The “lost” art of wheelstanding is one that has become a niche market in the drag racing world, and over the last several decades we as a motoring community have witnessed nearly everything imaginable in the wheel-popping game as competitors try to outdo each other.
There’s truly no limit as to how far builders and racers will stretch the boundaries in the way of drivetrain and other configurations just to get a car’s nose in the air, and what made the drag race scene in the ’60s and ’70s remarkable over any other time period in the sport was that it became extreme and unbridled, probably like none of us will get to see again in our lifetimes.
One of the pioneers of epic wheelstanding in the 1970s was Randy Curtis, whose fast C3 became synonymous during the middle of the decade with the exhibition side of the motorsport. Curtis bought the Vette, soon to be dubbed “The Fugitive” in ’74 and campaigned the car until April of ’79.
During its time on the tarmac, Curtis’ “Fugitive” C3 went head-to-head with the likes of such drag race legends as Bill Golden, Gary Watson and Bob Perry.
Curtis crashed a rebuilt version of the car on its initial test run, but throughout the ’70s the Fugitive nameplate continued to gain in popularity and the Vette could be seen racing throughout the southern States and the East Coast, even extending its campaign into Canada.
Though Curtis’ patriotic Corvette enjoyed a rather long run in the public eye, photos of it in action are today a rarity, and one of the last photos shot of the C3 was taken only a few minutes before a freak accident in Baltimore, Maryland. Drag race and especially wheelie fans can easily recall the “up on hind legs” display that the Fugitive C3 would offer.
Randy Curtis’ sense of showmanship was what ultimately made the Fugitive into a dragstrip rock star, and since the car’s debut Curtis has raced off and on in some of the sportsman classes. He’s spent the last several decades tuning race motors for other clients, but starting in 2008 Curtis began to take on a renewed interest in the wheelstanding C3.
During the ’08-09 racing season, Curtis began to revive the Fugitive, maintaining its patriotic color scheme to honor those serving our country while maintaining most of the car’s original bodylines. One of our nation’s premiere wheelstand drivers, Curtis and the Fugitive C3 promised to not disappoint their long-standing fanbase.
One of the last remaining manifestations of the original Fugitive shows a black and silver paint scheme purposefully laid-out by Curtis to conceal the new bodylines of the then newly-built drag car that was designed to shatter current speed and ET records. Curtis’ renewed interest in the car a few years back was fueled partially by his love for America and partly by an insatiable desire to return to the wheelstand game that put him and his C3 on the map.
The world of drag racing has undoubtedly run into some milestones over the past few decades that have helped to fortify the hobby as a sport, and Randy Curtis with his “Fugitive” C3 made it possible for the Corvette nameplate to make a radical entrance into the drag race world!