Ex-NASCAR 1953 ‘Vette is One of the First-Ever Corvette Racers

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1953 Chevrolet Corvette NASCAR Race Car

Once driven by ex-NASCAR CEO Bill France, Jr., rare early Corvette has a very interesting history as a factory test mule and race car.

With just 300 produced, the 1953 Corvette represents not only the beginning of the line for America’s sports car, it is also the rarest of the breed. With so few produced, you can expect each one to have an interesting history. However, the background of Car #211, found for sale on Hemmings, is a little more interesting than most.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette NASCAR Race Car

Car #211 apparently spent the beginning of its life hanging out in Chevrolet’s engineering department. When production Corvettes began being offered with V8s, this Corvette was dusted off and updated. The Blue Flame inline six-cylinder was ditched in favor of a 265 cubic inch V8 backed up by a close-ratio three-speed transmission. To handle the additional power, the differential was swapped for a 1955/56 unit.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette NASCAR Race Car

There were some impressive visual modifications as well. The windshield was replaced with a racing-style low-drag unit, and the passenger area was covered by an aerodynamic tonneau cover. The original Polo White paint was augmented with blue Shelby-style stripes and painted-on side coves reminiscent of the later C1s. The end result is a car that looked and drove like a race car — because it was a race car.

This wasn’t just your average skunk-works project. Once completed, Car #211 was donated to NASCAR and used in its Sports Car Owners & Drivers (SCORAD) series.  It actually raced on the Daytona Beach track, back when the actual beach made up the back stretch, during Speed Weeks in 1956.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette NASCAR Race Car

As if that’s not enough of a pedigree, this car was driven by Bill France, Jr., who would later serve as NASCAR’s CEO from 1972 to 2000. While any 1953 Corvette — especially one with a racing pedigree — is special, we think you’ll agree that this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. The combined GM and NASCAR history that goes along with this special car ensures that Car #211 will be etched into our memories forever.

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Cam Vanderhorst is a contributor to Harley-Davidson Forums, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum, and MB World. He is also a co-host of the Cammed & Tubbed podcast.

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