If anybody had to be called Mister Corvette, it would undoubtedly be John Greenwood. He began to prepare Chevrolet Corvettes in his early twenties and built up a reputation of Corvette guru. His cars were always well prepared as well as good looking. In the early seventies, John Greenwood was backed by BF Goodrich, and he had devised a project that should be entirely funded by the tire manufacturer. Unfortunately, his contract with the tire brand came to an end and was not to be renewed. He took another contract with another manufacturer and could finally wind up his project. This Corvette was to be much more radical than any Corvette he had ever built. He took advantage of the IMSA GT rules which allowed much more modifications on the racers. Less weight, bigger wheels and more power : it was supposed to be able to counteract the Porsche domination. Nicknamed the "Big One", this car was the first 'to the limit' Chevrolet Corvette which would caracterize the Greenwood Corvettes of the future. The general architecture of the car had been thoroughly altered. The engine has been pushed to the rear, in order to have a better balanced car. This car was supposed to host many types of engines. V8 Chevrolet with a 7,0L or 7,6L, fuel injected or carburetted, whatever was needed. The power available to the driver was ranging from 625 to 750 hp, which was enough to ensure very high speed. The injection system was provided by Lucas, but John Greenwood did adapt it to his very demanding needs. The bodywork was entirely created by the Greenwood bros. Burt, the quite less known brother, was a fiberglass specialist, and he did a terrific job! The disc brakes were made out of magnesium. John Greenwood modified the suspension and installed a sway bar, while altering the springs. In order to allow such power to go through the transmission, a special reinforced GM22 gearbox had been installed. Such a wild car was to impress the opposition, and the cockpit was not to be so spartan, however. John Greenwood worked on the interior, too, and the dashboard had a quite elegant look and feel. The steering rack was adjustable in order to let the driver crawl into the cockpit.
Copyright Mark Windecker
The oil lines were inserted into the rollcage, and the ignition system was devised and patented by Greenwood. Weighing about 1225 kg, this car was able to reach, thanks to the owners figures, 378km/h, quite a very respectable figure. The rear wings had to be widened by 45 centimeters, in order to allow the very huge tires to be covered. Air scoops had been added to the wings, to facilitate the hot air evacuation bred by such enormous brakes trying to stop the car.
The lubrication system necessitating 22 liters of well refined oil. The'beast' had a 120 liter oil tank and did use an unreasonable amount of gas. This car was supposed to enter the IMSA Championship, of course, but John Greenwood had some very special projects in mind when he built this car. Amongst his unreasonable projects laid a Talladega speed record tentative, running Le Mans and running the Can Am. Amongst all these, he actually did one, but it would happen two years later, with the famous 1976 car, which was a later evolution of
The very first race of 'Big One' was happen at Road Atlanta, in April 1974. As expected, John Greenwood put the car on the outside pole, but he held the lead for two laps, before losing power and retiring on lap 17. Relialibilty was to become the real problem for the team, with an overpowered car. In fact, and as you could expect, such enormous strain on the brakes or the transmission would inevitably end up into a failure. At Laguna Seca, the race was not supposed to be, and the team did not even take the start of the race. The Mid Ohio race was another dnf for John Greenwood who was partnered by Sam Posey. The Paul Revere race was yet another dnf for John who retired after 13 laps. But the best was still to come. Milt Minter was to drive this car solo at Talladega and he recorded the first ever win for the car. He beat a Porsche Carrera RSR trio, led by Michael Keyser, on this horsepower track. It seemed that the car was on the way to getting more reliable. At Charlotte, it was not the same story, and the car retired after 44 laps with a broken rear end. At Mexico, the car was sporting a very unusual number 59, and John Greenwood was co-driven by Vince Muzzin. The car was once again put on the pole, but retired once again. John Greenwood would end up the season with style. He brought his brand new '75 Chevrolet Corvette along at the Daytona Finale, which he dominated throughout, running 4 seconds faster than anyone else. This time, he led the race from start to finish, lapping everyone and easily winning the race. His car simply outperformed the field. He had built up a new breed of racers, and his legend would simply never die.