This 1989 Corvette Challenge Race Car up for sale is the #1 car raced by the Texas American Race Team and driven by the 1988 Corvette Challenge Series Winner, Stu Hayner in 1989
In the late 1980s, the C4 Corvette was so successful in SCCA Showroom Stock GT racing, that other brands like Porsche and Lotus couldn’t touch them. As a result, the other brands threatened to pull out of racing all together which would ultimately affect fan attendance. After the 1987 race season, the SCCA banned the Corvettes from competing.
Corvette Chief Engineer, Dave McLellan approached John Powell for ideas on how to keep the Corvette in the competition spotlight. Powell, who ran a racing school at Canada’s Mosport track in Ontario, Canada, and campaigned Corvettes in that series, came up with the perfect solution.
Powell proposed a Corvette Challenge series where only Corvettes would be allowed to compete. Chevrolet got onboard with the support and marketing and the SCCA agreed to be the sanctioning body responsible for handling the scoring and prize disbursements.
With major financial backing from sponsors such as Exxon, Goodyear and Mid America Motorworks (Corvette parts and accessories company), the season winning purse grew to $1,000,000 which attracted some big-name race teams and fan spectators alike.
Corvette Challenge Race Cars
Being a spec series, all of the Corvette Challenge race cars were built to exact specifications at the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly plant prior to being sold to individual racing teams. This was ideal since, winning a Corvette Challenge race really came down to driver skill rather than individual Corvette capability.
In order to build the cars for the series, Chevy needed an initial order of 50 of them to be submitted which was accomplished by Malcolm Konner Chevrolet in Paramus, New Jersey which at the time, was the largest Corvette dealer in the United States.
Gary Konner, the dealership owner, ordered all 50 of them and as a result, Chevy created RPO B9P which would become the basis of the Corvette Challenge cars. Equipment included the 4+3 manual transmission, Z51 performance handling package, six-way power drivers seat, Delco-Bose stereo, blue-tint glass removable roof panel, and side window and mirror defoggers.
All of the 245 hp, L98 engines that were built for the Challenge cars were specially balanced, blueprinted and dyno-tested. Only engines that came within a 2.5 percent variance were allowed to go into a Challenge car. In order to prevent any tampering, a special green paint was used to cover the various bolt fasteners on the engine and transmission.
Part of the pre-race inspection included running a special light over the powertrain. If any tampering had occurred, it would show up in the green paint under the light.
A total of 56 B9P cars were built and on May 1, 1988, Stu Hayner won the series in Dallas.
In 1989, sixty Corvette Challenge cars were built with RPO RVF which included Chevy’s new ZF 6-speed manual transmission and FX3 adjustable ride and handling package. Additional improvements over the previous year’s cars included full roll cages and straight-through exhaust pipes.
Bill Cooper ended up winning the 1989 race series, but after that, the Corvette Challenge would come to an end.
Due to ever increasing cost and full attention being given to the upcoming 1990 Corvette ZR-1, Chevrolet pulled their support for the series.
1989 Corvette Challenge Race Car – #1
I recently ran across the #1 Corvette Challenge race car built for 1989 listed for sale by C&N Motor Cars in Marysville, Ohio.
VIN 1G1YY2184K5110110 is one of four Challenge cars that were entered by the Texas American Race Team and driven by 1988 Challenge Series winner, Stu Hayner.
Only a few of the Challenge cars still retain the on-board computer system that GM installed in order to monitor the car’s performance and diagnostics during the races. It’s one of only 30 built and one of 27 known to still exist.
After a few racing mishaps in its history, it was eventually restored to its original race condition with full racing graphics.
It was formerly owned by Mark Martin’s Klassik Auto Museum in Daytona Beach , Florida and crossed the Barrett-Jackson auction block in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2004.
It’s now offered for sale by C&N Motor Cars for an undisclosed price and only 3,552 miles on the odometer.
For more details and photos, check out their listing.