Corvette Profiles – 1957 Corvette Production Racer

In the performance section of the National Corvette Museum, hundreds of thousands of visitors every year see examples of Corvette racing throughout the years.

One of the earliest examples of Corvette racing, and one that is often overlooked due to how stock the racer looks cosmetically, is the 1957 #4 fuel injected Corvette.

Upon first glance, this Corvette just looks like a plain production 1957 Corvette with some added racing stripes, fog lights, and belts to reinforce the hood – but this is one of the most iconic and important Corvettes in the performance section of the National Corvette Museum.

Nothing says “1950s racer” like leather hood restrains.

Back in October of 1956, Ed Cole, the General Manager of Chevrolet at the time gave the green light to build two production Corvettes for Nassau Speed Week in the Bahamas, Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans.

Chevrolet had an extremely short time frame to build and tune this car for the 1956 Nassau Speed Week race, which took place in December, just two months after the project was approved for production.

With such a short development period, it is easy to assume that these two Corvettes would have struggled around the track with other veteran racing companies on the track, but Chevrolet proved everyone wrong with the two Corvettes placing 1st and 2nd in their class at Nassau. Dick Thompson drove the winning Corvette (1st in class, 7th overall), and Jim Jeffords drove the 2nd place Corvette (2nd in class, 9th overall). Into 1957, the success of the Corvette continued where the two Corvettes places 1st and 2nd in their classes again – this time at Sebring.

In fact – in the historic video linked below, you can view both the #3 and #4 Corvette prepping and racing at Sebring, along with the Corvette SS, which also raced at Sebring.

The identical #3 1957 Corvette racer

Not only were skilled drivers to credit for the success of the 1957 Corvette racers, but also the development team led by the skilled minds of Zora Arkus-Duntov and John Fitch. This was the first Corvette to be outfitted with Rochester fuel injection, as well as a four-speed manual transmission, a first for Corvette.

“Fuel Injection” badges are proudly displayed on both sides of the car, as well as the back above the Chevrolet Corvette badge.

The early success of the two racers led to these options being offered in the production 1957 Corvettes. Paired with the V8 engine that was introduced in 1955, the Corvette started to really find its identity as a “street legal race car”, as many define it today.

At the National Corvette Museum, you can find the one and only #4 1957 Corvette racer in incredible condition, leather hood latches and all, on loan from Jim Jaeger of Cincinnati, Ohio.

-Steven Teleky
Museum Educator

[email protected]