One of the more interesting cars at this year’s MCACN show is this incredible 1960 Corvette, which left Chevrolet’s St. Louis Assembly plant equipped with a full suite of road racing options, including a 290 horsepower fuel-injected engine, 4-speed gearbox, Positraction, heavy-duty brakes and suspension, wide wheels, and a 24-gallon fuel tank. It is one of two Identically configured cars built specifically for Lloyd “Lucky” Casner’s Camoradi USA racing team after Casner and his team manager, Fred Gamble, met with Corvette’s engineering leader Zora Arkus Duntov and Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole. Because Chevrolet was still adhering to the June 1957 Automobile Manufacturers of America ban on all forms of racing, the two cars were delivered through Miami’s Don Allen Chevrolet, a notorious conduit for Chevy’s clandestine racing activities, complete with a contract to do “field testing and development.”
A 290 horsepower fuel-injected 283ci engine provided grunt for the Corvette.
In February 1960, following basic race preparation, which included the addition of roll bars, safety belts, auxiliary lights, and blue stripes to complement the factory Ermine White paint this Corvette, which is serial number 00867S102272, and its identical twin were raced at an event in Daytona just to make sure they were ready to go. Then they were put on a ship to Cuba for the Gran Premio de la Habana GT race. Jim Jeffords drove one of the Corvettes to victory in the all-GT race and three days later he piloted the car to the GT class win and eighth overall in the main event. Because of the Cuban Revolution that soon followed, this turned out to be the last international race held in Cuba.
One month after returning from Cuba, Camoradi’s two Corvettes were driven to Sebring to compete in the 12 Hour endurance race there. The car present at this year’s MCACN show was initially driven at Sebring by Fred Gamble and then by national champion Jim Jeffords. It ultimately finished fourth in class. The other Camoradi Corvette, driven almost entirely by Fred Gamble, finished third in class but sadly was destroyed by a fuel-fed fire the morning after the race.
The surviving 1960 Camoradi Corvette, again, the one with us here this weekend, serial number 00867S102272, went on to race in the May 22, 1960 Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometers, June 25-26, 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans, and an August 1960 75 Kilometer sports car race at Sweden’s Karlskoga circuit. Following the Swedish race the car was driven on a public highway to a new Swedish national speed record for production cars by noted F1 driver Jo Bonnier. Then, on the way to its next event at England’s Goodwood circuit, it crashed enroute while being driven by team mechanic Bob Wallace. Wallace and team manager Fred Gamble salvaged the engine and transmission and then gave the heavily damaged car to a local policeman. They assumed he would sell small parts of it off as souvenirs as the car had just finished the famous Le Mans race and set the Swedish national speed record, and then just scrap the remainder.
But they were wrong! Fast forward thirty years to Phoenix, Arizona, which is where the mechanic who crashed the Camoradi Corvette, Bob Wallace, ended up. After a couple of years working with a Ferrari race team and then a ten year stint as Lamborghini’s chief development driver at the company’s factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese Wallace and his wife, who both hailed from New Zealand originally, moved to Phoenix, where they opened up a shop specializing in Ferrari and Lamborghini restoration and race prep. A hardcore, Phoenix based Corvette enthusiast named Loren Lundberg met Wallace and heard the sorry tale of the crashed Camoradi Corvette and became slightly obsessed with finding the car if it somehow miraculously survived. After more than five years of intense research and investigation, coupled with truly unbelievable luck, Lundberg located the car, still in Sweden and in pretty sad condition. All of his hard work paid off when he was able to buy the car and ship it back to the United States.
Lundberg painstakingly and extensively documented the car, gathering together everything from race entry forms and the crash scene police report to a plethora of photographs of it both during and after its racing days. He restored the car and was proud to drive it and display it at various events around the country, ranging from NCRS shows to the Amelia Island Concours.
After Lundberg passed away in 2021 his family sold this incredible car to New Yorkers Dominic Testa and Sal Caliguri. Because almost thirty years had transpired since the car was first restored they decided it deserved another, complete restoration to the absolute highest standard possible. To accomplish that they brought it to JTM Motorsports in Deer Park, New York a well-established shop as equally renowned for its custom ultra-high performance work as its fabulously accurate restorations. Under the leadership of owners John and Phil, the skilled team at JTM performed a virtually perfect restoration that returned the Camoradi Corvette to the same condition it was in after it underwent its initial race preparation in Don Allen Chevrolet’s shop in January 1960.
Since the completion of JTM Motorsport’s magnificent restoration this Corvette has been shown far and wide. Like Lundberg before them, owners Dominic and Sal love sharing the car’s history with others, and because it’s such a truly incredible story, others love hearing it.