Inducted into the Bloomington Gold Great Hall in 2010, our next feature car is a 1956 Sebring Corvette Racer and was owned by John and Sally Neas. This car is the only 1956 production Corvette in the Sebring event.
As Chevrolet’s Chief Engineer, Ed Cole pushed to make the 1953 Motorama show car a Chevrolet production vehicle. The early years were rough, but the V8 came along in 1955, and designers penned a beautiful new body for 1956 Corvettes. Cole thought the time right to go racing.
It started with a three-car effort at Daytona Beach in February 1956, where Corvettes set several speed records. It was to be followed in March at Sebring’s 12-hour endurance race. Cole wanted a four-car team (a fifth, semiprivate car was added later), so the three Daytona cars were used. Those three, and the fifth semiprivate entry were all 1955-chassis engineering cars with new 1956 bodies. The fourth factory Sebring racer was a real 1956, purchased by Chevrolet Engineering from Manufacturing and delivered through Don Allen Chevrolet in Miami. That is the car displayed here, the only 1956 production Corvette in the Sebring event.
The 1956 factory team was managed by noted racer John Fitch. In order to run stock classes, components developed by the team in Sebring had to be drawn up, manufactured, and assigned part numbers in Detroit. Considering that Fitch and his team had just five weeks, the Corvettes did fine. There were problems galore, but three cars finished and one won its class. It was enough for Barney Clark at Campbell Ewald, Chevy’s ad agency, to pen the immortal “The Real McCoy” Corvette ad campaign. Corvette was on its way.
This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of Vette Vues Magazine.
Here is another 1956 owned by John and Sally Neas: