What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?
Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette

Chevy's unofficial race car that participated in Le Mans courtesy of Goodyear threatening people.

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Goodyear's Leo Mehl told North American Racig Team's (NART) Leo Chinetti that he wanted one of Ferrari's six spots at Le Mans as Le Mans was invite only. Mehl said that if he didn't relinquish a spot, then he would pull Goodyears Ferrari sponsorship worldwide. This alone caused Chinetti to cave in as he didn't want to hear Enzo's wrath for losing a big sponsor.

Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette
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Chinetti imposed two conditions. The Corvette had to be Ferrari Red and the car would have to wear Ferrari's prancing horse inside of its NART logo.

2 Corvettes, VIN 194378S410300 and 194378S408067, left the St. Louis Factory in January 1968. George Filipinetti (Ferrari Scuderia's race team head) had his chief mechanic, Franco Sbarro, sent to Michigan to aid in prepping the cars for European racing duty.

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The C3 race cars were equipped with a factory prepped L88 courtesy of Zora Arkus-Duntov "smuggling" it out the back door to get around GM's ban on racing that was still in effect.

Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette
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The Corvette (VIN 194378S410300) participated in the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by Henri Greder and Umberto Maglioli.

The car dominated qualifications, posting a time of 3'59"08 and subsequently the race. That is until the 6th hour where a holed piston caused corroded ventilation valve on the gas tank. This cause the engine to run really lean on high revs. They eventually retired it from the race.

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The second Corvette (VIN 194378S408067), now suddenly became class leader with drivers Sylvain Garant and JeanMichel Giorgi. Garant lost control of the Corvette during heavy rainfall, hitting a curb severely damaging the 'Vette in the 14th hour at the "Dunlop Curve." It was game over for the Corvettes in this race.

Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette
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If at first you don't suceed...you do it again. The Corvette that managed to stay in one piece was at it again in Le Mans 1969. Grender was the lead driver with his co-driver being hot shot Formula 3 driver Reine Wisell.

Grender qualified the Corvette in 4'05"3. That time was 20"5 faster than the teams own Ferrari 275 GTB and an astonishing 22"9 faster than the best Porsche 911.

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Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette

The Corvette dominated the GT class until problem after problem surfaced. Grender pitted 6 hours into the race because of gearbox issues (8pm). Then at 9:07 pm, he's back with in the pits because of defective front brakes. The calipers were swapped out and the Corvette was back in the fight. At 9:54 pm, the 'Vette loses first gear due to the linkage, but still pushes on. 3:30 am, the Corvette is racing strong despite resurfacing brake problems. The Corvette meanwhile is closing in on Porsche until they have to pit at 5:55 am to fix the calipers again, causing the 'Vette to lose 2 laps to Porsche. The Corvette is thrown back to the track to finish the race hard until the 16th hour put the car out of commission. A gearbox issue crippled the car and it will not finish the race.

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Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette
Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette
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That was the end of the Scuderia Corvette in Le Mans racing. The car eventually went on to race in 1969 Tour De France but it was under a different team.

Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette
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Illustration for article titled 1968 Scuderia Filipinetti Le Mans Corvette

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