1963 Chevrolet C2 Corvette Grand Sport: Engine and Racing
The Grand Sport version of the C2 Chevrolet Corvette appeared in 1963. It was a modified version of the stock "Sting Ray" that Chevy debuted that year, which featured a fastback look with split rear window, independent rear suspension, and non-operating hood vents. The Grand Sport was created to compete in Nassau that year in a "no holds barred" race. This competition allowed the teams driving C-Modified cars to show off and use the hottest new high-tech advances, which were prohibited in the normal club races.
The Grand Sport displayed a host of innovations. The engine was an
all-aluminum, 377 cubic-inch small block V-8 featuring 58mm side-draft
Weber carburetors. A newly-developed air-driven jack device (one of the
first on any racer) helped prevent damage to the car's delicate tube
frame and fiberglass body; the apparatus also helped to reduce pit
time. In addition, the Grand Sport was a visual wake-up call with its
hood scoops, wide wheels and tires, and flared fenders.
In 1964 the Corvette team featuring Roger Penske, returned to Nassau for another week of racing. The Grand Sport that Penske piloted (in his final appearance as a professional driver) now had an iron-block 364-cubic inch V-8, which produced more horsepower - attributable to less metal flex. The engine's aluminum heads were preserved along with the Weber carbs. This Grand Sport also saw the air-jack system removed, which lightened the car to a mere 1900 pounds. All of this led to Penske winning the event.