1975 WIDEBODY CORVETTE - IMSA - GREENWOOD - Ex Rick Hay
CORVETTE 1975 C3 – IMSA – WIDEBODY – GREENWOOD (Ex Rick Hay)
This is a very interesting part of Corvette History and offers are invited.
Race Numbers: 68, 69, 12
Ownership: Rick Hay; Dick Valentine; other intervening owners; Paul Canary.
Sponsors: Dennis Tracy (1975 to 1978); R.J. Valentine (MBA Racing) (1978 to 1981);
Drivers: Rick Hay (1975 to 1978) Dick Valentine (1978 to 1981); Paul Canary (1982 to 2008).
- Totally Rebuilt from 2008 to 2014 (> 250k€ Expenses)
- Engine: 500ci ED PINK – IMSA Corvette – Aluminium (Invoice 80k€)
- No Races since Restoration – Running In Time: 10 Hours
- Known at the FIA – PHT
- Stunning Condition
Original Color: black/orange/yellow
Modifications: Rick Hay met John Greenwood and started working for him around 1975. Rick spent a couple of years as a fabricator, as well as doing the fiberglass and paint work. The birth of the first Greenwood-look-alike car was probably in the 1975 period just prior to staring his own full-time racing program. Rick built a copy of the Greenwood cars on his own time, in the evenings. This was Ricks second IMSA car, and the first car which competed effectively with Greenwoods own creations. It was a full-frame coil-over car, # 68, sponsored by Dennis Tracy. Not all of Rick's work was copy. Many components exceeded Greenwood specs. For example, while working out of the shop in Plymouth (MI), Rick had made fast friends with a plater just down the road. They both shared a passion for Coney Islands and spent a lot of their lunch hours together. But, because the team had this contact as a resource, we would fabricate our parts very carefully, paying lots of attention to the quality of finish. The parts would then go down the street where Ricks friend would plate everything. When seen side-by-side, small details like the A-arms are immediately distinguishable from the Greenwood product. Of course, none of this did nothing for top speed or handling. In fact, some of the details (like the A-arms) were clearly overdone. But it did help value when it came time to re-sell the cars.
Notes/Race History: The full-frame coil-over car, # 68, was raced from late 1976 to 1977 (or possibly very early 1978) in the AA Production class. It was first painted in a black/orange/yellow scheme, with sponsorship from Dennis Tracy. This is probably its most recognized format. But by Mid-Ohio, 1976, the car also appeared as yellow with blue fenders. This was also the point at which Rick met R.J. Valentine. Dick started his racing career in 1976. By 1978, had decided to move up to the IMSA GTX category. After much lobbying by Rick Hay, John Bishop and Roger Bailey (IMSA owner and technical director) amended the 1979 rules by permitting a free location for the transmission. Valentine gave the go-ahead to Rick Hay and his partner Del Markle to develop a new tubeframe transaxle car.(see separate story) In the interim, Valentine ran the #68 car until the new tubeframe rea-transaxle car could be completed. After the tubeframe was completed, Dick would still drive the ex-Rick Hay car, as required. The car even appeared in the blue, white and red colors of the tuebrame. Valentine first pulled the original full-frame coil-over car out of retirement, after the 1981 Sebring race. He ran the # 68 coil-over in A-Production. The car was then converted to small block configurations and the engine was moved into the forward position for TRANS-AM. A lot of the front -end pieces from the tubeframe car had been installed on the older coil-over and the car ran for two or three more races. At the third race, Dick had a fairly serious crash with the car and it was again set aside. The car was subsequently sold several times before ending-up with Paul Canary. Paul raced it in Trans-Am as #50, for a couple of years.
Rick Hay's car was built by its owner, who began his racing career as he worked for John Greenwood, as a fabricator and doing the paint work. He began building his own cars in 1975, and had his own AAGT car in 1978. He built a copy of the Greenwood cars in his spare time. Rick met Richard Valentine around this period. He would move up to the AAGT class in 1978, and had John Bishop amend the GTX rules permitting a free location of the transmission. This would lead to a new car, which was the famous tubeframe transaxle car. The GTO car evolved as an AAGT car with the addition of a rear wing. They met during the 1976 season.
Richard Valentine had his car built by Rick Hay. They had decided to form USA Racing Inc. The tubeframe car was kind of unique, with some of the best equipment available. Rick got help from McLaren Racing, who provided him with a Hewland transaxle and spares. The engines were built by Foltz Engineering, and Dave King. Starting as a 7,0L, it finally ended up at 8,3L. The engines were finally acquired at Performance Engineering, with Brad Francis giving out the best ones. The car displayed some very innovative features. The transmission differential was rear mounted and the driveshaft was tied to the flywheel. The suspension setup was also quite different, with the gas tank mounted in a very high location. When Rick Hay passed away, the team would go on working on this very ambitious project, using his notes and trying to become one of the US spearheads. Once they secured some sponsorship, the job would get done, with some evolutions clearly set. The engine location had been modified, too, but it was not fully developed. This car proved too much powerful, and was also hampered by its particular wheel-tires setup. It was quite impossible to get the tires at the proper temperature. The tires, which were 19" wide, were low profiled. It proved very unforgivable, and later on, when the team chose to switch for 16" tires, the car suddenly went better. However, it never succeeded as a racer. It was run from 1980 thru 1982, with a last appearance at Miami and Atlanta in 1983. Then it was set aside, and Richard Valentine switched to his former coil-over car. After a late crash, it was finally sold to Paul Canary.
Rick had begun working with John Greenwood, quite early in John’s career, in Detroit. Rick was the chief fabricator, doing the fiberglass and paint work. At the same time, he was campaigning his own car in the IMSA Camel GT series. This first car, which ran as #50, was originally a 1968 chassis. It had more miles on it than A.J. Foyt… according to car collector Paul Canary. Still, Rick kept his eyes open in the Greenwood shops and, at night, he would transfer lessons learned during the day, to his own car.
Rick began building his second car, #68, at the same time Greenwood was building the customer cars. So it was no surprise that Rick’s widebody was nearly identical to the Greenwood cars. Using sponsorship from Dennis Tracy, Rick first painted this car black/orange/yellow. This is probably its most recognized format. But by Mid-Ohio, 1976, the car appeared as yellow with blue fenders.
The competition in IMSA was fierce and the new turbo Porsches were all-conquering. It was getting expensive to race and Rick could only manage periodic events during 1977. But, despite the odds, he quit Greenwood’s shop to start his own paint and body shop in Livonia, MI. This earned enough money to continue his racing efforts.
Rick became involved with Dick Valentine, in 1978, in the development of a new two-car team, featuring a tubeframe design. Rick put aside his own racing season to work on these cars, which were to debut at Daytona in February 1979. Del Markle was also involved and when Rick became ill with a leukemia flare-up, Dick finished one of the tubeframe cars for Valentine.
Rick Hay died of leukemia at the age of 32, on September 19, 1979. He had always wanted to be a racer and his short career reflected that fact. He was buried in his driving suit, with his helmet beside him.
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