John Greenwood’s contributions in cementing the legacy of the Corvette as America’s Sports Car should never go unnoticed. As one of America’s most feared race-car drivers at that time, Greenwood took his Corvette racing operation nationwide and proceeded to win two consecutive Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) A/Production National Championships in 1970-71. This, of course, comes after he made a name for himself as a legend in Detroit with his street-racing exploits in an Impala and a Corvette.
Greenwood’s reputation as an ace driver landed him a sponsorship deal with B.F. Goodrich, which turned out to be the first of many sponsors who would come knocking at his door. With his tire sponsorship in tow, Greenwood set out to make his very first full-modified Corvette racers, which he aptly called his ‘Swing-Arm Cars’. Greenwood once again proved that he had the Midas Touch with Corvette’s when he raced in IMSA’s Camel GT Challenge and subsequently took home 3 wins in the SCCA’s Trans-Am Series in 1972 and 1973.
Despite experiencing a number of setbacks with his racing team, Greenwood – together with a group consisting of some of the best minds in the business – pushed forward with their plans of improving on their race cars until they had made one that would blow away the competition. After years of painstaking research and testing, Greenwood finally had his car.
The 1975 “Sprit of Sebring” Corvette.
Whatever time of history you can think of, you’d be hard-pressed to find a car that can punch up to 220 miles an hour in Daytona and then live to see it. But Greenwood’s Corvette – there were two of them actually – could do it without breaking a sweat. If there was a feather in the cap of John Greenwood as a world-class racer and designer, the ’75 “Spirit of Sebring” Corvette was it.
While the car is held at such great esteem these days, the fact of the matter was that it didn’t do so well in its initial forays out on the track. At one of its initial races at the IMSA Camel GT Challenge race at Laguna Seca, Greenwood saw first-hand that the car still had plenty of room to grow. “We didn’t do well there,” he recalled. “There was a learning curve with the car.” Despite the initial results of the car, Greenwood remained optimistic that his project would one day end up being in the front of the pack. After spending countless hours fine-tuning his Corvette, the car finally lived up to its potential, consistently fighting for the lead in the IMSA Camel GT and scoring three wins in the IMSA Trans-Am category, resulting in the ream winning the series’ 1975 championship.
After its stellar run back in the 70’s, the Greenwood IMSA Road-Racing GT somehow got lost in the capsule of history until one of the foremost authorities on the Greenwood Corvette – Lance Smith – bought it and restored it back to its former glory.
The car has come to be known as ‘The Batmobile’ and was driven by no less than John Greenwood himself. As a matter of fact, this car is among the last ones Greenwood designed using the production C3 Corvette frame. Up to this day, the words of John Greenwood regarding this vehicle still reverberates in the hearts and minds of Corvette enthusiasts every where. In his own words he said that the 75 car was “without a doubt … the most fun, biggest rush, and biggest reward for doing all that kind of stuff, of any car that we ever did. That car was a bad boy!”
In a day and age where acquiring historical automobiles has become a little watered down, a car like the Greenwood IMSA Road-Racing GT changes the whole complexion of the game. Having a chance to acquire this iconic race-car is a chance that happens few and far in between and when the opportunity presents itself to you, it’d be foolish to pass on it.