Although he traded the old ’Vette off for a 1957 Chevy Bel Air at Forworthy Ford in late 1965, he knew that the ’59 would not be his last.
At 17 years old, he rebuilt a 327 V-8 and replaced the original 283 V-8 in the Bel Air and swapped out the three-speed on the column for a Muncie four-speed. He drove it through the rest of his senior year in 1967.
By August 1967 he had sold the car and joined the Air Force. While stationed at Fort Lockbourn in Columbus, Ohio, he bought a rare 1964 Falcon Sprint with a 260 V-8 and a four-speed. When he got out of the Air Force in 1971, Mike bought an also-rare 1966 Fairlane GTA with a 390 V-8.
By 1972 his itch for another Corvette was back, so he bought a 1969 coupe with a hot 427 big block and a four-speed. He drove the silver beauty only two years before trading it to Bob Baker Chevrolet for a 1974 Corvette convertible with 2,000 miles. Mike finally hung onto a car for longer than two years. He drove it three years before converting it to a full-blown road racer. Mike raced it from 1977-92 with the National Council of Corvette Clubs and even did a little drag racing. The car was still street legal but required 112-114 octane leaded racing fuel.
Finally in 1992 he traded the ’74 racer in for a new 1992, red-on- red Corvette coupe, which he kept for 10 years before selling it to a friend.
In 1996, Chevrolet built 1,000 Corvette Grand Sports. In 2002, Mike began his search for one of those coupes. He wanted one of the 80 cars that were built with the Torch Red interiors. All of the rest had slate interiors. Mike finally tracked down one with only 7,900 miles at Fairway Chevrolet in Las Vegas. He asked a friend who lived in Vegas to go look at it for him before he purchased the rare Corvette and had it shipped to Indy.
After retiring, Mike spent the winter of 2011-12 in Cape Corral, Fla. He asked a friend of his to find one of the replicas of a 1963 Penske-built Grand Sport II Corvette. Roger Penske had built five of these race cars to compete against Carroll Shelby and his Cobras.
His friend told him about a buddy who lived in Pennsylvania and had the third replica of the 1963 Grand Sport, which was built from a 1963 Corvette by Mid American Industries in Milan, Ill. Mike traveled to Pennsylvania and purchased the car in 2012. He drove it on the street for a short period and then pulled the 1996 330-horsepower LT4 350 V-8 and swapped in a 427 Dart small block 427-cubic-inch stroker engine with a one-off side draft EFI with MSD Digital 6 plus computer system, which plugs into a Dominator V-2 vehicle management system.
By October of 2013, the replica had been fitted with an 18-point roll cage and was ready to road race. Starting in the spring of 2014, Mike was racing the National Council Corvette Club road courses and won three races his first year. At 66, his reflexes are as good as ever; he plans to race the 2015 season.
This unique Corvette has been to our Southsider Voice cruise-ins and will be at the World of Wheels Car Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Feb. 13, 14 and 15.
Until next week, keep on cruising!