A Tribute to John Greenwood

Prepared by the Registry of Corvette Race Cars.

The son of a GM executive, John Greenwood began drag racing as a teenager on Detroit?s famed Woodward Ave strip. A few years later, he caught the road racing bug after entering his new 1968 Corvette in a parking lot solo event. That was enough. When he took his big block Corvette to Waterford Hills it marked the start of a remarkable career in SCCA and IMSA, a full blown race shop, a sponsorship program with the BF Goodrich Tire Company, a thriving cars and parts business, and three trips to the 24 hour race at Le Mans, France.

In 1970 and 1971 John qualified for the SCCA runoffs winning the A Production National championship 2 years in a row. John?s initial paintwork evolved into the signature ?Stars and Stripes? theme, variations of which are seen on many Corvettes to this day. His stars and stripes might have also inspired the ?Rebel? paint job on the Corvette of racing rivals Dave Heinz and Or Costanzo.

John caught the attention of Frank Cipelli at Michigan International Speedway who helped make the deal with BFGoodrich that launched John and his brother Burt into the big leagues. Using this contract as leverage, John built Corvettes configured for FIA endurance racing. His co-drivers at the 24 hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring include famed comedian Dick Smothers (1971 GT Sebring winners), Don Yenko, Bob Johnson, Tony Adamowicz, Ron Grable, Allan Barker, Dick Lang, Gib Hufstader, Mike Brockman, Jim Greendyke and his brother Burt.

1974 brought along anti-pollution mandates, higher insurance costs and the mid-east oil embargo. It would take years for technology to rescue the manufacture of high performance automobiles but that did not stop Greenwood.

He relied upon connections with chassis and suspension expert Bob Riley, and with GM designer Randy Wittine to create the first wide-body Corvette. Since GM had renounced racing, it fell to Greenwood to develop his cars with continued support and parts from an ?underground? network spearheaded by Gib Hufstader.

Two and a half decades onward, the legacy carved by Greenwood lives on. Greenwood cars and cars with Greenwood parts are a favorite in vintage racing and are highly prized by collectors worldwide.

Greenwood expert Wayne Ellwood was instrumental in preparing this brief historical account.

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TR8owner HalfDork
7/28/15 8:47 p.m.

Saw his "Batmobile" Vette a couple of times. First time was 1974 at Waterford Hills at a club event where he showed up and won the big bore race. (And as a backdoor brag I won the FP class that weekend in my Triumph Spitfire ). Saw him again leading the Daytona 24 hrs in for the first few hours in 1975 or 76. Nobody expected the big Vette to go the distance but it was the class of the field while it lasted.

Spitsix HalfDork
7/29/15 8:23 p.m.

Great cars, interesting guy. Got to visit him and his shop with a friend Dave Grob with One-G-Wheels back in the late 80's

Gary Dork
7/29/15 8:50 p.m.

Yes, John Greenwood, not to be confused with John Paul (Sr.) who successfully raced a Corvette around the same time. But don't get the two confused, which is easy to do. John Greenwood was a great, upstanding racer. John Paul, Sr., well not so much.


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