Coming off the back of their success in SCCA and IMSA, the Greenwood brothers used their newfound BF Goodrich sponsorship to build a car capable of running in the heralded FIA endurance racing classes. Their ZL1-powered C3 racers went to Le Mans in 1972 and 1973, and while they weren’t able to complete the illustrious race, they certainly turned a few heads when they hit 215 miles an hour down the Mulsanne Straight. That’s a bold opening line for someone relatively unknown at the party.
With massive fender flares, brazen paint schemes, and 750 horsepower from a 428ci engine, it was more than just an attention-grabber. These cars set numerous pole positions, achieved a record top speed of 236 mph at Daytona, won the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the IMSA title in 1974, and the Trans Am championships in 1975 and 1978.
Those accolades are made even more impressive by the NOS BFG radial tires these cars were obligated to use. Though these handicapped the cars considerably, the sponsorship was too good to avoid — and necessary to run in the bigger leagues — so the Greenwood brothers did all they could to compensate where possible.
So, the wider fender flares housed the widest tires allowed by the series, and this helped put a massive contact patch on the ground. To keep these Corvettes in contention with their grippier adversaries engines, Greenwood Racing front and rear suspension, trailing arms, anti-sway bars, Minilite wheels, running gear, aero, and brakes were also maximized in whatever way possible. No question, their straight-line performance might’ve been one of their stronger points, though they were clearly quite agile, provided the right hands were steering them.
Fast forward nearly two decades, and Jules Gounon was born. He may only be a mere 22-year old, but with an ex-F1 driver and Le Mans winner for a father, the ability to wheel a powerful car is in his blood. In 2017 alone, he finished second at the Daytona 24, won the 24 Hours of Spa, and became a championship winner in the ADAC GT Masters series.
So, that’s more than enough preparation to hustle this 428ci-powered brute at this year’s Classic 24 at Daytona, where he rifles through the Muncie four-speed effortlessly. Thankfully, the mile-wide powerband doesn’t necessitate too many gear changes, and the torque is enough to spin the wheels well into third gear. With this engine making dyno-proven 718 hp and 678 lb-ft of torque, it’s surprising Gounon spends as much time driving straight as he does.
It’s the counter-steering which seems to take the most effort. The rear constantly slithers, regardless of the speed or the gear selected. Gounon needs to exercise caution when depressing the throttle pedal. Of course, his silky smooth technique helps keep the Corvette in line, the tires break away quite progressively, and the suspension gobbles the curbs easily. Yet, with all that torque churning the rear wheels and the asphalt underneath them, it looks as if Gounon is driving in the rain.