What’s in the name of a Corvette’s paint color?

Unveiling the Fascinating Stories Behind Corvette Paint Colors: from Daytona Blue to Riverside Red and Sebring Silver

Unveiling the Fascinating Stories Behind Corvette Paint Colors: from Daytona Blue to Riverside Red and Sebring Silver
Unveiling the Fascinating Stories Behind Corvette Paint Colors: from Daytona Blue to Riverside Red and Sebring Silver

Have you ever found yourself admiring the sleek, vibrant colors adorning your beloved Corvette, wondering how they came to be? In this engaging article, Greg Rivers takes us on a journey through time to unveil the fascinating stories behind the iconic paint colors that graced various generations of Corvette models. These colors weren’t haphazardly chosen; they were carefully selected to reflect the spirit and heritage of America’s premier sports car. From the roaring days of high-performance racing to the era of muscle car dominance, discover the intriguing origins of Corvette paint names that range from legendary to lesser-known. Join us as we delve into the rich history of these vibrant hues, each with its unique tale to tell.

In this Article:

After years of innocuous names like Tuxedo Black, Ermine White, Arctic Blue, etc., as most manufacturers used at the time, Chevrolet quickly saw the advantage of connecting Corvette and, especially, the all-new 1963 Sting Ray to some of the more famous speedways, national and international races that were sweeping the world in popularity. It is a perfect storm for America’s first and only true sports car, itself a formidable contender in many of these races.

Later, as gas prices inflated, the E.P.A. started strangling internal combustion autos, which brought the inevitable drop in horsepower and, as such, the racing craze began to wane; Chevrolet drifted from these high-performance related monikers and opted for more generic terms again like “Red,” “Blue,” “Dark Blue” “Silver,” etc. So, I’ll keep this to the more era-specific C2s and C3s when America’s muscle car culture ruled, the population was still horsepower crazy, cars were fun, and Corvette was the undisputed King of the Hill.

Some are still famous and easily recognizable, while others have become rather obscure over the years. So, for those who’d like to know, please read on…

1963 Daytona Blue Corvette


So, 1963 saw the introduction of “Daytona Blue” in homage to the now iconic Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, which had opened just four years earlier in 1959. Daytona fever was sweeping the nation. American Dan Gurney had recently beat out top-flight British driver Stirling Moss for the win at the Daytona Continental (precursor to the Rolex 24 Hours) beach movies, Spring Break (anchorman Chet Huntley described it as a “new phenomenon” at “the most famous beach in the world”). A quick-thinking surf/rock band borrowed the name when Ronnie and the Daytonas were singing about; what else? Cars!

Just a few short years later, the Daytona Charger, with its distinctive nose cone and 23-inch-tall rear stabilizer wing, would be the first car to break the 200 mph barrier in NASCAR; Studebaker offered a Daytona nameplate on their Lark platform, even Ferrari would eventually pay homage to the iconic superspeedway when they unveiled the Daytona Spyder.

With seating for over 100,000 race fans, Daytona International Speedway had proven it could draw fans like no other track in the country. It was a force to be reckoned with, and it was here to stay. Daytona was the first race track-related name used by Chevrolet for the Corvette color palette, but if you read along, you’ll find it “repurposed” a few years later, which seems odd because there was certainly no shortage of speedway and race track names out there.

Mecum Kissimmee 2022 had this impressive 1963 Daytona Blue Corvette ZO6, a certified Bloomington Gold Benchmark vehicle and one of few Australian exports, Image credit: Gary Rosier.
Mecum Kissimmee 2022 had this impressive 1963 Daytona Blue Corvette ZO6, a certified Bloomington Gold Benchmark vehicle and one of few Australian exports, Image credit: Gary Rosier.

1963 Riverside Red Corvette


“Riverside Red” also made its first appearance this year. It was named for Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California, just fifty miles east of Los Angeles. It opened in 1957 and was considered a complicated and somewhat dangerous track but also one of the finest courses in the country.

This track was used in countless television series, movies, and TV commercials. Due to urban sprawl, the track’s days were numbered and closed in 1989. It is now the site of a shopping mall. An odd footnote: On opening day, September 22, 1957, a driver was killed, and on the very last day’s race, July 1, 1989, it ended the way it started when another driver lost his life.

1963 Sebring Silver Corvette

“Sebring Silver” was new for 1963, too. It was named after America’s oldest permanent road racing facility, Sebring International Raceway, near Sebring, Florida, in the south-central part of the state. Originally part of Hendricks Army Airfield, a World War II training base for B-17 pilots from 1941 to 1946, Sebring ran its first race on New Year’s Eve 1950. Much of the track still uses the original concrete poured in 1941, making it intentionally difficult on drivers and their cars. The grueling 12 Hours of Sebring is the yardstick used to measure those on their way to Le Mans.

At Mecum Kissimmee 2022, Corvette lovers have the unique opportunity to witness this '63 Sebring Silver Split Window Coupe cross the auction block. William Wolf captures this photo.
At Mecum Kissimmee 2022, Corvette lovers have the unique opportunity to witness this ’63 Sebring Silver Split Window Coupe cross the auction block. William Wolf captures this photo.

1965 Glen Green Corvette

1965 added “Glen Green” to the list of popular colors borrowed from Watkins Glen International near Watkins Glen, New York. W.G.I. was home to the Formula One United States Grand Prix, the World Sportscar Championship, Trans-Am, Can-Am, IndyCar, and NASCAR have also run there.

It opened in 1956, and the track was wildly successful. 1973 saw the Summer Jam rock festival at W.G.I.; headliners were The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, and The Band, and was attended by more than 600,000 fans, which was enough to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest attendance ever at a music festival. Due to poor management, the track filed for bankruptcy and closed in 1981.

Two years later, the track was purchased by Corning, fully renovated, reopened, and is still going strong.

At the 2022 Bloomington Gold event, a 1965 Glen Green Corvette with Saddle Interior owned by John Phillip Van Dam was displayed. Bob Cook captured this photo.
At the 2022 Bloomington Gold event, a 1965 Glen Green Corvette with Saddle Interior owned by John Phillip Van Dam was displayed. Bob Cook captured this photo.

1965 Nassau Blue Corvette

1965 also saw the addition of the very popular “Nassau Blue” as a tip of the hat to Nassau Oakes Field in Nassau, Bahamas. Laid out on the runways and roads of the former Oakes Field Airport and opened in 1957.

The track had a great run and, with location names like “Sassoon Straight,” “Ecky’s Twist,” and the unforgettable “Blackbeard’s Bend,” who wouldn’t want to race there? Stirling Moss took the Nassau Trophy in the track’s second year.

The Americans made a big noise in 1963 when Ford and Chevrolet showed up, with Chevrolet sweeping all of the major trophies that year. Unfortunately, political change and island economics took their toll, and the Nassau course was closed permanently in 1966.

At the 2022 Bloomington Gold, admirers had the chance to view Robert Dardengo's spectacular 1965 Corvette, featuring the Nassau Blue finish and a Bright Blue interior. Photo Credit Bob Cook
At the 2022 Bloomington Gold, admirers had the chance to view Robert Dardengo’s spectacular 1965 Corvette, featuring the Nassau Blue finish and a Bright Blue interior. Photo Credit Bob Cook

1966 Laguna Blue Corvette

And, speaking of 1966, that was the year Chevrolet introduced “Laguna Blue” in tribute to Laguna Seca Raceway located in Monterey County on California’s central coast. You will find the name Laguna recycled at a later date as well. Opened in November 1957, Laguna Seca (Spanish for dry lagoon), the course was built around the site of a dried lake bed and formerly U.S. Army Fort Ord’s artillery range.

Renowned for names like Andretti and Unser, it is most famous (or infamous) for its harrowing Corkscrew. There is nothing like it on any other track anywhere in the world. Between the entrance and exit of turn eight, the track drops almost sixty feet in less than 450 feet of track. This is the equivalent of a five-and-one-half-story drop. And if that’s not enough to clamp your sphincter, from turn eight to turn nine, the track drops an additional 109 feet … or just over ten full stories. I’m happy to report that, as of this writing, Laguna Seca is still going strong.

In January of 2023, Mecum's Kissimmee event saw the auction of Captain Norman Gandia's treasured 'Blue Angel Corvette,' a 1966 model painted in a striking Laguna Blue. Photo Credits Gary Rosier
In January of 2023, Mecum’s Kissimmee event saw the auction of Captain Norman Gandia’s treasured ‘Blue Angel Corvette,’ a 1966 model painted in a striking Laguna Blue. Photo Credits Gary Rosier

1966 Mosport Green Corvette

’66 also gave us “Mosport Green” in tribute to Mosport Park, which our friends to the north opened in 1961 about fifty miles east of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Stirling Moss showed up again and won the Player’s 200 event in that first year (there’s even a track corner named for him).

Mosport hosted the Canadian Grand Prix, which was wildly successful among race fans. The track boasts a world-class “Driver Development Centre” and has hosted every name associated with the sport, including Andretti, Unser, Ongias, Jones, Foyt, McLaren, Fittipaldi, Villeneuve, and of course, Jackie Stewart. 2012 brought a name change to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and the track continues to thrive.

At the 2021 Corvettes at Carlisle event, Ron and Connie Digus proudly presented their beloved 1966 Mosport Green Corvette in the NCRS Gallery. Photo Credit Bob Cook
At the 2021 Corvettes at Carlisle event, Ron and Connie Digus proudly presented their beloved 1966 Mosport Green Corvette in the NCRS Gallery. Photo Credit Bob Cook

1967 Lynndale Blue Corvette

With the dawn of 1967, four new “race-related” offerings appeared, beginning with “Lynndale Blue,” whose namesake was the beautiful but short-lived Lynndale Farms Raceway situated just twenty miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Agreed by all to have been a great track and a great idea, it was the brainchild of real estate broker/developer and sports car enthusiast Jerry Hirsch.

It opened in 1963; the course was actually named for Hirsch’s teen daughter Lynn. The 2.5-mile track hosted S.C.C.A. and USAC events. But sometimes the best-laid plans of mice and men… Even the presence of the ubiquitous Stirling Moss on opening day couldn’t stave off the inevitable.

Hirsch was plagued by a series of misfortunes, from bad weather (many events were rained out) to irate neighbors who simply hated all the noise. Sadly, just four short years later, in 1967, Hirsch threw in the towel and closed the track. He sold his sports cars and never looked back.

Today the site is unrecognizable with its sprawling subdivisions and houses with nicely mowed lawns. Lost to the sands of time forever. But I’d like to think that when Ms. Hirsch happens to pass a rare Lynndale Blue Corvette on the road, she recognizes it, feels a little pride, and shows just the ghost of a smile as she passes by—quite the legacy.

At Mecum Houston 2023, a breathtaking 1967 Lynndale Blue Corvette Coupe crossed the auction block. Photo Credit Mecum Auction
At Mecum Houston 2023, a breathtaking 1967 Lynndale Blue Corvette Coupe crossed the auction block. Photo Credit Mecum Auction

1967 Elkhart Blue Corvette

Another Wisconsin neighbor lent its name to a Corvette color in 1967 with “Elkhart Blue,” one more motorsport-related name to be re-used later by the Chevrolet Paint Naming Bureau in Charge of Colors, or whatever they were called. Named for the Road America track just outside the village of Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin.

Their first S.C.C.A. sanctioned event was held on September 10 & 11, 1955, and, to the thrill of every fan present, the race ended with a spectacular photo finish, which seemed to set the good luck in motion for this new track. Elkhart held its first NASCAR event on a rainy Sunday in August of 1956, and just to show you how much things have changed over the last 6 or 7 decades, the winning car was a Mercury driven at an average speed of 71.4 mph.

As Corvette fans, you’ll be happy to know that G.M. styling VP Bill Mitchell was a big proponent of and a regular visitor to the Road America track and actually established the “Corvette Corral” directly across from the pits, where anyone and everyone who owned a Corvette could park right up close.

In honor of Mitchell, the crossover bridge at turn 13 was named for him. Later remodels changed things around, and now the crossover bridge at turn six is officially designated as “The Corvette Bridge.” I’m happy to report that Road America is still going strong.

Lawrence Sachs displayed his dazzling 1967 Elkhart Blue Corvette, featuring a stunning Teal Blue interior, at the Bloomington Gold event in 2022. Photo Credit Bob Cook
Lawrence Sachs displayed his dazzling 1967 Elkhart Blue Corvette, featuring a stunning Teal Blue interior, at the Bloomington Gold event in 2022. Photo Credit Bob Cook

1967 Goodwood Green Corvette

The next installment for ’67 was “Goodwood Green,” brought to you by our friends across the pond at Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex, England. Their offering of the 2.3-mile Goodwood Circuit started life as the perimeter road of the Royal Air Force Westhampnett Airfield built during World War II.

After that, the first race, organized by The Junior Car Club, was held on September 18, 1948. In attendance was Stirling Moss (yes, him again), who won his class that day. Goodwood became famous for its annual Formula One race from 1949 to 1965.

Roger Penske made an appearance there in 1963, and all was looking bright for the future of international racing in Sussex. But, as George Harrison sang, all things must pass, and in 1966, when the track owners were pressed for a major redesign that included several chicanes to slow the now much more powerful cars in the interest of safety, they declined and closed the track to sanctioned events. Bummer.

However, unlike Americans, the Brits don’t mow everything down the second it’s not in use and then put up another strip mall or subdivision, so luckily, the track still survives today and is used regularly for vintage races, various testing, electric vehicle competitions, semi-regular car and bike shows and many other events. They even used it as a filming location for the hit T.V. series Downton Abbey. Keep calm and carry on … driving.

Trent Thompson's Goodwood Green 1967 Corvette with Black Interior was displayed at the 2022 Bloomington Gold event, offering a captivating glimpse into automotive history. Photo Credit Bob Cook
Trent Thompson’s Goodwood Green 1967 Corvette with Black Interior was displayed at the 2022 Bloomington Gold event, offering a captivating glimpse into automotive history. Photo Credit Bob Cook

1967 Marlboro Maroon Corvette

The fourth offering for 1967 was “Marlboro Maroon,” and, before you start hacking up a lung over this, …that’s the wrong “Marlboro.” Chevrolet was talking about “Marlboro Motor Raceway” in Prince George’s County near Upper Marlboro, Maryland. M.M.R. started life in 1952 as a dirt oval, but by 1954 a road course was added, and it was paved. S.C.C.A. was heavily involved with M.M.R. from the start. Roger Penske started racing there; even the Maryland State Police used the facility for their high-speed driver’s training program.

Oh, and guess who? Stirling Moss, of course! He made a guest appearance at Marlboro in 1961 when they were introducing the Austin Mini to America and actually raced one around the track here too. When the new Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia broke ground in 1969, it rang the death knell for Marlboro Motor Raceway. M.M.R. was considered very dated and unsafe by 1969 standards.

The new track offered everything that the old one couldn’t, so it ran its last race in 1969 and closed. Today it is abandoned and, due to flooding from the nearby river, in a state of major disrepair.

At the 2022 Bloomington Gold event, Joseph and Maria Pia Cacciatore present their 1967 Marlboro Maroon Corvette, which boasts a magnificent saddle leather interior. Photo Credit Bob Cook
At the 2022 Bloomington Gold event, Joseph and Maria Pia Cacciatore present their 1967 Marlboro Maroon Corvette, which boasts a magnificent saddle leather interior. Photo Credit Bob Cook

1968 Le Mans Blue Corvette

With 1968 came an all-new body style and two new names to add to the list of race-branded paint colors, “Le Mans Blue.” If the person who chose this name wanted to raise the bar in semantics as applied to automotive hue, he could not have reached higher—Le Mans, …the granddaddy of all endurance races.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans (held near Le Mans, France, of course) is the world’s oldest active endurance racing event. It is also one leg of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, with the other two being the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, the three biggest motorsport events known to man.

The Le Mans race is unique because it’s not about who has the fastest car but who can travel the most distance within the 24-hour limit. So, it comes down to milliseconds of endurance of both flesh and steel. It is a race with the sole purpose of finding one’s unadulterated limit. It is designed, by nature, to break things. And break things it does. It breaks records; it breaks bank accounts; it breaks machines; it breaks spirits, and when you witness strong men weep as victory eludes them at the last possible moment, you know it’s broken them as well.

Before the current restrictions, for obvious safety reasons, there were no limits on how long a driver could pilot his car, and, yes, there were a couple of drivers who felt they could solo the entire 24 hours to save time. Most ran two-man teams. Now with speeds over 250 mph, three drivers are needed to compete safely.

The course includes the Ford Chicanes, the Porsche Curves, and, of course, the Corvette Curves. I don’t think I need to bore you with a long list of driver’s names. You’ve heard them all, and yes, Stirling Moss was there too! But, getting back to that Triple Crown of Motorsport thing, there is one name that must be mentioned here: British driver Graham Hill, the only man in the world to win the Indianapolis 500, the Grand Prix at Monaco, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans—a stand-alone legend in a legion of champions.

1968 Le Mans Blue Corvette - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1968 Le Mans Blue Corvette – Photo Credit Mecum Auction

1968 Silverstone Silver Corvette

Next up for ’68 is “Silverstone Silver,” which puts us back in England. To be more precise, the town of Silverstone, Northamptonshire, where the Silverstone Circuit opened in 1948. Home to the British Grand Prix and Formula 1, Silverstone started life as a Royal Air Force bomber station during World War II. The first races were run on the three original landing strips. The Britcar 24 Hour (Britain’s only 24-hour endurance race) was held until 2018. American driver Danny Ongias set a track record at Silverstone in 1978. And, of course, our friend Stirling Moss took several wins here as well.

1968 L88 Silverstone Silver Corvette - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1968 L88 Silverstone Silver Corvette – Photo Credit Mecum Auction

1969 Can-Am White Corvette

1969 came along, and so did four new horsepower-related paint names and one recycled name. First up is “Can-Am White.” The Can-Am was not at one particular track. It was a series of S.C.C.A. and C.A.S.C. races held in Canada (Can) and the U.S. (AM) from 1966 through 1987.

It was extremely popular in its day due to its almost complete lack of regulations. The Federation Internationale del’Automobile governed the series, which offered unrestricted engine capacity and virtually no other limits. If the car had two seats, the bodywork covered the wheels and met basic safety standards, it was pretty much “anything goes,” which made for a very eclectic field of cars.

Team Lola initially ruled the races, but McLaren moved in and dominated the series from 1967 to 1971. The prize money was huge; fans loved it, and then it finally got to the breaking point when Porsche’s Turbopanzer claimed 1,500 plus horsepower, which was back in 1972! By ’73, the oil crunch took its toll, and Can-Am was no more. And, just to put your mind at ease, there is no record of Stirling Moss at a Can-Am race

1969 L88 Can-Am White Corvette - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1969 L88 Can-Am White Corvette – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1969 Monza Red Corvette

Next up for ’69 is “Monza Red,” a gift from our friends in the north of Italy in the centuries-old city of Monza, where they hold the Italian Grand Prix hosting Formula One cars on the 3.6-mile track.

Initially built in 1922, it was then only the third purpose-built track in the world, the other two being Brooklands (England) and Indianapolis (U.S.) It is considered by all to be the fastest track on the F-1 circuit. Monza is home to many racing events, including the World Sportscar Championship, the USAC National Championship, Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and many others, but not just limited to motorsports, as they also have cycling races and even a running marathon.

Of course, our friend Stirling Moss also grabbed a win at the high-speed oval while in Monza.

1969 Monza Red Corvette L89 - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1969 Monza Red Corvette L89 – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1969 Monaco Orange Corvette

The third entry for 1969 is “Monaco Orange.” The magical Principality of Monaco on the French Riviera instantly conjures up romantic images of beautiful people on sun-drenched beaches, lazy outdoor cafes, champagne and dancing by moonlight, quiet cobblestone streets, and friendly smiling locals. But of course, all that changes instantly when the Monaco Grand Prix comes to town.

The powerful F-1s, with their sinewy suspension and ear-splitting engines, reach more than 13,000 RPMs screaming through the ancient, narrow avenues and tunnels at breakneck speed. Roadsides packed with fearless crowds, by the thousands, just inches away from certain death, cheering them on in a dozen different languages. An unmatched event by any standard. It has been held since 1929, and it’s almost universally thought to be the most glamorous setting for the most prestigious race in the world.

Of course, Stirling Moss piloted his car to victory four times at Monaco. Fun Fact: In 1931, Louis Chiron won the Monaco Grand Prix, a native of Monte Carlo, Monaco, and the only son of Monaco ever to win his home Grand Prix. We probably cannot fathom the level of celebration that must have followed.

1969 Monaco Orange Corvette ZR2 - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1969 Monaco Orange Corvette ZR2 – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1969 Daytona Yellow Corvette

Also, along for 1969 is “Daytona Yellow,” and if you were paying attention earlier, you’d remember this from 1963, except in 1963, it was a Dark Blue. Well, six years later, we’re back at the most famous superspeedway in the world, Daytona International Speedway.

This year’s field included NASCAR greats Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Swede Savage, Bobby Unser, and LeeRoy Yarbrough, who took the checkered flag. The battle between Ft. Lauderdale and Daytona for spring break was still going strong, and oddly, there was no sign of Stirling Moss at the 1969 Daytona 500.

1969 Daytona Yellow Corvette ZL1 - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1969 Daytona Yellow Corvette ZL1 – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1969 Riverside Gold Corvette

The final offering for ’69 was the one-year-only “Riverside Gold,” bringing us back to Riverside International Raceway in sunny southern California and the Motor Trend 500. Richard Petty proved he could drive a road course just as well as he drove the high-banked oval when he beat out competitors A.J. Foyt and Al Unser. Petty was driving a 427-powered Ford Torino, and this was the first time since 1959 that he drove anything other than a Plymouth. R.I.R. was the filming location for Paul Newman’s Winning in 1969 which sparked his interest in racing and led to the formation of the very successful Newman/Haas Racing team.

1969 Riverside Gold Corvette L71 - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1969 Riverside Gold Corvette L71 – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1970 Mulsanne Blue Corvette

1970, a brand-new decade, and five new offerings of speed-induced colors from Chevrolet. First off, the line was “Mulsanne Blue,” named for the infamous Mulsanne Straight, a 3.7-mile long straightaway on the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans competition, making a sharp turn at the village of Mulsanne. The stretch was a favorite among competitors, but when speeds began to top 250 mph, ultimately costing several drivers their lives, officials added two chicanes to bring the speed down to a safer degree.

1970 Mulsanne Blue Corvette - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1970 Mulsanne Blue Corvette – Photo Credit Mecum Auction

1970 Bridgehampton Blue Corvette

“Bridgehampton Blue” is next up and borrows its name from the Bridgehampton Race Circuit in Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York. Opened in 1957, B.R.C. played host to stock car racing, Group 3 Racing, Trans-Am, Group 4 Racing, Formula Atlantic, and Group 7 (the notoriously unlimited Can-Am). Interesting side note: B.R.C. resurrected the Vanderbilt Cup in 1965 with its Bridgehampton Sports Car Races.

The Vanderbilt Cup was the first major American cup in auto racing with an original history from 1904 to 1917 when the U.S. joined the war. And among those early competitors for the cup was none other than Louis Chevrolet. The track finally met its demise with the same old story, economic issues, property value increase, and noise complaints. They shuttered the track in 1999. Today it’s the site of a golf course, but a portion of the former track is preserved, including the Chevron Bridge.

1970 Bridgehampton Blue Corvette - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1970 Bridgehampton Blue Corvette – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1970 Donnybrooke Green Corvette

Next up, “Donnybrooke Green.” Donnybrooke Speedway opened in 1968 near Brainerd, Minnesota. Built by George Montgomery and Bud Stall, it was primitive even by 1960’s standards; there were no safety barriers, run-out lanes, grandstands, or even restrooms.

But it was built to race. As a combination road course and drag strip, they ran S.C.C.A. and N.H.R.A. events at Donnybrook. That wild Can-Am ran there as well.

The track changed hands and names in 1973, now known as Brainerd International Raceway. It was dubbed the fastest strip in the world when Tony Schumacher set the world record for top fuel dragsters there in 2005 with a trap speed of 337.58 mph on just a quarter mile of asphalt. B.I.R. is an ongoing concern and a fan favorite to this day.

The only reference I can find as to the original name of Donnybrook is the Oxford Dictionary’s reference: Donnybrook, noun, A scene of uproar and disorder, “raucous ideological Donnybrooks,” free-for-all, brawl. I wonder if this was perhaps an inside joke perpetrated by Montgomery & Stall?

1970 Donnybrooke Green Corvette LT1 - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1970 Donnybrooke Green Corvette LT1 – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1970 Ontario Orange Corvette

The fourth offering from Chevrolet was “Ontario Orange,” and much to the chagrin of our northern cousins, this was not named after the Canadian province. Rather it was named for the once world-famous Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California (which, by an odd coincidence, was named after the Canadian province, go figure).

The Big O opened in 1970 and lived up to its name right out of the gate. It was state of the art from top to bottom and the first and only facility built to accommodate all four of the major sanctioned racing competitions, USAC, NASCAR, N.H.R.A., and Formula 1. Go big or go home.

With record-breaking attendance at the track’s inaugural California 500, the track offered many new and first-time innovations, including crash-absorbing barriers and safety fences, state-of-the-art garage facilities for teams, and computerized real-time scoring that also showed real-time positions of cars on the track—all commonplace today but very cutting edge in 1970.

The track also drew celebrities like no other. The Celebrity Pro-Am put Hollywood’s elite behind the wheel, astronauts and politicians came, Governor Ronald Regan presented the winning trophy, and President Richard Nixon was represented by his daughter Tricia. Rock shows offering the biggest names in the industry were held at O.M.S., pulling in crowds of 300-400,000. It seemed the sky was the limit; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, behind the scenes, there was a bond issue, and it was getting further and further behind. And when you add that the land on which O.M.S. was built and originally bought for $7,500 an acre but ten short years later was worth $150,000 per acre, the still relatively new track was doomed.

Chevron Corporation saw the opportunity and seized it. They acquired the bonds and, with cold-blooded disregard for the track’s history and potential future, foreclosed on the property and shut down the largest motorsports multiplex in the world. Ontario Motor Speedway, August 1970 – December 1980 R.I.P.

1970 Ontario Orange Corvette - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1970 Ontario Orange Corvette – Photo Credit Mecum Auction

1970 Laguna Blue Corvette

The final offering for 1970 was “Laguna Gray.” It appears “Laguna Blue” had run its course, so they just decided to reuse the name and change the color to Gray. Who would really know? Only every Corvette guy who owns one or the other, that’s who.

Well, by 1970, Laguna Seca raceway up in Monterey was hosting the likes of Parnelli Jones, who took the checkered flag in his Boss Mustang at their Trans-Am event. Dan Gurney also ran in his A.A.R. Cuda, but a transmission failure put him out of the race on his 21st lap. 1970 when all the true Trans-Am cars were built, and limited but streetable versions were offered to the public, which is some of the most coveted muscle cars today. But back in 1970, there was no doubt that Corvette was still B.M.O.C

1970 Laguna Gray Corvette - Photo Credit Mecum Auction
1970 Laguna Gray Corvette – Photo Credit Mecum Auction

1971 Mille Miglia Red Corvette

1971 and the gas crunch was still unheard of, so performance was the order of the day. “Mille Miglia Red” was the first offering and owed its name to the Mille Miglia (Thousand Mile) Endurance Race held in Italy from 1927 to 1957, starting in the town of Brescia to Rome and back: 1,500 km or about 1,000 Roman miles.

The race drew crowds in excess of five million, and much to the delight of locals, Italian drivers won 21 years of the 30-year run. But, once again no surprise when in 1955, Briton Stirling Moss appeared and piloted his Mercedes Benz to victory over his Italian counterpart. Geez, that guy was good. After a series of crashes and deaths involving both drivers and spectators, the Mille Miglia was canceled in 1957.

1971 Mille Miglia Red Corvette owned by Billy Schoenberg at the N.C.R.S. Gallery 2017
1971 Mille Miglia Red Corvette owned by Billy Schoenberg at the N.C.R.S. Gallery 2017

1971 Brands Hatch Green Corvette

1971 also brought us “Brands Hatch Green,” where we skipped back across the pond to borrow a name. Brands Farm in West Kingsdown, Kent, England, was the site of a dirt cycle track beginning in 1926; soon, motorcycles began racing there regularly. World War II brought some pretty heavy damage to the old track, but after the war, people wanted to continue racing, and by 1950, the British Racing and Sports Car Club convinced the owners that the track’s future lay in car racing.

The money was raised, the track was paved, and on April 16, 1950, the 1.2-mile track was opened, and the first race was held. Among the drivers was a very young Stirling Moss. Grand Prix and Indy events have been run at Brands Hatch from 1960 to the present, and Euro NASCAR and motorcycle events currently run there as well.

1971 Brands Hatch Green Corvette - Photo Courtesy Mecum
1971 Brands Hatch Green Corvette – Photo Courtesy Mecum

1971 Steel Cities Gray Corvette

The third color offered for 1971 was “Steel Cities Gray,” representing the area around Pittsburgh, PA, rather than a single track. The Steel Cities Region S.C.C.A. has been the driving force behind the various road courses in the area since 1950. They sponsored hill climbs at Sewickley, organized the Cumberland Races, several races at Connellsville on their airport circuit, the Polish Mountain Hill Climb in Flintstone, MD., and an endless array of road rallies ….and they’re still out there.

1971 Steel Cities Gray Corvette - Photo Courtesy Mecum
1971 Steel Cities Gray Corvette – Photo Courtesy Mecum

1971 War Bonnet Yellow Corvette

Lastly, for 1971 is “War Bonnet Yellow,” one of the more obscure labels, but it definitely had a race connection. War Bonnet Park Raceway was a short-lived track that opened in 1966 at Mannford, Oklahoma, twenty-five miles west of Tulsa.

Originally a very short one-mile track, it was lengthened to accommodate the Trans-Am series in 1968. That was the year James Garner made a surprise appearance and rode along with Don Yenko for his victory lap in his L88 Corvette.

However, just three short years after opening, it was all over for W.B.P.R. A culmination of many things caused the closure, including the ever-present financial issues involved in the sport, but the final blow came when the Keystone Lake Reservoir was built, and the town of Mannford was moved to higher ground. The track closed in 1969, and portions of the dilapidated asphalt are still around the area, now with a few residential homes and a trailer park.

1971 War Bonnet Yellow Corvette owned by Tom Flanagan at the N.C.R.S. Gallery 2018
1971 War Bonnet Yellow Corvette owned by Tom Flanagan at the N.C.R.S. Gallery 2018

1972 Bryar Blue Corvette

1972 was pretty much the last year for the raceway connection to Chevrolet’s coloring scheme, and they went out with three memorable offerings. The first was “Bryar Blue,” a beautiful teal many consider one of the nicest colors ever applied to a C3 Corvette.

Bryar Motorsports Park was opened in 1964 by owner Keith Bryar in Louden, New Hampshire. Within two years, the track was added to the S.C.C.A. Trans-Am schedule, but motorcycle racing was Bryar’s real bread and butter. By 1989 lack of investment and upkeep had taken its toll on the track, and it was sold and completely revamped to become the current New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

1972 Bryar Blue Corvette Owned by Larry Spilman at the N.C.R.S. Gallery at Corvette at Carlisle 2022
1972 Bryar Blue Corvette Owned by Larry Spilman at the N.C.R.S. Gallery at Corvette at Carlisle 2022

1972 Elkhart Green Corvette

“Elkhart Green” was a vibrant new color for ’72 but a reused name from 1967 when it was Blue. This brings us back to Road America at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, where George Follmer piloted his Porsche 917 to victory for Team Penske in the (lawless) Can-Am race for 1972, and Graham McRae won the F5000 in his GM1-Chevrolet.

1972 Elkhart Green Corvette - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1972 Elkhart Green Corvette – Photo Credit Bob Cook

1972 Targa Blue Corvette

The final offering for 1972 and the last of a proud history of Chevrolet color branding was “Targa Blue,” which brings us back to Italy, the mountains of Sicily, to be more precise, near the capital of Palermo. The Targa Florio was an endurance race started in 1906 and lasted 71 years.

Wealthy race enthusiast Vincenzo Florio created the race. After several victories, Porsche named its hard-top convertible 911 after the event. Once again, the majority of wins went to Italian drivers, and after several fatalities, this race went the same way as the Mille Miglia before it and was closed down in 1977.

While the Corvette color name “Mille Miglia Red” managed to linger on until 1975, all other references to motorsports in Corvette’s paint schedule had ceased to exist. The times had changed, and the most exciting era in automobile history had come to an end.

It may not seem like that big of a deal to many, but the next time you look at the trim tag on your vintage Corvette, it’s OK if your chest swells with a touch of pride knowing the connection between that paint code and some of the finest men, the most thrilling venues and the funniest time in motorsport history.

1972 Targa Blue Corvette owned by Mike McFarland at the Bloomington Gold Show 2022 - Photo Credit Bob Cook
1972 Targa Blue Corvette owned by Mike McFarland at the Bloomington Gold Show 2022 – Photo Credit Bob Cook

As we conclude our exploration into the origins of Corvette paint names, we’ve uncovered a captivating history that mirrors the evolution of American automotive culture. From the adrenaline-fueled days of speedway triumphs to the era of raw muscle power, these paint colors not only adorned the Corvette but also carried with them the spirit of their times. They were more than just names; they were symbols of a bygone era when cars were not just transportation but a testament to the American love affair with horsepower and innovation.

While some of these paint names remain etched in our collective memory, others have faded into obscurity. Yet, they all played a part in shaping the Corvette’s identity and the automotive landscape as a whole. So, whether you’re admiring the vibrant finish on your classic C2 or C3 Corvette or simply intrigued by the history of these iconic names, remember that each shade represents a chapter in the enduring legacy of America’s sports car.

As we look ahead to the future of Corvette and the ever-evolving world of automotive design, let’s not forget the roots from which this legendary brand emerged. These paint colors are more than just a coat of lacquer; they are a testament to the passion, ingenuity, and enduring allure of the Chevrolet Corvette. So, as you cruise down the road in your own piece of automotive history, take a moment to appreciate the story behind that mesmerizing hue—it’s a story that continues to captivate enthusiasts and keep the Corvette legacy alive for generations to come.

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