Lot Number
65
1968 Chevrolet Corvette L-88 Race Car


CHASSIS NO: ID# 026-037
• Successfully campaigned in IMSA and SCCA Trans Am and A/Production
• The 1973 SCCA New York Region A/Production Champion; Invited to AARC
• Invited and raced in 2010 and 2011 Monterey Historics winning the prestigious Monterey Trophy
• Long-term current ownership
• Listed in the Registry of Corvette racecars; Total restoration to 1972/73 form
• Built and raced by Fred Kepler; co-drivers included Bob Sharp and John Orr

Identification No: 026-037

427 cid L-88 competition-specification V-8 engine, single Holley 850 CFM four-barrel carburetor, 650 HP, Muncie M-22 “Rock Crusher” close-ratio four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with A-arms and coil springs, independent rear suspension with lateral struts, radius rods, and transverse leaf spring, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes; wheelbase: 98”


Developed from pioneering work initiated during 1962 by Chevrolet’s chief Corvette engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov and field-tested as the “Heavy-Duty 427” engine powering Roger Penske’s Sunoco-sponsored Corvette to victory at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour race, the potent race-oriented L-88 engine reached RPO (Regular Production Order) status for 1967. Teething pains were methodically eliminated and the L-88’s early victories included the GT-class win at the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona, where Jerry Grant and Dave Morgan hit 194 mph and the three-car Dunray-DX team led by Don Yenko took 1-2-3 in the GT class. Jerry Thompson and Tony De Lorenzo dominated American SCCA racing with the L-88 and won the A/Production title for 1969.

In 1972, when lesser cars had already retired, an L-88 Corvette entered by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.) won class at Le Mans. Just 216 L-88 Corvettes were built in all during the model’s three-year production run; during the early 1970s, L-88 parts and technology filtered down to committed privateers who continued to very successfully carry the L-88 banner in front-line competition. This 1968 L-88 Corvette racing car is a thrilling example.

Fred Kepler built this Corvette in 1972 from an original L-71 “Tri-Power” 427 car to race in IMSA, FIA, and SCCA Trans Am and A/Production. Fred hailed from Elmira, New York and raced in the SCCA Northeast region, being highly respected as one of the era’s best independent Corvette racers. Always a front runner, he prepared very competitive Corvettes, and this car was no exception. It was prepared to full L-88 specification with a 650-HP 427 and Muncie M-22 “Rock Crusher” four-speed, and sponsored by VelveTouch. This car contested both SCCA Trans Am and IMSA events as car #26 and #36 respectively with co-drivers Bob Sharp and John Orr. Bob Sharp is known as one of America’s finest drivers over his long career spanning 1960-1976, with 80 race entries at top U.S. events including 17 wins and 33 podiums. He also introduced screen legend Paul Newman to racing in 1971. As a team owner, Sharp’s famous Datsuns dominated IMSA GTU and won numerous races and championships through the 1970s and 1980s. John Orr was a successful SCCA veteran driver from 1967 through 1979, whose early-1970s rides included Robert Luebbe’s ex-Don Yenko/Sunray-DX L-88 Corvette offered here at Pacific Grove.

Given the personnel involved with this Corvette, it is hardly surprising that it placed 2nd in GTO and 4th Overall at the Bryan IMSA three-hour race in September 1972. In November 1972, this Corvette also finished a creditable 5th in GTO and 10th Overall at the season finale IMSA Daytona 250. In 1973, at the Watkins Glen six-hour FIA race, the Corvette finished 10th in the GT class. During the 1973 and 1974 seasons, the car also competed in SCCA Trans-Am at Watkins Glen. Ultimately in 1973, Fred Kepler won the New York Region SCCA A/Production Championship and was invited to compete at the elite-level American Road Race of Champions (AARC) at Road America. However, after leading for the first three laps, the Corvette was classified DNF with brake failure.

In 1974, Fred Kepler sold the Corvette to Tom Rynone, the hard-charging driver who continued to campaign the car in SCCA A/Production, Trans Am and IMSA races. Tom held the SCCA A/Production lap record at Watkins Glen for several years. Co-drivers with Mr. Rynone included Neil and Michael Wiernicki, Mike Oleyar, and David Kicak. Venues included Watkins Glen, Nelson Ledges, Mosport, and Trois-Rivieres, with the best result 4th at the August 20, 1977 Mosport Trans-Am. Eventually, the Corvette was retired following an accident at the FIA July 12, 1981 Watkins Glen 6-Hour. During 2000, Mr. Rynone sold the Corvette to the current owner, who had it totally restored with the frame off to its 1972/73 livery and maintaining many of the suspension components and fine details from the early 1970s.

Following completion, the Corvette returned to the track at the invitational 2010 Rolex Monterey Historic Races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with the owner’s son finishing 2nd to the fastest Porsche 935; next, at Sonoma, he took pole position and won class against the same 935. At the 2011 Monterey Historics, this Corvette was awarded a prestigious Monterey Trophy for performance and historic presentation. As offered, this beautifully restored period racing Corvette is powered by a proper L-88 427 V-8 producing 650 horsepower, mated to an M-22 “Rock Crusher” close-ratio four-speed. The body, interior, paint, and lettering are all consistent with its active days and a pair of big chrome sidepipes provide a great exhaust note. This car is listed in the Registry of Corvette racecars and includes all racing logbooks for Kepler and Rynone, plus the special Monterey logbook and trophy from the current owner. Historical documents include time sheets, race programs, and restoration photos. Well-known as one of the fastest Corvettes in the country, this impressive car is highly competitive against its period rivals, the Porsche 935 and Dekon Monza, and stands ready to continue its winning ways. If you are looking for a top-notch vintage racing Corvette with cherished ownership, presentation, L-88 power and successful racing history, this is the car for you.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette L-88 Race Car
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