On Thursday, March 11, the thundering John Greenwood “Spirit of Le Mans” Corvette arrived at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America for an extended stay. One of two Greenwood Corvettes owned by Florida collector Steve Goldin, it took the IMSA Class pole at the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Few cars say American motorsports louder and prouder than a big-block, John Greenwood Corvette,” said MSHFA President George Levy. “It’s been an instant hit with our guests.”
Detroit brothers John and Burt Greenwood stunned the racing world with a succession of rapid Corvettes. In them, John won the 1970 and ’71 SCCA A Production national titles and took a class win (with television star Dick Smothers) at the 1972 12 Hours of Sebring.
John also stood on the top step at the 1974 IMSA Championship Finals at Daytona International Speedway over inductees Al Holbert (MSHFA Class of 1993) and Peter Gregg (MSHFA Class of 2000), and captured the 1975 SCCA Trans-Am title among a bevy of other wins, poles and fastest laps.
The 2,885 lb Greenwood Corvette’s unique widebody stance made room for massive tires front and rear and generated more than 1,000 lbs. of downforce. The 467 cubic inch all-aluminum Chevy generated 700-725 horsepower.
The signature Stars and Stripes paint schemes came from a birthday gift. “I bought John a ‘Stars and Stripes’ sweater for his birthday and I suggested we go ‘loud and proud,'” brother Burt explained. “Let’s be an American flag.
Several of the most fondly remembered iterations of the flag motif came from asking for help from Chevrolet designer and Corvette Hall of Fame inductee Randy Wittine who had ties to the sometimes-rival Owens-Corning Corvette team. Over the years Wittine has created many of the sport’s most memorable liveries in addition to doing the master modeling of the Widebody Corvette.
John Greenwood died in 2015. Family members at the museum to greet the car included brother Burt; John’s son, Joe; and his grandchildren, Mallory and Logan. They were joined by owner Goldin, and past and present IMSA luminaries Scott Atherton, John Doonan and Mark Raffauf.
“It’s a real beast,” IMSA President Doonan said. “What Bill France Sr. and John Bishop did with IMSA, in terms of its original mission, was to allow people like John and others, who had a dream to go racing, and provided a platform that allowed them to do that at a cost-effective level.”
France helped Bishop found IMSA in 1969.
“We are very proud to recognize and remember the significant engineering and racing accomplishments that John and Burt Greenwood brought to the Corvette Racing legacy,” Goldin said.
Goldin also owns the Corvette’s “Spirit of Sebring” stablemate, which won the 1975 IMSA finale and qualified on the outright pole for the 1976 12 Hours of Sebring. The Spirit of Sebring Corvette was previously owned by Paul Newman and will be on display at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in May.
For more information, visit the MSHFA at www.mshf.com. For MSHFA tickets, call 1-800-PIT-SHOP.