Chevrolet Camaro Le Mans Race Car
In addition to the usual throng of Porsches and the occasional Ferrari Boxer, the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans grid also included a pair of Chevrolet Camaros numbered 80 and 81, which were entered by Stratagraph Inc., an oil field services company owned by NASCAR racer Billy Hagan of Louisiana. Co-driving the number 81 car with successful SCCA and IMSA racer Gene Felton, Hagan drove the car to 2nd in the GTO class and 17th overall while the number 80 car finished 19th overall.
Car number 81 was built by Tex Powell’s Tex Racing Enterprises using a Dennis Frings chassis and was raced by Hagan from 1982 to 1984. In addition to running Le Mans in 1982, the car won the inaugural Miami IMSA GTO Grand Prix in February of 1983, as well as the GTO Class and 6th overall at the Daytona 24 Hours in February 1984, driven by Billy Hagan, Gene Felton and Terry Labonte. In March 1984 drivers Hagan, Labonte and Felton took the car to a class win and placed 8th overall at the Sebring 12 Hours.
The car was then sold to sports car racer Chauncey (Jocko) Maggiacomo, Jr. in Poughkeepsie, New York, who then sold the car to Reynolds Aluminum engineer Hoyt Overbaugh. He raced the car several times from the mid-'80s and into the '90s, including outings at Daytona, Sebring and Watkins Glen. Throughout this period, Tex Powell, owner of Tex Racing Enterprises, kept track of the car and continued to supply driveline parts. Overbaugh sold the car to its most recent owner, who then undertook an exhaustive restoration.
The car’s builder and Le Mans crew chief, Tex Powell was instrumental in the completion of the restoration, supplying many parts (including many from Hagan’s remaining stock for this car) and visiting the car during the restoration. In 2013 he contributed a letter to the car’s extensive documentation that corroborates its history and confirms the authenticity of the restoration. Every mechanical system was rebuilt or replaced, including the correct 4-disc clutch, magneto, rear end, hubs, spindles, transmission (from Powell), new fuel cell, and much more. The 358 CI racing engine was completely rebuilt by Petty Enterprises.
Freshly completed and with test mileage only, the car once again displays its Le Mans livery – faithfully replicated and, as it was originally, mostly hand-painted. The car wears the sponsorship of both Stratagraph and Jean Charles Chevrolet, the Paris dealer that is still in business today. The car uses powerful Marchal lamps crucial to traversing the Mulsanne Straight at night, and prominent flares to cover the enormous tires. The overall appearance is of a freshly restored racer completed to the same standards as when first built. The interior is Spartan and functional. It features full Stewart Warner instrumentation, a well-bolstered racing seat and a serious roll cage; a modern fuel cell and fire system have been installed to meet modern safety requirements. The undercarriage is extremely clean, confirming that the car has not been used since its restoration.
The Stratagraph/Jean Charles Chevrolet Camaro comes with a variety of interesting documents including a February 1982 letter of acceptance to Le Mans from the Automobile Club de L’Ouest. There is also a letter from the same entity from July of 1982 thanking the team for their participation. There are also several prints of the car in action at Le Mans in 1982, as well as copies of the quick reference guide and rule book for the 1982 Le Mans race. There is also a congratulatory letter from former Porsche president and CEO Peter Schutz in which he expresses his admiration for the American team’s participation on the continent. A transcript of the letter from Tex Powell is also included with the car.
This is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a truly historically significant American race car with an illustrious history of success at some of the world’s great endurance races including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. Fully documented and authentically restored, its well-established provenance ensures that there is no ambiguity about its identity as it becomes increasingly eligible for historic events, including the Le Mans Classic historic race for former Le Mans entrants.
Source: Mecum Auctions