Harry Mann Chevrolet was the largest Corvette dealer in America when the new 1963 Sting Ray Z06 made its race debut at the October 1962 Times Grand Prix in Riverside, CA. However, driver Gary Pickens was relegated to the sidelines, as Chevrolet had released only six RPO Z06 competition Corvettes and none would be available to the Mann dealership until December.
Undaunted, Mann and Pickens took a regular 1963 Corvette Split-Window coupe with the L84 fuel-injected 360-hp engine and built their own Z06-spec coupe to campaign the following year. The car received numerous modifications including a roll cage, comprehensive weight-reduction measures, and the addition of Z06 suspension and brake components. A recreational gambler, Pickens completed his racer by painting the number 711 as a pair of dice on the doors, hood and rear deck.
Pickens raced the car throughout California in 1963, but fame really came calling in July when filming began on the new race-themed Elvis Presley movie “Viva Las Vegas.” The producers needed real race cars for the movie’s climactic scene, and Pickens’ dice-liveried Riverside Red racer was the perfect choice. It turned out to be the driver’s most lucrative payday, as MGM rented the car for the duration of filming. The studio even included a $500 bonus for the famous spinout scene, during which the car received the only racing damage of its career.
Although hunted for years by hopeful collectors, the car remained hidden until 2011, when Corvette specialist Mike Scott and restorer Gary Nabers located and purchased it. They later completed a concours restoration that helped it achieve an NCRS American Heritage Award in 2013. The restoration retained the well-preserved interior, the 1964 model-year engine Pickens had later installed, and the original BorgWarner T-10 four-speed gearbox. Period-correct Z06 components were sourced and installed as necessary, ensuring the car is configured as it ran at Riverside in 1963.