crusher" four-speed transmission
- BFGoodrich Lifesaver Radials (60 series)
- Modified tilt steering column with handmade washer squirter and high-beam switch
- Pontiac Formula steering wheel
- Side impact bars added to rollcage
- Double-adjustable Koni shocks
- Brake master cylinder with vent tubes from each section
- Unique breather tube off driver-side valve cover leading to canister
- Center support for quick release of aluminum radiator
- Large white oil-pressure gauge
- Jones 5-inch tachometer
- Modified dash with Stewart Warner gauges and protected switches
- Needle-bearing A-arm and steering-arm bushings