It’s possible that you haven’t heard of the late John Greenwood, although if you’re a car person then you’ll almost certainly be familiar with the wild, wide-bodied and immensely powerful Corvettes from the Seventies that bore his name and so delighted crowds at Daytona, Le Mans and in 2012, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed…
When GRR had the privilege of attending the HSR Classic Daytona 24 Hours last month we were knocked out by the calibre of cars present, as you may have noticed from the content from there we’ve posted so far. The meeting was full of star cars, but few could have claimed to have been more adored by the crowds than the Greenwood Corvettes.
This footage is from a night time session and starts with both Greenwood cars on track together. The red car ahead of us at the start was shared by Jean-Marc and Jules Gounon. If those names sound familiar it’s because Jean-Marc once won the TT race at the Revival and raced in F1 in 1993-’94, whereas his son Jules is the chap who ended up parking his Porsche 911 Carrera Cup Car directly on top of a rival’s car recently. No, seriously! See below …
‘Our’ car is driven by Le Mans veteran Didier Andre and features an 8.3 litre, Kinsler-injected Chevrolet V8 which ‘comfortably puts out 750bhp’ and probably enough torque to pull a locomotive…through treacle. Gounon junior says of the experience around Daytona that: ‘It’s a very hard car to drive’ he concedes, grinning wildly. ‘It’s so very hot in there, too. My shoes have melted! There are no electronic aids and the car is difficult to set up. On a modern car a drop in ride height of two millimetres makes a huge difference, but on this you can hardly tell.’ So it’s devilishly hot, hard to drive, hard to set up and at 128 decibels it’s very loud, but is it fun? As is so often the case when we ask a pro driver what it’s like to drive a powerful, older car, Jules’ face lights up as he places both hands on his head, exhales dramatically and says quite resolutely: ‘That is the most fun I have ever had in a car. No question.’ Then the eyes glaze a little as if he’s back out there tearing around the banking again, before adding wistfully and with a huge smile: ‘There is just so much power…’
Before long Monsieur Andre hustles past the Gounon’s ‘Vette, then a Chevron B19 and then sets off after a brace of RS Porsches, one of which offers more resistance than the other, although by the time the cars are on the banking there’s only going to be one winner.
It’s a great clip and one which we think is a fitting tribute to John Greenwood, who personally stepped forward in 1975 and 1976 to promote the Sebring 12 Hours in the wake of financially uncertain times and whose legacy lives on in the form of two of his cars thundering around the Daytona banking and the general delight their appearance still brings to racing fans.
We might have to get one over for the Festival of Speed. Whaddya reckon?