These cars were the most advanced Corvettes ever built. The names were John Paul Sr, Greg Pickett, Rich Sloma, RV Schulnburg, Joe Chamberlain, Richard Valentine, Rick Hay, Larry Stephens, Jerry Brassfield or Ray McIntyre. Each car was specifically built and very different.
John Paul Sr purchased the second Greenwood designed car from Jack Roush's Protofab organisation. John Greenwood gave his permission to build the car. The car, as it was released first, was built to accomodate the IMSA GTO rules from the beginning. Bob Riley modified it through the use of extensive chrome-moly tubing, which was lighter than the original package. It resulted in a better rigidity, of course. John Paul used big block Can Am all aluminium engines from Bob Nicols shop and a Kinsler injection system. They would give 770hp on the dyno. These engines would be used under various configurations, according to contracts. Wheels were 17" in diameter and 15" wide in front, and 19 or 20" wide in rear. John Paul Sr had his car delivered to his shop and did the outfittings.
The car was to be used in 1978 by John Paul Sr, who drove it to some good results, but no win. He garnered some good placings in the beginning of the season, with one fifth at Road Atlanta, a second at Hallett and a third at Lime Rock. Then he did not earn any other good results.
Copyright Paul Woodbury
By the end of the season, he switched to a Porsche 935, and he won the Trans Am Championship the next season. The car appeared to have later been sold to Tico Almeida and Rene Rodriguez(T & R Racing) who converted it back to GTO specs.
Greg Pickett's car was the first car built under the new AAGT rules over the winter of 1976. This first generation of tubeframe Corvettes was financed by John Greenwood. The car, in its very first appearance, was painted in two tone silver livery. John Greenwood ran at some 1977 races, and Watkins Glen 6Hour race. Jerry Hansen purchased it and then sold it to Greg Pickett. Chassis design was by Bob Riley, and many people working at Jack Roush's Protofab. Charlie Selix and George Foltz to name a few. Wheels had different sizes from John Paul's car. 16" diameter wheels were used(14" wide) in the front and 21" wide to the rear. The engine used by Greg Pickett was by George Foltz. It was a 8,0L V8 engine which proved too much for the transmission. So it was finally detuned to 7,1L and 700hp. The car and Greg Pickett dominated the 1978 Championship. Pickett Racing also built cars for Jerry and Tony Brassfield, and their cars were lookalike ones.
Rich Sloma was an engineer at Lockheed Missiles ans Space company. He was also an independant racer who fielded various Chevrolet Corvettes in SCCA racing. He began running in IMSA and TransAm in 1973 when rules in both series were pretty similar. His car was then a 1969 Roadster, which was basically a GTO car. Changes would occur by the end of 1974, when IMSA rules became more liberal. He purchased a stock Corvette frame and began to work on the weight reduction process. He was working on the construction of a new car which would use that frame. It was the time when rules were drastically changing, and the AAGT class was born. While working on his car, he could not redo the chassis so he cut off the front of the stock frame and built a partial tube frame for the 1975 season. The car would run like this in the west coast races. The evolution process would continue in 1976 with the rebuilding of the rear section. The car, at that point, was a semi-tube frame. It started life as a roadster, but was then converted to a coupe for the 1976 season. The engine, also, would evolve with time. It was a carbureted all-aluminium Chevrolet ZL1, then Rich would come up with a Reynolds block, which gave 465CI, or 7,6L. A Lucas fuel injection unit was later acquired, which could improve the engine effectively. The engine would give around 700hp, with a huge torque. Big wheels were to be fitted to the car. In fact, it was quite compulsory, in order to accomodate the torque. 15" diameter wheels with 21" width to the rear and 16" wide to the front. The transmission was a GM Muncie M-22 4 speed, but later a Hewland LG600 transaxle was used, allowing a better gear availability.
Courtesy Rich Sloma
The main problem was that the pinions had trouble keeping fit. They wouldn't last more than 3 hours. Rich Sloma was a true privateer, and he got some support from Automotive Enterprise, the shop in which his crew chief, John Whitmore, worked for. Rich ran his car from 1977 thru 1982 in its later form, and he managed to grab some results. Two fourth place finishes at Sears Point and Portland in 1978 were his best results. He was facing some Porsche 935s driven by the best drivers, so it looked like pretty good results. He also picked one fifth at Laguna Seca in 1980, and two sixths at Sears Point and Portland in 1982. By this time, the GTPs were already the dominating cars, so he was still up to the task!
RV Schulnburg's car was the sister car to Mancuso's car. It used a coil-over suspension in the rear. The actual construction work also took place at Protofab. Chassis was the Greenwood 008. The car was somewhat modified to become a true AAGT car by 1978. It ran a very small deal of races, mainly in Florida, and Michael Keyser was part of the team in Sebring 1978 and 1980. The car featured a huge rear wing and a big front spoiler. Both styles included Greenwood upgrades to the chassis and suspension. The kick-up in the chassis was notched and there was a new hub and radius arm design. Emory Donaldson of FT Racing built the needle bearing A-arm bushings, steering arm parts, trailing arm bushings. Bob Riley designed the chassis and built the suspension pieces. Ron Fournier welded up the cages and chassis.
Copyright Mark Windecker
Rick Hay's car was built by its owner, who began his racing
career as he worked for John Greenwood, as a fabricator and doing the
paint work. He began building his own cars in 1975, and had his own AAGT car in 1978. He built a copy of the Greenwood cars in his spare time. Rick met Richard Valentine around this period. He would move up to the AAGT class in 1978, and had John Bishop
amend the GTX rules permitting a free location of the transmission.
This would lead to a new car, which was the famous tubeframe transaxle
car. The GTO car evolved as an AAGT car with the addition of a rear wing. They met during the 1976 season.
Richard Valentine had his car built by Rick Hay. They had decided to form USA Racing Inc. The tubeframe car was kind of unique, with some of the best equipment available. Rick got help from McLaren Racing, who provided him with a Hewland transaxle and spares. The engines were built by Foltz Engineering, and Dave King. Starting as a 7,0L, it finally ended up at 8,3L. The engines were finally acquired at Performance Engineering, with Brad Francis giving out the best ones. The car displayed some very innovative features. The transmission differential was rear mounted and the driveshaft was tied to the flywheel. The suspension setup was also quite different, with the gas tank mounted in a very high location. When Rick Hay passed away, the team would go on working on this very ambitious project, using his notes and trying to become one of the US spearheads. Once they secured some sponsorship, the job would get done, with some evolutions clearly set. The engine location had been modified, too, but it was not fully developed. This car proved too much powerful, and was also hampered by its particular wheel-tires setup. It was quite impossible to get the tires at the proper temperature. The tires, which were 19" wide, were low profiled. It proved very unforgivable, and later on, when the team chose to switch for 16" tires, the car suddenly went better. However, it never succeeded as a racer. It was run from 1980 thru 1982, with a last appearance at Miami and Atlanta in 1983. Then it was set aside, and Richard Valentine switched to his former coil-over car. After a late crash, it was finally sold to Paul Canary.
Joe Chamberlain's car was aesthetically similar to the Greenwood cars. It ran a small block engine. It was run in the Trans Am and some IMSA events from 1980 thru 1985 or so, on a sporadic basis.
Ray McIntyre's car was completely different from most of these racers. The basis for this car was a C4 chassis, and definitely not a Greenwood lookalike car. The car would be entered in the GTP class, and it was an hybrid car. I do not have much information about this car as well as Larry Stephens huge car, but I can provide you with a picture fo the latter taken at Daytona 1981 Finale.
Copyright Jean Marc Teissèdre
The AAGT Chevrolet Corvettes were wild cars, and it seems that if they had been properly developed, they could have provided some stiff competition to the all-dominating GTX cars such as the Porsche 935s or BMWs. Unfortunately, they suffered from their weight and transmission. Parts often wouldn't last that long and they had to change them at each rebuild of the engines. Teams would have to do the job alone, and it certainly was no easy task. Then the purpose built GTP cars would appear and, suddenly, it was all over for those advanced cars. But they would be so spectacular! They brought another dimension to the show.
Many thanks to Rich Sloma and Wayne Ellwood, who helped a lot. Don't forget to visit the Registry of Corvettes racers site.