Thursday, September 10, 2015

Passing of two Corvette Legends

Within the span of less than a week we learned of the passing of two Corvette Legends.

Dick Guldstrand

No one deserves the title of Corvette Racing Legend more than Dick Guldstrand.  In the early days of racing, before the engineers had come up with race-worthy designs, Dick was enthusiastically using Chevy’s finest marque to compete with cars from the best racing heritages.  With guts and bravado, Dick used his mechanical skills to squeeze every ounce of performance out of a Corvette and his driving skills to beat the competition.  Dick was one of the first inductees into the National Corvette Museum Hall of Fame.

In recent years Dick was a leading Corvette celebrity attending racing events everywhere Corvettes were found, autographing anything people brought him.  I met him a few times at Long Beach and Road America races, and Dick was one of the most interesting stops on the National Corvette Museum’s “Jay Leno Tour” in 2004.   When the NCM guests visited Dick’s shop in Burbank, California we each received autographed copies of “Corvette Thunder”, the autobiography of Dick’s escapades.  The photo below is Dick with my buddy, Don Kingery, at the IMSA race in Laguna Seca.  Don tells many stories of Dick’s enthusiasm and friendliness, including the time Dick tossed him the keys to a rare and wild Corvette and said, “take it for a spin”!

Martin Milner

Perhaps no actor has done more to convey the mystique of the Corvette in its early years than Martin Milner, co-star of the TV show, “Route 66”.   With George Maharis, who played Buz Murdock, Milner, who played Tod Stiles,  brought the joy of cruising across America in a Corvette to our living rooms for four seasons (116 episodes) beginning in 1960.  Each year Chevrolet would offer up a new model Corvette.  In the first episode we learn that Tod’s father died and left him the Corvette.  Later in that episode, Tod is asked why he is dedicated to “. . . just a car”.  Tod’s reply is my motto about Corvettes, “It’s more than a car to me!”  Buz was an employee of Tod’s dad.  The two of them decide to set out across America to find themselves and adventure.

Like many Corvette fans, Milner lived in Carlsbad, California!

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