Larry Conn’s 1963 Corvette is the culmination of years of hard work and attention to detail. He bought the base car four years ago and has been working and reworking all aspects of the car to a level of detail work that is eye-catching.
Conn’s story began in 1985 when he owned a ’69 Camaro street/strip car. “I drove it back and forth to tech school and made it into a bracket car a couple of years later,” Larry says. “I dabbled in racing locally for a couple of years around St Louis tracks, then I got married and racing went on the back burner. I sold the Camaro a couple of years later.”
“The only other race car I’ve had before the Corvette is the car my wife, Nancy, currently drives,” Conn continues. “It’s a ’68 Camaro. Together we built it into a pretty fast pump gas car that she can footbrake and bottom-bulb race.”
Larry and Nancy, hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, compete with the Corvette in both fast bracket racing and heads-up racing with the Dixie Doorslammers, a group of quick doorslammer competitors that compete on indexes around the Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee region. He also hits many other fast doorlammer events at various tracks in his four-state region.
“I bought the car to go into the fours [4-second range] and fast index race with it,” Larry explains. “That’s as fast as that car wants to go right now. The car was built quite a few years ago and was an old-school tube chassis car when I got it. I’ve been upgrading everything on the car since then.”
He and Nancy often race at Jeffers Motorsports Park as well as Gateway Motorsports Park, both in the St. Louis area. “I race various fast doorslammer events at Jeffers Motorsports Park,” he says. “The owner had an affiliation with an AHRA-based group from the Kentucky area who race there and I like running with the group.”
The chassis is now outfitted with A-arm suspension in the front with Strange Engineering coil-over shocks. The rearend is a Strange Moly Dana unit with a 4-link suspension and Koni double adjustable shocks revamped by Kinetics Engineering. Weld Racing brand wheels are all the way around the ‘Vette, with double beadlocks installed by Champion Wheel in the rear.
Power is provided by a 565 cubic-inch big-block Chevy with the entirety of machine work done by Phase 2 Machine. Larry used a Dart Machinery Big M block, Profiler Performance Products cylinder heads, and intake manifold. He went with T&D Machine Products shaft rockers, Ross pistons, Oliver Racing Parts rods, and Callies Precision Engine Components crankshaft.
One of the unique details on the Corvette is the custom stainless steel headers and side pipes that were built by Griffen Custom Racecraft. “The headers are a real eye-catcher,” Larry says. “A lot of people comment on them. Those headers are a work of art and are Scott Griffen’s brainchild.”
Another unique item on the car is the hidden battery compartment in the right rear of the car. “The early Corvette has no room for anything,” Larry jokes. “The battery is hidden within the right rear wheeltub. A part of the rear section of the wheel tubs is removable and there’s a platform back there. The battery sits on the tray in the very back trunk area of the tub.”
Power is transferred via a Powerglide transmission by Transmissions to Go of Imperial, Missouri. Larry uses a Reid Racing Ultra Case, JW Performance Transmission flexplate, and Transmission Specialties torque converter. The driveshaft comes from Driveshafts Unlimited and stopping power relies on Wilwood brakes and a Strange Engineering master cylinder.
Larry has a Safecraft fire system installed, and there is a Jerry Haas steering wheel in place along with an Altronics data logger system that monitors all aspects of the engine and drivetrain. “I use the Altronics setup to help with my tune-up and keep me in the safe zone when it comes to using nitrous,” Larry says.
Two fuel cells are held in place using front fuel cell mounts built by Jerry Haas Race Cars. Larry typically uses VP Racing Fuels C16 racing gas with his engine combination. “The large fuel cell is for the engine fuel, whether it be VP or methanol, depending on what I’m doing that day,” Larry says. “The smaller one is exclusively for the nitrous system. My engine builder prefers I use the higher octane gasoline to combine with the nitrous.”
The best 1/8-mile time for the Corvette is 4.80s on a 200-horsepower shot of nitrous oxide from a Nitrous Express assembly. For now, those elapsed times are keeping Larry happy, however, he has dreams and aspirations of stepping up his ‘Vette in the future.
“It’s a dream of mine to race in Top Sportsman,” he says. “This Corvette as it sits is a stepping stone for me. The problem is, it takes a lot of work to run Top Sportsman. My wife is my crew chief and that’s all the help I typically have at the track.”
He and Nancy have a great time going to the dragstrip together with their two cars. “We’re content right now with what we have and what we do,” Larry says. “I really enjoy the fast stuff I do with the Dixie Doorslammers. She loves bracket racing and we have a great time at the track together. But, absolutely, a faster car and Top Sportsman racing is something I’m looking at for down the road.”
Larry and Nancy are looking forward to the possibility of a nice retirement in the future and at that point, he hopes to continue working on his dream. “No one does this to get rich,” he says. “What am I willing to spend to go faster? Only time will tell.”