Possessing a host of rare options and a rich heritage, the 1961 Chevy Corvette factory race car would be welcome at any of the world’s vintage races or leading auto museums.
As one of the most important and dominant production-based Corvette race cars ever built and winning almost every race it entered, the Gulf-Oil sponsored Corvette was one of two originally delivered by Yenko Chevrolet to the legendary Grady Davis. It came packed with high performance speed equipment identified by their tame-sounding Regular Production Option (RPO) numbers used to ensure GM's safety-oriented brass would not be alerted to Zora Arkus-Duntov's race car projects.
The legendary Number 11 was equipped with a RPO354 fuel-injected 315hp V8, 4-speed transmission, heavy-duty brakes and suspension, and Positraction differential. Both cars also came prepared with the 'Sebring Racing Package,' which allegedly slipped out of Duntov's office unnoticed, and consisted of a vented hood, stiff front anti-roll bar, aerodynamic headlight covers and a 37-gallon fiberglass gas tank. Making its competition debut at the Sebring 12 Hours driven by Don Yenko and Ben Moore where it placed third, a string of victories followed.
However the successful streak ended when Yenko was penalized for six months due to the discovery of an aluminum flywheel. Unperturbed, Grady Davis turned to Corvette specialist Dr. Dick Thompson aka 'The Flying Dentist,' who followed Davis' instruction to "win every race here on" for the 1961 SCCA B-Production National Championship with victories at Indianapolis, Bridgehampton, Thompson, Road America and Watkins Glen. All in the Corvette won eleven races in an astounding season and after the 1961 Championship, Gulf Oil displayed Number 11 in their headquarters.
Rediscovered in 1990, it was meticulously restored to its 1961 Sebring configuration and has since won the NCRS American Heritage Award, was part of the Bloomington Gold Special Collection and inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame and Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame. Undoubtedly a significant part of American racing history, the 1961 Corvette will be auctioned at Mecum's, January 24-29 at their Florida event along with numerous other important vehicles.