While Luigi Chinetti's racers were famously Ferraris, the Chevy sports car was run to provide 'an American presence'
The stories of famed New York import maestro Luigi Chinetti and his North American Racing Team are legendary, though the N.A.R.T. exploits are generally confined to Ferraris. Yet there was at least one major outlier, a Chevrolet Corvette known as Old Scrappy for its Florida junkyard origins, that raced under the N.A.R.T. banner.
That Corvette, which competed in the 1972 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be displayed at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance surrounded by exotic Ferraris in this year’s N.A.R.T. special class. The racer will be in its full motorsports regalia, including the large Ferrari emblem incongruously emblazoned on its doors.
While specializing in Ferrari race cars, Chinetti was known to believe that Corvettes could be competitive in the GT class. So when Goodyear, for whom Chinetti’s cars had delivered an overall Le Mans victory seven years earlier, approached him for “an American presence” at Le Mans, he supplied the red-white-and-blue Corvette shod with Goodyear tires to run with his famous N.A.R.T/Ferrari insignia.
The No. 4 N.A.R.T. Corvette had been driven at the 12 Hours of Sebring a year earlier by Bob Johnson and Dave Heinz, who had finished at a remarkable fourth place overall and an over-2.5-liter GT class victory. Chinetti enlisted Johnson and Heinz to run the Corvette at Le Mans.
Alth0ugh the Corvette ZR-1 was no match for the Ferrari Daytonas in the GT class at the 1972 Le Mans, it was able to climb through the field from a start in the 51st position to finish 15th and, more importantly, to beat the team of BF Goodrich Corvettes and win the over-5.0-liter GT class.
The Corvette and Ferraris in the N.A.R.T. class will be among about 300 significant vehicles taking their places March 11 on the fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at the Ritz-Carlton Resort. For information, visit the concours website.