GRR

Fighting through the Kinrara for the love of Corvettes

08th September 2017
Andrew Willis

With a stacked field of pre-1963 GT racers including the iconic Aston Martin DB4 and a gaggle of stunning Ferrari 250 SWBs battling into the Twilight hours; the Kinrara Trophy is one of Revival’s highlights. There’s so much beauty on show it can be hard to stick out from the crowd. This year, however, one entrant was turning heads more than most, and it wasn’t one of the obvious contenders.

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Step forward the 1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1. Big, bold, and bolshie. Just how our American cousins like it. The car has been throwing its weight around in the morning practice sessions, with driver Charles Clegg getting the C1 fully sideways on more than one occasion in the challenging rain-drenched conditions. 

Up close, it’s a monstrous car by European standards, and it sticks out like a sore thumb within the paddocks, surrounded by some of the world’s sleekest, most elegant thoroughbreds, it’s somewhat of an Ugly Duckling.

As we take a look around, a team of mechanics are busily preparing for another Friday session with the car’s builder Tom Falconer overseeing proceedings. “By American standards, it’s actually a very small car”, Tom assures us. 

“It has always been very well balanced. The chassis was designed by a British engineer, and he moved the engine right back into the Chassis as far as it can go to achieve the right feel”.

Maybe so, but we’re still not convinced it’s a racetrack natural. It’s a road car after all, and one that would look more at home at a mid-west drive-through cinema than competing on a slippery British circuit. 

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“There is nothing on this that you wouldn’t find on the production road car. It’s a mod sport car, as it was called back in the day. It’s noisy, bumpy and the suspension is stiff as hell”.

“They based it to a large extent on the Jaguar XK120. That was the concept, anyway. This is a 1962 model, and what we call the straight axle. It’s a replica of the Scuderia Scirocco that came out of California and ran at Le Mans in the same year”. 

For those not on par with American motorsport, Mr Falconer is somewhat of a legend in the Corvette world. He’s the founder and owner of Claremont Corvette a company dedicated to restoring, selling and racing Corvette cars. A passion project which has seen him own more than 700 of the things since 1971. Not only that, the man has found the time to write nine books about the American muscle cars along with regularly contributing columns to Corvette Fever in the US and American Car World in the UK. 

He ended up in the possession of the car following the quick departure of an engineer friend of his who quickly had to leave for a role at Tesla in California, leaving the C1 resembling a pile of bolts on a garage floor.

“He had all the bits, so he called me and asked if we could drag it away and put it together. It was a great project to build. My brief really was to get the car built up to pass an MOT and road registered. It took us 6 months, working on and off”.

Since then, Tom has enjoyed exhibiting the 327ci V8-engined beast up and down the country. “I love driving it on the road, but I’m not a racing driver myself”. 

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That’s where the C1’s entrant Charles Clegg steps in. As a successful racing driver in Sebring Sprites, Charles approached Tom for a drive. “He fancied something big and mean, so he got the biggest and meanest of them all”, exudes Tom.

It’s a challenge Charles is visibly relishing, with the young driver making a few fine adjustments to the C1’s large drum brakes as Tom continues to explain the particulars:

“The problem with any Corvette up until 1965, for FIA, they have to run drum brakes. So you sort of have to break sideways. Charles is the guy to do it in these conditions. Watching him in the rain this morning, he certainly knows how to do it. He should be racing on shale!”.

Seeing Charles wrestle the big rolling Corvette around the track with aplomb has undoubtedly been one of the highlights of the day and it’s a real treat to see the car’s builder and driver equally as excited for its entry into this year’s Kinrara Trophy. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a Duckling turning into a Swan type of ending for this enigmatic American motor. The difficult conditions got the better of man and machine with the Corvette C1 ending its Kinrara run prematurely, taking an unfortunate trip towards a Goodwood tire wall.

whether it’s on the road, at a stand, taking a corner sideways, or careering across the track limits, it’s been impossible to miss the 1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1 at the 2017 Revival.

Photography by James Lynch

  • Revival

  • Revival 2017

  • Kinrara Trophy

  • Chevrolet Corvette

  • 2017

  • Sportscar

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