The Legendary 1963 ZO6 Race Cars:
A Survey

Before the debut of the revolutionary new 1963 Sting Ray (C2), solid axle Corvettes (C1) were blowing away the fields. They were piloted by accomplished privateer drivers racing on their own budgets. There was no factory support. GM figured that the novel aerodynamic split window Sting Ray coupe with the ZO6 option would keep the Corvette a winner. There was space to fit a bigger fuel tank suitable for FIA longer distance races. One hundred and ninety-nine ZO6 optioned Corvette Sting Rays were produced for homologation purposes.



Early Racing Ambitions

Seventeen (17) specially equipped ZO6 Corvettes were built by year end 1962. Chevrolet was eager to see off the new Sting Ray on the racing circuit. They were intended for serious racers only. Major races sanctioned by the FIA were scheduled at Riverside, the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix on October 21, 1962, at Daytona, the Continental on February 17, 1963 and at Sebring, the 12 Hrs on March 23, 1963. The ZO6 package included a 36.5 gal tank, a dual master cylinder braking system, special heavy duty suspension plus the proven RPO 687 competition upgrades that carried over from the solid axle Corvette. The extra $1,818 cost computed to a hefty 30% premium.

Corvettes at Riverside


A jolt of reality at Riverside

In October 1962, four specially equipped ZO6 Corvettes were picked up as they rolled off the assembly line in St. Louis. There was only a week to prepare these cars for the Times GP at Riverside. Carroll Shelby also showed up with a new sports car he called the Cobra. It was an obscure British AC sports car chassis fitted with a Ford V8. The Cobra made comparable horsepower and weighed about 1,000 lbs or 1/3 less than the Corvette. Bill Krause in the Cobra built a comfortable lead in the GT production car class when a rear hub broke, giving the win to Doug Hooper’s ZO6. Nonetheless, the handwriting was on the wall.

Bill Krause in Cobra # 98


The birth of the “lightweight”

Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov was not pleased. He secretly set about to build a “lightweight” version of the Corvette called the Grand Sport. It might be said that the ZO6 spawned the five existing original Grand Sports that are the most highly valued by collectors today. The legendary ZO6 and Grand Sport designations live on through newer Corvette models that bear their names.

Grand Sports at Monterey 2002


ZO6 50th Anniversary Celebration coming up at Amelia Island

The 50th Anniversary of the original ZO6 Corvette will be celebrated with special displays, celebrities, experts and seminars at the Amelia Island Concours on March 8 – 10, 2013. Further information on the event will be made available as details are confirmed, see

Display at Amelia


Work in Process

We offer a glimpse into our ongoing ZO6 research, see below array of thumbnails & word files and a gallery of photos that we’ve collected.

Click Thumbnails to View Images


Download Word Files

00 Dave MacDonald
1,11 Dick Thompson
2,10 Don Yenko
3 Delmo Johnson and Dave Morgan
4 Mickey Thompson Special
4 Ralph Salyer and Roy Kumnick
5 AJ Foyt and Jim Hurtbise
6 Johnny Allen and Jeff Stevens; George Robertson and Dick Boo
6 Paul Reinhart
6 Bobby Brown (no photo)
6 John Bushell and Don Yenko
7,8 Jerry Grant and Don Campbell
9 Skip Hudson



The descriptions and histories are the results of Jim Gessner’s diligent pursuit over years. The work keeps growing, enhanced by info and photos graciously contributed by others who share the passion for Corvette race cars. Please enjoy and use our facebook group facility to weigh in with comments, additions, corrections, photos, stories and anything that might contribute to the thrill of “the chase”.