When I set out to find out about the car in today’s photographs taken at the Rolex Reunion at Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca by Geoffry Horton I mistakenly thought it couldn’t be that difficult to find out about a 1st generation Corvette C1 carrying a big #16 and a couple of NASCAR stickers. Boy was I proved wrong, but the upside is I have found out not only what it is, but also found out about a race series I am not sure ever got off the ground !
An internet search soon led me to the owner / driver Noel Park and several descriptions of the car being a tribute to the 1955 Corvette better known as X87/5951 in which Zora Arkus- Duntov set a new flying-mile record of 150.583 mph at Daytona Beach in 1956. However that car had a 1956 body and two other ’56 Corvettes Chevrolet took along to Daytona Beach for John Fitch and Betty Skelton did not feature the distinctive #16 on the side although at least one photo caption on the net, subsequently shown to be wrong suggested otherwise.
My break came when I found a second identical copy image of the #16 at Daytona Beach making reference to chassis #399, although again no driver was mentioned. A search for Corvettes with the number #399 led me to discovering that along with the three Corvette’s Chevrolet took along to the 1956 Daytona Speed Weeks for competition, two further Corvettes were supplied to NASCAR for promotional purposes and one of them was chassis #E55S001399 a 1955 model, described as a well used up former race car. The vehicle was rebuilt with a stock 4.6 litre 265 cui small block V8 and the body taken from another ’55 ‘Vette by Chevrolet Engineering in January 1956 with a “NASCAR” kit comprising aero screen and fiberglass torneau over the passenger area.
Jack Hawkins and Bill France Jr are among those NASCAR individuals known to have demonstrated, but not competed in, the #16 at the 1956 Daytona Speed Weeks. It has also emerged thanks to Loren Lundberg over at The Nostalgia Forum that the #16 and an similarly upgraded ’53 Corvette which appeared carrying the #27 were to be used in NASCAR’s SCORAD ( Sports Car Owners and Drivers ) dirt track series. At the time of writing I’m not sure if this series ever got underway or not, if you know anything at all about SCORAD at all please do not hesitate to chip in below since there is zero but the name that appears about the series on the net as of now.
After the speed weeks #1399 spent two years under the direction of NASCAR’s Alvin Hawkin at various tracks primarily in North Carolina before being passed into private hands that included a spell as a donation with the Bible Broadcasting Church. As of 2009 #1399 was reported to be with the Lingenfelter Collection all though when I checked their website no mention was made of it.
I’m not too sure how or why Noel Parks cool tribute to the #1399 came to be made, but it has been an absolute blast getting to the bottom of the story of the #16 that ran at Daytona Beach in 1956.
My thanks to Geoffrey Horton for sharing his photo’s from the Rolex Reunion and to Loren Lundberg at The Nostalgia Forum and of the Registry of Corvette Race Cars for his help in clarifying the story of the #16.
Thanks for joining me on this “SCORAD Demonstrator” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !
PS Opinions and predictions on Formula One and the Italian Grand Prix linked here at Motorsports Unplugged.