A Look Back At Le Mans 1960 Narrated By Corvette Driver, Dick Thompson

Corvette Racing is warming up tires and engines around the famed Daytona speedway in preparation for the up-coming season-opener 24-hour race. We thought a look back at Corvette’s initial foray into the international race circuit might be a fitting hold-over until the flag drops on the last weekend in January.

The video above highlights Corvette's efforts, narrated by driver Dick Thompson. Drivers John Fitch (left) and Bob Grossman would finish eighth overall and first in class in the #3 Corvette. In the end, the crowd cheered on the team's devotion and "never quit" attitude, a trait that has held true of the team, even today.

With a string of championships under their belt, it’s easy to forget the hard-fought battles that surrounded Corvette at the very beginning of its global climb to stardom. Each of the four Corvettes and their drivers that were entered in the 1960 running of the 24-hours of Le Mans fought against some of the best, and most well-equipped teams the world has to offer.

When the Corvettes first arrived, they were considered too big and heavy to be competitive. Their power and durability made up for any nimbleness they gave up to the competition.

Four Corvettes were entered, three were assembled at the hands of Briggs Cunningham with the fourth being entered under the Camoradi U.S.A. Team. Cunningham and Kimberley would handle the driving of car number 1, Our narrator, Dick Thompson and Windridge were in car 2. John Fitch would be partnered with Bob Grossman in the class-winning car number 3. Lilley and Gambles would be driving the “Camoradi Corvette”, number 4.

The cars were prepped in a nearby shop by the Corvette team. Everything was gone over during testing, including "freshening up" the heads in between tests.

After the race, Briggs Cunningham returned the cars to street trim and they were divested through a Chevrolet dealer to unknowing civilians. That’s right, the class-winning Corvette and its stable-mates, estimated to be valued in the millions today, were all handed over to unsuspecting owners for street duty. All three Cunningham cars are now accounted for and the last of the three is still embattled in a race among lawyers that has lasted much longer than any race held at the Circuit de La Sarthe.

We beat out, and out-raced, cars that cost two, to three times more money!  – Dr. Dick Thompson, Corvette Racer

On a lighter note, this gem, direct from the marketing department inside GM has famed Corvette racer Dr. Dick Thompson narrating about the prep-work, as well as the highlights of the race itself. He explains the trials that each of the cars experience during the battle and the video shows up-close, how team Corvette uses their problem solving skills to overcome obstacles.

The #3 Corvette started overheating and to finish the race, engineers stuffed the engine bay with ice to keep the car running. Each pit stop resulted in puddles of water from the ice that had out-lived its usefulness to the team.

While slightly longer than most, this video is a must-see for any enthusiasts interested in vintage Corvettes and especially vintage Corvette racing. It’s a treasure trove of Corvette goodness with footage of Zora Duntov, John Fitch, Bob Grossman and of course, Dr. Dick Thompson himself. Turn up the volume and tune out the rest of the world to immerse yourself in the excitement, the drama, the passion to win that is Le Mans in 1960!

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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