Thursday, August 11, 2022

65th Anniversary for Bill Hatch's Corvette

On August 12, 1957 Bill Hatch walked into Bates Chevrolet in Alhambra, California and purchased a new 1957 Corvette.

65 years later, Bill is still the original owner of this car!

Bill wanted a new car and had his mind set on the (now) classic 1957 Chevy BelAir.  The salesman asked Bill if he knew that Chevrolet offered a sports car?  Bill said, "Let's take a look".  There were three Corvettes on the lot at Bates Chevrolet, one white, one red, and one black.  Bill chose the black car with the red interior.  It was "basic" -- three speed manual transmission, the base 230 HP 283 CU IN engine, removable hardtop, and no heater (who needs a heater in Southern California?).

Here is the documentation. Bill purchased the Corvette for the total price of $3,430.72.  He made a down payment of $1,863.72.  He traded in his 1950 Ford convertible and received a trade-in allowance of $200. After fees, Bill financed the net cost of $1,400 with 18 payments of $83.03. 


I have written about this amazing longevity of ownership  many times.  

 Ten years ago (2012), I chronicled Bill's ownership with this article:

In February 2013 an article appeared in the magazine of the National Corvette Museum, "America's Sports Car".  Here is my post about that article:

Bill Hatch in America's Sports Car Magazine

In 2019 I challenged anyone to find a person who has owned one Corvette longer than Bill -- so far, no challengers!

In 2020, at one of our "Burger Run" events, we had a surprise party for Bill and another North Coast Corvette Club member.

Last year (2021) I took Bill to lunch for his 89th Birthday and we took his classic Corvette.

Bill's 89th Birthday

Bill is now 90 and his Corvette is 65 -- both are "classic survivors" - and in "running condition"!  Bill and Marylyn, his wife, went on their honeymoon in the car. No trailer queen, Bill has consistently driven his Corvette around Carlsbad on a weekly basis.  He has lost track of how many miles they have traveled together -- but it is a lot!

Below are some of my favorite photos of Bill, Marylyn, and his Corvette.

Congratulations on this milestone event, Bill.  Here's to many more miles and smiles!

Cary & Nan August 11, 2022

P.S. If you are a writer for any Corvette or Auto magazine and want to write an article about Bill, you can reach me at 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Z06 and Don's C8 go to Long Beach

[In this episode, we learned a new way to not finish 1st in a race!]

It has been too many years since we have been to Long Beach, California to watch the Corvettes race, mostly due to the very limited number of Corvette Corral passes available, and the fact that returning corral fans get first shot at those limited tickets.

But this year, Nan's perseverance paid off and she snagged four tickets for the two of us and Don and Shirley.

This was the second IMSA race for us in 2022 -- after going to the opening race at the 24 hours of Daytona in January. But it was the first race in which we could caravan in our Z06 along with the Kingery's in their new C8 mid-engine Corvette.

Saturday morning the Fantastic Foursome left early from Carlsbad for the 90 mile trip to Long Beach., sporting our custom-made matching C8 Corvette shirts. 

About 75 minutes later, we were parked at the Corvette Corral at the Long Beach "race track"!

The Corvette corral at Long Beach is a bit smaller than the ones we have seen at other Corvette racing events, but the location is right across from grandstand seating at track side.  The venue provided secure parking, plenty of food, early morning coffee, and most of all, SWAG!

We always like to inspect the cars that the other drivers bring -- this year there was a nice collection of C8s.

Somehow Nan always seems to be a winner when prizes are drawn. At this event she scored a really nice sweatshirt!

Soon it was time to visit the pits and the Corvette drivers.  For this season only one Corvette will be entered in most of the IMSA races, while the other C8R race car will compete in the WEC (World Endurance Championship) races . . . .

 . . . .  and the two drivers for the non-endurance races are Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.

By early afternoon it was showtime.  Jordan had qualified on the pole for the 100 minute race -- which is critical because passing is nearly impossible on the streets of Long Beach.  Jordan drove the first stint and kept his P1 position throughout his time in the car.  Each lap his lead over the second place car --  the #9 Porsche of Pfaff Racing (which had performed so well at Daytona), and the third place Lexus, grew slightly.  We were euphoric as it seemed certain that the Corvette team would finish on the top step of the podium.

When it came time for the single pit stop of the race, Jordan entered pit lane with the Porsche right behind him -- both cars pitting next to each other.  From our seats we couldn't see the action in the pits. But before long Antonio was back on the track -- we saw him as he appeared rounding the final turn and entered the straight and the start/finish line in front of our seats.  

His lead over the Porsche must have been great because there was no trailing #9 Porsche.  Another lap went by and still no Porsche.  Then a third lap -- no Porsche. Then, mysteriously, Antonio entered pit lane again.  Why on earth would he pit after so few laps?

Soon we heard that Corvette Racing had to take a "drive through penalty" -- driving slowly through the pits before reentering the track.  The penalty dropped Antonio back to third place.  What could have possibly gone wrong for the Corvette to incur a penalty?

Despite his best efforts, Antonio was not able to improve his position and he finished P3.

We left Long Beach confused and disappointed.

When we got home we finally heard the story of the penalty.  During the pit stop, one of the big wheel nuts of the Corvette spun out of its impact gun, flew through the air, whizzed past the heads of the Porsche pit crew members, bounced off the hood of the Porsche, and entered its hood duct.  It punctured the radiator and knocked the Porsche out of the race.

Pit Incident at Long Beach

Over the years we have seen many different ways that a "sure win" can get spoiled, but everyone agrees that taking yourself, and a competitor, out of contention with flying parts is a first!

Next stop - Laguna Seca.  But Don and Shirley will go without us this year as we have a conflicting commitment that can't be avoided.  [SAD FACE]


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

24 Hours of Daytona - 2022

Daytona | Daytona 500 | 24 Hours of Daytona

Any of these words evokes automobile racing.  

Daytona Beach Florida takes pride in at least two things: their beach and their role in the history of automobile racing in America.

The area now known as Daytona Beach was once the Orange Grove Plantation, a citrus and sugar cane plantation granted to Samuel Williams in 1787. After Williams death in 1810, his family ran the plantation until it burned down in 1835.  In 1871 Mathias Day, Jr, purchased the 3,200 acre property and built a hotel around which the city of Daytona Beach formed.  Before long Day's financial woes resulted in him losing title to the property, but the residents decided to name the city Daytona in his honor.  The railroad arrived in Daytona in 1886 and the place became a popular destination.  By 1926 the separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach, Kingston, and Seabreeze merged as "Daytona Beach" and claimed the distinction as "The World's Most Famous Beach".

Daytona's wide beach of compacted sand attracted car and motorcycle racing as early as 1902. By 1904 the 23 mile-long beach was the site of land speed records competed for by the innovators of the time. By 1936 stock car racing came to town. For 50 years the beach meant racing, but by 1959 Bill France Sr. and NASCAR moved the races to the Daytona International Speedway, just a few miles from the famous beach. By comparison the first Indy 500 race was held in 1911.  Not to have the track out done by the beach, the speedway is called "The World Center of Racing".

Nan and I had never been to Daytona and this year we agreed with Don and Shirley that it was time to witness it first hand at the 24 Hours of Daytona race. Don and Shirley had been before,so they served as tour guides.  

We were slightly concerned how we would feel witnessing the first race of the new 2022 IMSA season, with the realigned classes for GTD and GTD Pro.  The season always begins at Daytona in January with the first endurance race of the year. The race would start on Saturday afternoon with a field of 13 GTD Pro cars including the two C8R Corvettes. That field was much larger than the prior year in which, by season's end, all the competitors had quit except for two Corvettes and a single Porsche.  Making the field even more crowded for the 2022 season, there were an additional 22 entries in the nearly identical class of GTD.  That's a lot of cars bumping into each other.

The Fantastic Foursome flew together from San Diego to Orlando, rented an SUV, piled our luggage in back and headed for Daytona Beach.  We drove about 40 miles up the interstate to the Daytona area, and exited onto "International Speedway Boulevard" -- we were pretty sure this was the right exit!  We drove all the way to Highway 1 on the Atlantic Ocean and here is what we saw:

We turned north in search of our hotel.  Shirley had secured us ocean-view rooms at the Hilton Daytona Beach Ocean-Front Resort. So nice! Thank you, Shirley!

Arriving at the track we were impressed at its size.

We had prearranged for a great race weekend package that included seating in an exclusive club area right at the start-finish line.  

Like a cruise experience, we enjoyed the all-you-can-eat-and-drink food program, inside seating, access to the grandstands, and passes to go to the infield.  We took advantage of all of it.  

Getting access to the track was a breeze.

Saturday morning we took our usual pit walk, and wandered over to the Corvette Corral in time to see the drivers, and passed by the C8R cars.


As we always do, we stopped by the Corvette garage to encourage the mechanics and pit crew.  

Before long the crowds were being ushered back to their seats for the start of the race.  As we walked across the track, at the start-finish line, the "straight" part of the track (which you would think would be flat), we were astonished to see how much of an angle there was to the track surface.  You can see it in the photo below.  It was steep enough that it took effort to "climb" up to the grandstands.  


But . . . that angle is nothing compared to the banked turns at either end of the track -- there the angle is 31 degrees making the top edge of the track 20 feet higher than the bottom edge. 

The race began at 1:30 in the afternoon.  It didn't take long for us to realize that the Balance of Performance (BOP) was skewed against the Corvettes.  They were losing about 1.5 seconds per lap to the other GTD-Pro cars and weren't able to keep ahead of all of the GTD cars.  This was going to be a very long event.

As we learned at Le Mans and Sebring, if you car isn't leading in an endurance race, life quickly becomes boring.  But we knew the perfect distraction. We went shopping in the infield!  We made the rounds of all the displays of cars and car stuff, scored our free Corvette Racing shirts, and Nan and Shirley each landed a free coveted Michelin Man stuffed doll!


As night fell, so did the temperatures.  Florida is supposed to be warm in the winter, but a cold front had passed through many of the Southern states and the temperatures were so cold that there was a fear that the track temperatures might make driving dangerous and the race could be cut short.  


In need of stimulation, we left the track and walked across International Speedway Boulevard to a hip shopping/dining area called ONE DAYTONA.  This place was hopping, packed with exotic cars, music, young people and upscale restaurants.  We enjoyed a nice dinner and then headed back to our hotel for the night.

Sunday was as cold, or colder, than Saturday but the race continued to the end.  

The results were very disappointing for the defending championship team, 6th place for the Number 3 Corvette (electrical problems cost them 13 laps in the middle of the night) and 10th place for the Number 4 car (which was struck from behind after a restart). 

When your team is down, your best relief is having good friends around you -- and we did.


We headed back to the Hilton, stopping along the way for some liquid refreshment and snacks.  Then the four of us retreated to Don and Shirley's room to watch football.  I can't remember who was playing but we just wanted to cheer on a winner.

On Monday morning, before heading back to the airport for our flights, Nan and I walked the boardwalk in front of our hotel.  The city has done a marvelous job of recording the racing history of Daytona on the seawall and in kiosks situated every few hundred yards. It was a nice end to our time there.

Our next Corvette Race would be at Long Beach, California. 

Thanks Don and Shirley for our Daytona experience!