Remembering a Corvette Family Legend
Earlier this month, the Corvette family lost one of its longtime members. And for the past couple of weeks, we’ve all been learning even more about what made Dick Guldstrand so special.
The 87-year-old automotive legend, who died September 2, was not only a legendary race car driver, but he was also someone who embodied the spirit of Corvette.
Foregoing his parents’ wishes for him to become a lawyer, Gulstrand began his illustrious career on the Southern California dirt tracks during the 1950s, as detailed in his bio on the National Corvette Museum’s website. (Gulstrand was a 1999 NCM inductee.)
The native Californian would go on to win three consecutive SCCA Pacific Coast Championships from 1963 to 1965. Gulstrand also earned California Sports Car Club Driver of the Year in 1964.
In 1966, the man affectionately known as “Mr. Corvette” won the GT-class at the Daytona 24-hour race and set a Le Mans track record in the GT-class. He then went on to set the race record of 171 MPH at the Mulsanne straight the following year, according to a Hemmings Daily report.
That same year, Guldstrand began a two year run driving the legendary Grand Sport Corvette at the 12 hours of Sebring for Roger Penske. He also earned victories in Corvettes at Daytona and in Trans-Am, as highlighted in an Auto Week story.
He had a spirit for racing that you could just sense while being around him.
“It’s like you’re cheating death,” Guldstrand told a Los Angeles Times writer, who had an opportunity to ride along as Guldstrand’s passenger in 2006. “You push yourself to the point where you’re way beyond doing anything right if something should go wrong.”
But it would be the courageous race car driver’s contributions in engineering that would solidify his name forever as a legend among Corvette fans.
In the early 1970s, Guldstrand Engineering Inc. built 70 percent of all the Chevrolet-powered road racing cars on the West Coast, and he played a major role in the development of the 1985 Corvette, according to his bio on NCM.
“Corvette people idolized him,” said auto journalist Chuck Koch, a friend of Guldstand.
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Via [National Corvette Museum, La Times, Auto Week, Hemmings Daily]