'62 Dick Doane in the Grand Sport Sting Ray at Greenwood IR.
Note: SCCA's Road-racing Drivers School is considerably different than regular driving school as you must go to a doctor, have a physical, a mental test to see if you are qualified to operate motor vehicles at high speeds and you must have an extensive eye test to qualify. Then have several days of instruction.
Dick Dloane (RIP) had such an influential effect on my life, so important that I named my sons middle name Doane, after him. My son being born about the time I started racing.
Dick Doane actually was a General Motors test driver, instrumental in their development of the Corvette and GM's secret racing program at the time. Plus he had a factory supported dealership in Dundee, Illinois.
When I first met Dick Doane, GM gave him all five of the lightweight stingrays to race and develop. They were all different with different features. It was rumored that he kept what he thought was the best one for himself and gave the others away to his racing buddies, Don Yenko and John Mecom were some of them, as I recall. The Grand Sports, as the lightweight Sting Rays were often referred to, were reported to be all so powerful and lightweight that they could lift their front tires off the ground while shifting through all four gears, including into the last one at over 170 mph.
I will always remember well the valuable lessons Dick Doane taught me. One lesson in particular I have carried with me and used throughout my life. The first day of drivers school he said to me: "I want to see you GO OFF EVERY CORNER. Then you'll know what your limits are and what it takes for you to stay on the road". I understood the philosophy of that lesson well. That principle was of such great value that it has often been applied to many other situations. I can proudly say: I've been on the edge of every corner (and went off but a few) and because of that, I know what my limits are.
|My 283 cubic inch '61 Corvette|
My Corvette's engine expired in drivers school the first day,
--tired from being raced the previous season, by the unknown original owner.
After my engine blew up in drivers school on the first day, my weekend seem to be over. I had just met a girl friend of a my friend Jack, who had accompanied me from Des Moines Iowa to drivers school. When hearing of my situation, Jack's gal-friend graciously volunteered to let me use her street legal '62 Corvette to take the place of my blown up race-car to finish drivers school, so my trip wouldn't be a total loss. We spent that night back in her garage in Chicago, my friend Jack and I taking off the roll bar from my car and installing it in her '62 Corvette........ along with all the other SCCA required safety equipment.
Borrowed '62 327 ci Vette.....(1962)
Needless to say the regular street brakes on her car went out quickly and failed the final day in the race at the end of drivers school. Because of that problem I had with her brakes, I only came in second overall in the race that day. I sadly had gotten beat by one guy in an older black Corvette.
Dick Doane took my blown '61 Corvette home with him to Dundee, Illinois, rebuilt the engine better than new and brought it back to me in Des Moines several weeks later on his way to a race at Greenwood IR. He told me that my engine had registered over 350 horse power on the Dyno and the 283 cubic inch Corvette engine was really strong.
It will make you look good, he said. And it sure did, I got spoiled.
I always won every race I ever entered. Usually coming in second in the next higher class. My trophy case is full of second place trophies. Second place in A production, but with my little ole B production Corvette.
After but a few road races, always winning in my Corvette with the engine built by Dick Doane, I towed my Corvette back to Wilmont Hills Wisconsin for a Regional race in the spring of '63. I beat everybody that day, I was first overall and much to my own personal satisfaction, that included beating that one guy and his ole black Corvette. The one guy that had beaten me in my drivers school race the previous fall.
I went on to get my SCCA National racing license that year in 1963 and in the final of the year, a Divisional race at Greenwood IR, I actually slowed down to keep from lapping (for the second time) the WINNER of the Mid-West Division in B production, my class that year. The Divisional Winner of B production was an good acquaintance of mine. I didn't want to embarrass him any further in front of his other friends. I had already lapped him once in that Divisional Championship race and I had no chance of overtaking him for the points title that year. He had started racing one race sooner than I. Therefore he had racked up more championship points. I just followed him in.
|Jeanie W on the '61 Corvette|
Special note again:
SCCA's Road-racing Drivers School is considerably different than regular driving school as you must go to a doctor, have a physical, a mental test to see if you are qualified to operate motor vehicles at high speeds and you must have an extensive eye test to qualify. Then have several days of instruction.
* SCCA= Sports Car Club of America