“Fast Phil” Currin used his savvy brain to become one of the steadiest Corvette racers of the 1970s.
He paid just $1,900 for his red 1963 split-window some 47 years ago. Now 67, Currin and his Corvette–nicknamed “Giantkiller” when he made a habit of beating newer, flashier cars–made an appearance at the Hall of Fame’s 40th anniversary at Sebring in March.
While he was racing his beloved Corvette, Currin didn’t have big money coming in from sponsors, so he had to play it smart and finish the races to get prize money rather than risk blowing his engine.
He remembers a 12-hour race that he and Giantkiller ran at Sebring in 1973, when he finished 11th out of 72 cars and second out of 18 Corvettes, including 16 newer, more powerful models.
“There’s some good drivers out there, but they drive so hard and recklessly that they crash,” longtime friend Louis Galanos said of Currin. “Phil knows how to get the car to the finish. That’s why he’s had a number of top-10 finishes in his career with an under-powered, older car.”
His budget didn’t have room for pit crews, so friends from school volunteered to help him. He modified stock engines himself that he had bought from the Chevy dealer, and he sometimes used old and mismatched tires that had been discarded by other racers.
“Virtually, there was no team out there that had less money than me,” Currin said.
But don’t feel too sorry for Currin when it comes to his career stats. He raced his Corvette on 24 tracks and completed 2,677 professional race laps covering 6,132 miles. He won $9,000 in prize money, equal to about $40,000 today.
All these years later, some fans still remembered Currin and his Corvette at the recent Hall of Fame celebration.
“He had people who would show up and get his autograph, take his picture in the car; they remember Phil from back in the day,” Galanos said. “Of all the cars that were there this past Sebring at The Hall of Fame Gallery of Legends Building, Phil’s car was the only car that was still owned by the driver. That’s special.”
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