“There's something about the outside of a Corvette that's good for the inside of a man.”
Bob Vollmar (based on a saying by Will Rogers)
Harry’s Coffee Shop has been in La Jolla since 1960. Bob Vollmar has been going there for breakfast since the year he came to live in La Jolla – 1965. Bob got to know the owner, Harry (of course) and in the early days Harry would have breakfast with Bob from time-to-time. Then came Harry Jr. and now Harry III is running the joint!
Larry Barnes moved to La Jolla a few months ago, just down the Road from Harry’s Coffee Shop. So how convenient for me that I can meet Bob and Larry at Harry’s for breakfast – the perfect setting for early morning Cuisine and Corvette Camaraderie! So that’s what we did on July 3rd. And, like every morning Harry III was there to greet us. Larry, Cary, and Harry having breakfast with Bob at Harry’s!
After placing our orders talk turned to Corvettes. Wouldn’t it be nice to buy the monster 2015 Z06 when it comes out? Isn’t it great how Corvette Racing is kicking butt at the midpoint of the TUDOR Sports Car Racing season. And so on. Then Larry and I asked Bob to give us the full story of his legendary Banzai Run on Interstate 8 at 05:30 AM in the early morning hours.
Bob had waited and waited for his family Chevrolet dealership, Vollmar Motors, of Holstein Iowa, to secure an order for a Z06 in 2007. Since 1963 Bob has owned many Corvettes, but all of them have come from Vollmar Motors. Holstein, Iowa is farm country, and the local Chevy dealership doesn’t sell many Corvettes, so getting one of the rare ones is dicey. After a while Bob’s patience wore thin, so he ordered a “regular” 2007 Corvette—a nice car, but no Z06. When the car arrived Bob took delivery in Holstein, then drove a “circuit of America” in which he visits family and friends in Boston, Florida, and then returns to California. Nice way to break in a new Corvette.
Not long after Bob got back to California, Bob’s cousin, Randy Vollmar, of Vollmar Motors, called to say that if Bob was still interested they could order a Z06 for him. Bob jumped at the chance. He ordered the car in “Velocity Yellow” – a fitting name as we shall see!
Soon Bob is off again to Holstein to pick up the new car. Then he begins the “second lap of America.” By the time he gets to Daytona Beach, Florida he has clocked about 3,000 miles on the Z06, so he has a Chevy dealer change out the oil for a fresh supply. Then he begins the drive west.
By the time Bob gets to Casa Grande, Arizona he is making his final nightly stop before returning to La Jolla. The next morning Bob gets up at 05:30 AM to find out first-hand how fast a Z06 really is! Recalling his fighter-pilot days and the wisdom of making “clearing turns”, Bob left everything is his motel room and drove west on I-8 30 miles to Vekol Valley Rd and then 4 more miles to Freeman Rd., checking the surface very carefully. Then he drove back to Vekol and waited in the westbound on-ramp for a minute or so, to make sure there would be no traffic in front of him.
The Z06 has a 427 cu. in. engine, but it is the “small block” with a redline of 7,000 RPM. Bob starts in 1st gear, takes ‘er up to 6,000, then goes to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gear, each time shifting at 6,000. By the time he shifts to 5th gear he is going 140 MPH, tracking the speed on both the heads-up display and his portable GPS. Bob told us that he could feel the down force on the car and that it was rock-solid – no vibration and tracking true. At 185 MPH Bob reports the engine was turning 6,100 RPM and he believes the car would have gone the advertised 198 MPH if he had stayed with it.
A few months later we had a Corvette event at Cary’s Garage and Bob brought the Z06 and the GPS to the house. The GPS stores the “maximum speed” in its memory, so all of us could be witness to Bob’s Banzai Run. Sure enough – 185 MPH!
Larry and I loved reliving the Banzai adventure with Bob at Harry’s. If we had tried it I’m sure the Cops would have seen us, cuffed and booked us, and we’d be rotting in some jail in Arizona! Only Bob Vollmar could have pulled this off!