Tickets for the 60th Annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Now on Sale

Tickets for the 60th anniversary Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race, have gone on sale. The 60th installment of the Labor Day weekend classic will take place Aug. 27-Sept. 1 this year and will feature more than 1,000 competitors in 12 different categories during the event.

As the most historic and tradition-rich event on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Tour, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals has been contested annually since 1955, and in 2014, the fabled event will celebrate an important milestone anniversary. As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, there will be very special tributes designed to recognize six of the most memorable moments in Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals history.

In addition, the event will feature the fan-favorite Cacklefests, vintage race cars on display in the Hot Rod Junction, autograph sessions with many of the legends of the sport, a Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, fireworks displays, special social media contests, and much more.

The race is the final, regular-season stop for the circuit and will establish the top 10 fields for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. The race will also showcase thrilling competition in both the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

To purchase tickets for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals fans can contact NHRA’s Ticket Sales Center, 800-884-NHRA (6472), or go to NHRATix.com.

Corvette Museum Sinkhole to Stay for Now

The sinkhole that opened up beneath the Skydome of the National Corvette Museum on February 12, 2014 had one unforeseen consequence: It has driven museum attendance (and revenue) significantly upward. So when the museum’s board of directors met recently to discuss the fate of the Skydome display they decided to preserve the sinkhole as a semi-permanent display with two of the damaged Corvettes in the hole.

The display would be lit both from above (to highlight the two cars exhibited) and below (to show the falloff to the cave below), and visitors would have the option of viewing the sinkhole from its edge or traversing a transparent-floor walkway (supported by galvanized steel beams) spanning the chasm. Should the appeal of the sinkhole wane over time this option would give the museum the ability to return the Skydome to its pre-sinkhole state.

The museum has seen a 59-percent increase in the number of visitors compared to the same time period last year, along with a 72-percent increase in memberships and a 65-percent increase in revenue overall. Yet to be resolved is which two cars will be displayed and the fate of the other six Corvettes damaged in the collapse, which will remain on display in their current condition through the month of August.

One thing has become clear in the months since the sinkhole opened up: Not all of the Corvettes will (or can be) restored, but that may turn out to be a good thing for the museum’s attendance for years to come.

Dave Connolly Runner-Ups at Home Race

Dave Connolly had a homecoming this past weekend, and what a homecoming it was as he raced to the runner-up position in Pro Stock at the eighth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. Connolly, a native of nearby Elyria, Ohio, battled his way to the final round and came up just short. However, he did move up to fourth in the NHRA Pro Stock points standings with his final round showing.

Connolly began his bid for an event title from the No. 7 starting position. Dave, driving his Charter Communications/GMPartsNow Chevrolet Camaro, left the starting line with an intuitive .007-second reaction time and then blasted down the quarter-mile to narrowly defeat the Summit Racing Equipment Camaro of Greg Anderson, 6.590 at 210.08 mph to 6.595, 210.64.

“You know what you’re going up against when you’re racing Greg,” said Connolly. “We’ve run into Greg in the first round at the last two races, and that’s a tough way to get your race day started. In the same sense however, it puts you in the right mindset. Plus, that win helped our teammate Jonathan Gray stay in the top ten in points, and that’s huge for Gray Motorsports.”

In the second round Dave defeated teammate Shane Gray on a hole shot before facing, and beating, Allen Johnson’s Mopar in the third round. In the final round Connolly faced his former teammate, Erica Enders-Stevens. Unfortunately, a win for Connolly wasn’t in the cards as Enders-Stevens scored a narrow victory, 6.632-seconds to 6.665-seconds.

Summing up the weekend as a whole Dave said, “we have a great team, though, and we’re getting better all the time. I feel very good about this weekend – Shane was the No. 2 qualifier, Jonathan stayed in the Top 10 in points, and we got to another final round with the Charter Communications/GMPartsNow Chevrolet Camaro. We’re definitely on the right path.”

Follow up to Corvette Museum Disaster

By now you have no doubt heard about the tragedy that struck the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky when eight significant Corvettes were swallowed up by a giant sinkhole. Two of the Corvettes were owned by General Motors with the other six cars either donated to the museum or on loan from individual owners.

After more than a month of excavation the eighth, and final, car, a 2001 Mallet Hammer Z06, was removed recently. The first cars to be recovered showed little damage and, in fact, one even drove away under its own power. However, now that they have reached the bottom of the pile the damage is much greater.

Workers can now begin to fill the giant sinkhole which measures 40 feet across and 50 feet deep. Barrier walls with plexiglass viewing windows have been installed so that visitors to the museum can watch as repairs are being made to the area.

Even though General Motors is not directly affiliated with the museum they had very generously volunteered to restore all eight of the damaged cars at their expense. The damaged Corvettes will be on display at the museum in their as-recovered condition through August 30th of this year.

“Black Bow Tie” 1935 Chevy Phaeton Captures Del Mar d’Elegance Crown

Wes and Vivian Rydell’s “Black Bow Tie” took home the Goodguys Street Rod d’Elegance award during the recent Goodguys 14th Annual Del Mar Nationals near San Diego. The rare 1935 Chevy Standard Phaeton (one of only 217 ever made) burst on the scene back in January of this year when it won the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster honors in Pomona, California.

Fabricated, assembled, finished, upholstered, and painted a two-tone maroon and black by Rad Rides by Troy of Manteno, Illinois, the Phaeton got its start 12 years ago at Rydell’s Toy Shop in Grand Forks, North Dakota under the watchful eye of craftsman Doug Pederson. Working off of a Chip Foose design, Pederson modified a Roadster Shop chassis and did a substantial amount of metal work on the body before shipping the car to Rad Rides by Troy where they spent nearly a year finishing the car in preparation for the 2014 show season.

The body was lengthened 2 inches and features a 3 inches longer-than-stock wheelbase. The shortened grill was reclined by “pulling out” the bottom and the windshield posts have been laid back 2.5 inches. The car rides on Heidt’s independent front and rear suspensions while the engine is a 383 CID Chevrolet Ram Jet with EFI. The EFI unit has been modified to look like an original 1957 Rochester Fuel Injection.

Helen Gibbs Passes

We are saddened to report that Helen Gibb passed away earlier this week. Her late husband, Fred Gibb, could arguably be called the father of the first generation COPO Camaro. It was his order for 50 1969 Camaros equipped with the all-aluminum 427 CID ZL1 engine that spurred Chevrolet to produce one of their most renowned vehicles ever.

Helen continued to be a muscle car advocate even after her late husband’s passing in 1993. Berger was lucky enough to have Helen join us in 2003 when we did the mass delivery of our fourth-generation ZL1 Supercars.

In the photo Helen, a spry 81 at the time, can be seen reminiscing with the audience about the original ZL1 Camaro as the late Mike Wawee (yellow shirt) and R. Dale Berger, Jr. (black shirt) look on.

Here is how the Hancock County (IL) Journal-Pilot recorded her passing:

Helen L. Gibb, 91, of LaHarpe, Illinois died Sunday, April 20, 2014, at the LaHarpe-Davier Health Care Center in LaHarpe.

Helen was born June 17, 1922, near Stronghurst, Illinois, the daughter of Edgar and Jessie Roberts Hartquist. On Sept. 4, 1941, she married Fred Gibb Jr. in Independence, Mo. Fred operated the long-running and successful Fred Gibb Chevrolet. He died July 13, 1993.

Mrs. Gibb is survived by two daughters, Connie Gibb of Galesburg and Nancy Gibb of LaHarpe.

No family visitation is planned but friends can visit the Banks & Beals Funeral Home in LaHarpe between 3 and 8 p.m., Friday, April 25.

A private family service will be held later with burial in the Biggsville Cemetery.

Memorials to the Fred & Helen Gibb Memorial Scholarship Fund may be mailed to Banks & Beals Funeral Home, P.O. Box 503, LaHarpe, IL 61450.

Archive photo by Jim Luikens

Promising Days Ahead for Gray/GMPartsNow

Fans and competitors alike saw the beginnings of a powerful future for the Gray Motorsports/GMPartsNow Chevrolet Pro Stock team this past weekend at the NHRA SpringNationals in Houston, Texas. All three of the Gray/GMPartsNow cars qualified in the top half of the 16 car field. When all three won their first round races it mean that all three advanced to the second round and made up three of the surviving eight Pro Stock racers in round two.

In round two fifth-year competitor Shane Gray had his work cut out for him against young gun Vincent Nobile, who routinely leaves the starting line ahead of his opponents, and Shane was fired up for the task. Although his .025-second reaction time was quicker than Nobile’s, and the second best of the round, Gray was amongst the many who experienced trouble in the tricky right lane. The power beneath the hood of his brilliant red KYMCO/GMPartsNow Camaro was simply too much for what the track could take, and Gray had to give up the run when he ran into a nasty bout of tire shake.

Jonathan Gray and Dave Connolly also exited in the second round. “It was still a great weekend for the Gray Motorsports/GMPartsNow Chevrolet team,” said Shane Gray. “I feel like we’re on the right path. I was hoping to put my KYMCO/GMPartsNow Camaro in the winner’s circle today, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I have a feeling we’ll get ‘em next time.”

The NHRA Pro Tour now moves on to Atlanta, Georgia May 16-18. For the first time all three Gray/GMPartsNow drivers are in the Top 15 in NHRA Pro Stock points. Shane Gray is fifth, Dave Connolly is sixth, and Jonathan Gray is 15th as the tour moves to the Peach State.

GMPartsNow Boys Win Here, There, Everywhere!

Our teammate Shane Gray was the No. 1 qualifier, just like last week, and Jonathan Gray made it to the finals in Pro Stock for the second week in a row as well. It’s just great to be a part of this,” concluded Connolly.

Meanwhile, a day earlier and 800 miles to the south, Jeff Strickland won Stock Eliminator in the GMPartsNow.com B/SA 2014 COPO Camaro at the NHRA Lucas Oil Divisional Event in Bristol, Tennessee. In the final he defeated the A/SA 2013 Cobra Jet of Georgia’s Jeff Hairrington.

Strickland was hoping for the rare NHRA double as he also advanced to the final in Top Dragster against Robert Houston. It turned out to be a great final round as both drivers had .009 reaction times with Houston running .018 off his dial for the win and Strickland .020 over for the loss.

GM Breaks Ground On State-of-the-Art Racing Facility

On April 30, 2014 General Motors began construction of a new state-of-the-art facility for race engine design and development in Pontiac, Michigan. GM’s continued investment in motorsports comes from the time-tested belief that racing is the ultimate proving ground for much of the technology that applies to the vehicles GM sells.

“The GM Performance and Racing Center, or GMPRC, will continue to develop some of the world’s winningest race engines for Chevrolet and Cadillac,” said Steve Kiefer, vice president of GM Global Powertrain. Engineers and technicians from GM’s race engineering center in Wixom, Mich. will move to the new facility in mid-2015.

Engineers at the GMPRC will work on powertrain-related projects for GM’s involvement in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Verizon IndyCar Series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Pirelli World Challenge, NHRA (COPO Camaro Program) and Global Rally Cross.

The Chevrolet and Cadillac racing teams have seen much track success. Since its inception in 1999, Corvette Racing has won 10 manufacturer titles in GT competition and 92 global wins, including seven prestigious class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Team Cadillac, since 2004, has amassed 24 wins, 82 podium finishes and 20 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2006, 2012 and 2013.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, Chevrolet has captured the Manufacturers’ Cup title an unprecedented 37 times, including the past 11 consecutive years. Chevrolet also leads all Manufacturers in the series with 722 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories.

2015 Corvette Z06 LT4 Engine Rated at 650 Horsepower

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The all-new 2015 Corvette Z06 is the most powerful production car ever from General Motors and one of a few production cars available in the United States that delivers more than 600 horsepower. The Z06′s LT4 supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine has a SAE-certified 650 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 650 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm.

“The LT4 Small Block sets a new benchmark for power and torque at GM,” said Steve Kiefer, vice president, GM Powertrain Engineering. “The engine also puts the new Corvette Z06 on par with the most powerful supercars offered in America, while delivering performance with impeccable manners that make it suitable for daily driving.”

“Torque is the pulling power of an engine and the LT4′s abundance of it at every rpm in the engine’s speed range helps the 2015 Corvette Z06 accelerate quicker and respond nearly instantaneously,” said Jordan Lee, chief engineer for small block engines. “It’s the very definition of power on demand.”

“The new LT4 engine builds on the design strengths of our previous supercharged engine and leverages the technologies introduced on the Corvette Stingray – direct injection, cylinder deactivation and continuously variable valve timing – to take Corvette performance to an all-new plateau. Our new, very compact supercharger also helps the engine make power more quickly, and perhaps more importantly, it helps produce more torque earlier in the rpm band,” concluded Lee.

The 2015 Corvette Z06 goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2014.