The Goodman Collection
Seattle's John Goodman has been collecting, preserving, and racing Corvettes for several years-a hobby that doesn't come without a price, so it helps that he has enjoyed success wheeling and dealing in the city's commercial real estate market. He is also an active participant in competitive vintage racing-local, national, and even the international circuit.
The risks involved with vintage racing are two fold: the threat of personal injury is combined with the fear of demolishing a priceless and irreplaceable piece of racing nostalgia. as technology, safety equipment, and vehicle engineering has evolved, the vehicles streaking across the concourses have not. The high velocity of these races test the limits of those aged race cars, often past their breaking points. Many a classic Ferrari and Daytona Shelby has snapped a control arm and spiraled out of control into a guardrail.
Rules admonish the drivers to keep their throttles at 90 percent, but we all know the temptation of passing a DeTomaso Pantera on the big end is sometimes too much for a big-block Vette to resist. John shrugs off any inquiry about the lengths that he goes to outperform the other participants, but he does have the awards and accolades to evidence some fancy driving without putting the nose of one of his fiberglass-bodied assassins into the tail of an innocuous Speedster Porsche. And for those unaware, long before the Tokyo-born, pseudo-sport of drifting was ever imagined, these wicked machines were smoldering rubber at erratic angles and insane rpms way before a Toyota Supra ever broke its wheels loose in a vacant parking lot.
The observant will pick up on a theme running through the Corvette collection-fuel injection and big-blocks, as only a few of the earlier cars are still fed by carburetors. In addition to his Corvettes, an assortment of race-prepped dancing ponies and Porsches litter his collection, as well as a vintage racing Budweiser powerboat motivated by a 24-litre Rolls-Royce V-12 Spitfire engine.
One suspects John likes to race big-block Corvettes because of the sheer challenge, although he maintains they're more forgiving. When it comes to Cobras, big-blocks get loose and wash out in a corner much earlier than small-block cars. you can carry a lot more speed into a corner in a better-balanced car with a lighter engine, so if it all goes "pear-shaped" it happens much more quickly. If you make it through the corner with a big-block car still pointing forwards, you have all that straight line brutality to let loose, which is where the fun is. On the other hand, perhaps it's just that small-block Corvettes are too easy to drive and don't provide John with a challenge.
Nestled among John's collection of beautifully restored first-generation roadsters is a peculiar creature. the 77th Corvette ever produced, this '53 roadster was in dire shape as it sat on the dealer floor. Deemed impossible to sell, the car was simply given away just to get it off the lot. The '53 was treated roughly-thrashed and ultimately wrecked to the point of near-demolition. It was then chopped up and turned into a custom using Chrysler, Studebaker, and other various parts. fins were added, and the straight six was swapped for a V-8. Sadly, the car would be stripped, dumped, and abandoned sometime during the '80s. It was finally rescued and rebuilt when John realized it was both a very early car and beautifully unique.
"Dudley," a worn and battered white '62 roadster, was never meant to enjoy the quiet life. Born a race car, this caged fuelie was restored mechanically, but its weathered and chipped body records the years of road-course warfare that it has endured. Amazingly, the car still retains its original drum brakes. John says, "They're huge and nearly as good as some disc setups." Gashes in the trunk are evidence that someone cut out racing numbers with a craft knife, using the deck lid as a cutting board. Some modern gauges have been added.
At the forefront of John's collection is a Corvette made famous by its participation in the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1972. the Greenwood No. 50 endurance racer was driven in the U.S. by famed Chevrolet tuner Don Yenko and John Cordts, and by John Greenwood and his team, Dick Smothers, Alain Cudini, and Bernard Darniche, at Le Mans.
The car can't be driven locally in American vintage racing because it runs a dry-sumped engine, but it was shipped over to Le Mans two years ago so John could fulfill one of his ambitions: to drive in the vintage Vingt-Quatre Heures Du Mans.
One of John's cars-a '63 split-window coupe-is a Mickey Thompson race car. the signature split window was opened up to resemble the single rear window of following models until it was finally put back to its more desirable configuration of dual rear windows. But it wasn't the customization that incurred a firestorm, rather it was the authenticity of the car's ownership. It wouldn't be until the restoration when a gas card turned up behind the dashboard with Mickey's name scribed on it that the questions would be quelled.
Another car worth mentioning is, at the time of this writing, in a container sailing across the Atlantic to France. It's one of only five '66-model coupes built to full race spec-big engine, big brakes, big tank, big everything. It was bought new by a Frenchman and shipped straight off to France to be raced at Monza. It's recently been restored with a minimum of updating required to comply with modern safety standards, mostly involving better roll and fire protection and a new fuel cell. It has recently been prepped by the collection's mechanics, Walter, Mike, and Dean, for racing at the Le Mans Classic-a bi-annual, vintage, 24-hour endurance race that includes all the top draws: the smell of hot Castrol, French food, pleasant surroundings and weather, and fabulous vintage Bugattis, GT40s, Corvettes, and Bentleys either hurtling round the track all night long or thundering around the local lanes. The paddocks are open so you can admire these cars from an inch away and chat to the drivers and mechanics . . . depending on the state of their prerace nerves.
Not all of John's cars are scarred and calloused road warriors. A copper L88 Stingray, though driven as any street car, is also beautifully restored and even brandishes a Bloomingdale Gold certification, authenticating the vehicle's originality. He says, "Apart from the wrong year of rear brake calipers and some updated wiring, it does seem to be pretty much stock and original."
The local SOVREN race series-the Pacific Northwest Historics-offers top vintage racing on local tracks in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. SOVREN (.org) also raises funds for the Seattle Children's hospital. Goodman Racing and John Goodman's foundation supports it, as well as supporting mentoring organizations for children such as Big Brothers Big Sisters (
A winner in business, on the track, and through his charities, John Goodman is a great example for this era and future generations of Corvette lovers to come.

Photo Gallery: The Goodman Collection - Corvette Fever Magazine

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