BFG Stars & Stripes 1969 L88 Corvette ZL-1
1968 L88 Corvette
BFG Stars & Stripes 1969 L88 Corvette – from a recent RM Auction listing:
1969 Chevrolet BFG “Stars & Stripes” Factory L88 “ZL-1” Greenwood Racing Corvette
To be auctioned on Friday, August 19, 2011 – Sold for $638,000
Chassis no. 1943 79S 722205
Est. 750 hp @ 6,500 rpm, Traco-built 427 CID aluminum block original ZL-1 engine, Muncie four-speed close ratio transmission, Greenwood Racing front and rear suspension, trailing arms, anti-sway bars, Minilite wheels with period NOS BFG radial tires, bodywork modified with Factory L-88 flares and molded plexi-head lamp covers. Wheelbase: 98″
– Delivered new as a factory L88 Corvette Coupe, finished in white over blue
– The #49 “Stars & Stripes” BFG team car raced in the trifecta of FIA events: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Daytona
– Driven by John Greenwood, Dick Smothers, Bob Johnson and Don Yenko, this big-block beast went 215 mph at Le Mans
– Major show awards in 2008 – 2010: the Quail, Petersen Museum, Amelia Island, Bloomington Gold and NCRS
– Restored by Corvette Repair of New York (owned by Kevin Mackay)
AMERICA’S STAR-SPANGLED SPORTS CAR
For nearly four decades, the Chevrolet Corvette was the only sports car designed and built in North America. Capable of taking on and beating the world’s best GT cars on the international circuit, Corvettes roared on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans, flew on the high banks at Daytona and blazed their lights around the Sebring airport. On amateur SCCA circuits, Corvettes won 14 “A Production” and 15 “B Production” divisional titles in the 1962 to 1976 period. SCCA Nationals saw Corvettes capturing no less than 25 Run-Off Championships in A, B and C Production in the same time frame.
A Russian born ex-race driver and engineer with a funny accent hired by GM’s Ed Cole gets most of the credit for the almost unbelievable transformation that took place in the mid-1950s. The ’53 Corvette leaked water and couldn’t pull the skin off rice pudding, but the 1957 version won its class at Sebring as well as the Sports Car Club of America B Production National Championship. “Corvette – The Real McCoy” trumpeted the full page ads in the national media, and that really said it best.
The classic solid axle Corvette gave way to the beautiful mid-year coupes and convertibles with independent suspension in 1963, and four-wheel disc brakes became standard in 1965. In 1968 it emerged as the dramatic Stingray with a “Coke bottle” shape inspired by the ’67 Mako Shark Show Car. Some magazine road tests panned the new C-3 Corvette, finding rattles and other issues in the first model year, but the general buying public voted with their checkbooks and purchased some 67,327 Corvettes in the 1968-1969 model years!
The racers cared little about door rattles – you couldn’t hear them over the music from the side-pipes anyway, and the Stingrays keep racking up national championships and international class wins.
THE JOHN GREENWOOD BFG “STARS & STRIPES” RACING CORVETTES
In 1971 John Greenwood contracted with the BF Goodrich Tire Company to run two “BFG Corvettes” in FIA-sanctioned racing on the company’s new radial tires for the 1972-1973 seasons. Greenwood, an excellent race driver with a creative engineering mind, knew that his Corvettes running on street tires would be at a disadvantage against the competition on racing slicks. So every aspect of his BFG team cars – engines, suspensions, running gear, aero, brakes and even the appearance – had to be cutting edge and maxed-out to the limit of the rules. John’s brother, Bert Greenwood, a superb designer in his own right, sketched the “Stars & Stripes” graphics, and an American Corvette racing icon was born. The race cars were numbered #48 and #50 with a third “Stars & Stripes” car, #49, slated for use by BFG for promotions and shows. When the #50 car was damaged in a 1972 crash, Greenwood quickly converted the immaculate #49 show car, an actual factory L-88 T-top coupe with a ZL-1 engine, to racing specification, since the lucrative BFG contract called for running two Corvettes in the specified races.
All three of the BFG “Stars & Stripes” cars are intact and restored: #48 in the possession of Cincinnati-based enthusiast Harry Yeaggy and #50 raced on the west coast by John Goodman. The #49 BFG Corvette, the car here on offer, is now with a well-known California sports car enthusiast.
THE BFG #49 ZL-1 CORVETTE
Our 1969 Corvette was one of three team cars sponsored by BF Goodrich during the 1971-1973 seasons to showcase their new line of T/A radials. The #49 car was driven by top road course drivers of the period, including John Greenwood, Bob Johnson, Dick Smothers and Don Yenko.
The car’s initial major win was a first place in GT class in 1972 at the Watkins Glen six-hour race driven by Greenwood and Smothers. In 1973 it was campaigned at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Daytona 24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This car set the GT speed record of 215 mph on the Mulsanne straight in qualifying!
When it was converted, the #49 BFG Corvette benefitted from all the signature Greenwood innovations: notched rear arms, rapid replacement radiator, quick camber adjustment and a new Chevrolet ZL-1 all-aluminum 427-cubic inch engine producing over 750 hp @ 6,500 rpm.
It was restored to concours condition in 2008 by Corvette Repair of Valley Stream, New York, which is owned by noted Corvette expert Kevin Mackay. It then debuted at The Quail Motorsports 2008 event where it received “Best in Class” against a strong field of Sebring race cars. Later in 2008 it was invited as a center display car for the Corvette Racing Legends event at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. The car also received the prestigious Amelia Award at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and was selected for Bloomington Gold Grand Finale in 2009. The car was awarded the American Heritage Award in 2009, the highest award for non-street Corvettes by the National Corvette Restorers Society. It was a feature display at the National Corvette Museum for the Corvette Hall of Fame in 2009. Most recently it was invited to celebrate Corvette’s first Le Mans win at the Laguna Seca ALMS race in 2010.
#49 comes with a complete ownership history, John Greenwood’s letter of authenticity, original bill of sale, Le Mans registration and tech inspection sheets. This car is probably the most original of the three team cars, retaining its rear clip, frame, steering wheel, gauges, mirrors, dash, t-tops, removable radiator brackets, Minilite wheels, trailing arms, camber adjustment screws, NOS BFG tires, etc. According to Mr. Mackay, the car is fitted with the last ZL-1 engine from Traco, the historic builder of race engines for Roger Penske and Jim Hall, and comes with a vintage DVD from Le Mans and a detailed video with John and Burt Greenwood validating the car’s unique features.
Kevin MacKay recently commented that this BFG Stingray is his most meticulous and correct work to date. Since the other two BFG cars are in important collections for the long-term, the #49 car is not only likely the best Greenwood “Stars & Stripes” Corvette available but also the only one!
As a racing car, this Corvette is offered on bill of sale only.
Roster of Keepers
1970-1973: John Greenwood Racing, Florida
1973: Sold to Bruce Morton & Phil Currin, Florida
1995: Sold to Ed Mueller, Hawthorne, New Jersey
2000: Sold to Chip Miller, Carlisle, Pennsylvania
2006: Sold to current owner from the Chip Miller Estate