Courtesy of Silodrome... The Cunningham team bought three 1960 Corvettes from Don Allen Chevrolet, each was optioned to the gills with every performance tweak available including a 290 hp fuel-injected V8, quick-ratio steering, heavy-duty sintered-metallic brake linings, heavy-duty suspension, a close-ratio four-speed transmission, a Positraction limited-slip differential, a radio delete, and a temperature-controlled radiator fan.
Before shipping the cars to Europe they fitted a series of their own upgrades including Stewart Warner gauges, a Halibrand quick release fuel cap, Halibrand knock off wheels with Firestone racing tires, Koni competition shock absorbers, Bendix fuel pumps (a primary and a back-up), an additional front additional sway bar, a 37 gallon fuel tank, brake ducting from the grille area and a cooling duct from drivers side front bumper area (directing cooling air to the driver through the foot well), two seats from a Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft, and Sebring exhausts that exit in front of the rear tires.
The Corvettes would face stiff competition in Europe, they’d be racing against the Ferrari 250 TR59, the Aston Martin DBR1, the Porsche 718, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, the Porsche 356B Carrera, the Triumph TRS, the Maserati Tipo 61, the Jaguar E2A, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SV Spyder, and a number of others.
The race took place over the 25th and 26th of June, Ferrari needed an outright win at Le Mans to take the FIA World Sports Car Championship title, so they brought 8 of their best cars. The race was always going to be a challenge but during the third hour a storm swept across the track bringing torrential rain which caused a number of accidents, shaking up the running order.
The rain continued intermittently throughout the night but began to clear by the morning, sadly two of the three Corvettes had been falling by the wayside, one of the cars had been rolled and was out of the race and another got stuck in the sand by the truck – losing valuable time before being recovered and getting back into the race (this was the car shown here).
By the time the chequered flag fell one of the Corvettes was still running – it took a class win at Le Mans and finished 8th overall. This was a great result for the first Corvette outing at the famous event, and although they didn’t know it at the time it was just the first of many, Corvettes have been racing at Le Mans for decades since.