Get Ad-Free Access: Just $39/year

The Moment the Corvette Got So Good

And an embarrassing moment in racing for Porsche

Corvette Challenge Series

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Corvette brand shook the world stage with the all-new 4th generation Corvette. There are many facets to the introduction of the fourth generation in 1984, like the venerable “King of the Hill” ZR-1 coming soon after, missing a production year in 1983 (the only time this happened in Corvette history), and the second-longest production of any generation, just to name a few interesting tidbits about the C4.

But today we are going to focus on what happened to the Corvette in the popular SCCA racing series. The C4 with its supercar handling numbers (0.9-g cornering), reliable Chevy small-block V-8 performance, and excellent brakes, quickly proved it could not only compete in the SCCA Showroom Stock GT series but kick butt.

From 1985 to 1987 the C4 left the Porsche 944 Turbo in its rearview mirror, amassing a 29-0 record. To say the series was shocked would be an understatement, and oddly enough racing might be the only sport where winning is penalized.

Sure Corvette enthusiasts were happy, but this dominance threatened race participation by other brands as well as attendance. So the C4 went from kicking butt to getting kicked out of the series. Key figures inside and outside of GM got together and the Corvette Challenge Series was born. Major sponsors were lined up resulting in a series purse of $1 million dollars, almost unheard of for the time.

The Corvette Challenge Series cars cost just over $33,000, more than $90,000 in today’s money, and the teams also paid $15,000 for the installation of a roll cage, racing seat and harness, onboard fire system, Bilstein shocks, Dymag magnesium wheels, racing brake pads, and other minor items. Other than that the Corvettes were showroom stock.  A TV deal with ESPN was set up and as they say, the rest was history.

It was a two-and-done series, as Chevy and GM were focused on launching the ZR-1 in 1990, but it will go down in history as a milestone for the Corvette and how revolutionary the vehicle was in the sports car universe. The C4 went back to the SCCA and raced for many successful years in the World Challenge series.

Series Corvette on display
Series Corvettes on display, photos courtesy of Motor Trend