Welcome to the unofficial IMSA History website
'This site is aimed at preserving the IMSA Camel GT series. Its purposes are mainly historical and informative. Any valuable information may be sent to me. Every contributor will be properly credited.'
- Rebel Chevrolet Corvette
Rebel Chevrolet Corvette
The RED # 4 car was originally built from a crashed 1968 silver/black convertible. It was acquired as an insurance job at auction in Miami. The team put a new frame under the car and replaced the front end with a one-piece Eckler unit. The car was built specifically for LeMans at (Toye) English Chevrolet in a period of about two months. The team's first car (# 57 Rebel) was deemed to be a bit long in the tooth and, on top of that, the Le Mans regulations would require significant changes to bring it back to near-street condition. It was just as easy to start fresh. The car did eventually make it to Le Mans for the 1972 race, but not without some interesting stories. Most of the stories weren't so interesting at the time but, as the restoration began, they really did help put the car in context. For example, the first interesting story has to do with the fact that the car was painted in a Ferrari red and blue and carried the Ferrari "Cavallino Rampante" logo on its front fenders for its LeMans appearance. Walt Thurn has reported that the team's first application to compete in LeMans was turned down. However, because the car was racing on Goodyear's new radial construction tires (and winning), Larry Trusdale, Manager of Goodyear's sports car racing program, intervened with Luigi Chinetti, owner of North American Racing Team (NART) and the Ferrari distributor for North America. Chinetti was closer to the "powers" at LeMans and agreed to give over one of his four slots (three entries and a reserve) to the Toye English team. On May 23, 1972 the car was accepted as a reserve entry. In exchange, and faced with Gallic hubris over the "rebel" paint scheme of the English team, the car was painted in NART red with blue stripe and was adorned with the prancing stallions. Everyone was finally happy. The second rather famous story, and quite apart from the fact that it was the first Corvette to actually finish the race in twelve years, involves an accident during practice which affected both front and rear ends. Apparently while Ohio's "Marietta Bob" Johnson was driving a plastic banner blew onto the track and he skidded on it. The car went off and did some damage. Most of the obvious damage was repaired but a fuel overflow line had been pinched and wasn't noticed until very late in the race. As a result, the team couldn't use the full capacity of the tank so they had to pit about twice as often as they had planned. They also had to start the race from the back of the grid as they had not actually qualified; this put them in 51st position to start -- so far back, quipped Bob Johnson, that..." they had to go through Belgian customs again to get to the checkered flag." Le Mans was the car's first race -- its baptism by fire. During the actual race Dave Heinz started as first driver and worked the car up to 28th spot from 51st. Then Marietta Bob worked it up to as high as 8th overall. More delays resulted from an electric fire and, at the finish, the car was 15th overall and 7th in class. It was the only Corvette to actually finish the race, up to this year when the Callaway Corvette finished second in class at Le Mans. Upon their return to the US, the team ran both cars for Mid-Ohio (DNF) and Watkins Glen(DNF). Both cars ran with new paint jobs. For the Rebel car (# 57), the changes were minor but for the red # 4 car, the change was noticeable....white with red and blue side panels. It also ran as # 56 at Mid-Ohio and then as both # 5 and # 6 in 1974. At the end of 1972, the first Rebel car (Scrappy) was sold. The team kept the better 1968 car and continued the 1972 season, as well as the 1973 and 1974 seasons. On its return from le Mans, the second car continued as a narrow body car but was updated to a new paint scheme, which included red and blue side panels on a white background. It ran through 1973 and into the 1974 season with this paint scheme and rnning as # 56, 5 and 6. In mid-season 1974, the car was again updated to a widebody format and repainted with a new Rebel paint scheme stars and bars on a white background. Interstingly, the chassis was painted mustard yellow. During the restoration Jack's workmen found the mustard yellow paint under a subsequent grey layer of paint. this helped confirm the cars provenance.
Dave Heinz drove this colorful Chevrolet Corvette in 1972.