Rooted in development work initiated in 1962 by Zora Arkus-Duntov, Chevrolet’s head of Corvette engineering, the “Heavy-Duty 427” that eventually gained fame as RPO L-88 was “field tested” at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race in the capable hands of with Roger Penske’s Sunoco-sponsored racing team. When the smoke cleared, the L-88 powered Penske Corvettes broke the GT-class record, won their class, and finished 11th overall, confirming the potency of Duntov’s brainchild and immediately conferring a victorious competition pedigree on the L-88. Next, at Sebring, one of Penske’s L-88s led class from start to finish and came 9th overall – the best-ever Corvette finish there to that moment.
Next, the newly restyled ‘C3’ Corvettes were intended – in L-88 tune – to race at Daytona and Sebring in early 1968. However, the FIA-mandated 500-car production run could not be achieved by Chevrolet within the August-November 1967 time frame. It was not until November ‘67 when James Garner’s high-profile American International Racing (A.I.R.) team received the first three C3 L-88 cars from Chevy. While only two of them ran at Daytona, one retiring early and the other finishing 29th, all three of Don Yenko’s Sunray-DX team cars swept the GT-class podium, cementing the L-88 legend. Race-numbered 29 and co-driven by Yenko and Peter Revson, this L-88-powered 1968 Corvette finished second in class at Daytona between the class-winning Grant/Morgan Number 31 ’67 L-88 and DeLorenzo/Thompson in the Number 30 ’68 car.
Known as the “showroom” car to L-88 authors and historians, this particular L-88 Corvette was built up for racing when new by Don Yenko, since the factory L-88 car he ordered would not arrive in time for the 1968 Daytona 24 Hours, so he plucked a Rally Red L-71 427/435 street hardtop convertible off his showroom floor to transform into a screaming L-88 racer. Following the Yenko/Sunray-DX 1-2-3 triumph at Daytona and this car’s second-place class podium there, Yenko teamed up for the Sebring 12 Hours in this car, renumbered 2, with Pedro Rodriguez in the latter’s only ride in a Corvette. While the L-88s suffered suspension issues and rear-end failures, including this car, which was forced to retire on Lap 43, Yenko and Rodriguez set a blistering new GT-class lap record with it.
This car was also registered as one of two anticipated Sunray-DX entries for the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, but political unrest in France and rescheduling of the race from June to September frustrated this effort. Finally, the buyout of Sunray-DX by Sunoco closed the final chapter of this highly successful American racing team. Next, Don Yenko campaigned this Corvette as his personal racer up and down the East Coast and Midwest and it carried him to the SCCA Midwest Division Title in 1968.
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