A first person story of a legendary C2 Corvette... Garagistry Advisor, Contributor and renowned Classic Corvette expert, David Burroughs (CEO of Bloomington Gold and founder of Prove-It) recently described his personal experience with the famed '67 L88 Daytona Racer.  Not only is this a great story concerning a specific car, it reinforces the value of historical accuracy.

Whoops - "Hey Cliff, It Won't Fit..."

In 1970, when nearly new (only 138 miles recorded), and heeding the advice of Chevrolet engineer Vince Piggins, the original L88 engine was removed (as well as the original interior) and placed in storage while the car was then raced for several years with a small block 327. However, for the '70 Daytona race the original L88 engine was re-installed and used for the race recording track speeds up to 186 mph.

After realizing their car would not fit on the intended trailer, owner Cliff Gottlob and Jack Blatchford drove the 1967 C2 Corvette to Daytona to participate in the famed 24-hour endurance race. This Corvette was one of the original twenty 427L-88 powered C2 cars built by Chevrolet, and was recorded as being the last one to leave the factory. 
Source: Bill Ourslet, 1970 Daytona 
V.1 "Smokey & The Bandit"?

Although considered obsolete and considered an early race dropout candidate, Gottlob and teammate David Dooley teamed up to finished second among a field of much newer model cars. During the '70 Daytona race, in what was described as some of his proudest moments, Cliff and his L88 "shut the door on Mario (Andretti) in a Ferrari" as well as "removing Dale Earnhardt's right front wheel when Earnhardt tried to dive under him in a turn."

Perhaps not surprising - Gottlob and Blatchford then drove the car back to Kansas following the race - no sheltered trailer ride home for this winner!  Incidentally, the car was driven to and from Daytona in full racing livery, otherwise known as the paint and decal identification used. We wonder if their ride was a prelude to any "Smokey & The Bandit" legends while 'cruising' thru Georgia...

Lightning Can Strike Twice

In 1978, David Burroughs and Jim Krughoff teamed up to purchase the Daytona L88 from Cliff and David set about to restore its racing configuration and livery to include the re-installation of the original 427L88 engine. The L88's restoration was completed in 1985 in time for the Bloomington Gold '85 Special Collection event and was later on display at the 1987 Monterey Historics. 

Recently, David was contacted by the California collector to whom he sold the car in 1997, to see if he was interested in repurchasing the very same Daytona L88.  As David said, "The odds of being associated with this L88 and Cliff for the first time were very slim. The odds of getting it back and having a second chance to sit in the driver's seat would be almost nil.  Those odds will never be beaten again..." 

But, lightning did strike twice!  David partnered with Dana Mecum, (of Mecum Auto Auction) who was credited with having contributed a "very large amount of help", and the '67 C2 L88 Daytona Racer is "back in the Midwest once again".

"Until one "lights off" the crackle of this particular L88 and experiences its violent acceleration (yet with smoothness of a turbine) it's hard to imagine" he continued.

While not necessarily a critical component of the restoration itself, David's acknowledgement of Cliff's "race sayings" are as valuable as Cliff's superior approach to engine and racing suspension.

  • The chain is only as strong as its weakest link (I know we've heard that before..)
  • I'll always trade 50 hp for a great suspension
  • Don't race any race you can't win
  • Don't try to win endurance races on the first lap
  • Don't go too fast, too fast
  • You can't win unless you finish! (true, very true...!)

Pebble Beach Concours - A Fitting Recognition

Once they had the L88 back, co-owners Burroughs and Mecum had Mike Ardito of TriPower Automotive of Libertyville, IL restore the Corvette to it's post-race condition in preparation for exhibiting the car at this year's Pebble Beach Concours event.
L-R: Mike Ardito, David Burroughs, Jack & Donna Blatchford, Cliff Gottlob, Dr. Matt Hamilton, host at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours
Source: Winfield (KA) Daily Courier, Oct 23, 2013

Recognizing the legacy both Cliff Gottlob and Jack Blatchford have with the L88, Burroughs and Mecum invited both to attend the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours as their guests.  All four gentlemen reportedly achieved a measure of celebrity status during the show, and racers Gottlob and Blacthford spent much of their time signing autographs.

David said, "although it won no prizes at Pebble, it was 'historic' to see people clustered all day long around a rather salty-looking Corvette racer in the midst of the usual suspects on the Pebble Beach lawn - Ferrari's and a sea of highly civilized pre-war European cars, et al. I doubt many people remember many of the cars that did win, but I'm pretty sure a lot of people will remember the racket and excitement of the L88 for a long time."

Thank you for sharing this great story, David

If you'd like to know more about the C2 L88 Daytona Racer, visit David's site, just click here.  You will also learn why David and so many others are leading the case for the authenticity of classic cars - where historical accuracy is more important than cosmetic appearance. 

BONUS - To download a complimentary copy of the book "Against All Odds", please visit this page.