Although Chevrolet introduced the Corvette to great acclaim at the 1953 Motorama, few realized it would, in time, become America’s iconic sports car.

The sporting transformation didn’t come until 1956, a year after Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov inserted a 265-ci V8 into the previously sluggish 6-cylinder-powered fiberglass two-seater.

For 1956, Arkus-Duntov improved the car’s handling and braking system. He and veteran driver John Fitch took honors in the flying mile at Daytona Speedweek, and Ray Crawford and Max Goldman finished first-in-class at Sebring.

Development of the racing models SS and SR-2 abruptly ended when General Motors signed the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on motorsports. This left competition to privateers like Jeff Jeffords, Don Yenko and Dr. Dick Thompson, albeit with tacit corporate support in engineering and parts supply. GM did not return to racing until the 1980s with the Corvette GTP.

In 1965, Fred Yeakel bought this 1957 Corvette and immediately took it racing, running in B Production at the Memorial Day races in Santa Barbara. He also raced it at Willow Springs and Riverside that year.

In 1979, Yeakel opened a new chapter in the Corvette’s life with vintage races at Portland and Monterey. Since then, it has competed regularly at Monterey, as well as Westport, British Columbia, Sebring, Kansas City, Riverside, Palm Springs, and the La Carrera Classic.

This is one of the quickest Corvettes in the country. Fred Yeakel won the always-tough Corvette class at the 1982 Monterey Historics, and Dick Guldstrand drove it to victory in 1987—the year Corvette was the featured marque. That defined how well the car performed, considering that all the fastest Corvettes in the world were on hand to compete.

Although ’57 ’Vettes are plentiful, and many have competition history, this car is unusual in its bulletproof pedigree and extensive documentation. It comes completely equipped for vintage racing and road use. The newly rebuilt engine has only break-in mileage, and the car is ready for tech inspection. This is a rare opportunity to buy one of the fastest Corvette race cars in the country with a long and distinguished heritage and a race-winning record.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1957 283/283 Race Car
Years Produced:1957
Number Produced:6,339
Original List Price:$3,176.32 base
SCM Valuation:$120,000–$150,000
Tune Up Cost:$250
Distributor Caps:$9.95
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side door post
Engine Number Location:Pad at rear of ignition opening
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society 6291 Day Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45252
Alternatives:1954–57 Jaguar XK 140 1955–57 Ford Thunderbird 1957–62 Austin-Healey 100/6, 3000
Investment Grade:A

This 1957 Chevrolet Corvette sold for $115,500 at the Gooding and Company auction held at Pebble Beach on August 18–19, 2007. It had a pre-sale estimate of $140,000–$160,000, and I agree with the CM on-site analysis by Executive Editor Paul Duchene that it was well bought.

It is often said that racing improves the breed, but in the case of the Corvette, it would be more appropriate to state that racing saved the brand. When a brash Russian-born emigrant, Zora Arkus-Duntov, saw the Corvette concept at the 1952 GM Motorama exhibit in New York and outlined his criticisms in a letter to Chevrolet Chief Engineer Ed Cole, the die was cast. He was hired by Cole shortly thereafter and quickly realized the potential of the V8 that Cole was developing for Chevrolet.

Duntov set a flying mile record at 150 mph

The initial reaction to the 6-cylinder, 150-horsepower Corvette was mixed at best, and the car was considered by most a sports car in name only.

With the small-block V8 under the hood, Duntov, a racer at heart, took three Corvettes race-prepared by Smoky Yunick to NASCAR Speedweek at Daytona Beach in 1956 to change those impressions. Duntov shared seat time with John Fitch and Betty Skelton, and the troupe set several acceleration and speed records. Duntov himself set a flying mile record at over 150 mph.

Sebring followed, and the team finished first in class. Dr. Dick Thompson, the “Flying Dentist,” won the SCCA C Production National Championship, and Corvette quickly capitalized on this success. In 1957, a wannabe racer could walk into the local Chevy store and order an RPO (Regular Production Option) Corvette with options such as fuel injection and head to the starting grid at the local track.

This particular car is very well known in vintage racing circles. Fred Yeakel, who is also known for campaigning his Corvette-powered Cheetah, competed regularly at Monterey and other venues.

Yeakel ran D Production as “Itchy Foot Moose”

Yeakel ran successfully at Santa Barbara, Willow Springs, and Riverside, then took up drag racing at Long Beach in 1966. He ran D Production Sports Car Class as “Itchy Foot Moose” at many Southern California tracks.

He parked the car for a few years, then revived it for historic racing in 1979, competing at Monterey, Westport, British Columbia, Portland, Seattle, Sebring, Riverside, Palm Springs, and even in Mexico’s grueling La Carrera Panamericana Classic.

Recently, Yeakel’s daughter Jeni has shared seat time with creditable results. The car was also displayed at Bloomington Gold for the 50th anniversary of the 1957 Corvette.

The new owner, at a most reasonable price, bought a “no-questions” Corvette racer. It has extensive racing provenance, is street legal and with minor effort, ready for road use. The originally carbureted 283 engine has been rebuilt and modified with fuel injection and 1.94 inch intake “camel hump” heads.

I can’t help but think that if the car had been originally ordered with one of the 579-code FI options, the final price might have been more in line with the estimates, but then again, aren’t race cars constantly being modified? This Corvette will be accepted on any grid, and if the new owner doesn’t share the podium, he can’t blame it on the car. (Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)

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