When the new Corvette Sting Ray was introduced in late 1962, the Corvette was almost a perennial national champion in SCCA racing, but Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov took the game to a new level by slipping an obscurely labeled Regular Production Option (RPO) into the Corvette option list—Z06.
Equipment included large heavy-duty drum brakes with cerametallic linings, vented backing plates, finned aluminum drums, and internal cooling fans, along with a dual-circuit master cylinder. The Z06 also featured stiffer front and rear springs, heavy-duty stabilizer bar and shock absorbers, a long-distance 36-gallon fuel tank, and finned aluminum knockoff wheels. Powertrain consisted of the L84 360-hp fuel-injected 327, an M20 4-speed manual transmission, and Positraction. The Z06 option added $2,480.20 to the price of the car, but for those who wanted a track-ready, all-out race Corvette, it was worth every penny.
Chassis number 2227, Gulf One was the first of two Z06s delivered by Yenko Chevrolet to the Gulf Oil racing team led by Gulf Executive Vice President Grady Davis. Davis, a racer in his own right, planned to campaign the cars as part of Gulf’s fuels-and-lubricants research and development program. The car was delivered to Gulf personnel at the St. Louis plant in October 1962, driven to corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, prepared to Davis’s specifications, and rushed to Puerto Rico for the first and only Puerto Rico Grand Prix. With Dr. Dick Thompson at the wheel, Gulf One scored the first class win of its career.
After an A-Production victory at the “Refrigerator Bowl” in Marlboro, Maryland, in January 1963, Gulf One was then prepared to FIA rules for Florida’s Daytona Continental and Sebring 12 Hours races. In February, Thompson scored a huge 3rd place overall and 1st in GT3 at Daytona behind two Ferrari GTOs, following up in March with a disappointing gearbox failure at Sebring after an impressive qualifying performance.
Thompson barnstormed Gulf One across the country, winning 1st place overall at the SCCA President’s Cup at Marlboro and the A/Production class at Danville, Virginia, and Road America in Wisconsin. In all, Gulf One saw more racing combat in more venues than any of the other “Specially Assigned” factory Z06s and was always at the front of the pack.