“For Corvette enthusiasts, the real star of ‘Clambake’ is the 1959 Stingray Racer concept— the car that is said to be the opening design salvo in what became the 1963 Corvette Stingray. While Corvette innovation was experience an exciting acceleration, the days of big money movie deals for Elvis were downshifting. Riffing on the similarity of every Elvis movie to every other Elvis movie, a studio executive once quipped: ‘Why do we bother to give his movies titles – couldn’t they just be numbered?'”
“The ’59 Stingray Racer has its own unique history. Designed by Peter Brock and Larry Shinoda, the chassis was provided from one of Duntov’s 1956 Corvette SS tubular frame racers. GM’s styling chief Bill Mitchell purchased the chassis and then directed and funded the design of the car in Chevrolet’s secretive Studio X. Once completed, Mitchell took the car racing as a privateer. The Stingray Racer was raced in 1960 SCCA competition by The Flying Dentist, Dr. Dick Thompson, who would bring home the C-Modified class championship in the car.
The year was 1966, and Steve McQueen was on top of the world. He was the reigning “King of Cool” who had the rest of Hollywood’s leading men eating his dust. McQueen’s “hard knocks” path gave him an attitude and a lust for life that was flat-out unapologetic. So back In 1966, when Sports Illustrated wanted a Hollywood headliner to review the top new GT’s– Steve McQueen was the clear choice. Make that the only choice. Not Newman, or Garner, or… you get it.
One of the greatest rivalries in all of Drag Racing history has to be the classic Wildlife Racing matchup– Don “Snake” Prudhomme vs. Tom “Mongoose” McEwen. Any red-blooded boy born of that era remembers their famous Funny Cars decked-out in bright Hot Wheels badges screaming down the 1/4 mile in a furious blur that lasted all of 5 sweet seconds. The two faced-off in match races that raged over a period of about 3 years. Don Prudhomme, being the stronger competitor, usually came out on top. Their epic West Coast battles, fueled by huge sponsorship deals (Mattel, Coca-Cola, Plymouth, and Goodyear) were a major draw, and their loyal fans never tired of seeing them go head to head.
The Petersen Automotive Museum is celebrating the opening of their new exhibit, NHRA: Sixty Years of Thunder by paying tribute to – Don “The Snake” Prudhomme – during their annual Tribute Night on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. Honored guests include– Roland Leong, Tommy Ivo, Carroll Shelby, Ed Pink and many others. Special guest Dave McClelland, the Voice of the NHRA and longtime friend of Don Prudhomme, will be the Master of Ceremonies. Their will be a film featuring The Snake’s epic history, and several other drag racing icons will share their stories of the legend. A live auction of amazing racing memorabilia will follow with proceeds going to the Petersen’s educational programs.
If you’re a Drag Racing fan of any age– this is an epic event not to be missed.