John Fitch Retrospective Exhibit 2006


The boss needed some R&R so I suggested an educational mission to the Saratoga Auto Museum in Saratoga, NY. This is a beautiful region with the Catskill Mountains and what a thrill to see a variety of models that John Fitch raced.

 Happy Birthday John Fitch, Tuesday he was 89 years young.



John Fitch is one of my hero's: WWII fighter pilot, race car driver, race team manager, auto safety inventor, specialty car builder and more. I met him a few years ago at another auto museum and was struck by how shy and unassuming he was. He is a tall man and I wondered how he crammed his 6 foot plus tall frame into those tiny cockpits in those long endurace races like LeMans.


This Museum is actually located in the suburb of Saratoga that was famous for the mineral springs, hence this locale is called Saratoga Springs. NY. The Museum is housed in one of the old bottling plants that packaged these Saratoga natural spring tonics. In the main room above are three of the models that John Fitch raced. From Left to Right: 1960 #3 LeMans Corvette, 1955 M-B Gullwing and the 1957 Corvette SS.


There was a large reprint of this 1957 photo of John, Zora, Elfi and the SS at Sebring. More of the 57 SS Corvette


The one and only 1957 Corvette SS. This beauty is or was on long term loan to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in Speedway, IN. And honestly, of the half dozen times I've been there, it's usually out on special display elsewhere.


On Saturday Sept. 9 at 2 PM the Museum is having a seminar by one of the designers of several Corvette model, Bob Veryzer who along with Peter Brock was responsible for this design. I'll be there. It's a In Service Training for PhD degree. (Post Hole Digger).


You know, sometimes I get a little wiggly in the presence of these historical artifacts and pull the trigger instead of squeezing it gently. Need more time at the range.


I love these headlamp covers. They remind me of my old XKE. I did not check to see if these were T3 bulbs, but will when we return. Nope no T3's on Sept 9, 2006.


I counted 15 teeth in this beauty. Note the swept back angle on the upper and lower bars on each tooth; unlike the more vertically oriented production teeth. More agressive looking. Remember 13 teeth on a 53-57 and 9 on 58-60.


Sweet from any angle.

  Pretty futuristic for 1957. Looks like 61-67 red tail lamp lenses.


 The only problem with this beauty: it's not in my garage.

That fairing is 50's Buck Rogers. Note the oval vent in the rear deck.


Looks like a wood wheel. Note the 59-62 style horn button and 61-64 style fluted dash knobs.


Typical wrap around bucket seats. Note the quilted insulation along the door area and drivers side transmission tunnel. Rear view mirror integrated in the center dash. Whats's that black box below the mirror?

I haven't got the foggiest idea what this stuff is under the dash??? First correct answer at Carlisle gets a FREE Popsicle. (How to determine the correct answer????) Does it have a Rochester Products nameplate? Can anyone identify the spliced Pink wires? What is that Gold tubular object on the lower left? Looks like it snaps in. Mustard dispenser?

The Popsicle Contest was won by none other than John Hinckley who was fortunate to have even seen this race at Sebring. He explained that this mechanism was a Front-Rear Braking Bias Adjuster. It did not work that well, and per John, more effort should have been applied to engineering than styling. But this is a sweet looking old girl, no matter how you look at her.

Interesting shifter and perhaps I guess a circular lockout.

These large side vents appeared to be functional.

 Another view of the side vents and body panel release lever.

 The crossed flags and F.I. emblems appears to be just like other 1957's.

Regretfully the horiozontal pedestrian barrier blocked and complicated this view of those side pipes and the parallel vertical cooling slots.

Another view of the main exhibit display room from the second floor. Check out that gigantic poster with a Red 55 on the wall above the SS. I actually tried the gift shop to see if there was a replica for sale. But no luck.

I give up, what Corvette is this? Looks like a Gypsy Red 1955, as I can barely see the tips of the Gold "V" on the side trim. But check out the finned brake drums, 3 ear KO spinner and Halibrand wheel. On that wheel at 12 o'clock in white chalk is LF, the usual mark for Left Front.

Is this 55 the cats azz or what?

I think M-B was very fair in their presentation.


John Neas, a virtual authority on 56-57 and Sebring models, offered the following. "The 55 appears to be the test or mule car for the 1956 Sebring race.The brake drums appear to the final Corvette HD production drums for 1956." Since three of the four factory Corvette team entries at 1956 Sebring were rebodied 1955 chassis - this could be one of those. I got to peek at another of his 56 models at the recent Corvettes at Carlisle.


 Chip Millers (RIP) 1960 LeMans raced Corvette driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman. (RIP). I have 25 plus shots of this beauty when it was recently on exhibit at Carlisle. There I was fortunate to have that preeminent Corvette restorer, Kevin Mackay give me a personal tour of it's numerous unique features.

Check this link: 1960 LeMans Corvette Racer


We can credit John Fitch for these sand and/or water filled highway safety barriers.

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